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Fisher Retires From Professional Tennis

Ashley Fisher

Fisher, Huss© Getty ImagesFisher (left) states his win with Stephen Huss over the Bryans at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open was the best match of his career.

Doubles specialist Ashley Fisher has announced his retirement from professional tennis. The 36-year-old Australian made the decision following his first-round exit at the China Open in Beijing.

After missing the latter part of the 2009 season and all of 2010, having had surgery on his knee for the fourth time, Fisher found success in his comeback after a slow start in 2011. With Stephen Huss, he reached the third round at Roland Garros, upsetting No. 3 seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the second round, and equaled the showing at Wimbledon, which included a victory over ninth-seeded Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer. The two results enabled Fisher to get his ranking back inside the Top 100.

A resident of St. Petersburg, Fla with wife Kirsten and newborn son Holden, Fisher was a semi-finalist at the US Open in 2006, as well as a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open (2004) and Wimbledon (2006). He attained a career-high ranking of 19 on 22 June 2009 and won four titles, his last coming at Indianapolis in 2008 with Tripp Phillips. Fisher also reached seven other finals, including the Sony Ericsson Open in 2009, and has served on the ATP Player Council since 2008. spoke with Fisher to discuss his career, future plans and proudest moments on tour.

When did you come to the decision to call it a career and why?
I had planned on 2011 being my final year playing but it was when I was in Asia Skyping with my eight week old son and being away for two weeks that made me decide to stop and start spending time with my wife and son.

Following up, did your knee struggles factor in given that you had four operations during the course of your time on tour?
My knee issues were a big part in the decision. Earlier in the year playing on clay and grass I was able to practise and play pain free but after Wimbledon the hard courts begun to take a toll on my knees. I was becoming too reliant on Advil and felt like I was doing serious long term damage to my body. I also felt like I was unable to play at a similar level to 2009 when I had my best year and it was frustrating.

Phillips, Fisher What achievement on the ATP World Tour are you proud of most?
The achievement that I am most proud of was winning in Indianapolis in 2008 with my good friend Tripp Phillips. I was having a tough year missing the first couple of months after injury and had lost nine out of 10 match tie-breaks. I felt like everything was going wrong and Tripp was the assistant coach at UNC Chapel Hill. Everyone told me I was crazy for playing with him. We came through and won the final from a set and a break down and I played amazing tennis for the rest of the year.

Which doubles player on tour did you learn from most and how did that translate into your game?
I tried to learn from guys like Kevin Ullyett and Leander Paes. Players that didn't have a lot of fire power but beat you with brains and consistency. Partners like Devin Bowen and Stephen Huss also taught me a lot and had a huge influence on my game and self belief.

Doubles has changed a lot in recent years. As a specialist, how do you see it evolving over the next five to 10 years, especially as there are many veterans who like you, will be hanging up their racquets in the near future?
Doubles will be in a transition period in the next few years when guys that have dominated for so long will retire. The Bryans are not going anywhere and will continue to dominate for years. I expect singles players to step in and start winning a lot more. Teams like Jurgen Melzer-Philipp Petzschner winning slams will become more of a regular occurrence.

Over the past few years, you've worked in radio and television commentary when you were not on the court. What do you need to do to transition from playing tennis, to covering the sport you love full time?
The transition into broadcasting has been enjoyable but also hard work. Justin Gimelstob spends hours going over tapes and giving me pointers. I have had to learn to pay close attention to players' patterns and learn how to communicate what is going on in a match to a tennis fan. It is like playing tennis in the sense that the more reps and practise, the better I become, but I still have a long way to go. It’s a learning process but something that is thoroughly enjoyable.

It's only been 2.5 months since the birth of your son Holden... making a bold prediction, do you see tennis in his future, a Rays/Buccaneers uniform or will he follow in his mother's footsteps as a successful sports executive?
I would love for my son to play tennis because it has been such a special part of my life and I want to continue playing socially. I have fond memories of playing doubles with my father, brother and mother and nothing would make me happier than to be able to do that with my family. I will expose Holden to all sports and let him pick what he loves but there will definitely be some steering towards the tennis court.

Win or lose, what was your favourite match that you were part of?
The match that will always stand out for me was beating Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open in 2009. Without a doubt, it was the best match of my career and I still get goose bumps when I picture the match point. Knowing that one day on court, I was able to beat the best team in the world will be something that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life.

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