Fantastic recovery and win, Mardy!
On clay, too
Boy, this week just keeps getting better and better.
Short blurb from the Sun-Sentinel today:
Any question now about Mardy Fish's decision to play hardcourt Challengers in the United States instead of qualifying on red clay in Europe? Fully recovered from wrist surgery, he won at Tallahassee over the weekend and got a 49-spot bump in the rankings to No. 212. At the very least, that puts him into the qualifying of the French Open. The ranking cut-off is April 23, so he's not going to reach No. 110, which is about what he would need to get straight in. ...
Resurgent Fish Wins in 3 Sets
By Dale Robertson, Houston Chronicle
Apr. 12--In addition to being frequent doubles partners -- they'll play together today -- Mardy Fish and James Blake are the best of friends. This seems to be a good thing for Fish right now as he tries to drag himself out of the same kind of hole Blake had to escape.
Blake has been, and will continue to be, both a role model and a cheerleader for Fish. It's nice having someone so close providing evidence that a full recovery is possible. Fish's faith in the body's healing power doesn't have to be blind. He saw how low Blake was not so long ago. Today, he sees where his buddy is now, having cracked the top 10 and enjoying the best days of his tennis life.
Blake had been playing so well that, heading into the U.S.-Chile Davis Cup tie last weekend, speculation was rife that he -- not Andy Roddick -- was the new flag-bearer for American tennis. But Roddick put an end to such talk by playing the hero against the Chileans while Blake suffered a pair of defeats.
Roddick also won easily in the first round of the U.S. Clay Court Championships on Tuesday night, beating Paul Capdeville 6-3, 6-2, while Blake struggled against Antony Dupuis, losing 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-1.
The French journeyman, ranked 151 spots below Blake, fought back from a love-40 deficit against his serve in the fifth game of the third set to take a 4-1 lead and essentially seal the victory over the second-seeded, eighth-ranked American. In Dupuis' case, having to qualify was a major asset. He'd already played and won three matches at Westside, while Blake had barely checked out the dirt after playing on grass in California over the weekend.
"The courts were great, the balls were great, and the fans were great," Blake said. "No excuses. (Roddick) had to make the same adjustment. Antony served very well. These guys are all so good you have to be on top of your game every night."
Blake's recent rough patch, however, does nothing to devalue what he has accomplished over the last 12 months.
"It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy," Fish says, reveling in Blake's renaissance.
Fish, who held off marathon man Juan Monaco 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5) earlier Tuesday, may be in the process of following suit, having won 11 of his past 13 matches. He comes to Houston off a Challenger Series victory in Tallahassee, Fla., and beating the Argentine clay-courter Monaco in a grueling 2 1/2 -hour battle offers proof he's fully recovered physically as he attempts to reclaim a spot in the top 20 in the not-so-distant future.
Fish had reached No. 17 before his world fell apart.
The parallels in his and Blake's stories are spooky. Everything started to go south for Blake during a practice session in Rome two years ago, when he nearly killed himself colliding headfirst with a net post. Last year at the Foro Italico, also during a workout before the same Master Series tournament, Fish unleashed a ground stroke and immediately knew he'd done something very bad to his wrist.
Two operations, 10 lost months and much rehab later, he's trying to fight his way back from the plus-200 rankings hinterlands. Blake had also fallen below 200 as the effects of his Rome injuries were compounded by the subsequent loss of his father to cancer and a viral infection that gave him vertigo and badly impaired his sight.
Fish could at least stay fit while he was off the tour.
"I worked really hard when I was off because that's really all I could do," he said. "So I feel strong. It's just a matter of putting points together and remembering how I played, trying to get to the net and play the way I play best."
MEN'S CLAY COURT SUMMARY
Running out of steam The clock struck 12 for Juan Monaco on Tuesday, both literally and figuratively. After three more sets, multiple comebacks and yet another tiebreaker, the River Oaks finalist was ousted from the Clay Courts in the first round by Mardy Fish.
Predictably, Monaco didn't go down easily. He and Fish played for 2 hours, 31 minutes before the American prevailed 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5). That means since Friday night at River Oaks, Monaco had to play 12 sets of singles plus two sets and a super-tiebreaker of doubles and spent just over 12 hours on the court.
He's been involved in five tiebreakers since Saturday afternoon.
And not once did he show fatigue.
"That's Juan," Fish said, clearly relieved to have the 22-year-old Argentine out of the way. "He's in great shape. That's his best weapon, wearing other players down."
Fish, who just flew in from Florida where he won a Challenger tournament, wasn't aware of Monaco's weekend marathon across town. Told about it, he smiled knowingly.
"I played him in the Australian Open last year," Fish said. "Beat him 9-7 in the fifth. It took 4 1/2 hours."