Andy Roddick's victory at the 2003 U.S. Open accomplished two things. First, it quieted the critics who questioned whether the American would ever be able to put together a solid two weeks of tennis and win a major. (Such discussion always seemed a bit ridiculous, seeing as how Roddick still wasn't of legal drinking age when that tournament began.) Second, it established him as tennis' next big thing.
At that point, Roddick and Roger Federer owned the same amount of major titles and it seemed likely that the two would make-up the next great rivalry in tennis. Instead, Federer won 12 of the next 16 majors, establishing himself as one of the all-time greats. And when a challenger finally did arise it wasn't Roddick, but a Spainard named Rafael Nadal.
If it does happen, it almost assuredly won't be at the French. Today's loss may have been a numerical upset -- Gael Monfils was seeded No. 11, Roddick No. 6 -- but, as Martin Rogers pointed out this weekend, there wasn't a realistic chance of Roddick winning the tournament. Even with the great improvement Roddick has made in his game over the past year, he'll never be a clay court player.
That leaves the other three majors. In those, Roddick has only advanced to three finals since he won in '03, losing to Roger Federer each time. Now that Rafael Nadal is also in the mix, any path to a Grand Slam would likely include both of those players.
Plus, Roddick is 26: practically ancient in the tennis world. (John McEnroe won his last major at 25. By 26, Bjorn Borg was retired. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi had multiple Grand Slams when they won their final majors at 31 and 32, but they're the exception, not the rule.)
With his advanced (tennis) age and those two superstars looming down the line in every draw, it's safe to say that Andy Roddick faces an uphill climb to add to the one major he already has. Although, just because his window is closing doesn't mean it's shut just yet.