Sunday, August 17, 2003

Schuettler finds Fish too tough in semis



By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img]
Mardy Fish returns to Rainer Schuettler in the first set.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
MASON - The list of finalists at Tennis Masters Series events this season reads like a who's who.

Agassi, Roddick, Federer, Ferrero, Hewitt and ... Fish?

American Mardy Fish continued his surprising run to the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters final by outlasting Rainer Schuettler 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6) Saturday in the semifinal round at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

An up-and-coming 21-year-old who has never been past the round of 32 of a Masters Series event before this week, Fish has frustrated opponents here with his powerful serve and ability to save break points. At No. 41, he is the lowest-ranked player to reach a final at any of the seven TMS events this year.

"This is the best week I've ever had tennis-wise," Fish said.

Fish, who plays Andy Roddick today for the title, has won 57 consecutive service games since the first round of this tournament, and has saved 16 straight break points.

"I wouldn't be here without the serve," Fish said after the match.

Schuettler pushed Fish to the brink of losing his service game five times in the first set Saturday, but Fish saved break point each time, usually with an ace or service winner. Fish hit 13 aces and 12 service winners throughout the match.

"He had a bunch of break points there in the first set," Fish said. "I tried to take a little bit off the first serve and put a lot of pressure on him by making the first serve."

Fish won his sixth game of the set with four aces. He took control of the tiebreaker by breaking Schuettler's serve on the first point.

Each player held serve during the second set. On match point during the second-set tiebreaker, Fish hit a volley near the sideline, and Schuettler's return flew wide. Fish threw his arms up as his coach, Cincinnati's Kelly Jones, applauded.

Jones is moving to Miami after the tournament and will give Fish a ride to his Tampa home in the truck. As far as Fish is concerned, a championship trophy would fit nicely in that truck.

Mardy Fish

Seed: Unseeded

Ranking: 41

Season: 29-19, no titles, $296,113

Hard courts: 20-9

Tennis Masters Series: Previous best showing was round of 32 this year at Miami and Rome

Career tournament finals: 0-2

Path to final

def. M. Philippoussis 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

def. X. Malisse 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-1

def. Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-2

def. D. Nalbandian 7-6 (3), 6-3

def. R. Schuettler 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6)

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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