It’s been good to see Mardy Fish back in winning form this past 10 days in Miami, having made a surprisingly poor start to the year. But rather than his tennis exploits, something else has been bothering me lately. Whatever happened to the decent, gentle Mardy Fish?
You know, the one who once lived with Andy Roddick’s family when he was just starting out, who always took time to speak, in considered fashion, about any issue, no matter how many times he’d done it before? The non native-English speakers out there may not know this but the word “mardy” means irritable, or grumpy, and Fish has certainly been living up to his name in the past few months.
Having earned a first-ever spot at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Fish was unlucky to be hampered by a hamstring injury in London but still ended the year on an undoubted high, inside the top 10.
Maybe he didn’t get the presents he wanted for Christmas because 2012 began in bizarre fashion with a near-fight with Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in Perth at the Hopman Cup, the usually genial invitational mixed team event.
The reason behind his actions never really became clear but Fish gave Dimitrov verbals throughout a drubbing in the singles (he was never going to be happy given his performance) and then even more bizarrely, appeared to deliberately aim a ball at Dimitrov and then later, when the pair squared up, they had to be separated by the tournament referee.
In Indian Wells, he had a heated on-court argument after a hindrance call went against him. He knew he had made a mistake in shouting out before his opponent had a chance to reply, but considering that Matthew Ebden had no chance to get it back, he was a little unfortunate with the call.
The defeat by Edben didn’t help his mood and nor did the fact that both in Indian Wells and in Miami in the early stages, he was never put on the main stadium court, despite being the American No 1.
He didn’t make a massive fuss about it and admitted that when the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are around, in particular, it’s hard for anyone else to get a look in. He prefers playing in the heat of the day to the cooler night conditions, so something has to give. But it has been surprising to see him act this way and hear some of the things he’s been saying. “I’ve worked very hard to put myself where I am, in the top 10, the top American in an American event — two American events — and I haven’t played on stadium court,” he said. “I don’t want to play on the grandstand. I want to play on the stadium.”
Maybe it’s the pressure of trying to stay American No 1 and maintain his place in the top 10. But surely he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. It took an awful lot of effort to get where he has, but until now he always managed to do it with an affable manner.
On a similar(ish) note, I was interested to see how Victoria Azarenka took losing for the first time this year after her quarter-final defeat by Marion Bartoli in Miami. The Belarussian was on a stunning streak of form but having narrowly avoided defeat against Dominika Cibulkova in the previous round, eventually ran out of steam.
Having won the Australian Open and taken her winning streak to 26 matches, one defeat here and there is not going to hurt, but disappointingly she managed to chuck in a few barbs, Roger Federer style, when asked about her own performance.
“Physically I was just not able to do anything today,” she said, having praised Bartoli before then taking it away. “Both of those players (Cibulkova and Bartoli) came out and played probably the best tennis of their lives.
“It’s to be expected. Anybody who would go play a No 1 in the world would be highly motivated, especially with me having not lost a match. Everybody wanted to be the first one to beat me, you know, probably.”