It’s worth repeating: Nobody beats Mardy Fish 10 times in a row. And that includes Andy Roddick. The top-seeded Roddick had won nine straight (9-1) over his buddy, but the night belonged to Fish who outplayed Roddick for a well-earned 7-6(5), 6-3 win to reach the Atlanta tennis finals.
“It’s one of the best wins I’ve had,” said Fish. “It’s tough to beat a great friend… He said to me at the net:’I know how hard you’ve worked, so enjoy it.’… I’ve put away a lot of things I enjoy.”
Fish has now won nine straight matches dating back to his Newport win, and no one has taken a set from him this week.
Fish, however, did appear to be in trouble as Roddick was up a mini-break in the first set breaker. But Mardy roared back to win the breaker and then seized an early break in the second to put the match away.
Roddick said yesterday how coach Stefanki wanted him to play “first strike” tennis. Well, where was it? Once again Roddick has fell into that comfortable routine of trying to out-rally his opponents. And with his serve it’s going to work against most of the lower ranked guys. But as we’ve seen against the better players and/or hot guys if often falls flat.
And Roddick runs into further trouble when he gets to tiebreaks. Andy use to dominate breakers. Now he’s losing them by scores of 7-1 to players who think they’re Pete Sampras (Ram). It’s hard to play so defensively and win breakers.
Again, Roddick’s a far more consistent player off the ground then he was six years ago, but it seems to have comes at the expense of his aggressiveness. And it’s that aggressive, reckless attitude that got him a Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking, and most recently that scintillating win over Rafael Nadal in Miami.
It’s still early in the summer hardcourts but the way Roddick looks he might be out of the Top 10 by the time we get to New York.
“Mardy did a good job on his second serve dropping it short in the box and getting action out wide,” Roddick said. “He was taking that first ball and dictating with it. When someone is executing that well a lot of it will be out of your control.
“I got outplayed in the second set for sure, but it was a close match and this puts me in a better position going into Washington that if I hadn’t played at all.”
While Roddick’s slumping, the Fish is flying. Much has been made of Fish’s weight loss and it sure seems to be helping. His get at 30-30 at 4-2 in the second was majestic. It’s good to see hard work payoff.
“You’d be amazed by taking away 30 pounds how much harder you can go,” said Fish. “I can work and train harder.”
Isner is another guy who has also learned the virtues of hard work. Big John was in a dogfight with fellow giant Kevin Anderson in the daytime heat of Atlanta. After splitting the first two sets with the heat index over 100F, Isner shook off the exhaustion and capitalized on Anderson’s nerves to secure a late break for the 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3 victory.
“The conditions were just brutal,” Isner said after the 2-hour, 30-minute match. “It took a lot out of me. But thankfully then the cloud came across [during the second set]. Honestly, the temperature dropped so much. Without clouds the sun was just beaming down. I felt the court temperature dropped significantly and made it a lot easier to play.”
With John struggling with the heat so much in his singles – he then played doubles! – I have to give Mardy the edge Sunday. Fish is fresh, focused and feeling as confident as he ever has. While John has to be fatigued from all the court time in the heat on Saturday. Mardy’s also beaten some pretty good servers already in Roddick and Taylor Dent so he should be well tuned to face another one in the final.
In Hamburg, Jurgen Melzer is backing up his French Open semifinal with a final appearance against Kazakh Andrei Golubev.
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Isner Joins 3-Peat Club at Atlanta
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Roddick Bests Isner To Reach Atlanta Final; Tipsarevic, Haas Seek Sunday Titles