Since turning pro back in 2000, Mardy Fish has made a name for himself as one of America's top rising stars on the ATP tour. In fact, the 26-year-old even captured a win over tennis great Roger Federer at this year's Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California. We recently caught up with Mardy to get his thoughts on training for the upcoming U.S. Open.
Being an American, how does the U.S. Open compare to other Grand Slams?
It certainly has a buzz to it, because you get your hometown fans and home country rooting for you. There are plenty of people there who love to see the Americans win.
Do you think reigning champ Roger Federer will make it five in a row-or does an American finally emerge victorious?
Well we'd like to see that, that's for sure, but there are plenty of guys that can win that tournament, like [Novak] Djokovic and obviously [Rafael] Nadal. Someone like Andy Roddick or James Blake, who have both played well over the years there, can certainly make some noise.
What are some muscle groups that a tennis player needs to concentrate on to be successful on the court?
First and foremost, you've gotta have your legs there. With tennis, you do a lot of running. We do a lot of lunge-type exercises. I've had a little bit of trouble with my knees the past year, so almost every day, I do stuff where I put my heels up on an incline and put as much weight as I can on my back and do some squats. Next thing, my right arm is the next most important for me. I do a lot of rotator cuff exercises [for my serve]. After all that, we'll spend 15 minutes or so doing abs, core, and med-ball work.
Endurance is obviously an important part of tennis. How do you build that up?
It depends on the season, really, because on grass there are shorter points, quicker bursts, and on clay there are longer points and longer rallies. This time of the year we'll do shorter sprints, 20 and 40-yard dashes, things like that. Maybe even 10-yard dashes, just very quick. We'll go from the sprints and suicides and then go straight into some jumping.
Which surface is the most difficult to train for?
Clay, by far; it's much harder on your body. You need to be in there mentally, you need to just know that you're in good shape and that you don't have to go for the stupid shot at the bad times and you can hang in there. It's a mental battle.
Who would you say is the fittest guy in the pro circuit right now?
Rafael Nadal. He can last forever. He's such a bull. Physically, he's so forceful to his opponents. He can run five sets no problem and run side to side.
You're engaged to a sexy suitcase model on Deal or No Deal [lawyer Stacey Gardner]. Guess that means you hold the key to her, er, suitcase. How's that going?
It's a fun time, for sure. We met in L.A. through a mutual friend when I played a tournament out there. She came out to watch. I ended up losing that match. But we went out later that night, and the rest is history.
How long have you been playing tennis?
I've probably been playing seriously since ... well, I played a tournament when I was six. But I didn't start taking it real seriously until I was about 15 or 16.
Your dad's a tennis teacher-is that how you got into it?
Yeah, my dad's a teaching pro, and he's a big fan of tennis period. Before I was born, he went to the U.S. Open to watch. I liked a few of the other sports [I played] a little bit better, but he saw something special in me and pushed me towards that-thankfully.