An Atlanta Tennis Classic: Mardy Fish

This is really interesting, at least for me. It was two years ago at the U.S. Open that after a great match where Mardy Fish had lost I asked him about it. To me, it looked like overall he didn't really care if he won or lost that particular match. He basically answered me that he was "content" and that maybe that was all there was. So I noted that. I figured Mardy would remain mired in the rankings for the rest of his career, and that maybe he would be retired by now. I clearly didn't expect much out of him at this point.

Well, darn it if I was wrong. Ever since heading to Queens Club this spring and nearly winning that, the 28-year-old Fish has been on a hot streak for sure. First he took the Hall of Fame Championships at Newport, Rhode Island immediately following Wimbledon. Now he has just won in Atlanta, and it included a victory over Andy Roddick in the semis and a gargantuan, come-from-behind 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) win over countryman and Georgian favorite John Isner in the final. In the past two weeks, his ranking has climbed 14 spots and he now sits at 35 on the ATP Tour. It looks like he's really getting hot heading into the summer season and leading to the U.S. Open.

Mardy Fish, along with his buddy James Blake, are the senior Americans on the tour. Mardy has been road tested and by now, he should be at his peak in experience and skill. He shows that in smaller tournaments like the recent Atlanta Tennis Classic. He has the game to be a top-20 player and has the game to get deep into big tournament draws. The one thing he definitely has that few of the American players have is the ability to play on any surface at a high level. Fish has played equally well on clay, grass, and hard courts. Fish can play equally well against all those style of players, especially clay court style players on hard courts.

I'm encouraged by Mardy's current performance. I'm also encouraged by the play of Americans Sam Querrey, John Isner, and Andy Roddick. So far, they seem on track to be big factors at the 2010 U.S. Open.

But not so fast. Fish rocked in Queens Club on the grass, then fell out in the second round at Wimbledon to Florian Mayer. Then he rocked on grass in Newport. Now he showed muddle in Atlanta. I think historically that this is Mardy's modus operandi. Consistently high levels of play in much smaller tournaments, then a great run of tournaments leading to the big ones. Then a total dump. I see a pattern. Call it a "big Fish in a small pond" syndrome.

I'll hold my extreme enthusiasm until later in the U.S. Open Series. Right now, Mardy Fish stands at the top of the Series leaders. Of course, that is just through week one.

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