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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can we start talking about Mardy Fish as a potential US Open champion?

If you look at the history of the US Open the man that wins the title almost always is at the top of the game. Rarely (or never in the Open era you could argue) do we see surprise winners at the Open or even finalists. So, this would lead you to believe that one of four men will win the title - Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, or Federer.

After Mardy Fish's summer would you argue that he should be considered a real threat to win the US Open? I am going to go against history and tell you why Fish could win the Open.

1. Conditioning - Fish is probably in the best shape of his life. He is dedicated to his fitness. Fish is moving better than ever, and while movement is not his strength he is able to stay in points and transition from a defensive to offensive position more effectively. And, as is documented in the Pyramid of Confidence (go to Resources to read more about how to boost a tennis players confidence and to hit out under pressure) a tennis player must build the foundation of commitment to fitness, strength training, nutrition, stretching, rest and so on to have total belief in his game.

2. Confidence - Fish has won tons of matches this summer and also won the US Open Series. Beating Nadal in Cincinnati was huge for his confidence as was a tough final in Montreal against Djokovic. These matches proved that he could go toe-to-toe with the heavy hitters. Mardy according to the media is more positive than he has ever been. From my observations I see a guy who believes in himself. His body language is positive and he has a determined look. Fish is playing with more energy, more bounce than I have ever seen. The commitment to fitness has helped Fish use better decision-making which has lead to wins and self-belief. I think Mardy truly believes now that he can win the Open. We are in the US swing, Mardy is peaking in his game, now is his time. Go get it!

3. Health - Who in the top 10 is healthy and won lots of matches this summer? Nadal and Djokovic are ailing. Fed and Murray (despite his Cincy win) are looking for their form. The guys I would lump Mardy in with, Ferrer, Monfils, Berdych, Tsonga, Del Potro, Verdasco, and Roddick, have not been as consistent as Mardy this summer. 

4. Home Country momentum - American fans are anxiously awaiting a male player to give them hope that they can dethrone the top three. Even casual fans that attend the Open are likely to get behind an American playing well. If Fish looks the part going into Labor Day weekend and you start getting the feel that something special might be happening, look out. The fans will try to will him on. Remember the crowd support Blake, Capriati, Roddick, Venus, Serena, Ginepri, Agassi, Sampras, Davenport and Martin experienced during their US Open runs the last 10 years. Mardy can use this energy as positive momentum and energy in those tough matches. I know, I know his forehand broke down vs. David Ferrer in Davis Cup this summer. Why won't it happen again? Fish won't have the added pressure of playing for country, plus the forehand has been good this summer in many pressure situations.

5. Weapons - Fish's serve and backhand can be weapons, and his volleys are strong. He has enough weapons to overcome other areas of his game if he can impose his will on a match like he did against an ailing Nadal. You have to have "put-away" shots to win the Open and Fish has several.

This argument is pretty solid, right? Maybe you agree, maybe you don't, but it will come down to Fish executing his game in the big moments. If he stays aggressive under pressure and continues to minimizes his errors I believe he is a real threat win the Open.

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