Fish Poised To Become No. 1 American
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Mardy Fish is one win away from replacing Andy Roddick as the top-ranked American on the ATP World Tour after a physical 7-5, 7-6(5) win over Juan Martin del Potro in hot and humid conditions at the Sony Ericsson Open Tuesday. With 2010 Miami champion Andy Roddick set to drop to around No. 15 after his opening-round exit, Fish will move ahead of his long-time friend should he beat Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarter-finals.
“It was pretty high quality tennis for the better part of it, I think. I'm sure he came off thinking he played pretty well. And I played great,” Fish said afterwards.
A finalist in Cincinnati last year (as well as 2003) and runner-up at Indian Wells in 2008, Fish is enjoying his best result to date in Miami and is poised to assume the mantle of top American for the first time in his career. Despite the prospect of overtaking Roddick, Fish still considers his close friend as the best player in the United States.
“You just kind of feel like coming through with Andy and the career that he's put together, you really feel like it would probably be pretty tough to still feel like I was the No. 1 American,” conveyed Fish.
“I mean, his career put on my career, he could put it on top of mine 15 times. He's won so many more matches, so many more tournaments, so many more Davis Cup matches. So I don't think I would ever feel like the No. 1, even though if I were to win tomorrow, the number next to my name would be smaller than his.”
| Fish Interview
Against del Potro, the first set was a case of several missed chances for both players. At 4-4, del Potro had five break opportunities and Fish saved them all. In the ensuing game, the American opened a 0-40 lead, holding three set points. Del Potro leveled the game to deuce and after saving another set point, held to square the set at 5-5. After serving out the next game at love, Fish had two more chances to take the set. He finally converted on his sixth set point, but required solid defensive skills and a bit of luck, as the final groundstroke of the set kissed the net, landing on del Potro’s side.
The energy from fans in attendance continued to build – Latin American fans yelled chants trying to pump up the Argentine and Americans pulled for Fish to continue playing well. The No. 14 seed broke serve in the fourth game to move ahead 3-1, but del Potro struck right back to deny Fish any breathing room. In the ninth and 11th games of the set, the former world No. 4 had 0-30 openings on Fish’s serve but was unable to take advantage the opportunities. The set would be decided by a tie-break, which the American controlled early on, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and eventually earning three match points up 6-3. The Argentinean saved the first two but Fish seized the third one to take the match in two hours and 25 minutes.
Fish’s win over del Potro avenges an earlier season loss in Delray Beach and tips their head-to-head record to 3-2 in his favor. Friends off the court, Fish met the Argentine with encouraging words when they shook hands at the net. “I just said, sorry for today, but it's great to have you back.”
Added the Florida resident, “He's a guy that tennis certainly missed. Being a friend, and a close friend, I missed him. We all missed him. We had a great time playing doubles in Madrid. We're going to play again this year there.”
Ferrer, his next opponent, carried on with his fine hard-court form this season, overmatching his Spanish counterpart Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2 in just over one hour. The No. 6 seed started the year with nine straight wins, highlighted by a semi-final appearance at the Australian Open and a title at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Auckland. He also defended his title at the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court event at Acapulco in February. The win over Granollers advances Ferrer one round further than his result here last year, when he went down to Rafael Nadal, then the world No. 4, in the round of 16.
Fish and Ferrer have defeated each other three times in their six meetings, but they haven’t met since 2007, when Ferrer beat the American in the second round of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Paris. With the form the Spaniard and Fish have displayed here, their quarter-final match could easily go the distance. “He's had a lot of great results on every surface. He's going to make [me] play for every ball, every point,” said Fish.
“That's where he makes his living. He runs every ball down. He's as fit as anyone out here. It will be a very tough match… he's obviously six in the world for a reason.”
Get the VIP treatment and go behind the scenes with the 2013 Priceless Experiences Program Presented by MasterCard. Go
This exclusive venue features an upscale restaurant, trendy bar and lounge area which allow guests the opportunity to escape the heat.Go