Mardy Fish Partially Credits Journalist For Career Turnaround
Mardy Fish was at a rock bottom. He had just blown a fifth set lead in the second round of the 2007 U.S. Open to Tommy Robredo on Armstrong Stadium. There are no other words to put it, it was a brutal choke. 64 36 64 67 64.
After the match at the press conference, a local reporter named Lloyd Carroll of the Queens Chronicle asked Fish, then in his mid 20s – an unintentionally provocative question which struck a nerve.
Carroll asked if Fish, ranked #40 at the time, if he was “content to be a journeyman on the ATP circuit after getting bounced yet again in the second round of the U.S. Open” by Robredo. Fish, a bit hurt, replied, “So you think I suck?!”
This impromptu reporter-athlete interaction seemed to light a fire inside of Fish. At the 2008 Australian Open, Fish thrashed Robredo 61 62 63. A year later Fish came back to the 2008 U.S. Open ranked #24. More injuries and setbacks stunted Fish’s progress and his ranking dropped again. But before the 2010 season, Fish lost 30 pounds and got in the best shape of his life. By June of 2011, Fish was in the top 10 and was beating players like Murray and Nadal.
The turning point of Fish’s career clearly seemed to be the press conference episode with Carroll. Lloyd and myself joked about it though we also knew it was not entirely a joke.
At one of the U.S. Open press conference by Fish in a following year, Carroll, a very jocular and personable sort with a built-in smile, cracked to Fish that he felt he deserved partial credit for his career turnaround and Fish replied with a smile himself, “And so you should.”
So there it was, the official confirmation from Fish himself.
Yes, it actually happened in tennis. A journalist calling an ATP pro a “journeyman” at a press conference actually sparked one of the most remarkable hot streaks of the decade.
“Clearly I motivated him to a higher level!” says a proud Lloyd Carroll about the spontaneous incident in 2007 which slipped unnoticed by most all of the tennis media.