Capitals

Roddick calling it quits after US Open

870283.jpg

Roddick calling it quits after US Open

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Andy Roddick's tennis career will close at the U.S. Open, the site of his biggest triumph. The 2003 champion at Flushing Meadows and former No. 1-ranked player decided to walk away from the sport whenever his U.S. Open ends, making the surprise announcement at a news conference on Thursday, his 30th birthday. "I'll make this short and sweet: I've decided that this is going to be my last tournament," said Roddick, wearing a black T-shirt and baseball cap with his clothing sponsor's logos. "I just feel like it's time. I don't know that I'm healthy enough or committed enough to go another year," he said. "I've always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event." The 20th-seeded Roddick is scheduled to play 19-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia in the second round Friday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I think I wanted an opportunity to say goodbye to people, as well. I don't know how tomorrow's going to go, and I hope it goes well, and I'm sticking around," Roddick said. He was, by turns, in reflective and joking moods while speaking to reporters about his decision. "If I do run into some emotions tomorrow or in four days, I don't want people to think I'm a little unstable. Or more unstable," Roddick said with a chuckle. "So that's why I came to this decision." His title in New York nine years ago was the last time an American man won a Grand Slam singles title, and Roddick spoke wistfully -- as he often has in the past -- about coming to the U.S. Open with his parents as a present when he turned 8. He said he's "been thinking about (retirement) for a little bit," and knew for sure that the time now after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 first-round victory over 21-year-old American Rhyne Williams on Tuesday. "I've thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament," he said, "and when I played the first round, I knew." In addition to winning his U.S. Open trophy, Roddick also played in four other Grand Slam finals -- three at Wimbledon and one at the U.S. Open, losing to 17-time major champion Roger Federer each time. That included a 16-14 defeat in the fifth set at the All England Club in 2009, when Roddick was saluted by spectators who chanted his name at the end of the match. Buoyed by a booming serve -- he used to hold the record of 155 mph -- and big forehand, Roddick is 610-212 (a .742 winning percentage) with 32 titles, including two this year at Atlanta and Eastbourne, England. He also helped the United States end a 12-year David Cup drought by winning the 2007 title. "Look, he's been our best player for many, many years. Do we love to have a guy like that out there? Sure. Was it great that he's American? Sure," said U.S. Tennis Association CEO Gordon Smith. "We could use another dozen Andy Roddicks, and we're grateful for all he's meant to American tennis, to the Davis Cup, to the U.S. Open." Roddick's announcement came one day after four-time major champion Kim Clijsters played the last singles match of her career, a second-round loss to Laura Robson at Flushing Meadows. "I haven't done this before. I'm sure it'll be very emotional. I'm sure I'll still be nervous," Roddick said, looking ahead to facing Tomic. "I don't know." He's been dealing with a series of injuries over the past few seasons, and in February dropped out of the top 20, then slid to No. 34 in March, his lowest ranking since 2001. A hurt right hamstring forced Roddick to retire during his second-round match at the Australian Open in January, and he lost in the first round at the French Open and third round at Wimbledon. "With the way my body feels, with the way that I'm able to feel like I'm able to compete now, I don't know that it's good enough," Roddick explained. "I don't know that I've ever been someone who's interested in existing' on tour. I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I'm looking forward to those." He mentioned the youth tennis and learning center that his foundation is building in his hometown of Austin, Texas, and a radio show he appears on. The latter would seem to be a natural second career for Roddick, known for a sharp, often sarcastic, wit. He's never been shy about showing his emotions on the court -- whether tossing a racket or insulting a chair umpire or line judge -- or sharing his opinions off it. Roddick grew up in the spotlight and the world watched him morph from a brash, Gen-X kid with plenty of tude to something of an elder statesman in the game. He has spoken out about tennis players perhaps needing a union to fight for their rights the way athletes in U.S. team sports do, and he emerged as a mentor to younger Americans. Up-and-coming players such as Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison have thanked Roddick publicly for his help, whether it's offering advice about dealing with life on tour or inviting them to come train with him in Austin. "I was a little shocked. I think he kept it a very good secret," the 20-year-old Harrison said about Roddick's retirement. "Honestly, there were a lot of things he taught me, but probably the most important thing on the tennis front was the consistency of every day -- every day, working, being out there, putting in time and effort. It's 100 percent. ... If you're going to do it halfway, there's no point in doing it at all. That's what he taught me," Harrison added. "That's what he's done throughout his career and that's what he's all about." Constantly confronted with questions about why his generation wasn't as successful as previous groups of American men -- like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the 1990s, or John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors before that -- Roddick did his best to keep adapting his game to try to keep up with Federer, in particular, as well as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He improved his fitness. He added a better backhand. He worked on his volleys. Eventually, though, he found it too hard to stay at the level he once reached. "I don't know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home," Roddick said. "I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year. But the more I thought about it, I think you've either got to be all in or not. That's more kind of the way I've chosen to do things."

