The 30-year-old American defeated Australian teen Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in only 87 minutes before a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd of 24,674 just a day after announcing that this would be his final career tournament.
“I had no idea what was going to happen out there,” Roddick said. “That was a different kind of nerves than I’ve had before. That was surprising for me.
“It was great. I took a look around and I didn’t even feel bad about it. Literally I took a look around. I had a good time. When they were dancing and stuff on the switch-overs I was just watching. That was a lot of fun.”
Those were the little details Roddick desperately tried to soak in even after he was confident that his career would indeed extend at least to Sunday, when he will face Italy’s 59th-ranked Fabio Fognini for a berth in the last 16.
“When it’s what you’re going to do the next week and a month from now, you are so consumed by what’s going on in the next five minutes that you don’t really notice stuff,” Roddick said.
“There are no guarantees for me now, so I was trying to notice stuff.”
That nature almost led to his undoing a few minutes before the match when he became emotional, although coach Larry Stefanki shook him out of his funk.
“Felt weird before the match — 20 minutes before it was getting the best of me. I had to get my stuff together before I walked out there,” Roddick said.
“The moment hit me a little bit. You start realizing the finality of the situation. You think different things. I walk out for warmup — is this going to be the last warmup? It works along those lines. It got to me a little bit.
“Larry had to come over and kind of tell me to knock it off.”
Roddick said that once the match began it was “a little surreal” and that he remains uncertain how he will react when the situation comes again.
“I don’t have a lot of the answers,” he said. “Who knows what will happen on Sunday?”
But Roddick was pleased with the crowd support and the messages he has received since announcing he was leaving tennis behind.
“The stadium, there were a lot of people, that’s the smallest it felt to me. It almost felt cozy for once. It’s a big place for that. It felt comfortable.
“It’s certainly nice to feel appreciated at the end of all of it. It’s a humbling feeling. An outpouring of support from inside the tennis world and outside the tennis world in the last 24 hours is certainly not something that I expected to the lengths it has come.”
Roddick, coming off a torn hamstring in January, intends to work with his foundation on a youth learning center. Eventually.
“I’m not going to do a lot for a little while,” Roddick said. “I want to go out loving the game and being excited about it. I haven’t been as talented as these guys but I have worked hard to make a career out of it.
“I still wanted to be able to play when I did stop. I would rather have (people) saying that than, ‘He should have retired a long time ago.’
“I’m content with it. I’m looking forward to it.”