Sunday, August 17, 2003

Old pals new rivals for title


Americans Roddick, Fish move from backyard to Center Court

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Mardy Fish was a boarder in Andy Roddick's house during their junior year of high school in Boca Raton, Fla. The two played together on the tennis and basketball teams at Boca Prep and spent countless hours battling on Roddick's backyard court.

Today, they take their friendly rivalry to a bigger stage: the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters championship.

Though Roddick left Fish behind the past few years, zooming to superstar status, Fish has produced the finest tournament of his career to set up this surprising matchup in the 4 p.m. final.

"It'll be great," Fish said. "It's something we've always dreamed about."

Fish, ranked No. 41, upset eighth-seeded Rainer Schuettler 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6) Saturday night to become the first unseeded finalist here since Chris Lewis in 1981. The only unseeded player to win was Miguel Olvera in 1960.

Roddick was nearly flawless in his 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over Max Mirnyi, hitting 39 winners with just one unforced error.

Fish, 21, has never won an ATP event; Roddick, 20, the fourth-ranked player in the world, has won nine.

This is the first final here between countrymen since 1996, when Andre Agassi beat fellow American Michael Chang.

"It would be great," Roddick said of a possible matchup before his friend played Saturday. "We were ... like brothers that year."

If you go

What: Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, one of 13 "mandatory" events for top-ranked ATP players.

Where: Lindner Family Tennis Center, Mason.

Today: Doubles final, 1 p.m.; singles final, 4 p.m.

TV: 4-6 p.m., ESPN2

Tickets: Available for $40. Call 513-651-0303, log on (www.masters-series.com/cincinnati) or purchase on-site.

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E-mail nschmidt@enquirer.com




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