(March 12, 2015) Former world No. 7 Mardy Fish returned to the court under a protected ranking, for the first time in over 18 months on Thursday in Indian Wells, California. Fish was off the tour due to heart problems which have bothered him since 2012.
The 33-year-old Fish put up a good fight for 2 hours and 36 minutes and even had two match points in falling to fellow American, 22-year-old Ryan Harrison, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open. The pair of match points came at 15-40 in the 10th game of the third set.
“I worked really hard in the past three-and-a-half months to get in physical shape, to go from golf to tennis shape,” Fish said.
“It was nice to play Ryan, sort of a good friend. Someone you’re familiar with. So that part was nice to not have to play someone you don’t really know.
“It’s hard. It’s never easy. It still stings a little bit,” Fish said of the loss.
“I would have liked to play a little better, “he noted. “I would have like to have won – it is what it is.”
“Being on the court for so long. It felt great to be out there. Those are situations you work hard to put yourself into.”
“It’s such a great event,” he said. “I’ve got great memories from 2008 here.
“It felt fantastic to be out there.”
Asked about how he’s had to control his ailment he said: “I learn from every situation, every episode, every sort of scenario that I put myself in in the last couple of years, and I learn from this today.
“I didn’t really have many expectations, as far as how long I could play tournament-wise. How many tournaments I could play – Indian Wells and Miami was kind of in the background.
“This is a new different challenge for me.”
Fish said that he has to come on to the court and “be sort of even keel.”
“Something that I have to work on with my sports Psychologist – what sort of frame of mind do you need out there, (be)cause this is unchartered territory for me in the past couple of years.”
“Golf was such a savior for me because I able to jump into something that I really liked to do, that I was good at, and I could see myself getting better and I really enjoy playing in the tournaments, improving, things like that.” Golf was a coping mechanism for him – “to take my mind off the tennis, what other guys were doing.”
To prepare for his comeback, the American said that he played five or six days a week for the past 20 weeks – “it felt pretty close to tennis.”
Doesn’t have interest in going to the “minor leagues and working my way back up.”
Fish said that he has 3 tournaments where he can use a protected ranking. “It will run out at the US Open. Will have some decisions to make.”
The win for Harrison moves him into the second round where he’ll face No. 5 in the world Kei Nishikori.