How long has it been since Andy Roddick’s name was mentioned as a serious challenger to reigning heavyweight tennis champ Roger Federer? With young guns Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on the scene, Roddick has quietly slipped into the background of men’s tennis as a perennial top ten player who can’t quite compete with today’s versatile, all-court players. And yet looking at Roddick’s record over the past five years, he has been one of the most consistent players on tour, but still there is a lack of respect from media and tennis fans alike that such a record would normally command.
Looking at his Grand Slam record, Andy Roddick hasn’t exactly lit the record books since his professional tennis debut in 2000. The US Open title in 2003 is his lone Grand Slam title. That puts him in the same company as Thomas Johansson, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Goran Ivanisevic. All one hit wonders. I’m not trying to say that Roddick is on par with these players, or that he won’t at some point win another slam. Surely if it were not for Roger Federer, Roddick would own a couple of Wimbledon titles and another US Open as well. How many players has Federer denied reaching greater heights?
Roddick’s record over the past five years grants him the status as one of the best players of his generation. Looking at the following win/loss statistics, it is hard to argue with that statement. His Slam record other than his one win, includes 3 finals, 4 semi finals, and 4 quarter final appearances. He has also qualified in the season ending Masters tournament each year during that span.
His wins have may have diminished over the years, but he is playing less tournaments than he used to. More importantly, he has had to deal with the growing threat of an emerging group of younger tennis players who have risen to the top of the sport. His steady play has been overshadowed by the recent emergence of Nadal (3 grand slams, age 21) and Djokovic (1 grand slam, age 20). Sometimes, he even gets upstaged by whichever player has had the most recent momentary surge, such as Jo-Wilfred Tsonga at this year’s Australian Open.
This past week in Dubai, Roddick certainly reclaimed the spotlight. Not only did he hold serve the entire tournament, but he also successfully defeated both Nadal and Djokovic which must have felt incredibly satisfying. Both were straight set victories leaving no doubt that Roddick was in control of the match. He had never beaten Djokovic, and had not beaten Nadal since 2004 when Nadal was still a kid. Despite amicably parting ways with coach Jimmy Connors the previous week, he has made it known that he is ready to contend for a Grand Slam again and will be looking to build on these victories at the upcoming Masters Series hard court events in the US. After years of everyone asking what’s wrong with Andy Roddick, it’s nice to pause for a moment and examine what’s right.