Player of the Month for July 2010: Mardy Fish
August 2, 2010 · Print This Article
Becoming a consummate professional can never hurt any player’s chances of achieving tour success.
You eat right, sleep early, do your crunches, and good things are bound to happen.
Early on during the career of Minnesota born Mardy Fish, the sacred scriptures of how to become a world-class player didn’t really apply. He’d party ’till dawn, eat a juicy cheeseburger, and become more consumed with adding to his lavish jean collection than improving on his split step at the net.
The American would reach a final here, upset Roger Federer there, but then just as quickly slip back into journeyman obscurity. If Fish was consistent in any facet of his game prior to the 2010 season, it was missing a forehand wide, and taking his talents for granted. But with the declining age of 29 fast approaching, Fish finally decided to put aside his bad habits and become serious about his future.
Losing a hefting 30lbs from his frame, Fish engulfed himself in a disciplined diet that would allow for better court movement. Already holding the easy power in his serve motion, Fish can now glide around the court and hit his weaker forehand with more depth. While power remains the most devastating weapon in the modern game, speed, and agility will always allow for championships to be won.
Beginning his season with a few semifinal finishes, Fish’s year (and hard-work) began to payoff at the Queen’s Club event in London. Reaching the finals of the premier Wimbledon tune up tournament, Fish would lose to countryman Sam Querrey, but take away the knowledge that his fitness regime had almost peaked.
Losing early at The Big W, Fish would keep his baseball cap on tight, while continuing to plug away at future glory. The days of feeling sorry for himself and not being able to back up a good set, or a good win were a thing of the past. It was time to get back to work.
Winning his sixth career title on the grass of Newport, Fish remained in sharp form heading into the first week of the US Open Series. Entering the inaugural Atlanta event as the No. 6th seed, Fish didn’t lose a set in reaching the finals, which included a defeat of top ranked Andy Roddick in the semifinals. Winning only his second match against Roddick lifetime, Fish moved onto this third final in his past four events, and would next face giant serving countryman John Isner.
Defeating Isner in three thrilling sets, Fish was forced to deal with the oppressive on-court temperatures, while deflecting the seemingly impossible serves of his opponent. Overcoming the elements and an inspired opponent, Fish gutted out a third set tiebreak win for his seventh career title.
Admitting after his victory that he would have never won the contest with his previous build, Fish had this to say during his post-match presser.
“This is as top as I’ve ever been,” said Fish. “I’ve never won two tournaments in one year, I’ve never won two tournaments in a row, and on the ATP [World] Tour, I’ve never won 10 matches in a row. It’s probably as good as it’s been. ”
Making the veteran decision to skip the LA Open last week in order to regroup, Fish will take his confidence and new found durability into this week’s Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.
Seeded No. 15 in Washington, Fish will have to contend with a tough quarter which will include: Querrey, Llyeton Hewitt, and Marin Cilic.
The stakes will be higher in D.C. considering the point value of the event and the players that will be present. However, winning 10 straight matches on tour is never a fact that any opponent is willing to overlook, and Fish will certainly enter Washington with a definite mental edge.
There’s no question that winning in Washington, or the forthcoming events in Toronto or Cincinnati will be far more difficult that his two previous titles. But if Fish has learned anything in the past year it’s that everyday brings forth a different set variables that no one can control. With his fitness in the palm of his hand, and the knowledge of not becoming fatigued a certainty, his potent game can take flight with continued ease.
It’s never easy to put aside a night of partying, or the greasy delight of an oily cheeseburger. But as Fish has learned with his past experiences, the true mark of living up to one’s potential is the diligent and unglamorous work that is achieved behind the scenes, when the cameras are turned off.
The road to the US Open will take over the tennis radar for the next six weeks. What Mardy Fish can hope for at this point—what he can now trust in more than anything else—is the confidence that he’s done all that he can do in order to succeed.