TC LIVE Flashback: Roddick hustles and flows

Five incredible months brought Andy Roddick to the pinnacle. The year was 2003. Bounced out of Roland Garros in the first round by 67th-ranked Sargis Sargisian, the 20-year-old Roddick took a sharp and sober look at his game, hired Brad Gilbert as his new coach, and commenced a dazzling run.

Ranked seventh in early June, Roddick clicked instantly with Gilbert, winning their first tournament together, the Wimbledon tune-up event played at Queens Club. Along the way, Roddick earned his first win over Andre Agassi. Next came a superb run to the semis at Wimbledon, Roddick beaten in the end by eventual champion, Roger Federer.

Summer was even better. Heading into the US Open, Roddick won three North American hardcourt tournaments—Indianapolis, Montreal, Cincinnati. Most notable was a third-set tiebreaker win over Federer in the semis of Montreal. Roddick’s reputation for performing well under pressure also surfaced the next week. In the final of Cincinnati, he fought off two championship points to beat his close friend, Mardy Fish. That match was also decided in a third-set tiebreaker.

Then came the finest two weeks of Roddick’s career. Roddick’s August 30 birthday meant he usually celebrated during the US Open. The year he turned nine, Roddick went to New York, snuck into the player’s lounge and took in Jimmy Connors’ requiem run to the semis. Twelve years later, he was the one who generated headlines. In the semis versus David Nalbandian, Roddick rallied from two sets to love and match point down to earn a spot in the final. There, he beat reigning Roland Garros champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.


Roddick is the last American man to reach No. 1 in singles.

Roddick is the last American man to reach No. 1 in singles.

By the end of October, Ferrero had held the number one ranking for eight weeks. But Roddick was close behind him. At the Paris Masters, a quarterfinal win over Jonas Bjorkman, coupled with a Ferrero loss one round earlier, meant that when the rankings would come out on November 3, Roddick would be number one.

“It’s a pretty big accomplishment for me, something I never thought would happen or was possible,” said Roddick in an story. “To kind of just storm through this summer . . . it’s definitely a big accomplishment for me and I’m ecstatic about it.”

Five days later, Roddick became only the second professional tennis player to host the popular NBC show, “Saturday Night Live,” following Chris Evert’s 1989 appearance.

Roddick would finish 2003 ranked number one on the ATP computer, a feat accomplished by fellow Americans Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, and Agassi (computer rankings began in 1973). “I'm incredibly honored to finish the year as number one,” he said, “but I'm probably more proud to be the sixth American.”

All told, Roddick held the top spot for 13 weeks, overtaken in February ’04 by Federer.