David Ferrer of Spain, right, is congratulated by American Andy Roddick following their third-round singles match at Wimbledon, which Ferrer won, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3.
WIMBLEDON, England — Andy Roddick put his hand to his mouth and blew a kiss to the crowd as he walked off Centre Court to generous applause after a third-round loss at Wimbledon on Saturday.
If that gesture was meant to signify a farewell after losing, 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-3 to No. 7-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, Roddick wasn’t saying. Indeed, the 29-year-old American said he hasn’t yet made a decision about his tennis future.
“If I don’t have a definitive answer in my own mind, it’s going to be tough for me to articulate a definitive answer to you,” said the 30th-seeded Roddick, a three-time runner-up at the All England Club.
And on a day when the face of U.S. men’s tennis fell, two more advanced to the Round of 16: Mardy Fish, a straight sets winner of Germany’s David Goffin and resurgent Brian Baker, who beat Frenchman Benoit Paire in four sets.
But most of the talk was about Roddick’s early exit — again.
Roddick, whose 2003 U.S. Open victory was the last Grand Slam title for an American man, was broken four times by Ferrer, who is No. 5 in the ATP rankings. Roddick had been on a seven-match winning streak, including a title on grass as a wild card at Eastbourne a week ago.
Prior to that run, though, it had been a difficult season for Roddick, who was hampered by a right hamstring injury that forced him to stop playing in the second round of the Australian Open.
He lost in the first round at the French Open after skipping clay-court events in Madrid and Rome.
“Honestly, going into Eastbourne, I was hoping I’d win a match, because I hadn’t won a match in so long,” he said.
“So you tell me I win seven straight and have a chance to move on against a guy that is 5 in the world and played a pretty good match — that’s some progress in a short period of time.”
Against Ferrer, Roddick had chances to grab a two-set lead by winning the tiebreaker. Both set points came on Ferrer’s serve: On the first, at 6-5, Roddick slapped a forehand into the top of the net. On the second, at 8-7, Ferrer hit an overhead winner.
“I thought I played well. I had one really good look at a forehand on a set point in the second set; just clipped the tape,” Roddick said. “That was a big, big turning point there.”
A run of 13 consecutive tiebreaker points won by the man serving ended on the set’s last point, when Roddick missed another forehand.
Roddick became particularly popular around these parts after he lost to Roger Federer 16-14 in the fifth set of the 2009 Wimbledon final. That was the third title match at the All England Club for Roddick, and third where he had to face Federer.
Roddick also lost a U.S. Open final to Federer.
“I think he’ll go down as one of the best grass-court players to ever play. Certainly could be one of the best grass-court players to never win Wimbledon,” said 10th-seeded Mardy Fish, a pal of Roddick’s dating to when they were in high school.
“I’m assuming he’ll come back, but if he doesn’t, you know, (he’d be) one of the best to never win Wimbledon, for sure,” added Fish, who reached the fourth round with a victory Saturday. “I know that he wanted it badly.”
Ferrer, a semifinalist at the French Open, got to the round of 16 at the All England Club for the third consecutive year and fourth time overall. He’s never made it to the quarterfinals.
He faces No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro next.
And what’s next for Roddick? In the short-term, he’ll fly back to the U.S. and play in a tournament at Atlanta, before returning to the All England Club for the London Olympics.
We’ll have to wait and see how many more victories he’ll add to the 603 so far.
“I’m proud that I’ve been very dedicated to my craft. There aren’t many days when I go to sleep wondering if I could have done more as far as preparation or work or effort,” Roddick said. “So that makes it easier to walk off the court and be proud.”