New York - Mardy Fish faced down heart problems and crippling anxiety
attacks but in the end it was a humble spot of cramping which brought his
career to an end Wednesday.
The 33-year-old American, who has played just a handful of tournaments in
the last three years and seen his ranking slip to 581 as he battled his
personal demons, had already said that this US Open, his 13th, would be his
Despite serving for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set of his second round
clash against Spain's Feliciano Lopez, he was finally undone by the same
cramping which has claimed many players at this year's hot and humid US Open.
"I wasn't quitting. I was just cramping. I mean, both sides of both
legs, if I moved anywhere close to three or four steps, two or three steps, it
would go," said Fish after the 3hr 11min Louis Armstrong Stadium
encounter, which he lost 2-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
"You would have had to carry me off the court. I was definitely not
stopping at that point."
Fish once reached number seven in the world, won six career titles and made
the quarter-finals three times at the majors, including the 2008 US Open.
But in 2012, his world imploded.
In May that year, he underwent a procedure to correct a heartbeat
Then, at the US Open, where he was the 23rd seed, he was set to face Roger
Federer in the fourth round but stunned the tournament by withdrawing for
It was then that Fish realised he was dealing with a problem which affects
millions of people around the world.
He suffered another anxiety attack sitting on the plane which was to carry
him home to Los Angeles as it taxied on the runway.
Fish had to disembark and pay $20,000 to hire a private jet to take him out
of New York.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America estimates that 3.3 million
Americans over the age of 18 -- around 1.5 per cent of the population -- suffer
from the disorder every year.
The condition decimated Fish's career.
This year's US Open was his first since that 2012 pullout.
He played just five events in 2013, none at all in 2014 and this year
featured in only three tournaments, all in the United States.
He hopes his legacy will be one of lifting the stigma -- especially for men
-- which surrounds the problem of anxiety and show that it is a genuine medical
"I was open and honest about a topic that is supposed not supposed to
be masculine," he said.
"We are trained as tennis players from a very young age to not show
weakness. I was very good at that throughout my career.
"I want to help people that have gone through it and try to be a role
model for people that are deep into some bad times, that they can get out of
it, because I was there. They can conquer it."
Lopez, a fellow 33-year-old who first played Fish back in 2002, was generous
in his praise of the American.
"He was the better player and deserved to win this match. I was very
lucky," said Lopez.
"It's very sad what has happened to him with his illness in recent
years. We played many times and he was often the better player."
One of the first ex-players to congratulate Fish on his career was
compatriot and former US Open champion Andy Roddick.
"@MardyFish hell of an effort my friend... I couldn't be prouder
..... Time for that margarita," tweeted Roddick.
US Open results on Wednesday, the third day of the 2015 tournament at Flushing Meadows (x denotes seeded player):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
Andreas Seppi (ITA x25) bt Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x23) bt Pablo Carreo-Busta (ESP) 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 2-6, 6-4
David Goffin (BEL x14) bt Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Milos Raonic (CAN x10) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/1)
Feliciano Lopez (ESP x18) bt Mardy Fish (USA) 2-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3
Fabio Fognini (ITA x32) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x8) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 7-5
Benot Paire (FRA) bt Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Tommy Robredo (ESP x26) bt Samuel Groth (AUS) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x19) bt Marcel Granollers (ESP) 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) bt Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO x9) bt Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 6-2, 6-3, 7-5
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x17) 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 2-6, 4-6, 6-4
Jeremy Chardy (FRA x27) bt Martin Klizan (SVK) 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1)
David Ferrer (ESP x7) bt Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4)
Serena Williams (USA x1) bt Kiki Bertens (NED) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-2, 6-1
Madison Keys (USA x19) bt Tereza Smitkov (CZE) 6-1, 6-2
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x15) bt Magda Linette (POL) 6-3, 6-2
Belinda Bencic (SUI x12) bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3
Venus Williams (USA x23) bt Irina Falconi (USA) 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-2
Anett Kontaveit (EST) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x31) 7-5, 6-4
Madison Brengle (USA) bt Anna Tatishvili (USA) 6-3, 6-2
Darya Kasatkina (RUS) bt Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-4, 6-4
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) bt Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 7-5, 6-1
Elina Svitolina (UKR x17) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-3, 6-4
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS x13) bt Lauren Davis (USA) 6-1, 6-2
Roberta Vinci (ITA) bt Denisa Allertov (CZE) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
Mariana Duque (COL) bt Ocane Dodin (FRA) 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
Eugnie Bouchard (CAN x25) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) bt Jessica Pegula (USA) 5-7, 7-5, 6-3