Andy Roddick has passed the point in his tennis career where winning another U.S. Open is a realistic goal. For Roddick, simply being a factor in the second week at Flushing Meadows is what it will take to retain any real relevance beyond 2012.
There's no doubt Andy Roddick showed fine form in his first-round match at the 2012 U.S. Open on Tuesday, Aug. 28. Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, beat qualifier Rhyne Williams 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round.Williams, the NCAA runner-up in 2011 out of the University of Tennessee, won three qualifying matches to get to this point. But he proved to be no match for Roddick. The 2003 U.S. Open champion served up 20 aces in the match and won the last 16 points on his serve. He finished with a total of 37 winners.
His biggest highlight came when he clocked a serve at 141 miles per hour. It was the first time in three years Roddick had a serve reach 140 mph. He served up another speedy serve on the match point, sending it over the net at 127 mph.
Still, it is important not to read too much into a single match. Roddick should look this good against a qualifier who came into the match ranked 289th in the world. But he needs to show he can do it against better opponents to prove he still has enough left in the tank.
On the eve of his 30th birthday, Roddick is approaching the twilight of his tennis career. He has struggled to remain competitive in the major tournaments in 2012 and has been hampered by lingering back and shoulder injuries. His gradual decline has underscored the lack of a dominant American player in men's tennis. None of the younger U.S. players have even come close to filling Roddick's shoes, let alone made a push to join the elite company of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.
Roddick has always been at his best in the U.S. Open, with a career record of 41-11. Still, a good track record at Arthur Ashe Stadium does not mask the fact that the window of opportunity for him has essentially closed. At a time when Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have dominated the grand slam tournaments, Roddick is on the outside looking in.
It will take more than one match to change that reality.
John Coon has covered tennis at all levels as a sports reporter based in Salt Lake City. Coon was raised in a tennis loving family. All three of his sisters played competitively and Coon himself enjoys playing at a recreational level.