By Interview by Josh Staph
Mardy Fish was only a toddler when he made his television debut. A Minneapolis news station profiled the two-year-old after he was caught smacking tennis balls over a net from behind the baseline. Since, his power and level of competition have increased exponentially, as he now slams balls past some of the best tennis players in the world.
Mardy hit the pro ranks with success in 1999 when he was only 18, but a wrist injury in 2005 stifled his game and quick ascension; he played only 17 games that year. This year, however, has brought new life to Mardy’s game. He began the 2007 season with his best Grand Slam showing to date—a quarterfinals appearance in the Australian Open. The 6’2” baller has been using his powerful backhand and laid-back persona to resurrect his game to the very top of the tennis world. Below, Mardy gives us a peek at how he preps for court action and remains one of the coolest cats on tour.
STACK: Can you take us through your match preparation, beginning with the moment you wake up?
Fish: On a match day, I wake up pretty early. I can’t sleep in, because I’m usually pretty anxious to play. I’ll get a good breakfast, because I think it’s the most important meal of the day. I like to be up at least three hours before I play. So if I play at 11, I’m up for sure by eight. I also like to hit a few hours before my match, so I’m hitting by nine for that 11 o’clock start time.
Do you have any superstitions during tournaments?
Fish: Yeah, I am very superstitious when it comes to match days. I usually go to dinner at the same place I went the night before if I’m playing well in that tournament. Regardless of where I go, I usually get pasta or steak. If I’m winning, I keep showering in the same shower before and after matches, because I feel like it’s a lucky one.
Who are you listening to before matches?
Fish: My best friend is a country singer; his name is Jake Owen. I listened to his CD before every match down in Australia and did pretty well. I usually pick a CD before my first match and listen to it before every match the rest of the tournament.
Have you ever had any problem with nerves before big matches?
Fish: Nerves are a major part of this sport. Playing in front of 15,000 people isn’t quite as big as an 80,000-seat stadium, but it’s different because the fans aren’t looking at 52 guys on each team. It’s just you and your opponent. So it’s a little nerve racking, but you get used to it and usually play better when more people are watching.
Any funny experiences right before you had to play?
Fish: Can’t think of anything really funny off the top of my head. It’s pretty funny that Andy [Roddick] and I were joking around right before our quarterfinals match against each other in Australia. He is a good friend of mine; we actually lived together when I was younger, so we had fun before the match. Once we went out there, though, it was all business.
What’s the locker room like before one of your matches?
Fish: I guess the weird thing about our locker rooms is that your opponent is in there with you, right before you are about to play each other. I’m sitting there trying to fire up and get ready to play, but I look across the room and see the guy I’m playing in five minutes, which is weird.