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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, July 13, 2016

 
Roger Federer, Andy Roddick

"I think it would be borderline idiotic for me to say anybody but Roger," said Andy Roddick when asked the player he most feared facing.

Photo credit: Zimbio

Andy Roddick created tennis history as a player and is a student of the sport's history in retirement.

The last American man to win a Grand Slam singles title makes a return to the city of his greatest triumph when he visits Forest Hills on Tuesday, August 9th to play World TeamTennis for former Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe on the New York Empire at the historic former home of the U.S. Open.

Watch: Top 10 Wimbledon Winners

Asked to assess world No. 1 Novak Djokovic's place in history, Roddick says Roger Federer's record 17 Grand Slam titles support the 34-year-old Swiss as the Greatest Of All Time though that status is fluid.

The 2003 US Open champion asserts Djokovic is clearly the greatest player right now and growing stronger.

Cautioning one cannot make an accurate assessment of the GOAT until Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal complete their careers, Roddick believes Djokovic has earned his place in the GOAT conversation.

"It's like wanting to compare movies and having not watched the last 20 percent of the great movies," Roddick said in a conference call with the media today to promote his World TeamTennis appearances. "Right now if you just look at numbers, Roger is obviously there. I think five Slams clear (ahead of Djokovic) is significant. But Novak's obviously trending. He's the greatest right now.

"Roger will be the first to tell you he's not currently the best player in the world. So we're kind of trying to predict the end, which is kind of tough. I think it's really exciting that it's a realistic conversation to have. It's a realistic question to ask: Where do you think he'll fall in the line-up? It's a testament to (Djokovic) that he's kind of forced his way into the conversation."

Given Federer's 21-3 career edge over the 33-year-old American, Roddick said it would be "borderline idiotic" for him to pick anyone other than Federer as the best player he faced.

Nadal won seven of 10 career meetings against Roddick. The ballistic serving Roddick won five of nine encounters with Djokovic, one of the top returners in tennis history. Roddick defeated Pete Sampras, who is 11 years his senior, in two of their three matches.

"I think it would be borderline idiotic for me to say anybody but Roger. It's a different conversation though," Roddick said. "Because overall numbers tell the story. I don't think individual match-ups tell the story as well."

In the epic 2009 Wimbledon final, Federer fought off Roddick, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14.

The most agonizing defeat of Roddick’s career denied him his Wimbledon dream, but earned him respect for the class he displayed in the aftermath after squandering four set points in the tie break that would have given him a two-set lead.



"We're human. We're not Cyborgs,” Roddick said then summing up his lost opportunity. “At that point, like everything else, there's two options: you lay down or you keep going. The second option sounded better to me.”

While Federer is widely regarded as one of the most graceful players in the history of the game, Roddick says a primary reason for Federer's longevity is between the ears: He's remarkably relaxed.

"It's nuts, but I think looking back 10 years ago if you were gonna say who's gonna have the most longevity as long as they're happy playing, we all probably would have pointed to Roger," Roddick said. "Not only because his game is less taxing on the body because he's such a natural and he has different options, he can choose to shorten points if he wants to."

Stress management sets Federer apart from many elite players, including Roddick himself who concedes the intensity that fueled his own success also wreaked emotional havoc making him "a mess" before matches.

"But physicality aside, I'll tell anybody the part where I was the most jealous of Roger was how laid back he'd be before matches," Roddick said. "I was a mess. I was nervous. I was tense. I was tough to be around, and moody and that takes a toll on you as well as the physical stuff. How he's able to kind of compartmentalize, 'Okay, I'm relaxed up until I'm playing and then I'm focused.' And Pete kind of had the same thing. That's probably the part I'm most envious of and I think that's why he's still competing at the highest level."

 

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