It goes without saying that British audiences have been treated to some breathtaking spectacles on grass courts over recent years.
With the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic gracing the venues here in the UK, entertaining tennis was a given.
However, if you were to cast your mind back over the great contests of the past decade, you’d find it hard to overlook the Wimbledon final of 2009. Step forward Andy Roddick.
After overcoming Leyton Hewitt and Andy Murray on his way to the final, Roddick was put up against then five-time Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer.
The duo battled in vain for five long and gruelling sets but an eventual 16-14 win in favour of the Swiss deflated Roddick.
When asked after the match to elaborate on the epic show that had just been played out before eager eyes, for which he holds the record of most games won in a Grand Slam final at 39, Roddick simply said, “I lost.”
The lack of chat from the American was unfamiliar. Normally an entertaining character off the courts as well as on them, Roddick won the hearts of many fans during his travels across England. And now he is set to delight the audiences in Eastbourne after accepting a wildcard into the 2012 AEGON International tournament.
The American, who will play at Devonshire Park for the first time after reaching the semi-finals of the same competition in 2001 when it was held in Nottingham, said, “Players talk about the laid-back atmosphere at Eastbourne and I’m really looking forward to putting the finishing touches to my Wimbledon preparations on the grass courts down here.”
Roddick, born in Nebraska, enjoyed his senior breakthrough in 2003 after enjoying many years as a junior champ, including number one junior in the world in 2000.
His success was soon to be replicated on the senior scene after storming to the semi-finals of the 2003 Australian Open and then repeating the achievement in Wimbledon.
However, Roddick’s time was to come as he won the Queen’s Club Championships that year, beating world number two Andre Agassi on the way, and later recording the best achievement of his career by taking the 2003 US Open title.
It was these successes that propelled him to the top of the world rankings. However, Federer was never too far away and knocked him off the top spot the following February.
In the scene, reaching consecutive Wimbledon finals in 2004 and 2005 but always seeming to fall at the final hurdle. That seemed to be the case after a spattering of final and semi-final appearances before a return to form in 2009 under the watchful eye of a new coach. However, the likeable American has since tumbled from the top ten rankings again, currently settling at number 27 in the world with 30 career titles to his name.
Andy Roddick is unlike many of the top tennis stars in the world though. He is less known for an outstanding number of Grand Slam victories but more so for one aspect of his play – his serve.
The word ‘power’ comes hand in hand with Andy Roddick’s name. Well-known for his net-busting hits, he held the record for the fastest serve between 2004 and 2011 with a thumping 155mph.
His record has since been eclipsed by two others, but he remains one of the strongest hitters in the game.
As previously mentioned, Roddick’s style of play and personality has won him many fans on the tennis circuit. Serving up endless spectacular contests on grass courts and wit and humour off them, he will no doubt be a delight to have at Devonshire Park.
AEGON International tournament director Gavin Fletcher said, ““Andy plays a spectacular brand of tennis and has treated British fans to some breathtaking contests on grass courts over the years.
“He’s a real crowd-favourite and I know they’re going to enjoy his classic serve-volley playing style.”