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Roddick Remains Wimbledon’s Biggest Nearly Man
Friday, 06/24/2022
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On July 10th, 2022, another Wimbledon champion will be crowned when the men’s singles tournament comes to a close. Somebody will hoist a famous trophy aloft on Center Court and lap up the adulation of a packed house as plaudits rain down on them.

In the Open Era, only 12 individuals have experienced those emotions across 53 years, which goes to show how dominant certain players have been. Multiple winners figure prominently on a star-studded honors board, from Rod Laver to Novak Djokovic via Bjorn Bjorg, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray.

There is every chance that a familiar name will be carved into a golden cup once again this summer, with tennis odds for the next events placing a proven Grand Slam pedigree towards the top of a competitive market. As it stands, Djokovic is currently priced at odds of -125, and Nadal is staked at odds of +700 for Wimbledon this year.

When it comes to chasing down the grandest of prizes at an elite level, experience counts for plenty, and those that have been there, done it, and got the t-shirt tend to earn favor when it comes to separating the best from the rest.

There is, however, always the potential for surprises to be sprung as a new hero upsets the odds and rises to the fore. All of those entering the main draw are there for a reason and will believe that they are capable of etching their name into the record books. For many, those dreams will be dashed – at least until the US Open rolls around in August – with sporting history littered with tales of what could have been.

So near and yet so far
When it comes to the Wimbledon championships, nobody knows that better than Andy Roddick. The big-hitting American is a Grand Slam winner, having emerged victorious on home soil back in 2003, but his undoubted talent deserved greater reward.

Inability to get across certain lines was not for a lack of trying, with there some epic tales to be told of how he fell at the final hurdle. That is particularly true of visits to southwest London, with Roddick’s game perfectly suited to life on turf. With a booming serve, speed across the ground, and the ability to hit crashing winners down both flanks, his was a skill set made to flourish on grass.

He was, however, to come unstuck in three Wimbledon finals across five years between 2004 and 2009. Since professionalism was embraced in 1968, nobody has come as close so often without getting their hands on the ultimate reward.

Ken Rosewall made two finals without ever becoming a winner in SW19, as did Ilie Nastase, Ivan Lendl, and Pat Rafter. Roddick can claim the unwanted record of going one step further than that, with his last bid for the crown proving to be the most dramatic and gut-wrenching.

After a historic showdown with Federer in 2009, one which lasted four hours and 17 minutes, Roddick went down 16-14 in the fifth – a set that lasted 95 minutes by itself – to once again settle for a runner-up spot. Maybe one day somebody will join him in an exclusive club that nobody really wants to occupy, but for now, he stands alone on that dance floor as Wimbledon’s biggest 'nearly man'.


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