Andy Roddick retires after US Open defeat by Del Potro
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Andy Roddick's illustrious career came to a close with a four-set defeat by Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round of the US Open on Wednesday.
Home favourite Roddick played his final match on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the court where he enjoyed his biggest success in winning his one major title in 2003.
Seventh seed De Potro won 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 to set up a quarter-final meeting with Serbia's Novak Djokovic.
"I've loved every minute of it," said an emotional Roddick.
"I love you guys with all my heart. Hopefully I'll come back to this place someday and see you all again."
The match was held over from Tuesday because of rain and resumed in a first-set tie-break, which 20th seed Roddick won comfortably.
However, from the moment 2009 champion Del Potro won the second-set tie-break the Argentine was in complete control.
Roddick saved one match point to huge cheers from a partisan crowd but it was not to be as Del Potro won in three hours and 15 minutes.
Roddick struggled to mask his emotions in the final couple of games and was in floods of tears before he addressed the crowd.
Speaking at the post-match news conference, Roddick said: "It was tough. Once he got up in that match it was a different set of circumstances than my previous matches.
"You start thinking about how real it is. You're thinking about matches you're playing when you're 12, I was thinking about my mom driving me to practice all over the place.
"Then all of a sudden you have to play a point against one of the best players in the world. It certainly was a mixed bag there at the end.
"Playing the last five games was pretty hard. Once I got down a break I could barely look at my box. I don't know what the emotions are. I'm a little overwhelmed right now."
In explaining last week's decision to retire, Roddick cited the physical wear and tear that left him unable to play at the level that took him to five Grand Slam finals, including three losses to Roger Federer at Wimbledon, in 2004, 2005 and 2009.
He added: "I'm not ignorant to the fact that it's a huge part of me and that I won't miss it, of course I will.
"I'm not pretending like there aren't going to be hard days. But I feel pretty settled in the decision and I feel content and happy with it."
Del Potro said: "It was a really tough moment for me and for him also: the last point of his life. The crowd was amazing for both players. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn't easy for me to play.
"He has to enjoy his life and I would like to congratulate him because he made an unbelievable career."
Roddick's retirement means there is no American male currently playing who has won a Grand Slam singles title and it leaves only three American men in the top 50 in the world.