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Mardi Gros 09/06/2010 - 7:51 PM

103867955

by Pete Bodo

I want Fat Mardy back.

There, I said it. That's it for one of the dominant narratives of this summer of tennis, the last word on a subject that, at least in American tennis circles, has been as inescapable as talking about the weather, the oil spill, the proposed Ground Zero mosque. If you didn't know better, you might swear that what svelte Mardy, with legs so skinny that I recently mistook him for Gael Monfils, was really angling to land this summer was not a Grand Slam title but a whopper of an endorsement deal with Weight Watchers International. I can just see him on late night TV, arm-in-arm with the Duchess of Po- York, Sarah Ferguson. 

We can fill the subsequent lull in the conversation with speculations on how much better Mardy Fish might do if he put on a few more pounds of muscle, re-developed a modest little front porch, and started to throw, oh, about 30 more pounds behind that sledgehammer serve and rekindled his willingness to go lurching to the net behind it. Bring back Fat Mardy. I miss the strange beauty of the inconsistent and unpredictable.

Alright, I overstate the case for emphasis. But if you watched Fish lose to Novak Djokovic on Arthur Ashe Stadium this afternoon, you know what I'm driving at. Fish played a surprisingly passive match, as if he were bent on proving that the only difference between he and David Ferrer is 12 inches of elevation, 30 pounds, and a headband worthy of a Mescalero Apache.

Fish played Djokovic defensively, and often from a position so far behind the baseline that Djokovic had plenty of time to load, lock and fire. The straight set scores (6-3, 6-4, 6-1) provide a vivid summary of the match. Fish fell behind quickly and irreversibly; he made the best push of which he was capable, all things considered, in the second set (down a break at  2-3, Fish had Djokovic serving at 0-40, but let him slip away). After that, what oxygen remained in Fish's gills slowly dissapated.

I talked with Nick Bollettieri (here's the video) right after the match, and his impressions were similar; he pointed out that engaging in behind-the-baseline duels with Novak Djokovic is suicidal for a guy like Fish. Just because you lose 30 pounds, it doesn't mean you're gifted with the retrieving skills of a Rafael Nadal, or a Federer-esque ability to transition from defense to offense. Getting thinner hasn't made Fish any less perceptive or articulate, and he knows what we're talking about here. "Sometimes, I think I sort of get into a rut—it's so much fun for me now to be able to sort of run down shots and play a little defense. I do that too much, and I'm aware of it, for the most part.

"But he (Djokovic) plays defense as good as anyone, and so he's better than me at it, for sure. That was the case. I tried to, you know, get to the net, tried to stay more, you know, to be a little more aggressive towards the middle part of the match. I just didn't . . . execute."

Fish is an astute player and seems to understand to truth of Heraclitis' maxim, Character is Destiny, and how it might apply to the physical character of a player. He freely admits that he's not even sure where this new body will take him, beyond on a longer road to the funeral parlor. "I've always said that I'm not sure where I'll end up as far as, ah, 12 months from now—where I'll be ranked. But I know I feel like a completely different person. I always had the ability to beat a lot of good players, but not consistently. I feel like consistently I can do it now, over the long haul. but I've got to do a better job. Just sort of figure out the exact strategy that I want, and I'll hopefully figure that out over the course of the next few months, or however long it takes me to sort of find that happy medium between staying aggressive and playing defense."

The emerging theme is that this fixation on fitness at age 29, a tennis player's version of that recently divorced 62-year old insurance broker's sudden decision to get hair plugs, a leather jacket, and a yellow Corvette, creates more challenges than it solves, even when things work out for the better in the long run. Fish re-invented his body, now he has to find the game most appropriate to it. It's a two-stage process, but that's nothing to get discouraged about. He already did the heavy lifting, dropping those 30 pounds that many of the rest of us are content to lug around. The rest is a matter of vigilance, discipline, and the fun of drawing up a new set of X's and O's.

103868447 In tennis, one man's issues are another man's meal ticket, so give Djokovic credit for taking advantage of the complications in Fish's situation. The No. 3 seed appears to be hitting the ball as well as ever, but you could have said that about him at the French Open, as well as Wimbledon, and all he did at those tournaments was sprinkle water on the growing theme that his game arcs upwards but begins to descend at exactly the wrong time. If he were a basketball player, he'd be throwing up three-pointers at the buzzer, only to watch them glance off the front of the rim as a collective groan rises from the "home" side of the gym.

Djokovic is an odd guy. He seems extremely content being exactly who he is, which in general is a wonderful way to go through life, if not Grand Slam tournaments. He's a master reciter of facts. Does anyone else detect a smidgen of delusion and an unhealthy (for an aspiring No. 1) dose of objectivity in this analysis: "But even in Wimbledon I was playing really well every match up to the semifinals. French Open, as well, I was playing great, and then two sets to love up and then I lost that match. But, you know, it's important to perform your best tennis at Grand Slams, and this was my aim for 2010. It's gonna be my aim for the next year. It's the most important events, and it's where you want to perform the best tennis you can. It's happening so far for me. I have to be happy with my results."

Well, thanks for the tutorial on the importance of playing well, Novak, but aren't you a teensy-weensy bit concerned about the fact that your wheels have a puzzling, unsatisfying way of falling off when you most need to put the pedal to the metal? Someone remind this guy of Albert Einstein's famous remark: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But let's withhold judgment on this one; the happy Serb played excellent tennis today and only a fool would write him off as a contender for the title.

So here we are, with six Spanish players surviving to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open. When Fish was asked how he accounts for the Iberian invasion, he noted that tennis is hugely popular in Spain—second only to King Soccer. He also cited the early training that leaves so many players proficient on multiple surfaces, and the basic fitness of the Spanish players. "You look at these guys, you won't come across a Top 50 Spaniard who's afraid to take his shirt off in practice, and they all know they look good doing it."

