nice article. Glad to hear he's getting fitter. and he explains the hair
Mardy Fish gets fit with fitness coach
By Sandra Harwitt, Special to TennisReporters.net
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN – The lowdown on Mardy Fish is that he’s a tremendous talent, but his fitness and endurance has always been considered questionable. In fact, whenever US Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe talks about Fish, he lets it be known that he’s really high on Mardy’s game, but wishes he would put in a more concerted effort concerning his fitness training.
According to Fish, who survived a five-set marathon against Juan Monaco of Argentina in the first round on Monday – a match that went to 9-7 in the final set – the importance of fitness training has finally sunk in. During the off season, Fish made a number of changes and one of those changes was returning to fitness guru Pat Etcheberry and telling him he was ready to dedicate himself to training.
“I wanted to get fully confident and I felt like I wasn’t,” Fish said. “There was something missing and I felt like a lot of it had to do with fitness. I’ve lost close to 10 pounds. And I’m in process of trying to put on a little bit more muscle. I watch the way I eat now for the first time. This is a huge step for me to try and do everything I can to be as good as I can.
“I thought I worked extremely hard last year and it was double this year. It was a lot of the same stuff, it was just that I did it on Christmas Day, I did it on New Year’s Day, I did it on Christmas Eve. I mean, those days last year I took off, but this year I didn’t take any days off.”
Fish admits that during many of the December training sessions at the Saddlebrook Academy in Wesley Chapel, Fla., he would beg Etcheberry to take mercy, but the plea fell on deaf ears. “He would just push me more and I’m thankful that he did now.”
At 23, Fish is a little bit older and wiser, and seems to have a better understanding that hard work doesn’t always lead to immediate gratification.
“Last year, I felt like when I work so hard in the off-season and my results didn’t pay off right away it was such a downer,” he said. “Now I’ve learned from that – it may not pay off in Australia, it might not pay off in San Jose or Memphis, but it will pay off eventually.”
Another major change Fish recently made was in his coaching. In a painful decision, Fish decided that it was time to say good-bye to Kelly Jones, his coach of two years.
“It was really tough; he was one of my best friends,” Fish said of Jones. “For two years we spent every day together and we’d gone through a lot together. After Paris [Indoors], I sat down with team and think what I could do differently and one of those things was coaching.”
The first name that came to Fish and his team was the recently retired Todd Martin, but he wasn’t sure the former two-time Grand Slam finalist would be up for the assignment. “I always thought he could be a really good coach and I think he wants to coach Davis Cup one day,” Fish said. “The only skeptical thing I had was he basically just unpacked his bag and retired at tje US Open, and he has a kid and wanted to start a new life. I was realistic about it. I knew he wouldn’t travel every week.”
Martin signed on for the assignment as the head honcho, but won’t be traveling on a weekly basis with Fish. To complete the coaching dynamics, Scott Humphries was tagged to travel full-time with Fish and confer with Martin when the latter was not on the road. While Martin is not here in Australia, he is slated to spend the week before the remaining three Grand Slams as well as the other Grand Slams with Fish, as well as going to a number of the Masters Series events during the year.
Endurance was also an important reason that Fish sought out Martin. After all, what other player pulled out so many nail-biting five-setters than Martin did during his career?
“One of the things I thought he’d really help me with was at the Grand Slams,” Fish said. “In my mind, I would struggle at the Grand Slams. I don’t know if it’s three-out-of-five, the fitness part of it. Mentally, he was so strong in five sets. I can mention a number of matches he’s come back from two sets down and I’ve never done that.”
Another thing that has changed about Mardy here in Australia is that he’s chopped off his blonde locks. Frustrated one day last week with his unruly hair, Fish went to the Crown Casino Hotel Beauty Spa Salon, spent $50 and had his head shaved.
“I got off the court and I took a shower and I didn’t have any conditioner, and you know how it is when you don’t have any conditioner, it just knots up,” Fish said of his decision to get shorn. “I tried to tie it back and it hurt, and it was pulling my hair and my hair was coming out, and I was like, ‘I’ve had enough.’ ”
Fish admits that he was relieved that the shaved look is working for him since he did have concerns about going close to hairless. “I was happy that some people liked it because I was afraid I’d have a big egghead or a big cowlick at the back of my head,” Fish said, laughing. “Andy [Roddick] was mad because he thought I looked good with short hair and I’ve told him he looked ugly with short hair.”