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Fish: It’s no upset I’ve gone this far

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Originally published on: 28/06/11 10:33

In eight previous appearances, Mardy Fish had never so much as been beyond the third round at Wimbledon.

Excuse that stat with unfortunate draws if you like – the American came up against Novak Djokovic in 2009, Rafael Nadal in 2007 and Roger Federer in 2003 – but where’s the excuse on the other five occasions?

Blessed with a deadly accurate and powerful first serve, a big forehand, dagger flat backhand, solid net play and a new-found ability to traverse the court after dropping a good 30 pounds in weight last year, his game is a perfect fit for grass.

So why the limp SW19 losses to the likes of Nicolas Escude, Joachim Johansson, Irakli Labadze and Florian Mayer in the past? “I’ve had good success on grass in my career, but just never here,” admitted Fish. “This is obviously a huge tournament for me. Suits my game probably better than any other tournament for me Grand Slam-wise.” 

And yet still he had never been beyond round three at the All England Club – until this year. Finally, the American has come good on the turf at Wimbledon, beating Marcel Granollers, Denis Istomin and Robin Haase before nullifying the powerful threat of 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych with a 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4 victory to reach the last eight.  

Not only the highest-ranked American on the ATP Tour after close friend Andy Roddick’s recent struggles, the world No.9 is now the only player from his country left in the entire men’s or women’s singles draw.

“Being the last American, that’s not what you set out to do,” said the 29-year-old. “But I guess a pretty high responsibility comes with it. I feel like more people will be watching me than ever before.” 

While some may find it a surprise to see the Tampa resident into the last eight alongside Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Bernard Tomic, Fish feels comfortable to have made his first quarter-final since the 2008 US Open.

“I don’t feel it’s a complete upset that I’ve gone this far. This surface suits my game the best,” he said, and as for his next opponent – defending champion and world No.1 Nadal – Fish added: “Listen, Nadal is a guy who has won 10 majors, and fairly recently. But half the battle is going out there believing you can win, and I’ll definitely do that.” 

His chances against the Spaniard on Wednesday could be elevated somewhat if Nadal struggles to recover from a foot injury picked up towards the end of the first set in his round four battle with Juan Martin del Potro.  

“I’m worried, for sure,” said Nadal on Monday evening. “I’m going to do the MRI. We’ll see what’s going on. I cannot predict the future.”

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