FLUSHING MEADOWS, New York, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Andy Roddick, the last American man standing at the U.S. Open and winning a Grand Slam, put his career of glamour to a close Wednesday when he lost in the fourth round to Juan Martin del Potro.
It's a clash between former champions in Flushing Meadows as the 2003 winner fell to the seventh seeded Argentinean, also 2009 U.S. Open champion, in four sets, across two days, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-2 and 6-4.
"For the first time in my career, I'm not sure what to say," Roddick said to the fans, who gave him a standing ovation, after the match. "I appreciate your support along the way. I know I haven't made it easy for you at times.
"Since I was a kid, I've been coming to this tournament. I felt lucky just to sit where all of you are sitting today, to watch this game, to see the champions that have come and gone," Roddick added emotionally, teary and his voice quavered. "I've loved every minute of it."
Roddick announced the US Open would be his final tournament last Thursday, his 30th birthday. Then the American went through the second round and third round against two opponents ranked 43rd and 59th, riding a wave of support in the stands.
When the match was over, there was no handshake, just a warm embrace at net. Del Potro shook his head and pointed his racket to Roddick.
Roddick had never lost a fourth-round match here (8-0), but those victories came during the glory days when he was always the higher seed. In this match Roddick was clearly an underdog against the No. 7 seed, who was seven years his junior.
The match, which is Roddick's 825th ATP World Tour match, was suspended Tuesday night by rain at 1-1 in the first set tiebreak.
Roddick started swiftly, winning six of the seven points in the tiebreaker. And then he slowly, sadly hemorrhaged as Del Potro's heavy forehand landed again and again.
In the big points, Roddick took a step backward. He had a break point on the 6-foot-6 Argentine's serve at 2-all in the fourth set, but with a semi-open court, Roddick hit a wobbly forehand long. Still, he persevered, sweat dripping like a faucet from the bill of his cap, huffing and puffing through points, slogging along with that determined, earnest look of his.
Serving at 3-5 in the fourth, Roddick saved a match point and eventually held. It wouldn't have been appropriate to go out serving -- that weapon, once the best in tennis, was his signature shot.
The last forehand from Del Potro drew a late, flailing forehand from Roddick that flew wide.
Roddick had battled injuries throughout the last few years, saying in his retirement announcement he didn't believe he could put in the work required to stay at the top of the game, and that he "didn't want to coast home."
Roddick won the U.S. Open juniors in 2000 and soon the brash-talking, big-hitting Nebraska native was rising the ranks and showing off a quick-step firepower on serve few had encountered before.
He has 32 titles in career, including the 2003 US Open victory along four major tournament's runners-up. Roddick came to the top of world ranking at the end of 2003 and maintained it for 13 weeks.