MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Andy Roddick woke up Sunday aching and feeling so ill he didn’t think he could play in his 50th career final.
With one diving shot, the American made his 30th career victory a title to remember.
“That’s the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life, considering the circumstance …,” Roddick said. “I don’t really remember much else besides the fact that I went for the ball, and I hit it. I didn’t really think too much of it. I was already in my head, I was like, ‘There’s no way,’ and then I heard people cheering. I was like, ‘There’s no way that went in. I guess it did.'”
That diving forehand helped Roddick finish off a thrilling 7-6 (7), 6-7 (11), 7-5 victory over Canadian Milos Raonic in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in a match that took 2 hours, 36 minutes.
The top-seeded Roddick becomes the eighth American with at least 30 titles, only three behind the late Arthur Ashe. He also has at least one title in 11 straight years, something only Roger Federer has done among active players. It came on a day when Roddick wasn’t sure he could play after catching the cold his wife, model and actress Brooklyn Decker, had a week ago.
A little nap refreshed Roddick enough to play.
“I think I was very fortunate. I feel like I got outplayed, I just stuck around and kept trying,” Roddick said. “What a memorable 30th victory for me. I couldn’t be happier to do it in Memphis.”
Roddick picked up the $264,000 winner’s check, his third in Memphis. He also becomes only the third player to win at least three titles in Memphis since 1976, joining Tommy Haas (1999, 2006-07) and Jimmy Connors, who won four (1978-78, 1983-84).
Raonic just missed out on his second straight title in as many weeks, a two-week performance that will move him to around No. 37 after he finished last year ranked No. 156.
“He’s as exciting of a talent as we’ve seen in a while,” Roddick said of Raonic. “The good news for him is he’s going to be able to learn on the run because that serve is going to win him a lot of matches, even if he goes up and down with his play because it’s one of the biggest serves I’ve seen.”
The Canadian had 32 more aces and finished the week with 129, a tournament record here since the ATP started tracking aces in 1991. He hit 150 mph to hold serve in the 10th game of the third set, but it wasn’t enough. Roddick dove toward the corner and got his racket on the ball barely a foot off the ground before tumbling over, knocking his hat off.
Roddick immediately looked to follow the shot down the line before pulling himself up with a quick check of his scraped elbow and left knee. He put his hat back on and then almost shrugged at what he had done.
“I get a certain amount of satisfaction when I get kind of routinely buried and people trying to retire me before I’m ready,” Roddick said.
Raonic said he thinks he may be part of YouTube’s most-viewed points, but he thought he had the point won based on where he put the shot compared to where Roddick was on the court.
“I think it’s nice he had to come up with something that amazing to finish off the match,” Raonic said.
This was the first meeting between Raonic and Roddick, who ranks behind only Federer (67) and Rafael Nadal (43) for career wins among active players. Both have big serves, and each came into the final having been broken only four times during this event.
Roddick started slowly with a couple of double-faults and fought off a couple break points to hold serve. He couldn’t get a point off Raonic’s big serve until the 10th game, when the Canadian put a forehand into the net. Roddick broke him twice in the tiebreaker to go up 8-7 and then served up a 137-mph ace of his own to take the first set. But he moved back, almost to the edge of the court, to give himself enough room to pick up Raonic’s serve.
“It’s a little lonely,” Roddick said. “I was literally having to move officials around on second serve. I said, ‘He’s coming there, so you’re going to have to call it from a different angle. … Not a lot of guys who force you to do that.”
They broke each other’s serve early in the second set before holding serve into another tiebreaker. Raonic converted on his third set point after Roddick hit a backhand wide off his serve and then hit a forehand long.
In the third set, Roddick had a chance to close out the match early as he broke Raonic and held serve to go up 4-1. He was up 15-40 with a chance to break the Canadian again when Raonic rallied back to hold serve.
Raonic then broke back, converting on his fifth break point to pull to 4-3. Roddick was up 5-4 with a chance to break Raonic at 30-40 only to put a backhand into the net. Facing deuce, Raonic served up his 150-mph ace and then hit a backhand crosscourt for the winner.
Raonic tied the final game at 30 when Roddick put a forehand into the net by doing the same. That set up the final point for Roddick’s exciting dive to finish off the match.
“It’s the end of two long weeks,” said Raonic, who leaves Monday for his next event in Acapulco. “I just gave it everything I had. It didn’t work out my way. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant final, I think, and it was a lot I pushed out of him and he’s been in the top 10 for how many years now. It’s a positive outlook, something to be very proud and happy with.”