Andy Roddick’s all-around game may not be quite what it once was. But his serve still rocks.
That serve, the cornerstone of his game for the last 11 years, backed him up continually in a match that took on huge dramatic significance—the possible last match of Roddick's career— when he announced Thursday that this would be the last tournament of his career.
Taking on 19-year-old Australian and No. 43 ranked Bernard Tomic, Roddick, the 2003 champion here, pounded his serve and pretty much pounded anything over his head. He also found the range enough times on his forehand and rode the wave of support from a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in one hour and 27 minutes.
"You know, I've played a lot of matches, but that was a different kind of nerves than I've had before," said Roddick, admitting that his upcoming retirement affected him before the match. "Twenty minutes before it was kind of getting the best of me. I kind of had to like get my stuff together before I walked out there."
But he also admitted that there was something about the added energy of the night that may have helped him.
"It worked," he said. "I played well. I don't know why."
Roddick hit 13 aces in the match, won 79 percent of his first serve points, 83 percent of his second serve points and never faced a break point.
He hit an ace to end the first set and then, gaining huge style points, to end the match.
Roddick looked emotional when he spoke moments before taking the court about how much it meant to him to play his last tournament at the Open, and he looked slightly tight starting out the match, missing on three shaky forehands. But he also nailed three aces in the first game to hold, and he broke Tomic in the second game, showing a willingness to attack the net, a strategy Roddick employed throughout.
“I just wanted to come out and be aggressive, to come in when I got a short ball, and it worked out tonight’’ he said after the match.
Tomic’s only serious challenge to Roddick came in the second set, when both players held serve to 4-4. But Roddick finally got a break point in the ninth game, his only in the set, and he took advantage, attacking the net and putting away a short forehand winner.
Tomic completely disappeared in the third. Perhaps he was slightly overwhelmed at just how tall an order it was to take out an American tennis icon in front of a partisan crowd, on a night that Roddick showed a huge desire to stay in the tournament.
For his part Tomic felt that Roddick's biggest weapon was just too good.
"I felt like I needed to get some chances to break him, but he was serving too good,'' he said.
For Roddick, the surreal quality of the event was matched by the simple joy he took in the little things.
"I had a good time. You know, when they're doing the dancing and stuff on the switch‑overs I was just watching. That was fun."
With the win, Roddick advances to the third round where he will next meet Fabio Fognini of Italy, the 59th-ranked player in the world. Roddick is in the same section of the draw as former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.