Australian Open 2011: Mardy Fish Fights Back for 5-Set Win

Lauren LynchCorrespondent IIJanuary 17, 2011

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(January 16, 2011) A week ago, Mardy Fish found raising his head from the pillow was a challenging task.

Today, Fish climbed off the competitive canvas in fighting back from a two-set deficit for the first time in his career in a rousing 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Victor Hanescu in the Australian Open first round.

"I've had a long career, and to not be able to come back from two sets to love down is something that I thought about certainly," Fish said. "(It's) something that is pretty special and being able to put in the work to get the fitness level and basically change my life, I was able to do it."

Fish fired an inside-out forehand for break point at 3-all in the fifth set. Defending brilliantly, Fish fired a running forehand winner cross court that settled inside the sideline, grinned and raised an index finger in celebrating the break for a 4-3 lead he never relinquished.

It was a mixed Melbourne day for American men, as Fish's former Boca Raton roommate, Andy Roddick, routed Jan Hajek, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, but young Americans Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison both fell at the first hurdle. 

Adrian Mannarino made quick work of Harrison, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, in one hour, 43 minutes.

Lukasz Kubot cracked 75 winners in conquering a conservative Querrey 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6. The 18th-seeded Querrey was the first men's seed to fall.

It was Querrey's third consecutive opening-round Oz Open exit and marked the 10th time Querrey has failed to survive the first round of a major tournament.

"I think we all know Sam's better than losing the first round. It was a rough day today," Roddick said of Querrey. "But he'll rebound. I mean, last time I guess everyone was kind of disappointed in him. He had his best results after the French last year. Hopefully we can look for a rebound like that.

"He came back and everyone was kind of getting on his case after the French Open a little bit and deservedly so for what he said afterwards in the press. He came back, won Queen's, got to this day what is his best result in a slam, fourth round in Wimbledon, and played well at the US Open. So hopefully he can bounce back."

Querrey looked listless and flat in the fifth set. In contrast, Fish was fiercely defiant.

An ailing Fish was drained from a bout with an energy-sapping illness last week but showed a strong stomach for the fight in persevering for the three-and-a-half-hour win.

"I haven't felt well in the past week or so. I've been in bed basically every day," Fish said. "It was pretty bleak through the first two sets. I lost my serve early in the first two sets, so I was basically playing from behind."

Earning an early break in the third set jump-started Fish's comeback.

"I was up 3-0 and sort of got the momentum on my side, and I sort of hoped my body would withstand the level I wanted to play," Fish said. "Certainly before the match I didn't think I was going to three-and-a-half hours, but it feels great to do it."

Fish reshaped his body and revitalized his career in shedding nearly 30 pounds and responding by collecting two tournament titles and reaching No. 17 last season. Putting in the hard yards paid off for Fish, who was 5-1 in five-setters last season, including a dramatic five-set win on the red clay of Bogota that clinched the United States' spot in the Davis Cup World Group. 

Down 6-5 in the fifth set, a resilient Fish completed an inspired week with a determined comeback, scoring a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 victory to clinch the United States' Davis Cup win over Colombia and send the USA back to the Davis Cup World Group.

Fish was facing a two-set deficit when Roddick took the court today, and in the end the former roommates and teammates both worked their way into round two. 

"I thought that was a great effort. I told him five minutes ago," Roddick said of Fish. "I was kind of going out as he was down two sets. I said, 'That did not look good. I didn't see that happening.' I thought that was a really good effort by him. Mardy a couple years ago wouldn't have won that match, for sure."

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