New York: Andy Roddick revealed he would retire after the US Open in a shock announcement on Thursday before Roger Federer urged the famously hostile Flushing Meadows crowd to make life difficult for Bernard Tomic in what could be the final match of Roddick’s career.
Roddick, who will play Australian Tomic on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night, called a news conference to announce he would retire after the Open and said he knew after his Wimbledon defeat to David Ferrer this year that his days were numbered.
The announcement came shortly after France’s fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga produced his worst match of the year to be the first big-name casualty of the men’s draw and Federer led the tributes for Roddick after defeating Bjorn Phau.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams continued her march toward a fourth Flushing Meadows crown but Wimbledon runner-up Angieszka Radwanska was less convincing.
Roddick, who was celebrating his 30th birthday, said he realised during his first-round victory over Rhyne Williams that he had lost the desire to remain on tour.
“I just feel like it’s time,” the former world number one and US Open champion said. “I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here.
“I thought all year I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew. Playing here, I don’t know what it was.
“I couldn’t imagine myself being there another year.”
Top seed Federer absolutely dominated German Phau to win 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in the opening match of the night session before paying tribute to Roddick, who he defeated in three Wimbledon finals.
“A great champion and a great guy,” Federer told the crowd. “I hope you guys make it hard for Tomic tomorrow night. I’m going to be watching.”
Williams, though not at her best, was a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez but second-seeded Radwanska struggled before peeling off 11 straight games to finish strongly in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Carla Suarez Navarro.
“It was one of those days,” said Williams, who double faulted six times. “I wasn’t really happy with the way I was playing. I just wasn’t happy out there today in general.
“I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”
Teenager Sloane Stephens again lived up to the hype with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 win over Tatjana Malek and there was more American success when men’s wildcard James Blake, 32, wound back the clock to beat 24th seed Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
Tsonga was wildly erratic in his 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 loss to 52nd-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hit the ball hard enough to put my opponent out of position,” said Tsonga.
“I don’t really know why it was like this today, but sometimes it happens with me. I don’t know.
“It’s tennis. I will tell you that. We have to play every week. I’m not a machine. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes not. Sometimes in good shape. Sometimes not. That’s it.”
American Mardy Fish attended Roddick’s retirement announcement after defeating Russian Nikolay Davydenko 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round.
Roddick, who won the 2003 US Open and was a Wimbledon finalist in 2004, 2005 and 2009, will play Tomic in the first match of the prime-time night session on Friday night.
“There’s a lot of eyeballs on TV sets from people who don’t even normally watch tennis during night matches of the US Open,” he said. “I think I’ve played as many as anyone.
“It’s just something I’ll look back on with really fond memories. Hopefully won’t be my last one.”