WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN
Red Hot Fish Sweeps Past Nadal, Murray Next In SFs
by ATP Staff|
World No. 7 Mardy Fish, this year's Olympus US Open Series champion, recorded his first victory in his seventh meeting against No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 6-4, at the Western & Southern Open on Friday. He will next meet fourth seed and 2008 champion Andy Murray in the semi-finals. "I played a couple nervous points, but I was pretty happy with the way I executed," said Fish. "That first point or two in the last game was huge. I got a little lucky. I hit the top of the tape and maybe the side of the line on a defensive forehand crosscourt and maybe caught him off guard and he missed his slice out wide. A little bit of luck and a little bit of belief as well."
Fish never let Nadal settle, producing a service masterclass that included 12 aces. The Los Angeles resident, who has not lost his serve in 29 games this week, won 73 per cent of his service points. "[I've been] taking advantage of the opportunities, making a lot first serves in key moments, not giving away many free points," Fish said. Look, those three guys [I've played] return extremely well, so if I don't lose serve, I am usually pretty successful."
Fish, 29, has reached three straight ATP World Tour finals. He picked up the Atlanta Tennis Championships title (d. Isner), then finished as runner-up at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles (l. to Gulbis) and last week's Rogers Cup in Montreal (l. to Djokovic).
Nadal dropped to a 53-10 match record on the season and will now head to New York City for the US Open, where he is the defending champion. "I lost because Mardy played much better than me," stated Nadal. "I had a few chances. A little bit unlucky for moments. But that's tennis."
Added Nadal, "[In New York] I have to play my game. I have to play aggressive. I have to move faster. I have to play with more intensity and less mistakes."
Fish clinched the 2011 Olympus US Open Series title with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Richard Gasquet on Thursday. He will now compete for the largest payout in tennis history at the US Open - $2.8 million ($1.8 million for winning the US Open and a $1 million bonus for winning the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series). "It feels like a tournament win really," said Fish. "I think it's the epitome of what the US Open Series is, and that it's not just coming over and playing two events and the US Open. It's grinding it out all summer and playing well throughout the summer... I've played well. It's an honour."
Murray improved to 7-1 lifetime against 10th-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon with a 6-3, 6-3 win. He hit eight aces, converted four of 11 break point opportunities and has advanced to the semi-finals for the third time in four years.
"He's one of the best movers on the tour," said Murray. "[So] you need to be very patient against him. He moves great. I thought I returned well today. I made it very difficult for him to get free points."
On facing Fish, Murray said, "He's played his best tennis the last year or so. If you look at his game, it hasn't changed a whole lot. It's just confidence of winning matches and understanding how to play his game most effectively. He's in good shape. He's been very, very consistent, which maybe he wasn't in the past. That's why his ranking has gone [up]."