Quick Links

Ovechkin scores again, Capitals win fifth straight 4-3 over Buffalo

Ovechkin scores again, Capitals win fifth straight 4-3 over Buffalo

CAPITAL ONE ARENA — To hear Alex Ovechkin tell it, Saturday night was a rough one for him.

“I have pretty good chances, but today, it was not my day,” Ovechkin said. “You can't score every night."

You wonder if Ovechkin watched the contest he just played in. He scored a goal for the sixth game in a row in a 4-3 shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres. He had a game-high eight shots on goal. He set a new career-high point scoring streak (14 games). He had the goal that proved to be the winner in the shootout. He leads the NHL with 29 goals and no one else is even close. Things are going pretty well. 

“Such a threat, especially when he’s confident and he’s shooting the puck where he wants,” teammate Brett Connolly said. “[Ovechkin is] a bull out there, it seems like he keeps getting better and better every year. Such a hungriness to score goals. He’s having a hell of a season and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down. We’ve got to as a team really rally around that. When he’s playing that well you want to have guys really look at that and take it another level and fall in behind that.” 

Only five players age 33 or older have had a longer point streak than Ovechkin’s 14 games. His next goal will secure his 14th30-goal season. He has 23 points during this stretch (17 goals, six assists). You run out of superlatives. 

The same goes for his team. On the heels of a hat trick in Carolina on Friday, Ovechkin helped Washington to its fifth win in a row. The Capitals are 13-3 in their past 16 games and swept a back-to-back set with the Hurricanes and Sabres. Washington is 20-9-3 and with 43 points is six up on second place Columbus in the Metropolitan Division and seven ahead of third-place Pittsburgh. 

Things weren’t perfect on Saturday. The Sabres scored twice on the power play to make it 3-2 before Ovechkin tied it with a booming slap shot after a turnover at 13:46 of the second period. Pheonix Copley stopped 25 of 28 shots subbing for No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby, but the penalty kill continues to tank. 

Buffalo scored twice on the power play to take the lead and the first goal of the game by rising star Jack Eichel came exactly two minutes after a Michal Kempny penalty. You can count that as another if you’d like. Close as it gets. Considering Washington coach Todd Reirden put Chandler Stephenson back into the lineup Saturday because of his prowess on the PK, that’s a bad sign. 

So there are things to work on. But the Capitals are in a good position in the standings. Their stars are scoring. Their injury situation has improved somewhat with defenseman Brooks Orpik on the way by the end of the month. It’s only mid December and there are 50 games to go and things can change in a heartbeat and the playoffs seem forever away. But, for now anyway, life is good.      

“It wasn’t an easy night, but definitely we worked for those last two win,” Connolly said. “It’s a lot of fun right now. Everyone is having fun, everyone is positive and happy. It’s always so much better when you’re winning.” 


MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

4 reasons the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout

4 reasons the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout

Both Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals extended their streaks on Saturday in a 4-3 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. Ovechkin's second period goal extended his point streak to 14 games, a career best, and Washington notched its fifth straight win.

Here are four reasons the Caps won.

A quick response

Similar to Friday’s game in Carolina, the Caps yielded the first goal very early into the game as Jack Eichel scored less than three minutes in. Just 58 seconds later, however, Brett Connolly erased the deficit with a goal set up by the hard work of Devante Smith-Pelly.

Buffalo goalie Carter Hutton went to retrieve a puck behind the net, but Smith-Pelly pressured him on the forecheck and stole it away. He passed it to Connolly in front and he had an easy layup with Hutton out of the net.

Alex Ovechkin

He did it again.

You would think at this point there was nothing more Ovechkin could do to wow us, but you would be wrong. Though he did not continue his hat trick streak, Ovechkin did in fact extend his point streak to a career-high 14 games with a second period strike that tied the game at three.

Orlov broke up a breakout by Buffalo in the offensive zone and Nicklas Backstrom uickly fired a beautiful pass through traffic to find a wheeling Ovechkin who had plenty of time and space for the wind up to beat Hutton.

Ovechkin now has 17 goals and six assists over the 14-game streak. His goal was his league-leading 29th of the season.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ovechkin also scored the game-winner in the shootout.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

All eyes are on Ovechkin and his point streak, but Kuznetov is putting together a nice little point streak of his own. With an assist on Jakub Vrana’s first period goal, Kuznetsov extended his point streak to eight games. He has one goal and nine assists in that stretch. Kuznetsov also scored in the shootout.

A horrible miss

With about a minute left in the game and the score tied at 3, Sam Reinhart had the game on his stick. Jeff Skinner skated in to a sharp angle and fired a shot up high on Copley. Copley stopped it, but couldn’t control it and the puck rebound fell to Reinhart in the slot with an empty net yawning. Reinhart tried to fire the bouncing puck into the net, but instead hit it off the post behind a helpless Copley. Vrana got his stick down in a desperate attempt to block the shot, but it looked like he did not get a piece of it, Reinhart just could not control the puck enough to hit it home and score what would have almost certainly been the game-winning goal.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: