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September 1, 2009

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Fan support helps out Roddick

EVERYONE, it seems, wanted to talk to Andy Roddick about his loss to Roger Federer in July's epic Wimbledon final: the 16-14 fifth set, the 77 total games, the Center Court crowd chanting the American's name afterward.

They wanted to console Roddick, pat him on the back, tell him what that match meant to THEM. Maybe offer some advice for next time.

Fellow players in the locker room. Fans on the street. Even the guy who delivers Roddick's mail at home in Texas.

As Roddick recounted in a series of Twitter postings on July 20, two weeks after that heartbreaker at the All England Club, the mailman told him he lost "cause i sweat a lot and dont change my shirt enough during the course of a match and it weighs me down."

Roddick wrapped up the story: "the best part was that he prefaced his shirt/sweat analysis with this quote 'i dont know anything about sports or tennis but.....'"

Ah, yes, everyone's an expert, huh? Really, though, what struck Roddick the most was how much that match resonated.

If anything, that one defeat figures to make the best-known and highest-seeded US man at the US Open even more popular than usual at the American Grand Slam tournament.

"I'm not sure what kind of made people kind of emotionally invested in it," said the No. 5-seeded Roddick, who faces 84th-ranked Bjorn Phau of Germany in the first round.

"The kind of the support I got from fans, from peers, from everybody - it was pretty surprising, in the best way possible, and pretty humbling," Roddick said. "I was really surprised when I had got back here as to how many people watched it and kind of were affected by it. To be honest, that really helped the process."

That "process" was the not-so-easy matter of digesting the punch-to-the-gut knowledge that Roddick came so close to winning Wimbledon for the first time.

This was, of course, against the Federer of six Wimbledon championships and a record 15 Grand Slam titles overall.

"I promise you: I wish more than anything that I would have won that tournament. But at the same time, I'm still going to move on and keep going with the plan that we've set in place, because I feel like it is working."

Roddick lost in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows last year, but said it's different this year.

"(Last year) I was coming in here literally hoping to win a couple matches, and this year I feel a lot more confident of my ability to go out there and play well and execute."


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