Andy Roddick has already announced he will quit tennis after the current US Open, but the 30-year-old star postponed his retirement on Sunday with a 7-5, 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 third round victory.
Roddick, whose every winning shot at the tournament has been raucously cheered by a crowd knowing they could be watching his last ever match, beat the 59th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy on Sunday evening. The victory set up a last 16 bout with a far tougher opponent: seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro, who won the US Open title in 2009.
In the tournament to date, Roddick hasn’t been afraid to whip the crowd into a frenzy; after one stylish forehand passing shot clinched a 20-stroke point against Fognini, the American lifted both arms overhead, urging the full house of US Open spectators to make even more noise. The crowd happily obliged. As Roddick stated in his on-court interview after the match:
“I’d be an idiot not to use the crowd right now. It’s a huge advantage. Each match is almost like it’s another memory.”
While home support is a boon for any player, del Potro is not likely to be a comfortable opponent. The Argentinian’s 2009 US Open title is the only major slam of the last 30 to be won by a player other than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Novak Djokovic. Roddick, who himself won the 2003 US Open, suggested he already has a strategy for facing del Potro:
“I’m going to have to serve well, kind of try to rush him a little bit. When he gets into a groove and has time, he’ll put a hurt on the ball.”
Del Potro isn’t feeling too sentimental about Roddick’s impending retirement, pointing out to reporters that the last 16 tie will be business as usual:
“I know this is special, this day, for him, but I’m doing my job.”
Do you think Roddick can pull off a win over del Potro for a quarter-final berth? Backed by that partisan crowd, could he go even further?