You could say the same for Fish, and the trend in his recent results, if not today, testifies to the fitness divided. But I kind of miss fat Mardy, even if the newer, sleeker model is destined to prove more able.


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Posted by Master Ace 09/06/2010 at 08:08 PM

Well played match by Novak as he dictated action very early and silenced the crowd. Now, will Novak be consistent against Gael on Wednesday.

Posted by Vetmama 09/06/2010 at 08:23 PM

Ha!
Most of us want Fat Mardy back just to get the "30 pounds!!!" yammering to stop.:)

Posted by greg 09/06/2010 at 08:40 PM

I disagree with your assesement. Yes, if you only saw today's match and based all your conclusions based on the Djokovic match then you would be correct...only for this match. Mardy's record already speaks for itself with his new fitness. And today's match was an anomaly based on his recent results and play in the last few months. He was flat today. He's been on a tear in the last few months. Give the guy a break. Also, he's been aggressive in his recent play; today he looked out of sorts. Today was not the normal for the new Mardy. And I would be one of the first 100 buyers if he put out a Mardy Fish Weight Loss program so I could get the extra bonus Mardy Fish headband and free shipping.

Posted by Eva 09/06/2010 at 08:46 PM

Now, this is ridiculous. So Djokovic won in straight sets basically because Fish played badly? C'mon! I guess Djokovic had something to do with that. For me, the keys of the match were Novak's superb return and his passing shots. Moreover, Djoko showed a lot of focus and consistency, something he tends to lose at points during a match.
Nole showed another thing, he’s raising the speed of his first serve with every match. In this match, he made aces and winning serves every time it was necessary.
I think Novak has stopped joking now and he's in business mode, he was damn serious in his last two matches and press conferences. No more funny lines for the crowd. Nole now believes in his chances and he's a real contender for the title.
Djokovic is now back. Actually, I think it was clear before, but it is now indisputable. No D'Joke.

Posted by tina (in the "Đ-block") 09/06/2010 at 08:54 PM

yeah, his improved fitness has also bettered his results recently, but anyone who really thought that in and of itself was enough to overcome his losing record against Novak - Matt Cronin picked Fish simply because he was "overdue" to beat a top-5 player - well, I might suggest you give your head a shake.

I'm happy with the way Novak has been quietly moving on, even though he's had two high-profile matches against Americans over Labor Day Weekend. He lost a total of 18 games in 6 sets against Blake and Fish combined.

Monfils will be his first real test. But that match-up doesn't seem ideal for Gael, either.

Posted by Jenn 09/06/2010 at 08:55 PM

Well, with or without the 30 pounds, a very disappointing effort when so many believed that Mardy was finally capable of more.
As for Djoko, hard to know what to expect at thus point. My best guess, although not my hope, is that he will play Federer tight for a set, maybe two, and then go away, playing the role that has begun to be familiar - contender who lives up to seeding (mostly) but rarely gets that defining win. When was Djoko's last huge win??.

Posted by Kombo 09/06/2010 at 08:56 PM

"...Fish's gills..." lol, jeez, I hope he doesn't read this stuff

Posted by lollipop 09/06/2010 at 09:23 PM

Novak is puzzling- and that's what makes it a bit confusing to be a Nole fan. You hope so much, and he builds his form, and then out of nowhere he just doesnt show up for the big matches. this has been the trend lately. so i have no idea what to make of Novak's chances--but for the time being, I am quite happy with the way his game is progressing. let's hope he continues to get better and better with each match. as far as the 'Is novak back?" question--i'm never really sure. the '08 swagger is still missing...but with novak you never know when it will come back! and thats why i keep watching.

Posted by AO OPEN 09/06/2010 at 09:26 PM

"Most of us want Fat Mardy back just to get the "30 pounds!!!" yammering to stop.:)"


Haha.

Posted by griff 09/06/2010 at 09:37 PM

Djoko's last,and only big win was against Fed in 08 AO SF.He was so hungry back then,and had that viciousness in his eyes.Let's just hope he won't turn into Davydenko.My fear about him is that he would be quite content if he did.

Posted by Azhdaja 09/06/2010 at 09:45 PM

So, Fish looked too thin all of a sudden, hugh?
Was he too thin in the third round?...or he just made it overnight?

Posted by nickmagoo 09/06/2010 at 09:46 PM

Really, one bad match after the best summer of Mardy's career, and you want fat Fish back? WTF? The guy would never have made to this round had it not been for his losing the weight in the first place, as he had a couple of tough long matches to get through, in very difficult conditions. Fat Fish would've folded in the first round.

Posted by Azhdaja 09/06/2010 at 09:56 PM

Yeah I agree with those who think that Nole is unpredictable and getting away from big victories. Hopefully he will be back soon. It's a shame have a waste of a such such a talent.

Novak seems to like the life too much (wine, women, parties..). But hey didn't Agassi have a big gap after his first GS and big moves.

So, he's got some time, but that is getting narrower by every month. If he don't come back before next year claycourt season, we can put him in the Roddick, Safin, Ferrero and others case.

Posted by Azhdaja 09/06/2010 at 09:56 PM

Yeah I agree with those who think that Nole is unpredictable and getting away from big victories. Hopefully he will be back soon. It's a shame have a waste of a such such a talent.

Novak seems to like the life too much (wine, women, parties..). But hey didn't Agassi have a big gap after his first GS and big moves.

So, he's got some time, but that is getting narrower by every month. If he don't come back before next year claycourt season, we can put him in the Roddick, Safin, Ferrero and others case.

