With a 7-5, 6-2 win over world number six David Ferrer, Mardy Fish booked a spot in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open for the first time in his career.
Ferrer and Fish’s record was knotted at 3-3 coming into today. Their last meeting was at the ATP Masters in Paris in 2007. Therefore, Ferrer had yet to play the new trimmed up version of the American. With Ferrer being such a good retriever and defender, Fish’s fitness at least would not be a factor in the outcome.
The first few games of the opening set, the players seemed to be getting reacquainted with one another. Soon though, Ferrer saved a break point to get to 3-2. Subsequently, Fish salvaged two break points to equalize at 3 all.
Down the road, serving at 5 all, Ferrer double faulted to donate break point to his opponent. Ferrer produced a second double fault to hand Fish a 6-5 lead. Despite Ferrer’s resistance, Fish won the next game and captured the initial set.
The second set, Ferrer committed a spate of backhand errors to give Fish double break point. When Ferrer’s forehand found the net, Fish had the break for 2-1.
After consolidating at love, Fish was gifted another break point from a Ferrer miscue and capitalized to widen his advantage by a double break. Once again, at love, Fish captured the following game to move ahead 5-1.
Despite an open court, with Fish at triple match point, Ferrer sent a backhand wide to finish the day.
Ferrer was definitely not at his best. The Spaniard made a multitude of mistakes on both wings. Ferrer explained “I had stomach problems so I couldn’t play my game. But I think he serve really well. It was windy not easy, not a good match”.
Ferrer is one of the most consistent players on tour. While Ferrer’s gotten to the semifinals at the majors and the final of a Masters Series 1000, he has yet to hoist any of those trophies. Ferrer stated for that to occur “my game needs to be consistent all the time because it’s very physical”.
Also, Ferrer thinks that despite his age there is room for growth in his game. Ferrer stated “I always try to improve my game, my volley, my serve. . . because every year there are younger players and it’s not easy to stay in the top 10”.
In getting to the semifinals, Fish surpasses Andy Roddick in the rankings and becomes the top ranked American at number 11, a career best.
With the ranking result coming at the age of 29, Fish was asked whether there was any regret that he did not put in the hard yards sooner in terms of his fitness. Fish replied “I had some really good results. I won a silver medal at the Olympics. There’s not very many people that have done that. I did a lot of cool things. I played a lot of good matches. You can’t be as mature at 21 as you are now. Never look back”.
Referring to today’s match, Fish felt that his serve made a huge difference “you’re almost like a pitcher if you have a good serve, especially against someone like him who can lock in on the return and put every single one back. I had to mix up the speed, spins, kicks, flats, hard, slice to keep him off balance”.
In the semifinals, Fish could take on Novak Djokovic, the “it” player of the moment. Djokovic is still undefeated and plays Kevin Anderson tonight.
This was Fish’s opinion on what Djokovic has accomplished “it’s pretty incredible. . . He’s playing so well, he has zero weaknesses right now. Obviously confidence is a huge part of our sport and he’s got all of it right now. [Djokovic] moves as well or better than anyone on a hardcourt surface. Sometimes if you get really, really picky, his forehand is not as strong as his backhand”.
Fish went on to say “[Djokovic] is hitting his forehand as well as anyone in the world. His two handed backhand is the best two handed backhand in the world in my opinion and he’s serving well again.. . . It’s really not that surprising that he hasn’t lost yet. [But], he’s not going to win every single match this year. Whether it’s this week or in July, [he will lose]. Hopefully, it can be me”.
Fish will attempt to advance to his fourth career Masters Series 1000 final. Last year, Fish went down to Roger Federer in the Cincinnati final.
Djokovic has a 5-0 mark against Fish. Interestingly, Fish points out that every time he’s gotten to the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 event, he’s found himself playing for the title.
So, Fish pulling off an upset if Djokovic vanquishes Anderson is not out of the question.