Photo: Paul ZimmerAndy Roddick (USA)
Andy Roddick’s love for the Olympics is growing. The American lost in the third round on his debut in Athens and then didn’t play in Beijing, but now he is ready and raring to compete for a medal at London 2012.
“You can say you’re a tennis player and that will resonate with some people, or you can say you’re an Olympian and that will resonate with every person. It’s a grander scope. The Olympics kind of take over the world for a moment every four years,” said Roddick.
“You’re playing for something different. Normally we deal in very selfish terms as a tennis player, especially as a singles player. It’s about your team trying to help you. It’s about your serve, your forehand, your matches, your draw, your everything.
“So it’s a little bit different when you’re playing for the US and you’re trying to win a medal for the US. I certainly take that responsibility seriously. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Roddick knows all about representing his country on the court having passionately played Davis Cup for over a decade. In 2007, he led the team to glory after victory over Russia in the Final.
The former US Open champion made his sole Olympic appearance in 2004, reaching the singles third round where he bowed out against Fernando Gonzalez, who was one half of an inspired Chilean double act - alongside Nicolas Massu - that conquered all before them in Athens.
He also played doubles with Mardy Fish, but suffered a first round exit at the hands of Indian doubles specialists Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes. So there is some margin for improvement at London 2012.
This time Roddick’s doubles partner is the big serving John Isner, who is well acquainted with the grass courts of The All England Club after his infamous five-setter, lasting over 11 hours, against Nicolas Mahut in 2010.
Roddick is no mug on grass, either. He has reached the Wimbledon final three times, most recently in 2009, and has also notched five grass court titles between Queen’s Club and Eastbourne.
His ranking may have dipped in recent times, but rest assured that none of the top seeds will want to draw Roddick, now ranked No. 25, in the early stages. His big serve and forehand can still cause damage on a quick surface, like grass.
At this year’s Wimbledon Championships, the American came through the opening two rounds without dropping a set before going down in four sets to world No. 5 David Ferrer, who produced a typically tenacious performance to fight back from a set down.
Fast forward a few weeks and the same players will be back in action on the same courts, although there will be some very obvious changes at the Olympic Tennis Event from what we’re used to at The All England Club.
The most notable difference will be the players wearing their team colours, rather than the traditional all-white.
Roddick has certainly embraced this by having a pair of grass court tennis shoes designed in the colours of the American flag (pictured right).
“I was there in ’04 and I’m looking forward to doing it again," said Roddick.
"It will be a little weird, I don’t know what to expect. You know, I’m sure we’ll see McDonald’s all over the place at Wimbledon which will be a little bit weird."
Roddick is one of six men in Team USA alongside Isner, Ryan Harrison, Donald Young and doubles players Bob and Mike Bryan.