Posted by Larry 09/06/2010 at 09:59 PM

Fish is better thin, but Nick B had a good point. He lacks upper body muscle. Yes, he has good timing and all that, but he needs a bit more strength - and to stop playing like a up-and-coming Spaniard. Fish is one of the few natural serve-volleyers in the game. He needs to come to net at least 40% of the time, in every match.

Djoker looks really good, but Bodo again put his finger on it (Pete is on a run lately). There is something really loopy about Novak's approach to his game and to Majors. He refers to his overall results, and to his game when he's playing well. He studiously avoids talking about why he can't beat Fed or Nadal. He talks as if those were flukey losses. I think what happens is he gets very nervous in those truly big matches, and it also affects his breathing. I think his asthma is pretty clearly related to high levels of stress.

All that said, Novak has the game to beat either Roger or Rafa on this surface if he stays cool, and works his baseline game plan. He probably won't beat them, but he has a chance.

A final word on Mardy - as interesting as his game is, he's just not good enough to beat any of the three mentioned players at a Major. Not now, in any case.

Posted by i come from anon 09/06/2010 at 10:32 PM

Your assessments seem to originate from a not so clean orifice.. Maybe his flatness came from playing 5-set matches in the last few days, eh? Fish probably isn't used to that, mentally, so that's pretty much b.s. you came up with about his weight making him more passive. I honestly didn't watch the match because I wasn't near a computer, but I'm sure Djokovic didn't let him feel comfortable enough to play more offensively.

Also, you kind of contradict yourself when you claim that he needs more muscle behind his strokes because you're implying that he should still play a baseline game, albeit a more aggressive baseline game. If you meant that he should play more offensively, he would be approaching more on his serves so why put more weight for him to carry around?

Posted by i come from anon 09/06/2010 at 10:33 PM

Something else I wanted to point out... people like Bodo point out that more muscle helps. I hope that makes more people realize that steroid usage and that kind of stuff is a very real problem in tennis.

Posted by i come from anon 09/06/2010 at 10:41 PM

:/ also, we should want fat nalby back instead of fat fish.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/06/2010 at 10:45 PM

Was hoping Mardy would win. Djokovic played to well for Fish to be passive. B. Gilbert or D. Cahill have been saying that Mardy should add 5-10 lbs of muscle, Roddick also, but the only time usually to do that is in the off season.

Posted by Wafto Weefie 09/06/2010 at 11:31 PM

Joke appears to be a better tennis athlete than Albacore.

But this was just one day, and maybe Flipper was just tired.

Posted by SadSmiles 09/06/2010 at 11:42 PM

I think Nadal will loose to Lopez in 4 sets. I wish I can follow the game live.

Posted by arbiter 09/06/2010 at 11:44 PM

Yeah, yeah...Novak "accidentally" wins all the time - other players have mono, or are tired, or have other issues - and lucky Novak always gets undeserved wins. And it has been now 4 years of this trend.

Such a shame.

Bodo, the forever Novak hater. He will never miss a chance to use the ugly, insulting words when talking about Novak ("insanity" - so Novak is insane, according to hatred filled Bodo). Novak has been asked a question about his performance and he is happy - how many players in the world played 6 consecutive quarter-finals in majors? Before that, Novak had played at one point 5 consecutive semi-finals at majors. That puts him in the hall of fame without adding anything else.

If Novak stops playing tomorrow, he can be proud of what he has done.

So, when will the negative tone in all the media about Novak ever stop????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Posted by Wafto Weefie 09/06/2010 at 11:46 PM

Fish needs to keep the fat off but start pumping iron, and work on speed and flexibility.

Agassi showed it is never too late.

Posted by Loneexodus 09/06/2010 at 11:59 PM

I think you all have it wrong. If I'm not mistaken, when he says he wants fat Fish back, he doesnt mean a less fit fish, but rather the attacking, aggresive type of game fish played when he was heavier.

Posted by arbiter 09/07/2010 at 12:03 AM

It seems that Novak stepped on Bodo's nerve by beating Fish so easily. You can tell that Bodo is angry at Fish for losing (totaly irrational comments about "taking his diet too far...??") and at the same time he is furious at Novak or beating his dearest player...so sad.

Sorry, Bodo, but Fish is too SLOW. Even after losing weight, he can't compete with the very best. I like his skills, I actually like his style o play, but he does not have the legs to be a top ten. As simple as that.

Posted by BrooklynNY 09/07/2010 at 12:04 AM

Just got back from seeing Federer for the first time...
I don't know. I guess I was impressed.

I was somehow more impressed when watching Sampras or Nadal.

Maybe thats just me. Or because he played Melzer who he can beat basically at 3/4 speed.

Posted by BrooklynNY 09/07/2010 at 12:10 AM

I also agree about Fish....you might as well throw Andy Roddick in there also..
Like dude(s), just because you're faster than you used to be, that doesn't mean you are fast in the grand scheme of things.

Why are you trying to out grind Novak? Or even letting Randy Lu play on the same court as you Roddick?

These guys forget tennis is the only sport where offense wins championships, not defense.

They need more Sampras in their games, and less Andy Murray.

Posted by pollypurebred 09/07/2010 at 12:12 AM

With all the talk about the 30#, has no one noticed that Nole looked a bit too thin as well? That was my first thought when I first saw him. Agree with lollipop - it's hard to be a Nole fan because you never know which Nole is going to show up. He seems quite focused in this slam, and we can only hope he's able to hold on to that. I too would hate to see him become a one slam wonder.

Posted by ElectricGoat 09/07/2010 at 12:18 AM

do american tennis journos hate nole because of the davis cup? btw, here's comment on today's match that's worth a thousand words, or two thousand if they're bodo's
http://sport.blic.rs/data/images/2010-09-06/71658_zabnovak01_f.jpg?ver=1283801853

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 09/07/2010 at 12:47 AM

Just got back from a full day at the open.
Dunno Pete but the fish looked fried (dry). He did look thin.
Nole played a very clean contained match to me.
Mardy had no chance really.

