FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Abe Vigoda’s character Sargent Phil Fish from Barney Miller is getting more respect than Mardy Fish these days.
As the top ranked American you would figure he should get a chance to be on Arthur Ashe Stadium one of these days, but alas the No. 8 seed still is getting showcased on the old center court Luis Armstrong stadium.
The Californian, though, doesn’t seem to mind.
“It’s definitely been like that in the past,” he said. “You know, there’s an American playing, put him on Grandstand or Louis court, and hopefully he’ll win.
“I hope it’s the beginning of that. That’s what you work towards, to have people come and appreciate what you do. You know, maybe I get the feeling, at least in the beginning of that match, that there were quite a few people there that maybe wouldn’t have been there in years past.”
Fish won his match today against South African Kevin Anderson with a straight sets victory, 6-4 7-6 7-6 to advance to the fourth round.
And if he wants to continue on his trek to greatness, he knows he need to continue disposing of opponents like the 12th Precinct captures bad guys. Straight set matches are key for the 39 year-old if he move deep into this tournament and beat one of the Big Four.
“It’s huge,” Fish said. “Mentally, physically, everything. Obviously it’s what we train for. I’ll be physically fine in two days. But, you know, I’m 29. I don’t wake up in the morning feeling like I’m 20. I don’t feel like Donald felt this morning. I’m sure he felt fine, you know. I won’t feel like that tomorrow morning.
“But we’ll do a lot of work on my body tonight, tomorrow. It’s big, you know, to get off. Last year was a prime example. I mean, I played two fivesetters in the first three rounds. I was just mentally and physically kind of drained to play someone like Novak in that next match.
“Maybe I could have come up against him, gamewise, a lot better than the score was. But I was so tired I wasn’t ready for it.”
It has been widely reported Fish has made the remarkable transformation from journeyman to star in a matter of a few years and maybe the reason he’s not getting the respect he deserves is that no one believes he could become a top player at this advanced age.
Yet, here’s Fish and like Phil Fish he is the grizzled veteran who is best at his job.
So what changed?
“Probably a lot,” Fish said. “I mean, probably first and foremost the mental side of it. You know, he seemed pretty jacked up yesterday. Obviously, you feed off the crowd. You’re not going to go away with a crowd like that, that’s for sure.
“But, you know, he lost serve at 54 and came right back, was able to hold to go to a breaker. And I think he said it after his match, that that’s probably a match he would have lost a year ago.
“Mentally he probably would have just been upset and said he had some chances and that’s it. You know, so that’s a huge part of it, as well. Maturing, growing, growing into your game, what makes you feel comfortable out on the court. There are demons out there, for sure. It’s not easy. It’s not going to be a piece of cake three out of five sets, that’s for sure.”
Fish is set to take on the winner of Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round and much like the crew of Precinct 12, he will be ready for the job.