For the newly retired Andy Roddick, playing at the Miami Tennis Cup this weekend was an opportunity to take a break from playing golf. The former South Floridian has been criss-crossing the country to play on a variety of famous courses, all of which he declined to name.
The 30-year-old Roddick put down his putter, picked up his racket and showed that even in an exhibition atmosphere he still has all the shots. Of course, it has only been three months since he announced his retirement at the U.S. Open, the site where he won his lone Grand Slam title in 2003.
Roddick played his way into the Miami Tennis Cup final where he lost to 11th-ranked Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4, 7-5. Although not a regulation tournament, it marks the only time Almagro has even taken a set off of Roddick. In their two tour meetings, Roddick prevailed easily, including in the 2010 Sony Open quarterfinals.
“I had fun,” Roddick said. “I enjoyed it. It’s nice for me to come back in a little bit of a competitive atmosphere.
“So, selfishly, I really enjoyed myself, and I’m happy that they had me here.”
Some of the match was on the lighter, hit-and-giggle side, like when Almagro and Roddick stepped away to let two ball girls — who were really ball ladies — play a few points.
But there was also plenty of impressive shotmaking on both players’ part, much to the delight of the scant crowd of tennis enthusiasts.
Almagro had the better of Roddick’s service game once in each set. Roddick dropped the ninth game of the first set at 30-40 on a netted backhand. Roddick saved a break point in the ninth game of the second set but had no answer for an Almagro forehand crosscourt passing shot at 30-40 in the 11th game.
“I think it was a really good match, and he’s a very good player,” Almagro said. “I’m really happy with my tennis today. I think I can do better, but it’s the end of the season, and I’m a little bit tired.
“We tried to do something fun and enjoy the match.”
Roddick’s retirement surprised everybody but his family, who received a heads-up from the former No. 1 that he was quitting.
It wasn’t as if the then-No. 22-ranked Roddick was doing poorly — he won the last two of his 32 career titles this season. He just wasn’t consistently performing to his own high standards that kept him ranked in the top 10 for a decade. And battling injuries the past few years was getting exhausting.
“I enjoy playing tennis still, and it was never about me not enjoying tennis,” Roddick said after the final. “It was about me not being able to commit to being a professional tennis player.
“It’s tough for me to separate [my decision] from if there was no injuries, because there were injuries. And that’s what a lot of my decision was based on. The fact is, they were there for a long period of time, and I wasn’t happy with where I was at and what I thought my ceiling was.”
December used to be all about training for the next year for Roddick, but not anymore.
So, with his tennis fix taken care of this weekend, he was leaving Miami with plans to work on his golf game. But his immediate destination was meeting up with his wife, actress Brooklyn Decker.
“What am I’m doing now?” said Roddick, reiterating the question to himself. “Well, I won’t be training. For the next week, I literally will be following my wife around. She has various meetings at different places. I’m on full husband duty for the next week. The tables have turned.”