Posted by TB 09/07/2010 at 12:51 AM

Drivel.

Posted by bdscks 09/07/2010 at 01:22 AM

yep, when Fish beat Roddick his weight was OK, but when he lost to Novak, he seems to be too tiny. What a joke from Bodo hater.

Posted by anon 09/07/2010 at 01:26 AM

that nick man. he sure does know what he's talking about. love that old
school approach.

Posted by Northern boy 09/07/2010 at 01:37 AM

What a derisive and utterly moronic column from Bodo. Fish never had a prayer in this match, fat or thin. He simply doesn't possess the skill set that Djokovic, pound for pound (pun intended) the best hardcourt baseliner in the men's game, possesses. Novak has made a final and two semis the last 3 years here. Mardy's never been past the 3rd round, and he just came off a 5 setter.

Certainly he could be more aggressive, knowing he has to take chances to push Djokovic, but really Pete, bitching about Mardy's weight loss and making this into a body issue thing? Just unprofessional writing.

Posted by arbiter 09/07/2010 at 01:42 AM

pollypurebred, yes, Nole lost weight (not that he needed to). He also eats bananas at breaks (instead of power bars), so it must be a new diet.

Posted by CT 09/07/2010 at 01:53 AM

"Getting thinner hasn't made Fish any less perceptive or articulate" - then getting bigger by 30lbs shouldn't change the equation either. Come on, this is lame.

Posted by John 09/07/2010 at 02:00 AM

Hi Pete,

I don't understand such a rude writing about Novak. It seems that you still have a childhood trauma coming from practically the same part of the world as Novak (less than 4-5 hour drive). You prove again and again that old demons have not died in you even though you moved to a free country long time ago.

Posted by Jerell (With a new sig line, FINALLY...like this one!) ) 09/07/2010 at 02:28 AM

I think the biggest factor in this match today was the fact that Mardy Fish played his first match on Ashe Stadium today.

He mentioned that in his press conference and could never deal with the conditions today at all. He lacked the pop on his shots that you saw in Cincinnati against Murray, Roddick, and Federer , and really struggled to adjust to what he was offered with today.

Take nothing away from Novak of course, and the game is better when he's playing well and not feeling like the weight of expectations is on his shoulders like it has been time and time again in recent times. But the conditions for Fish today played a big factor in this match.

Posted by bdscks 09/07/2010 at 02:31 AM

ok i see now, Franz Ferdinand trauma, it is no mystery to me now he was bitching about rude Serb spectators in IW 2008. feel sorry for you Bodo.

Posted by Tanya 09/07/2010 at 03:10 AM

Seriously, what a retarded article.

Posted by Corrie 09/07/2010 at 03:22 AM

So many rude, over the top comments about Pete's piece hardly bolster these commenters' views. Abuse doesn't equal an argument. I don't think Pete's premise is correct, even though it's interesting. I think Fish's problem is that Novak is a better player than him, but it also looked like Fish was particularly at sea in the conditions.

Posted by kongi 09/07/2010 at 03:38 AM

Peter Bodo got this article way wrong on two counts. I find it strange, but it happens, so he can be forgiven, but I very much neither Fish nor Djokovic listens to this rant! Firstly, Mardy is better slimmer than fat! His recprds in the last few months attest to that. He is playing well now. At this tournament he had too much on his plate. No serious slam contender is playing men's doubles! When was the last time Fed, Nadal or Djokovic play doubles at a slam. You just don't put yourself in a more tiring position than you already have.

On Djokovic, I wouldn't go far to say Bodo hates him, but he has been consistently wrong about this player. He is very damn good player. The focus and professionalism that he used to deal ruthlessly with Blake and Fish is not a new trait. He has had it for long! He has been unlucky in the past, particularly in slam. The many losses in atp finals that he lost in 2009 for instance sapped some of his confidence, otherwise he would have have been number 1 or use that mental edge for another slam. He beat Mardy squarely, did not allow him to play his game, and that's what Fed does when he meets other good players.

Posted by Garro 09/07/2010 at 03:41 AM

Sorry Pete, but I think your article is ludicrous. Mardy's weight loss is what helped him reach the finals of Cincinnati and make the 4th round at the US Open in the first place. Losing to Djokovic now somehow makes it a bad thing? Maybe the 5 setters he played had a factor? Maybe Djokovic was playing too well? What a load of rubbish.

Posted by Fred 09/07/2010 at 03:50 AM

Excellent writing Pete, so interesting...much more interesting than writing something accurate and detailed about Wawrinka victory (or Murray failure depending on how you see it).

Posted by TJ Hughes 09/07/2010 at 03:58 AM

@Norrthern Boy is spot on. Fish is not in the same league as Djokovic. He's never going to win a Slam, or even come close, regardless of how much weight he's toting around.

Posted by Tanya 09/07/2010 at 04:12 AM

//So many rude, over the top comments about Pete's piece hardly bolster these commenters' views.
This bitter rant that insults both players doesn't merit any in-depth argument. Sometimes you just call a retard a retard.

Posted by Heather 09/07/2010 at 05:14 AM

What were the conditions that were so harsh for Mardy to deal with? The match I was watching had clear blue sky, no humidity and very little wind. Excuses, excuses. Novak played a better match and he actually showed up to play, Mardy lost because he was unable to match Novak shot for shot, end of story. So glad the Mardy weight loss saga is over.

Posted by Kwaku 09/07/2010 at 05:42 AM

"Mardy, with legs so skinny that I recently mistook him for Gael Monfils"

In Spain there used to be a TV ad in which a small kid's father referred to a woman as being black (not disrespectfully) and the small kid asked: --"But is she black?"

