Roddick Returns to Action in Legg Mason Tennis Classic

Andy Roddick embraces Roger Federer following his defeat at Wimbledon last month.
Andy Roddick embraces Roger Federer following his defeat at Wimbledon last month. (By Alastair Grant -- Associated Press)
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By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 3, 2009

It has been four weeks since Andy Roddick played arguably the most brilliant match of his career yet lost, to Roger Federer, in a Wimbledon final settled by the longest fifth set in Grand Slam history.

And not a day has gone by that he hasn't thought about it.

"It has been a process," Roddick said in a telephone interview this week. "Every day, the way I look back on it might change a little bit. There are good days and bad. At least it wasn't one of those matches where I walked off and said, 'If I had played better.' "

And whenever Roddick has left his house since the heart-rending loss -- to run, go to the golf course or scoot out to dinner with his wife -- he has been bombarded by compliments on his effort and grit.

Even his mailman, conceding he didn't really know anything about tennis, had a thought to share. Roddick would have won the match, he told him when delivering a package one day, if he'd only changed his shirt more often during the four-hour plus marathon.

"God bless the guy! He meant well," Roddick said with a laugh. "I don't think that I've been part of something like that in my career, where I haven't gone five or 10 minutes since the final without somebody coming up and saying something nice. I don't know that I've ever had that much public support."

And it has played a big part, Roddick said, in helping him get back to the sport he loves.

Roddick returns to competitive tennis this week in Washington, choosing the Legg Mason Tennis Classic as his first tournament since Wimbledon. He'll open play Wednesday night.

When last seen on Wimbledon's lawn, Roddick was playing terrific tennis, with more variety in his strokes and more poise on court than he has ever shown. But given his month-long hiatus (partly to recovery from an injury to his right hip suffered in a nasty fall during the fourth set), Roddick is hardly predicting an immediate return to form.

"I think it would be presumptuous of me to come and expect to play as well as I have a month ago in my first match," said Roddick, 26, a three-time Legg Mason victor and the tournament's top seed. "I think if I can get past the first match or two, I'll be okay. Right now, I want to get through a match at a time. The goal is to find your form by the U.S. Open."

The Open, of course, is the only major Roddick has claimed in a decade as a pro. And his boyish face dissolved in tear-streaked disbelief when he won it, at 21, in 2003.

The achievement heralded the emergence of a new tennis star -- a golden-haired American with a booming serve and pulverizing forehand who would take up the mantle of Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and John McEnroe.

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