The new tennis season is fast approaching, and the best players in the world are busy training hard in preparation for another demanding and gruelling year on tour. But before we launch into 2013, we should take a moment to reflect on the careers and legacies of those who hung up their racquets for the last time in 2012…
Biggest ATP Retirement: Andy Roddick
On his 30th birthday, Andy Roddick called a press conference and revealed that the 2012 US Open would be his final competitive tournament. The decision caught everyone by surprise, but it seemed fitting for a man who, used to giving his all, knew that his body was no longer able to withstand a brutal training and playing regime.
Roddick had been his country’s number one player for most of the last decade. Blessed with one of the biggest serves in the history of the game, he regularly sent down unreturnable deliveries of over 220km/h, accompanied by his trademark compact swing and shotgun-like pop. He resembled an exuberant puppy on the court, pouncing on short balls and unleashing his formidable off-forehand with relish. Not the most naturally fluid of players, Roddick constantly strove to expand his arsenal of shots, and developed a very effective all-court game. Occasionally, his temper got the better of him, and umpires were often in his firing line, but he earned a reputation for being extremely gracious in defeat, and was a fan favourite wherever he played.
At the time, his 2003 US Open win seemed to herald the arrival of a new hero in American tennis, but Roddick’s main misfortune was to have shared an era with Roger Federer. He fell to the Swiss in four Grand Slam finals, including three at Wimbledon. The most heartbreaking was a 16-14 loss in the deciding set of the 2009 Wimbledon final, a match in which Roddick’s serve was broken only once. In all, he had a 3-21 record against Federer, and one wonders how much more decorated the Nebraskan’s career would have been without that perennial obstacle.
Biggest WTA Retirement: Kim Clijsters
Kim Clijsters has the distinction of retiring for a second time in 2012. The Belgian originally called it a day in 2007, citing mounting injuries and her desire to start a family. The lure of competition proved too strong, however, and she returned to the WTA tour in 2009.
Juan Carlos Ferrero joins Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Fernando Gonzalez, Rainer Schuttler, Arnaud Clement and Ivan Ljubicic as 2012 retirees.
Former No. 1 and 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero says he’ll retire after playing in his hometown Valencia Open next month.
“It was a complicated decision to leave a world you have lived in intensely. But I have had a tough year and you start to notice that you don’t have the same ambition and motivation.”
Next champion to retire?
- Lleyton Hewitt (29%, 24 Votes)
- Venus Williams (17%, 14 Votes)
- Rafael Nadal (14%, 12 Votes)
- Francesca Schiavone (11%, 9 Votes)
- Tommy Haas (11%, 9 Votes)
- Robin Soderling (8%, 7 Votes)
- David Nalbandian (7%, 6 Votes)
- Other (3%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 84
From Rafael Nadal to Victoria Azarenka to Andy Roddick, all players praised the retiring Kim Clijsters for her behaviour both on and off the court. Here’s a small sampling of their tweets:
It’s the place that has inspired me so much to do well and to do great things. It’s hard to explain sometimes why.
This completely feels like the perfect place to retire, I just wish it wasn’t today.
She will be remembered for her four Grand Slam titles (US Open in 2005, 2009 and 2010, Australian Open in 2011) and her rivalry with Justine Henin, but first and foremost for her outgoing, friendly personality.
Thanks and good luck for your new life.
Andy Roddick announced his retirement Thursday, saying this US Open would be his final tournament.
I’ve always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I’ve never done anything halfway. Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I’m not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally. I don’t know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home. I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year. But the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not. You know, that’s more kind of the way I’ve chosen to do things.
Roddick is the last American man to win a Grand Slam event, winning the US Open in 2003. But he was unable to add another major championship, mostly because of Roger Federer, who beat Roddick in four Grand Slam finals (2006 US Open, Wimbledon in 2004, 2005 and 2009).
He will meet Fabio Fognini in the third round.
Shock second round exit for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, beaten by Martin Klizan, ranked 52nd in the world. Semifinalist at Wimbledon, quarterfinalist at Roland Garros and the Olympics this year, the Frenchman had been expected to meet Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.
Not since the Australian Open in 2007 had Tsonga lost before the third round at a Grand Slam tournament.