The message (a nice one, by the way) was that kids have a cleaner look at reality.

Funnily, my kid at home, roughly the same age as the one in the ad, did not understand it. He asked me: --"Is the child blind?" Lol, he asked it dead serious!

Posted by Kwaku 09/07/2010 at 05:54 AM

And yes, I also had the distinct impression, while seeing Mardy play Nole, that he was feeling so well being able to run balls down right and left, that he forgot to attack. How could he fall into such a simple trap?

Posted by cash this one too Rafa 09/07/2010 at 06:42 AM

Eeerrr... David Ferrer is 5 inches and 20 pounds smaller than Mardy, not 12 and 30 dude. And 9 ATP ranking positions higher (12th and 21st). So maybe Mardy should also undertake legs shortening surgery to climb up a bit :) .

Posted by princepro110 09/07/2010 at 07:46 AM

Come on! Did anyone really think Fish would ever have a chance in this match? I would have love to have seen the odds in London on this match...50 to 1 on a Fish win!

Fish, Isner, Querry now complaining that they aren't given any Arthur Ashe center court matches in the early rounds and Ashe plays so different than Armstrong & the Grandstand:

-1st if you put these guys on Ashe they would not draw flies and cause even more congestion on the already overcrowded outside courts

-2nd the USTA cares about money first and American tennis a distant second and to please the corporte suite holders means they must see the top seeds on Ashe all two weeks!

-3rd these Americans have like no chance to even get to a Grand Slam Final in their careers

-4th- it sounds like sour grapes to me!

Posted by felizjulianidad 09/07/2010 at 08:07 AM

Tennis not the number two sport in Spain. From a spectator point view, it's probably third or fourth (after outdoor soccer and basketball, and probably competing with formula one for viewership) and it's probably fourth in playing (outdoor soccer, indoor soccer, basketball, then tennis).

Posted by tina (in the "Đ-block") 09/07/2010 at 08:17 AM

I actually think if there is any anti-Novak sentiment from Bodo, it might be due to the fact that Pete was someone who wrote extremely complimentary blogs and articles about Djokovic, and helped build up his image - but now I guess Djokovic has disappointed him. Initially, I resisted the hype - from Bodo, no less! - until I actually got to see him play enough to make up my own mind. And now I'm a true believer, a KAD.

Djoko's record against the conjoined Fedal isn't as bad as people think - he can and has beaten both of them. The guy who really scares me as a match-up is Soderling.

Posted by Veka 09/07/2010 at 08:28 AM

A huge disappointment! now i expect an equally emotional analyses for the shocking losses of Montanes to Soderling and Melzer to Federer. the thing is one of the biggest Fish's success (4th round) is being undermined by biased writers.had no idea that Fish was such a huge favorite to win a slam and his loss to Djokovic would surprise anyone. or someone actually believes their own hype. Fish is just a mediocre player like many others.he will have a couple of good results then vanish for a while,then resurfice again.

Posted by Heidi 09/07/2010 at 09:13 AM

I didn't think Fish had a prayer of winning unless he was serving out of his mind. And even then, it would have depended on Djokovic not being able to read it. Especially across five sets.

That being said, Pete points out that Mardy himself admits to a tendency to get too defensive now, and finding a new game will take time that he may or may not have. Those kinds of doubts tend to show up at the Slams in a player who hasn't made it too deep before. Certainly his results this summer were great, but Murray didn't do badly either, and, um... Similarly, you can't say that Rafa had a stellar hardcourt summer, and look at him now. More and more people picking him to win.

Posted by Jay 09/07/2010 at 09:41 AM

Pete-it just looked to me that Marty was having a bad day. Remember how well he played against Federer a few weeks ago, and its hard not to agree that his new-found fitness has improved his overall play.

That having been said, I had the opportunity to meet Mardy in person (briefly) over the summer, and at first I was taken aback at how gaunt he looked up close. When I mentioned this impression to a couple of other fans at the same event, these women (who often don't believe that one can be too thin) shook their heads in agreement. Getting fit is one thing, but athletes have to be a little more concerned with maintaining energy levels that the rest of us. He looked tired. By the way, Marty was the most humble and appreciative star athlete that I have ever met.

I noticed that Djokovich also seemed to be smaller than ever. Given Novak's persistent energy issues, perhaps that slight strain of mono might be traveling with the tour.

Posted by Pete 09/07/2010 at 09:56 AM

Thank you, Tina, for pointing out that I'm anything but a NOvak hater. I did dub him the "Perfect Player" when I first wrote long post about him. And in the big picture, I hate or love no player, not emotionally, anyway. I watch and try to figure out what I think. Pretty simple. Also, I like to have a little fun, and poke a little fun. Falses idols and all that. . .

Posted by Bolofan 09/07/2010 at 10:18 AM

Mr. Frodo remains me Hitler but against Serbs.
He knows his foolish writtings gain him audience,
he does not care showing him self as what he is:
a new borned american not european. Mr. Frodo,
Nole is No. 3, Federer No. 2 and Nadal No. 1 period.

Posted by Bibi 09/07/2010 at 10:27 AM

Mr. Bodo is allowed to show his emotions. Mardy Fish is from the US after all. Big thank you to Novak for a perfect game display. Do not disappoint us please.

Posted by Joanie 09/07/2010 at 10:34 AM

What a load of crap! Could u BE more blatantly biased against Djokovic?? Holy crap! Oh ya, said that already.

Posted by john smith 09/07/2010 at 10:46 AM

Bodo,

Yeah, Novak has lost 3 GS matches this year to players who he should have beaten on the paper, but we all know sports don't work that way. Otherwise, it wouldn't be sport. Even on the highest level there is a margin of error that determines who wins and who loses.

