Current world #8 Mardy Fish withdrew from the Legg Mason Tennis Classic with a bone bruise on his heel, but he graced the grounds of the tournament during his week off, even holding an autograph signing for spectators. Having lost a heartbreaker in the finals of Los Angeles last Sunday to Ernests Gulbis, Fish’s next tournament is the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada. He held a press conference with several media members where he looked calm and relaxed, talking about his goals for the year as well as commenting on overtaking Andy Roddick in the rankings and praising Ryan Harrison’s choices as a teenager on the tour.
As he has been traveling most of this summer and is playing constantly due to only one first round loss on the year, he has taken a much needed break this week. He’s still committed to Cincinnati, Winston-Salem and the U.S. Open, but when I asked him about whether he is planning on playing doubles at the U.S. Open, he stated that he “won’t play … for the rest of the summer just to save my body. I can’t handle the double duty anymore.”
He commented on his current top ranking being higher than Andy Roddick’s, showing immense respect for his countryman: “It’s a great position to be in. It’s a place I’ve never been in before. But, for 12 years of my career, Andy Roddick has been ranked ahead of me and just a few months of being ranked higher, it’s not going to catapult me over him as far as our careers are concerned or who is the top alpha male of our generation … It’s a great honor. It’s not something I take lightly. I want to show up for every week and play every single match and not take tournaments for granted, especially here in the states.”
I also asked him about the single most difficult aspect of his rise to the top 10, for which he answered simply as “consistency.” He has struggled on clay as a surface and several small injuries, as well as carrying around extra pounds around the court before losing weight this past year. He’s been able to breakthrough in singles later in his career, but he also had praise for the younger American generation, especially Ryan Harrison. He states that Harrison is “really coming into his own, at 19 … and that it’s hard for [that age] to consistently do well … but that he certainly has all the weapons.” Fish goes on to state that Harrison has all the “moxie” that Roddick had at his age: “He makes good decisions for a 19 year old … as far as when to go to tournaments” and surrounds himself with a good team by “traveling with a physio which, at 19, you don’t see many guys do, and it’s very smart. You can get any coach you want, but if you’re not healthy and can’t get out on the court, what is [the coach] going to do?” He reflects that Harrison also “improved a ton [mentally] from the Atlanta semifinal to the Los Angeles semifinal,” by increasingly believing in his game at that level of the tour.
Fish’s goals for the rest of the year lie in trying to get to the World Tour Finals, and he states that he is “pretty close” to getting in given his current race ranking. “I’d also still love to make it past the quarterfinals at a grand slam and this U.S. Open would be the perfect one.”
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