Winner in Cincinnati, Li Na – now coached by longtime Henin mentor Carlos Rodriguez – was ousted in the third round by British teenager Laura Robson.
By doing so Robson became the first female British player since Sam Smith in 1998 to reach the last 16 of a major. Next opponent: the defending champion, Sam ‘Shuffle’ Stosur.
Caroline Wozniacki, the 2009 US Open runner-up and a semifinalist in 2010 and 2011, crashed out of the US Open on Tuesday with a first-round loss, falling 6-2 6-2 to Irina Begu. Her ‘excuse’ this time: a right-knee injury.
Earlier this summer at Wimbledon, Wozniacki also lost her first-round match to Tamira Paszek.
The Petko Dance is so last year…
I’m sure I looked like a goose. I’m waiting for someone to tell me if it was all right or not.
The 2012 US Open will be Kim Clijsters last Grand Slam, and Fila has released its “Tennis Star” collection honoring her.
The limited edition collection retails from $30 to $250 will be available exclusively on fila.com.
Here’s a look at Kim Clijsters US Open outfit:
While it is bittersweet to retire from my professional career, the collection that Fila designed reminds me of all of my wonderful tennis experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
Strange things happen every day, and when you put professional athletes and tens of thousands of fans in the hot August sun in Queens, New York, weirdness is bound to follow. Here are some of the more interesting things that have happened over the years at the US Open.
Most of you still remember the 2009 US Open when Serena Williams lost her cool. She was playing Kim Clijsters in the semi-final. The linesman foot-faulted Serena on her second serve. Serena then let loose one of the most shocking rants in the history of professional tennis (giving many spectators fearsome flashbacks of John McEnroe). Apparently Serena said, “If I could, I would take this ******* ball and shove it down your ******* throat.” The linesman told the chair umpire who called the tournament referee. A disgraced Serena lost a point and lost the match.
Tennis isn’t usually thought of as a dangerous sport. But, in 1983, 70-year old linesman Dick Wertheim was fatally injured. Stefan Edberg was playing Patrick McEnroe. Edberg’s serve sent a speeding ball straight into Wertheim’s groin. Wertheim fell, hitting his head on the hard court and fracturing his skull. He died from blunt cranial trauma, a direct result of his injury. Edberg, only seventeen at the time, went on to win six Grand Slams.
At the 1979 US Open John McEnroe was playing Ilie Nastase. It was the fourth set. McEnroe was serving. Nastase held up his hand to signal that he wasn’t ready. McEnroe, never known for his patience, served anyway and the umpire gave him the point. Natase started complaining, 10,000 yelling fans joined him. Natase wouldn’t shut up and was docked the game. The crowd went crazy. People started throwing stuff onto the court (mostly trash). The cops were called to restore order. Seventeen minutes later Nastase was asked to resume the game. The one-minute service time period went by and still he refused. Unsurprisingly, he was disqualified. The crowd was still going nuts; fearing an all-out riot, the umpire was replaced and the match was continued. Not that it mattered, McEnroe won anyway.
In 1977, during the match of John McEnroe and Eddie Dibbs, a gun went off. James Reilly, a 33-year-old fan innocently watching the match in the stands, was shot in the thigh by a .38 caliber gun. Turns out Reilly was hit by a stray bullet fired from a gun outside the stadium in Queens, NY. The game was delayed while Reilly was taken out of the stands and out of the stadium. When McEnroe and Dibbs were told why the game was delayed, Dibbs is reported to have said: “I’m out of here.” To keep the players from leaving and the game from suddenly ending, the umpire lied and told them that a fan was in shock. McEnroe won the match. Afterwards, the umpire confessed that he was correct the first time, and that a fan was shot, not in shock.
The 1977 US Open must have been an exciting tournament. Renee Richards made her debut in the women’s singles, against Virginia Wade. Seventeen years earlier, at the 1960 US Open, Renee made her debut in the men’s singles, as Richard H. Raskind. After a sex-change operation, and a ruling by the New York State Superior Court, Richard/Renee was allowed to come back to the US Open, the same tournament, different division. When she played as Richard Raskind he lost his first-round match. When she played as Renee Richards, she also lost her first-round match.