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Blown Out On the Trail
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U.S. duo makes semis
Unseeded Fish joins Roddick

By Marc Lancaster
Post staff reporter

MASON, Ohio -- There has been much talk the past few years about the new generation of American men's tennis players, most of it centered on Andy Roddick.
The 20-year-old has largely lived up to the hype, but in doing so he has constantly expressed a desire for one of his buddies to step up and serve as a foil. Occasionally, James Blake has filled that role. Now, the others are starting to catch up.

Today's semifinals at the Western & Southern Masters will feature a pair of Americans for the first time since 1999, when a couple of guys named Pete and Andre did the honors.

That Roddick is one of them is no surprise. That Mardy Fish is the other could signal a change in the way Roddick's running mates are regarded in the coming weeks.

Roddick continued his blistering run through the Cincinnati draw Friday with a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Argentina's Mariano Zabaleta. Fish capped the evening with a rousing 7-6 (3), 6-3 win against David Nalbandian, just after his pal, Robby Ginepri, fell, 6-2, 6-3, to Rainer Schuettler on Center Court.

But it was Fish's win that had everyone talking. Serving and volleying like a natural, which doesn't always come naturally to him, Fish took apart 14th-ranked Nalbandian by dominating most of the points that began with the ball in his hand. Fish won 82 percent of the points on his first serve in the match and faced only two break points, neither of which Nalbandian was able to convert.

"I felt very much in control of my serve games," Fish said. "That's very key for me to play well. When I play well, I'm holding easily and not having too many scares of getting broken. I did that well today and I served well and I volleyed really well."

After taking the first set in a tiebreaker, the only sign of trouble for Fish came in the opening game of the second set. He fell behind, 15-40, on his serve, but won the next four points to keep the 2002 Wimbledon finalist from getting an edge. Fish's consistency seemed to frustrate Nalbandian, eventually leading to the only service break of the match at a key juncture.

With Fish leading 3-2 in the second set, Nalbandian double-faulted at 30-30 to give Fish a break point, then double-faulted again to give him the break. It was all Fish would need to close out the match.

Fish will face Schuettler today in his first career Tennis Masters Series semifinal. The eighth-seeded German will pose a stiff challenge, but Fish has already knocked off a pair of top-20 players this week in Mark Philippoussis and Nalbandian, and his confidence seems at an all-time high.

"I've always said to myself -- not that I'm cocky, just confident -- that I think on some days and hopefully most days I belong in the top 20, and it's just a matter of time before the points come," Fish said.

He isn't at Roddick's level yet, but few players on Tour are these days. The only hassle for Roddick in advancing Friday was having to wait out nearly three hours' worth of rain delays that held up the match before his.

Roddick said he spent some of that time in the player lounge beating up on his coach Brad Gilbert's son, Zach, on a baseball video game. When he finally got on the court against Zabaleta, the pickings were almost as easy.

He broke Zabaleta in his first service game of the match and locked up his advancement to the semifinals in only 59 minutes. The Argentine, struggling to play his preferred baseline game and occasionally bringing out a feeble 78-mph second serve, didn't have a prayer of hanging with Roddick.

Roddick, the Boca Raton, Fla., resident has yet to lose a set this week, dropping only 21 total games in four matches. He'll get a different challenge today as he faces serve-and-volley specialist Max Mirnyi, who downed sixth-seeded Guillermo Coria, 6-2, 7-5, in his quarterfinal Friday.
 

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Thanks for the article! I am very impressed with Mardy Fish! :D He has weapons. And I think he can make the top ten someday and maybe even challenge Andy Roddick as the top American men's tennis player.
 

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Blown Out On the Trail
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I am stunned at the way he has improved.

I think it does take a bit longer when one is developing a serve and volley game. I'm impressed with the way Mardy has decided to work on getting to the net. He has a nice transition game.
 

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I think Mardy has stunned alot of people with how far he has come. But the question is can he stun Andy Roddick today in the final of Cincinati? I think he can! :eek: Why? because Roddick will feel alot of pressure playing a player who has a potent serve and volley game.
 

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psychotic banana
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nice article...and yea I've noticed Mardy become almost a serve and volleyer type player now.

I wouldn't put it past Mardy to beat Andy either...however the last couple players that Mardy played and beat were more counter-punchers. Mardy was usually able to be somewhat in control of the point. Andy is gonna be a lot more agressive...and has a way better serve than David or Rainer.
 

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Roddick and Fish are 1 set all and Roddick is serving at 3-4 in the final set. And Fish's serve is even better than I thought! :eek: Or perhaps Roddick's return of serve is just not too good.
 

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Andy Roddick d. Mardy Fish 4-6 7-6(3) 7-6(4) in the final of Cincinati. That was a trremedous final! :D Congrats to Andy! :) But that was a very tough match and title for Mardy to lose when he didn't even lose serve. :( I think Fish played a little better than Roddick. But Andy pulled it out.
 

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Blown Out On the Trail
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I think experience, better fitness, and mental toughness pulled that out for Andy.

Mardy has an entertaing game. He didn't have quite the same stick on his volleys at the end, imo.
 

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psychotic banana
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awesome match.
 

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Andy had trouble with his shoe and couldn't get
much pace
in the 1st set. He finally played better in the last 2 sets.
 

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psychotic banana
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He also was frustrated with the tension in his strings.
 
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