Monday, June 27, 2011
Updated: June 28, 10:46 AM ET
Never too late for Mardy Fish
By Greg Garber
WIMBLEDON, England -- Life doesn't always throw out those second chances.
But when Mardy Fish got his -- a season-ending knee injury in 2009 -- he did what you are supposed to do. He pondered his place in the universe, vowed to work harder and take his profession more seriously. After losing nearly 30 pounds and recommitting himself to the game, Fish flourished.
His reward: a first-ever Wimbledon quarterfinal berth at the age of 29. He served Tomas Berdych, a finalist here last year, off the court, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4.
With the Williams sisters both losing on Monday, Fish is the final American in either singles draw.
"Last last," Fish said. "Again, I mean, it's not what you set out to do. It was, I guess, bad luck for the Williams sisters to lose. Unfortunate, I guess. They'll be back, I'm sure."
Fish will be back Wednesday. He'll play Rafael Nadal, a winner over Juan Martin del Potro in four hard-hitting sets.
It was, to be honest, a huge surprise.
Fish was never broken, and the winning percentage on his first serve was an off-the-charts 91. In four rounds, his serve has been broken … exactly once. If you're doing math, that means he's held 64 of 65 service games.
"One of the best serving days of my life," Fish said afterward. "A lot of it is the grass. It feels like it's so much easier to serve on. I don't know why. The rhythm of the serve-and-volley game is good for my game."
Indeed, Fish pushed his record on grass to 15-2 over the past two years. He had never played Berdych, who came in with excellent Wimbledon form, having won all nine of his sets.
This is Fish's third major quarterfinal, the last coming nearly three years ago at the U.S. Open (he lost to Nadal).
"Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet. I don't know," said Fish. "This is much different than the '08 U.S. Open for me. I feel a lot different. I feel like a completely different player.
"I've never been past this spot in a Grand Slam. Past this spot is where I want to be, where you set your goals for. So I'm hoping it doesn't end."
Four more things I know I think:
Get ready for a "Deliciano" matchup: Judy Murray will be torn when her son Andy plays his quarterfinal match Wednesday. That's because his opponent is the handsome Feliciano Lopez, who she regularly extols in her tweets. The 29-year-old Spaniard reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the third time in his career -- all here at All England -- with a victory over qualifier Lukasz Kubot. It wasn't easy; Lopez lost the first two sets and rallied to win 3-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 7-5, 7-5. The match went 4 hours, 18 minutes, with each player stroking 80 winners. As a result, Judy may be disappointed if Feliciano is a little less than fresh.
Sharapova is still your favorite: Some of us saw this coming. When the WWW (Williams, Williams and Wozniacki) train crashed out, Maria Sharapova was the last major contender standing. She's the only former champion left, having won here in 2004 as a 17-year-old. Sharapova handled Peng Shuai 6-4, 6-2 and faces Dominika Cibulkova in Tuesday's quarters. She'll carry a nearly 1-foot height advantage into the contest.
Half a (free) dinner is better than none: James Cerretani of Reading, Mass., is already into uncharted territory. In 10 previous Grand Slam events, the 29-year-old doubles specialist had never gone past the second round. Now he's into the third with German partner Philipp Marx, where they will face Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. Moreover, Cerretani is making an impression on the local merchants. Tennis players are notorious creatures of habit, and Cerretani is no different. He had eaten for seven consecutive nights at Nando's, a popular grilled chicken restaurant in the town of Wimbledon. On the eighth night, Sunday, he was recognized as a tennis player and given 50 percent off.
Royal Box power rankings: (1) Kate Middleton and Prince William. Not only do the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have star power, they also have history on their side. William's great-grandfather, King George VI, played in a doubles event at Wimbledon in 1926 (he lost). More impressive, George VI was the subject of the Oscar-winning movie "The King's Speech." (2) Jay-Z. His wife Beyonce closed the Glastonbury Festival on Sunday night. (3) Billie Jean King. She won 20 Wimbledon titles (six singles, 10 doubles, six mixed), tied for the most with Martina Navratilova.
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.