Nov/19

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Magic Moment Revisted: How Reporter Sparked Mardy Fish To Top Ten

Mardy Fish is now the Davis Cup captain for the United States, a job role he probably would not have gotten offered were it not for a remarkable press room incident that occurred at the US Open twelve years ago.

What happened was unprecedented. Fish had just lost a five setter to Tommy Robredo at the 2007 US Open and at the post match press conference he was asked by Lloyd Carroll, a columnist for the weekly Queens Chronicle, if he was content as a “journeyman” level ATP player. The journeyman label seemed to sting Fish like a reality slap in the face. Not long after that press room encounter, Fish suddenly improved dramatically as a player and eventually evolved into a top ten star, with notable wins against the likes of Murray and Nadal.

A year later, Fish actually credited Carroll for altering the course of his career from a nondescript underachiever, into a star.

I asked Carroll for his memories of this historic yet under-celebrated incident.

Q Twelve years ago, you had a unique encounter with Mardy Fish at the US Open press conference following his five set loss to Tommy Robredo. Your review and memories of this episode?

Lloyd Carroll: I remember¬†Mardy shocking me by saying “Do you think I suck?” when I asked him if at this stage in his career if he was content just being a journeyman on the ATP Tour. I assured him that just getting to the US Open is a considerable accomplishment. I think that deep down Fish appreciated the question even at the time.

Q In all your years or decades covering New York professional sports, have you ever witnessed another case of a reporter sparking the career of a professional athlete before or after your incident with Mardy Fish?

Lloyd Carroll:  I can’t recall another professional athlete getting a career spark from a reporter’s question. I remember a boxing writer negatively critiquing Adrien Broner when he asked for feedback during a presser but he kept losing.

Q Have you had interactions with Fish since that initial US Open press conference, can you share the details?

Lloyd Carroll: When Fish went on his great run the following year I joked with him that I am taking full credit for his career revival and he wittily replied, “And well you should!”
   

Q You must feel a sense of pride for inadvertently reshaping a pro athlete’s career from being a “journeyman” to becoming a top ten ATP star?  

Lloyd Carroll:  It has been a source of pride for me and Mardy has always given me a warm greeting whenever I have seen him at the Open or WTT events.

Postscript: The reason this was such a special, momentous occasion is that in the tennis world, tennis players always thank their teams, sponsors, ballkids and fans in their victory speeches but they never ever thank the media. Except just this one rare instant which the rest of the media totally missed. But here at www.tennis-prose.com, the Mardy Fish-Lloyd Carroll close encounter at the US Open lives on in all its glory. 

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3 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 4, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Here is the original article about Fish/Carroll. https://www.tennis-prose.com/articles/7265/

  • Andrew Miller · November 4, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    Amazing! Lloyd Carroll and Mardy Fish was magic, I have never heard of this kind of rise and to Mardy Fish credit he says this made a huge difference for him. This is a great piece. Thanks for doing this one Scoop.

    Fish had previously had some good career highlights and had a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, losing to Massu in an epic match, but Fish went way beyond that in becoming the best U.S. player and having some strong runs at Masters. That’s all because of the good that came from this very organic moment.

    I’m glad Fish decided to take the comment to heart. It was of course upsetting when Fish then developed heart issues! But he wouldn’t have made that kind of rise without a spark. Lloyd Carroll was the spark.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 5, 2019 at 8:15 am

    Fish became an elite player after this incident. I remember him playing and beating Murray two or three times, he was like a kryptonite for Murray for a while and that is saying a lot. He was one of the top hard court players that one summer or two, even Federer asked to practice with Fish pre US Open, that’s the picture in this story of Fish hitting with Fed on Ashe pre US Open. I watched the practice and listened to their conversations during the practice and even wrote a story about it when I posted here and also in my Facing Federer book. Fish was a top dog and Lloyd Carroll made it happen. Remember Fish got a lot of grief for his forehand, like Paire, but also like Paire, his backhand was money.

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