Roddick On Federer, Nadal & Djokovic: 'I Hope People Appreciate Every Last Shot That These Guys Hit'
If any retired player knows that it’s like to compete against the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, it’s Andy Roddick. And as he nears the seven-year anniversary of his retirement at the 2012 US Open, the former World No. 1 marvels at how some of his greatest rivals are still going strong.
“I think there’s such an appetite with the news cycle that’s out there and the availability of content, I think the natural shift is to what’s next. Everyone always wants to know what’s next. A story sits for two hours and then something happens the next day and it’s gone. Tennis is no different,” Roddick said before playing Robby Ginepri in an exhibition at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Monday evening. “I hope people sit back and enjoy, take a moment with these guys and the way they’re playing and what they’re doing to the record books. I hope people appreciate every last shot that these guys hit.”
At Wimbledon, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated eight-time champion Roger Federer in a thrilling five-set final that went to a fifth-set tie-break at 12-12. Djokovic saved two championship points in the classic, becoming the first titlist at The Championships to save match points in the final since Robert Falkenburg in 1948.
“I was yelling at the TV, I was in the drama, I felt like a total fan. It’s hard to think that 10 years ago I was kind of having that same afternoon, but I just sit back and try to appreciate it,” Roddick said. “I’m watching and trying to figure out what they’re doing, what their strategies are, the adjustments that are being made and all the while I wish it was just talked about more in real time as far as what adjustments are being made, what’s different in the fifth set than what was going on in the second set, so it was interesting. I thought it was great.”
Roddick, who won five of his nine FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with Djokovic, pointed out that the Serbian’s accomplishments have perhaps flown under the radar given Federer and Nadal’s success, when they should be recognised as well. Djokovic claimed his 16th Grand Slam title earlier this month.
“For Novak to go through Roger and Rafa [in] some of their prime years to get to where he is in the game [is impressive]. It’s been the Roger-Rafa show for a long time and now, oh, by the way, Novak’s sitting at 16 Grand Slams. So I don’t want people to undersell what he’s done,” Roddick said. “You start reeling off some of the names like McEnroe, Connors and Andre, they had seven, eight and eight Slams. Novak has 16. Then they go okay, and then the weight of those names and what he’s accomplished settles in.
“I hope people, one, appreciate what Novak has done and two, I think there’s certainly an appetite for what Roger and Rafa have accomplished.”
Although Ginepri defeated Roddick 1-6, 6-2, 10-7 at Atlantic Station, Roddick has plenty of special memories in this city. Both the first and last of the American’s 32 tour-level titles came in Atlanta. His first triumph here was when he was only 18, and his last came just about a month before announcing his retirement at Flushing Meadows.
“As far as pivotal moments early on, these seemed like the biggest events that had ever happened. So a lot of the history was right here in Atlanta,” Roddick said. “In 2012 when I was playing here, I didn’t know it was going to be my last run through the American summer. In the moment, it was very significant because I was trying to regain form after a tough start to the year. So it was significant in the present, but then in retrospect, having it be the last time I won, which I didn’t know at the time was being a possibility based on whether I was going to retire or not [was special]. So it’s always been a very special place.”