As kids we are advised to strive hard, work tirelessly towards our goal until success is bestowed on us. Some achieve this success and some end their lives still in the pursuit of this moment of magic. Wait, there’s the third type: the ones who are destined to be great, the ones who are already superstars in their teens. However, not all of them become legends; rather, for them, the Cinderella story is over before it has reached its zenith.
Here’s the story of a boy from Texas, a boy who was already making headlines with his two junior Grand Slam titles at the tender age of 18: Andy Roddick – the all-time crowd favorite. In 2003 when he won the US Open (his only Grand Slam), the immature boy was full of enthusiasm and valour; but at the end of his bright career, he leaves behind a mature personality whose spirit spreads the message – “Had sports been just about winning, scoreboards would be more famous than sportspersons”.
The record books will always show a single Grand Slam title for him, but they will fail to record the true Roddick, who, despite four Grand Slam final losses, rose to fight and prove the real talent within him. All these losses were against the Master ‘‘Roger Federer’’, who was in his prime. Critics will always consider the trio of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic in a different league than the American, but none of them have lost a Grand Slam final by the virtue of a single service break. It would be difficult for fans to forget Andy’s crying face at the end of the 2009 Wimbledon Final. Five grueling sets, 14-16 in the final; sometimes the margin between winning and losing is so close, and if you are Andy you are always on the wrong side of the coin.
Despite all the setbacks, losses, his 13-year career is an epitome of selfless service to the fans of this wonderful game. He may have not won record-breaking titles, but he surely has left us with memories both on and off the field to savour for a lifetime. Critics consider Rafa to be a true fighter simply because of his grit which has helped him improve his game a lot. Grit and courage work well when you are winning, but real grit is to change your playing style, which once led you to the top of the world; to control the anger and the racquet-smashing sessions and calm down to become a well-behaved role model for the younger generations.
All those who have seen Roddick’s journey will agree to few things for sure: his true love for the game, the true competitor in him, his sense of humor in imitating his fellow professionals just for the camera and fans. Those who are surprised by his sudden retirement should know that he has left tennis to focus more on his foundation which takes on budding talent; in short, he wants to ensure that he gives something back to his fans. Tennis will always find a better player, maybe someone who can serve at 200 miles, someone is more talented and better-equipped, but to find an another Andy Roddick, it will at least take centuries, if not a millennium.
(The article comes from an ardent Nadal fan, one who hasn’t seen Roddick lift the 2003 US Open, but who had tears when he lost the epic Wimbledon finals, who was awake till 3 at night just hoping the master plays another day. My heart will beat for Rafa, the mind would always favor Federer but spirit is forever yours – Roddick. It has been my pleasure watching you).