My favorite American male tennis player won his 23rd singles tournament yesterday in Washington, DC. Andy Roddick’s mighty serve defeated the serve of upstart American player John Isner, who just joined the ATP tour in May, after finishing college – which by the way, is almost unheard of in tennis.
Andy is a big guy, and carries himself with all that cocky assurance that is so American. Andy is also smart, with a wry and self-deprecating sense of humor – and a great gift for both satire and imitation. There’s a great YouTube clip of him becoming Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe – and even his new coach, Jimmy Connors.
A generous human, Andy started a foundation early in his career, now run by his mother. He gives time and energy to that and many other charitable activities.
He is a player who is generous in defeat and in victory. He’s also always learning, trying new strokes, beginning to come to the net, willing to look at the game from fresh perspectives.
He is the third best tennis player on the planet at this time. Without Roger Federer, he would have 5 or 6 Grand Slam titles – he’s a natural on grass, and so would have 2 or 3 Wimbledon’s. He already has one US Open title, and would certainly have collected another by now, plus at least one Australian.
My favorite memory is his win last year (2006) in Cincinnati – I was there, of course – it was a hard fought match under steamy conditions and it didn’t look like he was going to win a lot of the way.
He dropped to the court, gave it a kiss, and then got up and high-fived as many fans as he could reach as he jogged around the perimeter.
A class act, an outgoing and generous guy – I’m looking forward to seeing Andy at this year’s tournament – he says it’s one of his favorites.