Andy Roddick takes final bow after US Open defeat to Juan Martin del Potro
More than an hour after hitting one last shot as a professional tennis player, then delivering one last, voice-wavering speech to an adoring US Open audience, Andy Roddick exited the locker room.
Accompanied by his wife and other family members, a black baseball cap tugged low over his eyes, Roddick slung a racket bag off his aching right shoulder and tossed the equipment in the back of a waiting van.
Serenaded by choruses of "Let's go, Andy!" through Arthur Ashe Stadium in the closing moments of his career, 2003 US Open champion Roddick headed into retirement with a 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4 loss to 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
"If we do badly, then it costs us something; if we do well, we get great things. This was about something bigger. It wasn't about ranking points or pay cheques or anything else," Roddick said. "This week, I felt like I was 12 years old, playing in a park. It was extremely innocent. That was fun."
It was a bittersweet goodbye, for the fans who gave him a standing ovation at the end - Del Potro joined in - and for Roddick himself. He covered his face with a white towel while seated on the sideline after sailing a running forehand long with the final swing of his racket.
Earlier, he appeared to be trying to avoid crying while serving in the penultimate game. In the stands, his wife model-actress Brooklyn Decker, stuck a finger underneath her dark sunglasses to wipe away tears.
During an on-court address to the crowd, Roddick choked up, particularly when making a reference to his long-time agent, Ken Meyerson, who died last year.
When handed a microphone, Roddick began by saying: "Oh, wow. For the first time in my career, I'm not sure what to say.
"Since I was a kid, I've been coming to this tournament. I felt lucky just to sit where all of you are sitting today, to watch this game, to see the champions that have come and gone," he told the fans. "I've loved every minute."