Roddick came up short at majors, but proud of longevity
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open, reached the final of Wimbledon three times and was a fixture in the top 10 for much of his career. Still, he didn't think his induction in the International Tennis Hall of Fame was a sure thing.
''It's not something I thought I was entitled to,'' he told The Associated Press on Tuesday at the Australian Open. ''I'm not a shoo-in like Roger (Federer) or Serena (Williams) or anyone like that, so I certainly appreciate it.''
Roddick, 34, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, on July 22 alongside four-time major winner Kim Clijsters, wheelchair tennis player Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch, tennis historian and journalist Steve Flink and the late instructor Vic Braden.
Roddick may not have collected as many Grand Slam trophies as Federer or other players of his generation, but he takes pride in the fact he reached No. 1 and his longevity at the top of the game.
''I never really went away,'' he said. ''I was in the top 10 for a decade. That took a lot of time and a lot of effort and to stay there mentally that long is a tough thing, especially when the guys you're trying to go through to win big tournaments, they were and are very good and (have) since become the most decorated generation.''
Roddick came up just short at Wimbledon three times, losing to Federer in the finals in 2004, `05 and `09. He also lost to the Swiss great, his biggest rival in the sport, in the U.S. Open final in 2006.
Overall, Roddick had a 3-21 record against Federer, but he's quick to point out that he won their last match in Miami in 2012.
''He's lucky I retired,'' Roddick quipped.
The American may have suffered more than his fair share of disappointing losses to Federer, but his respect for the 17-time major winner runs deep and he's honored to have played in the same generation as him.
''It's weird because you share history with someone. It becomes a part of your definition for a long time,'' he said. ''I'm happy that a part of my definition is as respectful, as classy and as good of a human as Roger.''
Roddick was also under tremendous pressure throughout his career as the player expected to extend the U.S. dominance in the sport following the retirement of Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang.
While Roddick did capture the 2003 U.S. Open and helped the U.S. end a 12-year drought with a Davis Cup victory in 2007, he never replicated the success the previous generation enjoyed, in large part due to the rise of Federer and Rafael Nadal.
''It was a responsibility I took very seriously,'' he said of his role as the No. 1 American. ''I don't know that I was ever going to fill the gap that was left by the generation before, it's probably the greatest generation ever from one place and the lineage is certainly impressive.''
He looks at the next generation of American players now emerging and feels excited about the future. Seven American men between the ages of 18 and 20 made the main draw at Melbourne Park, including Reilly Opelka, Jared Donaldson, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe. Three advanced to the second round.
Roddick called it the ''best crop of talent we've had in 15 years, maybe 20 years.''
''I like that they have company, too,'' he said. ''I like that it's not just one guy. I like they're going to have the opportunity to create a bit of a healthy jealousy. ... I think that we saw that with our greatest (U.S.) generation.''
As for his own playing days, Roddick doesn't miss the grind of the tour.
''I miss my son (Hank) at home right now on the other side of the world more,'' he said.