NEW YORK — Chants of "Let's go, Andy!" rang out between points during the last service game of his career, and again before the start of what would wind up as the last return game.
Always a fan favorite at the U.S. Open, and the 2003 champion, Andy Roddick headed into retirement with a 6-7 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4 loss to Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday.
It was an emotional farewell for Roddick, who sat in his changeover chair, covering his face with a white towel, after sailing a running forehand long on the last point. He choked up during an on-court speech at Arthur Ashe Stadium, telling the crowd, "Oh, wow. For the first time in my career, I'm not sure what to say."
"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 told the fans. "I've loved every minute of it."
The American surprisingly announced last Thursday, his 30th birthday, that the U.S. Open would be his final tournament. That impromptu news conference came a day before Roddick's second-round match, and he wound up winning that one, and a third-rounder, too, riding a wave of support in the stands.
But those two opponents were ranked 43rd and 59th, and the seventh-seeded del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, provided a daunting challenge.
"It's been a road of a lot of ups, a lot of downs, a lot of great moments. I've appreciated your support along the way," Roddick said. "I know I certainly haven't made it easy for you at times but I really do appreciate it and love you guys with all my heart."