Only once ever, there was a guy who could win almost all as expected. We know who he is and we also know he is past his prime. Nevertheless, go back and check Sampras, Becker, Agassi, Courier and the rest of that great generation of 90's, and try to measure their consistency. These guys have won more than 25GS between them and yet it can't be compared to what we ask from the best today, not even to the standard most of people want from Novak. The guy is 23 and he has played at least a QF on 14 out of last 16 GS events.

Yeah, he is hell good. Its probably pity that he doesn't have already at least 2 or 3 GS titles, but c'mon, his effort is still formidable. I don't remember Sampras being a constant treat on all 4 GS, in fact the only guy who was, and it was in the later stage of his career, it was Agassi. But between his big wins, there were many ups and downs... many painful exits, and people tend to forget that.

Now, today we expect from no. 3 to get at least SF of each GS. We expect titles and big matches. We expect a HOF career. NO mistakes are allowed.

I think that surely, as the game changes so do our expectations. New paradigms are being created. Everyone now expects a perfect player with auto-pilot, who can create a routine out of sports. In part, we may say, Federer has some fault in this, but still it takes once in a century talent and extraordinary conditions to create one.

And yes, we always want better. Federer is still there, but we are already thinking and subconsciously calling for a guy who can smash his records. We want, Lebrons, Kobes and Dwaynes to be as great and even greater than Michaels and Magics... that's a normal thing...

I say, if Djoko stays around for enough time and keeps playing consistently as he has been, he still can end up with 4-6 GS. It's just the matter of using the opportunities and sticking to it for long time. Ask Agassi.


Posted by sf (aka sod'sfriend) 09/07/2010 at 11:09 AM

this 30-pd weight loss thing has been beaten to death. geez.

next time i hear the commentators refer to it, i'm calling 911!

Posted by Mike 09/07/2010 at 11:19 AM

Hello Pete,

if you read Tina's comment more carefully, will see that she never mentioned that you are anything but a Novak hater. She just expressed her doubt - you are giving yourself too much credit, poking is one thing and biased unrprofessional writing something totally different. In your text you insulted both Fish and Djokovic for a no apparent reason and, consequently, exposed yourself to people questioning your true motives.
Your definition of poking exceeds all social norms and NObodo thinks you are funny.

Posted by Lillian 09/07/2010 at 12:14 PM

Hi Pete,

I cannot believe how bias you are against one of the best players of our time, he is number 3, yes Novak Djokovic. What is it about him, that you HATE

Posted by Lillian 09/07/2010 at 12:21 PM

Hello Pete,
As with other players, Rafa and Federer, there comes time that each of them lost the match, that does happened.
So who are you to judge and insult Nole for his play, and Mardy just finding excuses as to why he lost the match, never played before on that stadium, so what.....get used to it.
I m sick and tired of people constantly putting Novak down, try to see for what he is as a person, a lot of good he does with his friends, people back home in Serbia, infulence he has on tennis and new young people starting to play the game.
Look for once at all those American players that always challenge the balls, Novak is not like that, proper upbringing has thought him that. Another player I have respect for is Nadal, not "the great Federer" who I would put in another breed of tennis players.

Thank you for your time, and hope in future you will refrain from using insulting words to speak about player such as Novak Djokovic.

Posted by Joanie 09/07/2010 at 12:33 PM

Lillian I feel similarly. Djokovic is constantly berated by the press and commentators in America. There's little mention of him. Before the US Open started few commentators and writers thought anything of him. Forget that he was in the semis of Wimbledon Canada or the quarters of Cincinatti. Yes. Forget it. Instead they were talking about Berdych and Murray who are both out. It is unclear why this is. Why he is repeatedly disparaged in the press and by some television commentators. But one thing is for certain.

There's something Fishy about it.

Posted by arbiter 09/07/2010 at 01:09 PM

The other thing that probably made Bodo so furious is that Mardy Fish gave so many compliments to Novak. He only said what you will rarely read anywhere - that Novak is an exceptional player, and that it is very hard to play against him. Honest words, of an honest athlete. That is what bothers Bodo - honesty.

Posted by Ioana 09/07/2010 at 01:49 PM

Peter Bodo has a Hungarian background and those people are well known for their hatred and rudeness(the inhabitants from some neighbor countries know that very well). Despite the fact that Bodo emigrated in USA long time ago,as a hungarian, he has the the hatred in his soul.All my consideration for Mardy Fish who seems to admire and respect Djokovic a lot,not only after this match,but after all the six matches that he lost before, against a player who is by far better than him.

Posted by viagra online 09/07/2010 at 02:12 PM

Surely the power and beauty of a steady rain is a glimpse of eternity. One day, like a raindrop, I will stand in the great assembly and add my small voice to a glorious song of praise, orchestrated by the only Worthy One.

Posted by Eva 09/07/2010 at 02:37 PM

I may disagree with Bodo's words but I don't think insulting or disrespecting him like some people are doing here is sensible or acceptable behavior. He has his opinions and that's why his blog is read by hundreds of people.
Of course I don't like what he has written about Djokovic or Fish, i think it's not true and very biased. I'm also fed up with the US media and bloggers who systematically write about Fedal and Murray and make their predictions completely ignoring one of the best players of this decade, who is still nº 3 in the world and has been for so long I can't remember. Without him tennis nowadays would be very different, that's for sure, and it would have a lot less fans. I watch tennis because of Novak, he hooked me and now I can appreciate other players too, but he's nº1 in my heart and there's nothing that would make me happier than seeing him win another grand slam. I just demand more RESPECT for this terrific player and genial person, if someone deserves it sure it is him.

