Juan Martin del Potro vs. Andy Roddick: American Icon Bows out with Grace

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Juan Martin del Potro vs. Andy Roddick: American Icon Bows out with Grace
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Wednesday's clash between Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick at the 2012 U.S. Open wasn't just about two highly competitive players going at it.

It was about saying goodbye to an American icon.

Roddick fell to del Potro in the Round of 16 on Wednesday, 7-6, 6-7, 2-6, 4-6. It marked the 30-year-old's retirement from tennis after following in the footsteps of such American greats as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

Choking up at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, Roddick said, via FoxSports.com, ''Oh, wow. For the first time in my career, I'm not sure what to say.''

Well, let us say it for you, Mr. Roddick.

You were faced with an almost impossible task as the next big thing in American men's tennis after Agassi and Sampras called it quits, but you responded resoundingly in one of the most difficult eras in tennis history.

You won the 2003 U.S. Open. No American has won a Grand Slam singles title since, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic winning 29 of the last 30 Grand Slams.

You stood toe-to-toe with Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. Even if the results usually weren't to your liking, you always battled furiously. You may have lost most of your matches to Federer and Nadal, but you gave America something to be proud of and showed something even Federer and Nadal revered. You showed heart despite being victim of a historic era of tennis.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Reflecting on his journey during his career, Roddick told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, via FoxSports.com:

It's been a road of a lot of ups, a lot of downs, a lot of great moments. I've appreciated your support along the way. I know I certainly haven't made it easy for you at times, but I really do appreciate it and love you guys with all my heart. Hopefully, I'll come back to this place someday and see all of you again.

Roddick changed coaches, fought through injuries and battled the media throughout his career. As warm-hearted as he's been at the 2012 U.S. Open, that wasn't always the case, especially following a loss.

But he retired on Wednesday with grace, widely respected throughout the nation and the world, and the finality of his defeat at the hands of del Potro left you feeling numb. We all knew it was coming, but we never could adequately prepare for it.

It's hard to say when an American will win a Grand Slam singles title again, but one thing's for sure: Roddick will always be remembered for how he represented America, including at the Davis Cup. He holds the second most singles victories in Davis Cup history and helped the U.S. win the title in 2007. 

Roddick, we'll miss you. Words can't describe what you meant to us.

 

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