Andy Roddick is a true American hero, at least in the tennis world.
The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary gives several definitions to the word hero. It can be “an illustrious warrior” or “one that shows great courage” or “the central figure in an event, period, or movement.”
If you want a more comprehensive definition you can go to m-w.com … later.
I’ll give you that Roddick may not be an illustrious warrior. Tennis is no war. But he has always defended the colors of his country with pride and courage in numerous Davis Cup ties, in a time when most tennis superstars would rather focus on their individual results.
The only other American superstar who, in recent memory, played for the U.S. with the same passion and dedication is John McEnroe. He later became captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team. His brother Patrick is now in charge of it.
"I've been extremely lucky. We've got a group of guys that love to play for their country, that love supporting each other, and that have answered the call every single time I've asked them," Patrick McEnroe said before the opening round against Austria earlier this year.
When John was captain, his main problem was to convince Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi to play for their country.
Roddick’s commitment finally paid off last December when, along with James Blake and the Bryan twins, Mike and Bob, he defeated Russia to claim the first Davis Cup for the U.S. (still the most successful country in this competition with 32 titles) since 1995.
Since 2003, when he finished the season ranked N.1 in the world, Roddick has never fallen outside of the top six in the ATP rankings.
He has won at least one tournament each year since 2001; claimed a total of 24 titles in his career, including the 2003 U.S. Open, which makes him the 3rd most successful active player behind Roger Federer (53) and Lleyton Hewitt (26) and lost three Grand Slam finals in Wimbledon twice and at the U.S. Open last year, all to Federer.
Federer is the player who took over the No.1 spot in the world rankings on February 2004 and has yet to relinquish it as of today. And Federer is exactly what stands between Roddick and tennis greatness. Roddick will be 26 in August. Agassi won his 4th Grand Slam title at 29.
Even though he might never join the ranks of Sampras, Agassi, McEnroe or Jimmy Connors at the top of U.S.tennis world, Roddick is definitely a remarkable athlete.
Who can argue now with the fact that Roddick is a central figure in the world of tennis in the first decade of the 21st century?