Posted by pogiako 09/07/2010 at 02:45 PM

People, Pete is a writer and he is paid to create chaos among you. So pleaase do not take it personally. He used to laud on Novak and I don't think he hates him. i used to dislike Pete because I thought he was an anti Roger but I realized it was his way of attracting more bloggers. If you notice his articles have more responses than anybody else. So, cheers!!!!

Posted by Glen 09/07/2010 at 02:55 PM

Bodo has a good pen (funny), but if one were to evaluate his tennis understanding on the back of this article it would be as unreasonable as it is to evaluate the benefits of Fish being fit rather than unfit solely on being demolished by a substantially better player having a great day - while Fish was nowhere close to his best.

Anyone who has watched Fish over the Summer knows that this was what the doc ordered. Pun intended. That doesn't mean he is suddenly going to be a world beater. Just an improved tennis player on most days.

Fortunately, Bodo most likely knows that this was a silly one. Perhaps he is unaware how tame it is to rip a GS winner and world number 3 the way he does though.

Posted by Haile 09/07/2010 at 03:02 PM

Austrian Bodo has an inborn dislike for Novak....Serbs killed his empire and all that. Fact is, Novak always beats Fish, a fat Fish, a skinny Fish, makes no difference.

Posted by Wafto Weefie 09/07/2010 at 03:09 PM

When you lose weight you lose muscle and fat.

Lack of muscle keeps you from being fast.

If you strengthen your legs you will get faster.

Posted by tennisu 09/07/2010 at 03:36 PM

the comments at the end of this article are way more insightful and eloquent than the article itself. not wasting any more of my time here....

Posted by FFF 09/07/2010 at 03:38 PM

unrelated but did anyone notice that Fed went back to the Nike Vapor 6's from last year (which most people felt were way too stiff)? must have found the new lunarlites were a bit soft and wanted the firmer feel he had last year.

Posted by Mrs. Edgewood Cheesewater 09/07/2010 at 04:01 PM

As everyone knows, the object of a preposition takes the objective case even if it is compound.

I am willing to make allowances for the less-educated working classes and not report Mr. Bodo to the United States of America Board of Grammar Assurance - this time.

Posted by SamK 09/07/2010 at 04:01 PM

So let me get this straight... When he has an amazing resurgent summer season you guys talk non stop about his amazing weight loss and how much it has helped his late career surge. When he loses to the WORLD NUMBER 3 you say its all a result of over drastic weightloss? This makes no sense. You all need to recognize that the depth of men's tennis makes it difficult to upset top players. Fish lost to the World Number 3, a former grand slam champion, someone who is SO consistent at that ranking that he rarely gets upset early. Deal with it and stop trying to explain away America's lack of depth.

Posted by Eva 09/07/2010 at 04:13 PM

@SamK... you nailed it. Bravo.

Posted by Wafto Weefie 09/07/2010 at 04:16 PM

Fish Stick is capable of playing a lot better - with more energy and power.

So it is understandable to speculate about the nature of his apparent physical decline against The Obnoxious One.

Posted by tennisu 09/07/2010 at 04:19 PM

Brilliant, SamK!

And to put it in Fish's words, and I quote, "He played great. He played...he kicked my butt. He played great."

Posted by Wafto Weefie 09/07/2010 at 04:20 PM

One day soon in a match, The Joker will hypnotize himself by bouncing the ball 70 or 80 times before a serve, and then have to be carted off the court babbling and drooling - and taken by ambulance to the nearest mental hospital.

Posted by Mike 09/07/2010 at 04:23 PM

Hi Wafto,

it seems that you are allowed to use the internet from the institution you just mentioned in your previous post

Posted by paula 09/07/2010 at 04:26 PM

I have to say, I think Mardy looks too thin. I love the way Nole is playing. Also, my blog is not to be taken seriously at all. Think SNL meets tennis fan.

Posted by Bobby Savoy 09/07/2010 at 04:31 PM

This article has had a huge impact at my tennis club.

Many of us have now decided to put on 30 lbs of pure fat in hopes of improving our level of play.

I am now spending the money I used for tennis lessons - on Doritoes and ice cream.

Posted by Bobby Savoy 09/07/2010 at 04:34 PM

If Fish can improve his play drastically by adding 30 lbs of fat, shouldn't he also try playing matches drunk?

Posted by embug 09/07/2010 at 04:46 PM

Fat tennis could be a whole tour unto itself.

Forget benches below the chair umpires. Roll out the Lazy Boys and Lazy Girls. On every other changeovers, players are given one Twinkie and 1/2 cup of Mott's Apple Juice -- the really sweet stuff. At the end of a set, TVs are rolled out for updates from ESPN, or Home Shopping Network. Scoring would obviously be no-ad. That's a no brainer. Prizes ... a dozen appearances on Super Market Sweep.

I probably could go on.

I saw Mardy Fish on the path around Legg Mason. I looked away because first I didn't want to appear as if I were staring, but I was, and second because he was hard to look at. He was sooo thin. His face was narrow and eyes kinda sunk into the sockets. I mean he wasn't ready for Halloween, but man he'd changed.

Posted by Larry 09/07/2010 at 06:07 PM

Now this website has come to resemble Tennis Warehouse. There appears to be a whole colony of Serbs here who zero in on Bodo the 'Hungarian.' Let's try an experiment - any time a writer says something about a player we like, let's assume he is only acting out of ethnic and cultural conditioning. Now, I am sympathetic to what the Serbs have experienced, and disagree with much of US and NATO policy in the Balkans, but Bodo has simply described Novak's disconnection from reality in which Djokovic describes how well he does in Majors. For a world #3, he has not done so well in Majors. And the comments about Fish being too skinny are also insightful. Note: Fish is too skinny.

Some of the Serb fans posting here are just crazy, and I have absolutely no reason to be 'pro-Hungarian.' Amazing.

