Robert Morgan reminisces on a career which saw the 2003 US Open champion become as loved for his quick-fire wit as for his tennis.
“I’m sorry but you look like a tennis ball. All I can see is this tennis ball talking.” Classic Roddick, unable to resist a cheeky dig at a rather rotund Spanish journalist standing at the back of the press conference room, who’d made the unfortunate fashion faux-par of a bright yellow jumper with white stripes.
I was covering my first major tournament for Tennis World, the 2010 ATP World Tour Finals in London and while Roddick was the lowest ranked player in the field, no one missed his media engagements. “Andy’s always good value for money,” the Times correspondent told me as we listened in on his pre-tournament BBC interview.
But being in a Roddick press conference could be a double edged sword; if you had the nerve to pop him a question. Having sat through the monotonic, non-committal answers of most of the top players (sit in on an Andy Murray press conference and you’ll see what I mean), Roddick’s perennial honesty was refreshing. You could always rely on him to speak his mind, in victory or defeat but if your question was not deemed worthy enough, Roddick’s curt dismissals, delivered with his classic straight-faced dry humour, were legendary.
I soon got my own taste. Roddick had just lost his opening round-robin match to Rafa Nadal in a close three setter. “Andy, surely you can take a lot of confidence out of taking the world number one the distance?” I naively asked
The response was instant and laced with sarcasm. “Motivational. You could have a career in coaching. But I see you’re a journalist, so it can’t have worked out too well for you.”
As expected, there were plenty of hastily compiled montages of Roddick’s career which were played out during the television coverage of this year’s US Open but personally I’d have loved to have seen a medley of his finest moments in front of the press.
Here’s our collection of some of Roddick’s best one-liners from down the years.
“If nothing else, I’m a decent quote.”
“Who do I think’s gonna win ? Not me.” At the 2005 French Open.
“I threw everything and the kitchen sink at him, so he went into the bathroom and got the tub,” After a second successive Wimbledon final defeat to Roger Federer.
“I respect him. I think he respects me. We always have a good laugh when we see each other in the locker room….And I try to push him over and injure him.” On his relationship with Federer
"It comes from playing like s**t. Why would I feel confident right now? If that was the case, I don't think we'd be sitting here having this funeral-like press conference. It's just weird because, I used to like hit for a half hour and then go eat Cheetos the rest of the day, come out and drill forehands. Now I'm really trying to make it happen, being professional, really going for it, and I miss my Cheetos." After a fourth round loss to Russia’s Igor Andreev in Indian Wells.
"Whatever I said last year, just copy it. I'm sure it still fits." After losing in the first round of the French Open yet again (in 2006).
“It was frustrating, it was miserable. It sucked. It was terrible. Besides that it was fine.” After a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 loss to Federer in the 2007 Australian Open semi-finals.
“If there were rankings for press conferences, I’d like to think I wouldn’t have to worry about falling out of the top five.”
Journalist: "How do you rate Gonzalez's chances?" (in the 2007 Australian Open final against Federer) Roddick: "Slim."
“He’s got ankle injuries. And a back and a hip. And cramp. And bird flu. Anthrax. SARS, a common cold and a cough.” After his 2008 US Open quarter-final defeat to Novak Djokovic. Djokovic took yet another injury timeout at a crucial stage before going on to win in four sets.
Journalist: “When do you think you will retire ?” (at the 2011 China Open) Roddick: “I think you should retire.”
“If I win a match, it’s like career appreciation day. Then if I lose one, it’s like we should take him out in the field and shoot him in the head.” After losing to Djokovic at the Olympics earlier this summer.
Journalist: "What was your favourite press conference?" (after announcing his retirement at the US Open) Roddick: "I don't really rate press conferences. It's not as though I leave the room fist-pumping my way down the corridor after a good one."