Andy Roddick chose his 30th birthday to announce his retirement from tennis, saying: “It’s time.”
The American called a press conference at Flushing Meadows last night where he revealed the US Open, the venue for his only grand slam title in 2003, would be his last tournament.
Roddick said: “I just feel like it’s time. I don’t know if I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year.
“I’ve always wanted to finish at this event. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament and, when I played my first round, I knew.
“I’ve always, whatever my faults have been, felt like I’ve never done anything halfway. It’s 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’ve either got to be all in or not.
“I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I’m looking forward to those.”
Roddick was the last American man to win a grand slam singles title when he beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in New York nine years ago, becoming world number one for the first time later that same year.
But it turned out to be the beginning not of the Andy Roddick era but of the Roger Federer era as the Swiss, and then the emerging Rafael Nadal, dominated the grand slams.
Roddick reached three other finals, all at Wimbledon, in 2004, 2005 and 2009, but each time Federer denied him the title.
The closest he came to winning was three years ago, when he should have taken a two-set lead and eventually lost out 16-14 in the fifth set.
Roddick has struggled to maintain his presence at the top of the game over the last three years with injuries taking their toll, but he bows out with 36 titles to his name and career prize money of more than $20m (€15.9m)).
Federer hailed his long-time rival, saying: “I’m so happy for him. He’s had an amazing career.
“Some expected better, some expected worse. But I’m sure he’s happy with what he achieved because he almost achieved everything he ever wanted.
“Maybe to lose the Wimbledon title potentially, but let’s forget about that. He was in those Wimbledon finals. He could have got that title.
“That’s what I said when I beat him in 2009. He deserves this title as well. In my mind he is a Wimbledon champion, a wonderful ambassador for the game.
“I’m thankful for everything he’s done for the game, especially here for tennis in America. It’s not been easy after (Andre) Agassi and (Pete) Sampras, (Jim) Courier, (Michael) Chang, (Jimmy) Connors, (John) McEnroe, you name it.”
Roddick came up through the ranks alongside his childhood friends the Williams sisters and Serena admitted the big server would leave a void.
She said: “He told me last year that this would be it. I was just thinking, ’Change your mind, Andy, change your mind.’ But I guess he didn’t.
“Ever since I’ve been on tour, it feels like Andy has been there, at least for the most part of it. Andy’s been great. He’s been great for American men’s tennis, great for the US Open, doing so much, playing so well so often, just being such a great player.
“I know a lot of people look up to Andy Roddick and think, ’That’s who I want to be like.’
“It’s incredibly, incredibly, incredibly sad for me to lose a friend on tour that I look forward to seeing every grand slam and every shared tournament. It’s going to be hard.”
Roddick is the second big name to bow out of the sport at the tournament after three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters’ second-round loss on Wednesday.
It will be the same scenario for Roddick if he loses his clash with Australia’s rising star Bernard Tomic in what is sure to be a highly-charged night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday evening.
When the end does come, Roddick is planning to devote more time to his foundation and perhaps the radio show he hosts, but he will not be hanging up his racquet entirely.
He said: “I’m lucky enough, there are a lot of players where I live. I don’t think I’m one of the guys who won’t pick up a racquet for three years.
“I still love the innocent parts of the game. I love hitting tennis balls. I love seeing the young guys do well.
“I’ll still have a lot of friends to watch. I’ll miss the relationships probably the most. As time passes, I’ll probably miss the tennis more.
“For the moments where it’s been hard, I’ve had 25 positive things that have come from it. Again, anything that people may view as tough, I’ve been very lucky and very fortunate.
“I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities. I wouldn’t trade away a day of it. I’ve loved every minute.”