Roddick Reveals ‘My Starbucks Match’

American reflects in Facebook Live with International Tennis Hall of Fame

With 32 tour-level singles titles including the 2003 US Open, enabling him to finish that season as year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Andy Roddick was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017. But for all of his accomplishments, the American acknowledged his most memorable match is a loss.

In a Facebook Live on Wednesday with the Hall of Fame, Roddick discussed a wide range of topics including his classic 2009 Wimbledon final with Roger Federer. He still gets asked about his five-set defeat more than a decade later and felt that the match, which gave Federer his 15th Grand Slam title and broke the all-time record held by Pete Sampras for most major singles championships, transcended tennis.

“The Royal Box, in terms of the calibre of former players who were there to witness that for Roger… I said that I felt like the guy who was trying to shoot Bambi that day,” Roddick joked. "You walk out and see Sampras is there, and you know he’s there because he and Roger both have 14 Grand Slam titles. You certainly feel the weight of the moment.

“If you’re lucky as a tennis player, you have that moment where you go into any Starbucks and people want to know more about it. That’s my Starbucks match. [Winning] the US Open is not [and] finishing No. 1 [in the FedEx ATP Rankings] is not.”

Roddick ended his pro career at the 2012 US Open on his 30th birthday. It seems like an early age to retire as the Big Three have all won Grand Slams well into their 30s. However, Roddick cited Federer and Nadal’s smart scheduling, which could have extended his career, as a trait he lacked.

“If I got hurt and they said you’re out for six weeks, I’d always try to get back after three or four weeks,” Roddick said. “If you look at the precedent that Roger and Rafa have set, where they’re only going to play when they’re ready and completely healthy, trying to peak at certain times… They put on their blinders and decide what’s best for them.

“I think I was probably a little bit too insecure in my own ability to sit on the sidelines and try to time it well. I think I would have been able to play a bit longer if I paced myself with training and been a bit smarter about scheduling.”

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But one skill he possessed, which many of his peers lacked, is a booming serve that won him plenty of free points. Roddick’s serve wasn’t a weapon for much of his junior career and it only morphed into the classic motion fans became familiar with due to blind luck. 

“I was practising in high school with Mardy Fish and he was drumming me. I was getting kind of heated, so I did this little half-motion and the serve went in. Then the next one went in pretty hard and that was it,” Roddick said. “It wasn’t intentional or like we were trying to get super creative or innovative. I was upset and it was a bit of a tantrum.”

His service motion played a key role in racking up the 612 tour-level wins that helped spark his Hall of Fame induction. Although he was disappointed that this year’s ceremony honouring 2001 Wimbledon Goran Ivanisevic and WTA star Conchita Martinez was moved to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s excited for them to experience the same joy that he did during his induction weekend.

“When you retire, everyone in your tennis orbit goes into their next thing, whether it’s family or some of them coming back to the Tour,” Roddick said. “Having an excuse to get everyone back together, having beers and playing ping-pong the night before with everyone who helped you along the way, is probably one of my favourite memories.”

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