Today, it was David Ferrer who looked like the fish out of water. 29-year-old Mardy Fish defeated world No. 6 Ferrer convincingly 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Fish is seeking his first Masters Series title.
Known more for his powerful serve and forehand, Fish hit with consistency throughout the match, battling the wind and the heat more efficiently than Ferrer. Ferrer looked off his game, as he had numerous erratic forehands and some questionable decision making.
Fish managed to frustrate the Spaniard all match with his range and unfaltering confidence on the court. Fish is beginning to hit his stride and is playing some of the best tennis of his career, a little uncharacteristic in the tennis world for a guy in his late 20s.
The Florida native has reached the finals of a Masters Series tournament three times before and lost all three. Fish has won five career titles on the ATP Tour, but a victory in Miami would instantly become his biggest accomplishment as a professional athlete.
When the rankings come out after this tournament, Fish will be at least No. 11 in the world, making him the highest ranked American.
Fish was quoted in The Montreal Gazette before the match downplaying the significance of this achievement.
"I certainly wouldn't feel like the top-ranked American, considering what Andy has accomplished and what I've accomplished," Fish said.
"His career has quadrupled mine, at least."
Put another way, he’s trying to say there are plenty of other Fish in the sea that is professional tennis.
Modesty aside, now is as good a time as any for Fish to capitalize on his momentum. After all, he’s not getting any younger, and he’s about to reach the highest ATP ranking of his entire career. It appears as though the future has finally arrived for Mardy.
Fish will face the winner of the Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson match Wednesday night. Djokovic is ranked No. 2 in the world and will look to make quick work of the surprising Anderson, a 6’8” South African who is No. 40 by ATP rankings, but unranked in the Sony Ericsson draw.
Whether Fish can raise his level of play enough to defeat the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in a tournament as big as the Miami Masters is yet to be determined, but at least he’s enjoying the ride before it’s too late.