Andy Roddick on his own terms
Retirement is a brand new lifestyle choice for Andy Roddick, but three months into his new way of being, the former No. 1 is content with leaving the tennis grind behind.
But if anyone has the idea he has just been sitting in an easy chair and relaxing, think again. Beyond his admitted addiction to watching football on the Red Zone channel in close proximity to the refrigerator, the 30-year-old has been keeping busy pursuing other "normal" life activities.
The last time Roddick remembers being able to enjoy doing whatever he wants instead of tennis dictating his every step was when he was 10.
"What's filling my life? All the things that should be filling your life," said Roddick, who was in Miami to play the Miami Tennis Cup, an exhibition he committed to before deciding to retire following the U.S. Open.
"Time with friends and family. It's funny I get asked the question and every day I wake up, I feel like I have a full day. Last week my friends and I did a 5K, then we did a boot camp, had brunch and a couple of Bloody Marys, then after that we went and did laser tag for three hours. It was like 12 of us and then at night we went to dinner and a movie. We literally started at 8:30 in the morning and we were done at 10:45 at night and it was awesome. It's nice to do whatever you want and fill time with a bunch of random activities."
Swinging a golf club rather than a tennis racket is occupying a big chunk of Roddick's time. While not traveling to play tennis, he's made a number of trips to play some of the great golf courses around the country. "Which ones?" he was repeatedly asked during the weekend in Miami. "I can't tell you," he said, smiling, seeming to stop short of using the old joke that if he made the reveal, he'd have to kill those within hearing range.
Where he has been playing golf was an off-limits topic. But how he's playing was not.
"I have been playing a lot," Roddick said. "It depends if my wife [actress Brooklyn Decker] is traveling. No chance I play less than 36 holes on one of her travel days. I've played 50-60 rounds since the U.S. Open. My game's OK, but I look at things in the grand scheme of sports. Someone who's OK at golf. … I imagine the guy playing next to me in some tennis center that I was judging and I think I'm that guy in golf now. I can hit the ball a little bit, but I definitely don't want to say I'm any good at it at all."
On the serious side, Roddick is spending time being hands-on with his charitable foundation's new venture of building a sports and learning center in East Austin, Texas, the city where he resides. And he's also continuing to put his well-known wit to use on the syndicated weekly radio show he's co-hosted since last year with Bobby Bones for Fox Sports Radio. His hope is that the show might one day go daily.
While the 2003 U.S. Open champion is keeping himself very busy, he hasn't fooled himself into thinking he has any real sense of how retirement feels. His last official pro match -- a fourth-round loss to Juan Martin del Potro at the U.S. Open -- led into the autumn season when he usually kept to a lighter tour schedule.
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Roddick knows, however, that he'll soon get his first taste of no longer being a full-time tennis player.
"To be honest, I don't know that it will really affect me until January comes around," he said. "The last 13 Januarys I've been in Australia. I haven't experienced Jan. 8 in the United States for 15 years. You start to identify certain months with certain places, that's where you are. … I wasn't jealous of the guys going on a 15-hour flight to Shanghai [in October] or wherever else. Once I see the guys over [in Australia], obviously I'll miss it a little bit."
As it turns out, Roddick hasn't totally changed how he's spending the traditional December offseason. This week, Roddick, in Los Angeles, where Decker has meetings, was spotted at UCLA hitting with James Blake, who at 32 is still keeping his racket in hand.
Retiring, it turns out, had nothing to do with Roddick losing his zeal for the game.
"It's still fun," Roddick said. "That's the thing. Some people leave because they resent the game or they just can't play anymore. I don't know that was the case for me in either scenario. I always said I wanted to go out on my terms when I could still play a little bit. I still enjoy hitting balls."
Hitting balls is one thing. Going through the rigors of training, which Roddick is known to have been obsessive about, was starting to be too much. Dealing with chronic injuries the past few years was also taking a toll.
"Tennis is a full-time job and not just the two hours that people see when we're on the court," Roddick said. "The recovery became hard. I'm not graceful like Roger Federer. I have to use a lot more effort and a lot more of my physical tools. And what you see when I play is what I did in every practice. My body kept asking for more and I'm not sure I had more to give."
So for those wondering what Roddick has been up to, it's the pursuit of the normalcy he hasn't known since he was a child. Of course, he's not destined to ever be that guy next door, who is unlikely to retire at age 30 with over $20.6 million in prize money earnings, not to mention a successful actress as a wife.
But after more than a decade as the most notable American player, Roddick is within his right to attempt to be his best version of just the man on the street.