Andy Roddick, eyeing a comback
When Andy Roddick hit the USTA circuit in 2000, he had just won the junior men's title the previous year. Roddick was the first U.S. male to win this title since 1959.
Roddick's rise to fame was almost instantaneous. He immediately started beating top players, including Pete Sampras in their very first matchup. Sampras is one Roddick's idols, and winning that match was bittersweet. If he could beat Sampras, what was next? A Grand Slam title was well within Roddick's reach, and he would stop at nothing to do just that.
Andy Roddick would achieve his glory at the 2003 U.S. Open, beating Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final. It was the beginning of something big, and everyone knew it. Ironically, at the beginning of that U.S. Open, Sampras announced his retirement from professional tennis and was honored at an opening night ceremony. It was the passing of the torch, Sampras to Roddick, and the continuation of U.S. men's domination in the ATP.
Roddick was on top of his game with a new coach, Brad Gilbert, and a Grand Slam title on U.S. soil. That is when it all started to unfold. Roddick would be the last North American to win a Grand Slam title.
Roddick came with all the natural qualities of a champion, especially for a player who did not take the traditional route of attending tennis academies during his youth. He has an unnerving serve and all the intangibles necessary for a champion. Roddick's serve usually tops 125 miles per hour. Roddick even surpassed his own serve speed record with a sizzling 153 miles per hour during the 2004 Wimbledon, to ensure him a spot in the finals.
Roddick would go on to lose to Roger Federer in four sets. Along with this final, Roddick has made it to only three other Grand Slam finals, two more at Wimbledon and one more at the U.S. Open. Roddick would lose to Federer in each of them.
To help turn his game around, Roddick hired all-time tennis great Jimmy Connors as his new coach. Roddick's game started to turn around during his time with Connors, but with all great athletes, egos tend to get in the way. Roddick could not get past Connors no-nonsense, competitive style of training that reminded Roddick of the tennis training camp he disliked so much as a young rising star.
The two would part ways after two years. Roddick would be coached by his older brother, John, and his game and rankings would continue to spiral downward, eventually dropping out of the top-10.
Currently, ranked 10th in the world, Roddick has been marred by injuries and illness for the last several years. He hasn't made it to a Grand Slam final in two years.
Heading into this year's Wimbledon, Roddick's form has increased and so have his injuries. He had to pull out of this year's French Open from an unresolved shoulder injury. Wimbledon is well suited to the style of play Roddick is known for, however, it is a place where things can happen quickly.
It appears that Roddick has lost the confidence that once permeated his game. He will need to turn the tide here at Wimbledon if he hopes to win another Grand Slam title. There are many younger and faster players coming up the ranks. Roddick will need more than a great serve to win and Wimbledon may be his last shot.