How much longer for Andy Roddick?
It wasn't the best approach shot, but Andy Roddick already had committed himself.
He took several tentative steps, out of the sunlight and into the shade on Centre Court, and tried to track down David Ferrer's low backhand screamer. Roddick was, as we have seen in recent years, a half-step slow, and the volley winner he had imagined bounced several times and trickled into the net.
"Ahh," Roddick exhaled, with a plaintive tone that made you really feel for him.
He congratulated Ferrer - a 2-6 7-6(8) 6-4 6-3 winner - at net and waited patiently for him to strap on an expensive watch and collect his things. And then, Roddick did a curious thing. The applause in these cases is usually reserved for the winner, but the 29-year-old American appeared to think otherwise.
Walking slightly behind Ferrer, Roddick slowed and turned and waved to the cheering crowd. Roddick has left a part of himself out there on Centre Court, something the crowd knew and appreciated. He did two graceful 360-degree turns, blew a kiss, then put his head down and walked out.
For the final time at The Championships?
Afterward, Roddick was asked if he had made any final retirement decisions.
"No," he said, his head down, eyes hidden by the brim of his hat. "No."
Later, he added: "I don't have an answer for you, so I'm not going to give you much else. If I don't have a definitive answer in my own mind, it's going to be tough to articulate that answer to you."
Roddick made the final here on three occasions, losing to Roger Federer each time. His 16-14 loss three years ago was gut-wrenching to behold. He has conversations every day around Wimbledon Village with people he doesn't even know.
"It's almost as if I've been accepted here," he said.
Roddick has several standards of longevity and sustained excellence, but one of them is now in jeopardy. In each of the past 11 seasons, he has reached the quarter-finals of at least one grand slam. So far, he has yet to advance past the third round.
Maybe that would explain the kiss.
This article was first seen on ESPN.com.