Roddick - Gone, But Definitely Not Forgotten Post-Retirement
Andy Roddick may be retired, but his active presence in the sport proves we still must pay attention to him writes Tennis Now's Erik Gudris.
By Erik Gudris
February 14th, 2013
Andy Roddick has been officially retired from tennis for the past five months. But he hasn't exactly been keeping a low profile.
The former No. 1 seems to pop up somewhere almost every week whether it's at the Super Bowl, a pro-am golf tournament or at an exhibition like the one he's scheduled to appear at this weekend at the SAP Open in San Jose.
This week a who's who of current American players, including John Isner and Sam Querrey, are also in San Jose. But the dominant discussion coming out of the event so far isn't on who will win the title, but instead who among the local talent will rise up and take over Roddick's mantle as being the face of U.S. men's tennis.
The recent grim stats that show the dominance of American players in the game is long over has increased the urgency to find the next Roddick – that is, someone who can become a household name the way the big serving Nebraska native did when he won the U.S. Open in 2003.
But it's hard to keep focus on who that might be when Roddick himself keeps making headlines. Just a few days ago Roddick, speaking at a charity event in Palm Desert, California, publicly blasted the ATP's decision to vote down organizers of the BNP Paribas Open and their move to increase its prize money total for this year's event. He also spoke at length about the ongoing discussion about doping in tennis and revealed that he himself had to let drug testers know his whereabouts while he was in Palm Desert. (Source: MyDesertSun.com)
Why would he be tested you ask? Because Roddick hasn't yet turned in his retirement papers to the ATP. That Roddick hasn't yet done so, either for business reasons or that he's just been too busy, explains his current world ranking of No. 42 on the computer despite not having played an official match since Flushing Meadows. Though one shouldn't expect him to make a comeback anytime soon, it does explain the odd role Roddick has right now – not in competition anymore but still part of the framework of the sport.
While some tennis fans are sad that Roddick is no longer on tour, there are plenty of others who are relieved they won't have to see or hear his brash personality again at a big event. But what both sides will agree upon is that Roddick still attracts attention. And it's that ability to get the press's interest and the new duality he currently inhabits that might just make him a perfect candidate to serve as an ambassador or an intermediary of some kind in the ongoing division between the players and the ATP.
We all know Roddick is capable of taking control of a bad situation. Case in point – his famous march to Court 13 at the 2011 U.S. Open when he was unsatisfied about court conditions for his then fourth round match against David Ferrer. The issue at Indian Wells may well resolve itself soon, but that doesn't mean the touchy topic of prize money, the nearly endless schedule and other ongoing flashpoints between the players and the ATP won't stop. Roddick could possibly serve as the voice of the players in an impartial way as he isn't officially competing, he's not currently on the payroll of any major tennis media outlets, and he isn't on the board of any ATP committees.
That is if Roddick wants to. Right now, he still appears happy just to be improving his golf game, participating on his syndicated radio show and, yes, appearing on court when he can. That includes him being a recent first round draft pick for World Team Tennis this summer.
"I first played World TeamTennis when I was just starting out and have played throughout my career so I'm excited to be back," said Roddick. "I've always liked the competition and the fan energy. I love being on a team and am looking forward to playing for the Springfield Lasers this July."
Whatever role Roddick chooses or chooses not to have in the sport moving forward is his to make. But don't expect him to quietly fade away into obscurity before he steps up to the podium to receive his expected induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame sometime in the future. Andy Roddick may be gone from the tour, but he's certainly not going to let us forget him anytime soon.