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Overdue Fish finally hits his stride

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Minnesota native Mardy Fish is currently enjoying the best stretch of his tennis career since joining the pro ranks 10 years ago.

Don't look now, but the 28-year-old American has now won his last two tournaments, both on U.S. soil, and has performed in no less than three finals in his last four events.

That's hot!

The big-serving Fish's most recent success came in Atlanta last week, as he came from behind to beat 6-foot-9 John Isner in an all-American final at the hardcourt Atlanta Tennis Championships. Isner, of course, made some history in the opening round at Wimbledon last month by playing in the longest-ever tennis match -- a three-day, 11-plus-hour epic against unlucky Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.

Fish's spirited run started with a trip to the final at the grass-court Wimbledon tune-up at The Queen's Club last month. Unfortunately for Fish, he was unable to top Sam Querrey in that particular all-American finale.

Then, two weeks ago in Newport, Fish ran the table for his first title of 2010, as he handled vertically-challenged Belgian Olivier Rochus in a grass- court title tilt on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

And his torrid run continued last week in "Hotlanta," where he posted a very- hard-fought 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over the towering Isner, who starred collegiately at the nearby University of Georgia, in 2 hours, 45 minutes to give the Minnesotan only his fifth career title in his sixteenth final. The once-fitness-challenged Fish also had to overcome some extreme heat in order to outlast Isner, as on-court temperatures approached 150 degrees on Sunday. A dehydrated Fish required an IV after the match.

Mardy Fish has won his last 10 matches, including titles in his last two events.
The 6-foot-2 backhand-mashing Fish is now riding a 10-match winning streak, and the only final he failed to reach in his last four outings was Wimbledon, where he gave way to Germany's Florian Mayer in disappointing fashion in the second round.

"This is as top as I've ever been," Fish said on Sunday. "I've never won two tournaments in one year, I've never won two tournaments in a row, and on the ATP Tour, I've never won 10 matches in a row. It's probably as good as it's been."

His biggest wins during this stretch may not have been the championship ones over Isner and Rochus, but rather ones against world No. 4 star Andy Murray at The Queen's Club and former world No. 1 Andy Roddick in Atlanta. Fish stunned Murray in a third-rounder in London on his way to the finale there, upending the Aussie Open runner-up Scot in three sets, including a match-deciding tiebreak, and he surprised his good friend Roddick, the top seed in the ATL, in straight sets in a semifinal last week.

Note: Four of Fish's five wins in Atlanta came against fellow countrymen.

The in-form 2004 Olympic silver medalist Fish, who's shed 30 pounds over the last year, is now up to No. 35 in the world, after starting the year at No. 55. He soared as high as No. 17 on the planet back in 2004, but was outside the top 100 as recently as this past March. The versatile Fish reached a career-high No. 14 in doubles at one point last season.

A two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist (2007 Aussie Open, 2008 U.S. Open), Fish has always had this type of potential, but we all know what that word means. And it doesn't mean much of anything if you don't put in the hard work, which Fish, in the past, has been accused of not doing. The ATP's 2006 Comeback Player of the Year has also battled a series of injuries over the years, including a knee injury that required surgery last fall.

But it's safe to say that Fish is finally firing on all cylinders right now.

On the personal front, Fish is married to the beautiful Stacey Gardner, an attorney and former "Briefcase Model" on the television show "Deal or No Deal." And, former top-five tennis star James Blake served as a groomsman at their wedding two years ago.

For his senior year of high school, Fish attended Boca Prep in Boca Raton, Florida, where he and Roddick were classmates. In 1999, Fish lived with Roddick's family, and the two promising young tennis prodigies played on the same tennis and basketball teams.

How 'bout that?

Also, Fish's father, Tom, is a tennis teaching professional.

The surging Fish is in the draw at this week's hardcourt ATP event in Los Angeles, where he's the eighth seed.

Can he make it three in a row?

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley


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