Andy Roddick's attempt to play doubles with Mardy Fish at the U.S. Open has been thwarted by anti-doping rules.
The two players — each the former top-ranked American — decided last week to make a one-time appearance to fulfill a dream they had as 15-year-olds. One problem: Roddick isn't allowed to compete because he has not re-entered tennis' drug-testing program since his official retirement last year.
Speaking on a Fox Sports Live podcast, Roddick detailed how the would-be partnership originated. Fish, 32, has not played a professional match since last August, a second-round retirement to Jarkko Nieminen in Winston-Salem, N.C. The ex-world No. 7 suffered from a heart condition that, as Roddick vaguely described, led to other medical issues. Fish associated tennis with only negative emotions and Roddick wanted to change that.
"I started thinking, Man, he never got his just due," Roddick said. "If he has played his last professional tennis match -- and I don't think that's known by him or anyone else at this point -- I don't want it to be defaulting a third set of an ATP warmup event for the U.S. Open in Winston-Salem. So I kind of just floated the idea, 'Hey, man, if you ever want to get out there and have a great time and have a great memory just in case it is the last one, I'd play doubles with you at the U.S. Open if you wanted me to.' We've been friends, we went to high school together, we went through our entire careers as brothers, as Davis Cup teammates, the whole deal. Selfishly I wanted to see him have an awesome time on the tennis court again."
Fish wasn't sure about the offer initially, but called Roddick last week to accept. After floating the idea to the USTA, the 31-year-old Roddick soon learned he was ineligible to play. Because Roddick officially retired in February 2013, he needed to inform the ITF of his return and make himself available for drug testing three months before the U.S. Open. Neither of those things happened by the late-May deadline.
"I am not eligible for a U.S. Open wild card, which f---ing sucks because I was looking forward to it on a lot of different levels, " Roddick said.
Roddick's frustration was exacerbated by the fact that his formal retirement, which removed him from the rankings and helped other players move up, ended up hurting him. If he had stopped playing without submitting retirement papers, he would have been eligible to receive a U.S. Open wild card as long as he remained part of the drug-testing program.
"Frankly, if common sense won in this one, I passed 14 years of tests during my career, filed the papers that you wanted me to file ... I feel by doing the right thing and actually filing my retirement papers and not just letting [his place in the rankings] fall off, I kinda got f---ed in the end of this thing, which I'm not really thrilled about.
"I get the rule in place, the three-month rule, but I feel like there should be maybe an appeal process," Roddick added. "Listen, if I'm going to do performance-enhancing drugs and make a comeback, I promise you it's not going to be for one doubles tournament at the U.S. Open. That's for sure. Obviously there's no common sense in the ruling, but it is what it is and they're going to stick to the rules."
Listen to Roddick's entire explanation and 11-minute rant (which contains strong language) at the 24-minute mark: