US Open Press Conference: Andy Roddick announces retirement
ANDY RODDICK: Thank you all for coming. I'll make this short and sweet. I've decided that this is going to be my last tournament.
TIM CURRY: Questions?
Q. Why now?
ANDY RODDICK: I just feel like it's time. I don't know that I'm healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I've always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I've thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew.
Q. Is it something you've been wrestling with for days, weeks, or months?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's been a process. It's certainly not days. I don't know that I would have had you all come in here and waste your time if it had been days. You know, certain parts throughout the year, I've thought about it. You know, just with the way my body feels, with the way that I'm able to feel like I'm able to compete now, I don't know that it's good enough. I don't know that I've ever been someone who's interested in existing on tour. I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I'm looking forward to those.
Q. Is there any way to quantify how much the health issue is versus the mental and emotional issue?
ANDY RODDICK: It's tough to say. It's kind of chicken or egg. How much of mental fatigue is because you don't feel like you can do what you want to do physically? You don't know where it starts. But it's tough to put a number.
Q. You've been talking about this for a couple years. We've talked about 30 is not that old in tennis. Obviously Federer is 30. You've been a good athlete, very competitive. In a sense, you're sort of retiring early, no?
ANDY RODDICK: Now you're saying that (smiling)?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's good. I didn't want to make it through this press conference without a direct comparison to Roger, so thank you for that. I don't know, necessarily. A number is a number. But I think wear and tear and miles is something that's not really an age thing. You know, if you look at my contemporaries that started with me, Roger is the only one that's still going and still going strong. It's a matter of how I feel. I feel like I'm able to compete at the highest level. Frankly, these guys have gotten really, really, really good. I'm not sure that with compromised health that I can do what I want to do right now.
Q. I'm assuming the high point is 2003 here. So good place to bow out.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I don't know. I don't view it in a scope of where you had your best win. I've had a lot of different memories. I'll certainly look back. I feel like I'd be cheating the other memories if I said one was the highlight. You know, I feel like I've been very lucky. That's certainly not lost on me.
Q. You mentioned other projects. What projects would you like to do now that the tennis career is coming to an end?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, immediately we announced yesterday or the day before we're building, with my foundation, a youth tennis and learning center in Austin. I'd like to be hands on with that and not see it periodically. I'd like to be kind of on‑site every day. There's some other projects, kind of side projects, that I've been doing. Those excite me a lot right now. So I'm looking forward to it.
Q. How emotional is this for you? I know you like to make light of things. Now that it's final for you, how emotional is it? What was it about that first‑round match that clicked?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. On some big moments this year, I think I've known. You know, walking off at Wimbledon, I felt like I knew. Playing here, I don't know what it was. I couldn't imagine myself being there in another year. I've always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I've never done anything halfway. Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I'm not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally. I don't know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home. I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year. But the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not. You know, that's more kind of the way I've chosen to do things.
Q. Is there an emotional element to this? You've sat alone and thought about it, talked to family?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, I've had some hard conversations with Brooke this year, with Doug and Larry. You know, it was Brooke and I's little secret over the last couple days. I talked to Larry and Doug today. We had talked about it throughout the year, obviously. Talked to a bunch of my friends that are here. It's time.
Q. What do you think you'll miss the most? You've been doing this a long time.
ANDY RODDICK: All of you (smiling). I'm not sure. You know, I'm lucky enough, there are a lot of players where I live. I don't think I'm one of the guys who won't pick up a racquet for three years. You know, I still love the innocent parts of the game. I love hitting tennis balls. I love seeing the young guys do well. I'll still have a lot of friends to watch. I'll miss the relationships probably the most. As time passes, I'll probably miss the tennis more. But immediately that's probably the thing that is toughest for me.
Q. Why not wait until after your final match, your birthday? Did you want to give the fans an opportunity?
ANDY RODDICK: Those are good reasons. I think I wanted an opportunity to say good‑bye to people, as well. I don't know how tomorrow's going to go. I hope it goes well and I hope I'm sticking around. I just imagine being off the court tomorrow in an empty locker room. I think I wanted a chance to say good‑bye. Also, if I do run into some emotions tomorrow or in four days or however long, I don't want people to think I'm a little unstable, or more unstable (smiling). That's why I came to this decision.
Q. You are playing under the lights on Ashe tomorrow for potentially what could be the last time. What do you anticipate your emotions will be?
ANDY RODDICK: I have no idea. I have no idea. I talked to Larry and Doug and said, I could come out and play great, or it could be the worst thing you've ever seen. I don't know. I've never done this before. I'm sure it will be very emotional. I'm sure I'll still be nervous. I don't know.
Q. Did Ken's passing at all in any outside way sort of influence where you are, in this decision at all, where you are in the game?
ANDY RODDICK: Maybe. I don't know. Ken was certainly a huge, huge part of everything for me. He believed in me from very early on. You know, that certainly wasn't easy for me. But, you know, his wife and his daughter are going to come up, so that will be really nice to have them here.
Q. Do you take any example from any athlete you've ever seen who knew the right time to retire?
ANDY RODDICK: I think the thing that you guys have to understand is there's not going to be a general rule. It's not because you have a certain age next to your name that that's it. There are a lot of different personalities. Some people just want to play until they can't play anymore, until they're pushed out just by ranking, or they can't get into tournaments. I don't think it's fair to maybe generalize this moment for people. Different people tick in different ways. I don't know that I looked at anybody else's scenario when thinking about this 'cause I don't know that I could pretend to relate to whatever they were thinking at a given moment.
Q. Like any top American athlete, you're praised, you're criticized. What are you most proud of in your run, your career? If you could point to one or two things that you might have changed, what would that be?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know that I would change much. Obviously I think everybody would want to win a match or two more. Had I won a match or two more, we'd be looking back at something a little bit different. But that's also shaped kind of who I am and how I've been able to learn. You know, if everything would have been easy the whole way, who knows how you'd view things. I'm pretty content with the way I do.
Q. You've learned from playing in this era of Roger, Rafa, Djokovic in terms of your life?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. At the end of the day, I know that people view it as a career, last little while, of some hard knocks. But I got to play. I got to play in a crowd, play in Wimbledon finals, be the guy on a Davis Cup team for a while. Those are opportunities not a lot of people get. As much as I was disappointed and frustrated at times, I'm not sure that I ever felt sorry for myself or begrudged anybody any of their success.
Q. The first part of that question, what are you most proud of?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, I was pretty good for a long time. The reason I gave earlier about not feeling like I could be committed to this thing a hundred percent, that's one of the things I'm proud of. That for 13 or 14 years, I was invested fully, every day. I've seen a lot of people throughout that time be invested for a year, kind of tap out for a year, come back. I've been pretty good about keeping my nose to the grindstone. I feel like I won a lot of matches from hard work and persistence, even maybe when I had better options as far as shot‑making.
Q. What does it mean to you to be the face of American tennis for the last eight years?
ANDY RODDICK: It's been a pleasure. It's not something that's easy every day, for sure, especially when you get kind of anointed at a young age, 17, 18. It's something you roll with. For the moments where it's been hard, I've had 25 positive things that have come from it. Again, anything that people may view as tough, I've been very lucky and very fortunate. I've gotten a lot of opportunities. I wouldn't trade away a day of it. I've loved every minute.
Q. On behalf of Australian tennis and Australia, any chance of taking you out for a few beers tonight?
ANDY RODDICK: We'll talk after this (laughter).
Q. You said there's some interesting things you'd like to move on to do. What are they? What does your wife think of this decision?
ANDY RODDICK: I haven't asked her yet (laughter). I'm joking. A lot of stuff with my foundation will probably be my primary focus from here for a little bit. Obviously I've gone over to the dark side with you guys with the radio show a little bit. So that's fun. It's something I enjoy doing. I'll probably build on that a little bit. There are some other things also. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. There's plenty of athletes that make this kind of announcement in a flood of tears. You seem quite clear about it.
ANDY RODDICK: I feel clear. If I'm being honest, I would have bet against myself on getting through this without tears today. I must have already gotten them all out earlier. I feel pretty good today. This has been a huge part of my life always. But I don't know that it's always been my entire life. So I do feel very confident in the things and the people that I have to fall back on.
Q. Your first time here at the US Open, what has this place meant to you since?
ANDY RODDICK: My first time? I was here in '98, I played Fernando González in the juniors first round.
Q. You came as a fan before that?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, gosh, yeah. I came here in I think it was 1990 with my parents as a birthday present. I snuck into the players lounge without a credential.
Q. Did you see Pete?
ANDY RODDICK: I saw Pete. He was playing video games. I'm pretty sure I beat him at like Mortal Kombat or something. That was fun. I was here in '91 when Jimmy was making his run. We only had grounds passes, but I got into the stadium every day somehow. Then playing here, I think I played professional in '99 doubles for the first time. There have been a lot of memories here.
Q. What does this place mean to you?
ANDY RODDICK: It's meant a lot. It's the highest of highs and probably the lowest of lows also. It's certainly never been boring. I've always enjoyed the energy. I feel like each Grand Slam is almost a microcosm of the place it's played in. This is a show. It's New York City in every way. I'm glad that I've been a very, very small part of it.
Q. You mentioned the run of Jimmy Connors. Are you ready to let it hang all out, go on a dream run here?
ANDY RODDICK: We'll see. I wish it was a choice (smiling).
Q. You mentioned you talked to Doug and Larry. What were the reaction of some of your friends?
ANDY RODDICK: Some are still learning. I didn't want to tell the guys that had to play, so James is going to be surprised. Dougie was a little baby about it all (laughter). Lost a lot of man respect for him. Everyone is a little stunned just because of the finality of it all, but I don't think anybody was really surprised. I think the people that know me know that I've been thinking about it for a little bit. It's the time. I think they all understood that. They're all happy. Some of my friends are excited because it means more golf rounds. I see some head nodding there. No, everyone's been very supportive.
Q. 2006, Agassi retires. I remember you saying, The training wheels are off for us. Now the training wheels are off for the younger guys. Are you comfortable where the younger guys are moving ahead?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. You know, I can't protect them now, you know, that's for sure. But I think John's ready. Mardy is really good with the younger guys. Ryan will play well once he figures everything out. Doesn't change the fact that I still live four miles away from him. I'll still kick his ass. No, I feel pretty good about it all. Even though I won't be competing against them, I think they all know I've never been more than a phone call away from them.
Q. When you're back at home in Austin, walking about the house, see the US Open trophy you won, what goes through your mind?
ANDY RODDICK: Honestly, I don't see it very often. It's in a study. We all know I don't go there very much (laughter). I see it probably as much as you guys see the one here.
Q. To play another match at night, how much have you enjoyed night matches here at the Open and how much different are they from day matches?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it's the most electric atmosphere in our sport. There's something about it. There's a lot of eyeballs on TV sets from people who don't even normally watch tennis during night matches of the US Open. I think I've played as many as anyone. Again, it's just something I'll look back on with really fond memories. Hopefully won't be my last one.
Q. Do you think it's going to be an adjustment to be at home? You guys are world wanderers. You haven't really ever stayed at home for years on end.
ANDY RODDICK: You know, I don't think I'm foolish enough to think that it's all going to be easy for me. I don't know that I would be that presumptuous. I love my home life, my friends, my wife. My dog is going to be excited. I'm not going to be a dead‑beat dad anymore (smiling). It will be an adjustment, but hopefully if I ever want to come say hi to you all, they'll give me a credential.
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