Roddick calling it quits after US Open

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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."

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."