Two-time champion Mardy Fish has committed to play this year's the BB&T Atlanta Open. Fish's return to Atlanta will be his second ATP World Tour appearance since the 2012 US Open last fall. He is returning to action after playing only Indian Wells this year, along with a USTA Pro Circuit stop in Savannah.
The BB&T Atlanta Open has always been a special tournament for Mardy Fish. It was here in 2010 that Fish began a career renaissance, winning the title in three sets over fellow BB&T participant John Isner. The title was a sweet breakthrough for Fish, who had trained hard, losing 30 pounds and changing his diet in an attempt to regain the elite form and promise he had shown back in 2003 before injury had set in. The Atlanta title helped Fish have a very successful summer hard court season that launched him back to the ATP Top 20 for the first time in seven years.
If the 2010 Atlanta tournament was Fish’s breakthrough, 2011 confirmed Fish’s arrival to the game’s elite. Fish not only defended his title (besting Isner once again in three sets), but this time, caught on fire after the tournament, reaching the finals of Los Angeles (l. Gulbis) and Montreal (l. Djokovic), the semis of Cincinnati (d. Nadal, l. Murray), and the fourth round of the U.S. Open (l. Tsonga) helping Fish to win the Emirates Airlines U.S Open Series and achieve a birth in the ATP World Tour Finals by finishing No. 8, a career high ranking.
Riding high off of an incredible 2011 season, it appeared Fish was poised to remain in the Top 10 for several years to come. But disaster struck in 2012 after suffering a loss to Juan Monaco in the quarterfinals of the Master’s event in Miami. Fish woke in the middle of the night with his heart beating three times faster than normal for an athlete at rest.
"I was completely panicking, I thought I was going to die." Fish said of the terrifying episode. Citing "fatigue" from the heart issue, Fish had to pull out of the European clay court season, including the French Open. After the French, doctors operated on Fish to correct the misfiring heart cells.
Luckily for tennis fans around the world, Fish was able to come back to competition at Wimbledon making the fourth round (l. Tsonga), before moving on to Atlanta, where he attempted to make it three titles in a row at the Atlanta Open. Unfortunately, bad luck struck again when he was injured chasing down a ball against eventual finalist Gilles Muller in the first round. Fish was forced to pull out of the event, relinquishing his title and depriving fans of another possible Fish vs. Isner classic.
Fish would recover to reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open, but was forced to withdraw against Federer. The problem forced him to give up the rest of 2012. In late November, Fish announced the problem would force him to miss the beginning of 2013 including the Australian Open.Although heart problems have forced Fish to miss a considerable amount of the 2013 season, he is still out on the practice court plugging away, honing his groundstrokes in preparation for another strong run during the American hard court season.
Although taking time off from the tour has been difficult, Fish will surely take motivation from his fellow tour player and world No. 3 Rafael Nadal, who was sidelined by bad knees for seven months before finding his form on his beloved clay, winning six titles and gunning for his seventh French Open.
Like Nadal, Fish will look to return during a part of the tour where he has been dominant. Expect the hard courts of the Emirates Airlines U.S Open Series to once again be a place where Fish will thrive.