Posted by WozniNadal 09/07/2010 at 06:34 PM

@Eva

Novak Djokovic is a joker, an imitator and a show-boating man. He is not a grand slam material anymore, and he said he is happy about that.
Let's see how far can he go at this tournament. He needs a miracle to get to the final. And then he needs another miracle to win the final match.
Miracles don't happen twice! So bye bye Novak.

Posted by arbiter 09/07/2010 at 08:12 PM

If tennis weren't so unforgiving for any lack of athleticism, the world ranking would be much different. At the top of the list, first three, are relatively tall, fast movers. The best part of Federer's game? Movement. The best part of Nadal's game? Movement. The best part of Novak's Game? Movement. They do all have a whole package that comes with it, but everything is based of of unbelievable ability to MOVE. That gives them longevity. Except for Nadal's FH maybe, all other shots of these threee are NOT the best in the world, probably not even close. Youzhny and Wawrinka have better backhands than Federer. Novak only has a solid double handed backhand, but it is probably not in the first five in the world. The best players, really the best, maybe never made it to professionals, because they were not good athletes.
So, if you ask me, I like Mardy's style of play better than Novak's, but Mardy said it all: it is hard to play against someone who returns everything back to you, and moves like a rabbit. To me, the best player to watch is Sergei Stakhovski, along with players like him, who play with a lot of skills, volleys, stop volleys etc. But he likely will never make it to the top, since he does not have this agility, he is not enough of an athlete.

Micheal Jordan once said to a bunch of kids that bodies like his are rare, so it is better to go to school. He was honest, he knew that it is not the skills (or not skills only) it is what you have in your genes.

Posted by bdscks 09/07/2010 at 09:31 PM

@WozniNadal

dude, what are you smokin' ?

Posted by Baby Huey 09/07/2010 at 11:55 PM

I just realized why Fish lost the match.

Look at the Photo and see whether I am right:

In the photo, Fish is trying to watch the ball but really thinking about getting a cheeseburger after the match because he is starving.

Posted by bdscks 09/08/2010 at 12:22 AM

@Baby Huey

ROFL

Posted by justice 09/08/2010 at 09:04 AM

Off course Djokovic will speak neutral on his conferences... it's weird that people think he should name Federer and Nadal on his interviews and say why he didn't beat them on the court as much as expected. It seems naive to expect that - which player did you see to publicly speak about those topics? If he happens to say something more than a cold rational neutral thing, you would be happy to catch his word and find it a fault. I can only imagine the comments if Djokovic started to talk about his health problem (if he in that moment had any) - everyone would say - here are his injuries again - so it's smarter to just give you a neutral talk which can't make you any space to really dislike the statement.

Posted by justice 09/08/2010 at 09:08 AM

And anyway - whenever Djokovic showed who he really are, there were many judgmental people who find it as cocky or whatever. He learned to speak diplomatic and you got what you wanted - another Federer-like speech.

Posted by justice 09/08/2010 at 09:12 AM

WozniNadal 09/07/2010 at 06:34 PM


"Novak Djokovic is a joker, an imitator and a show-boating man. He is not a grand slam material anymore, and he said he is happy about that.
Let's see how far can he go at this tournament. He needs a miracle to get to the final. And then he needs another miracle to win the final match.
Miracles don't happen twice! So bye bye Novak. "

Yeah, I bet every win of Djokovic was a miracle from your point of view...and I don't think that Djokovic said he's happy not to be a grand slam material.

Posted by justice 09/08/2010 at 09:21 AM

Larry 09/07/2010 at 06:07 PM

"Now this website has come to resemble Tennis Warehouse. There appears to be a whole colony of Serbs here who zero in on Bodo the 'Hungarian.' Let's try an experiment - any time a writer says something about a player we like, let's assume he is only acting out of ethnic and cultural conditioning. Now, I am sympathetic to what the Serbs have experienced, and disagree with much of US and NATO policy in the Balkans, but Bodo has simply described Novak's disconnection from reality in which Djokovic describes how well he does in Majors. For a world #3, he has not done so well in Majors. And the comments about Fish being too skinny are also insightful."

Bodo is playing naive like he doesn't know that there is a sample of press talk which EVERY tennis player perform, it's just a press talk really - it's really a question who's not aware of reality? The man who doesn't understand a press talk, or the one who is trying to sound positive and optimistic !!!in public!!! It's like Bodo doesn't understand that not one person on this earth will give you all of his heart on the press conference, especially after some people already criticized him when he was really really honest. If honest is cocky, then he'll give you a press-perfect speech of optimism and fairy world which you ARE really looking for.

Posted by Lillian 09/08/2010 at 09:50 AM

Politics and origin of birth for Bodo should not be allowed in this column.

We are talking about tennis, tennis players, Novak Djokovic, and I m sick and tired of other people making negative comments about him, yet every word he uses is checked, commented on...........anything he says, is made fun of, yet people like Bodo here are allowed to say nasty and insulting things about him.

He is a Serb, and proud of his country. Is perhaps that what is bothering you the most, or that all male tennis players are out of the US open.??

Which is it, and lay off Novak in future with your negative comments.......

I thank you...

Posted by Uncle Toni taps Rafa's @$$ 09/08/2010 at 11:05 AM

All I know is that Djokovic should be committed to a mental institution. Fish sucks no matter how many pounds he loses. He's just trying to copy everything Roddick does, from nailing a model to losing weight as a way to improve his game, it's just lack of originality from a loser.

If your game is fairly limited and you want to win, you have to follow the Nadal recipe: be a psychopath and let uncle Toni nail you in the @$$.

There I said it. Let's move on to discussing why Murray sucked the other day instead of why Bodo is racist against Djokovic.

Posted by Eva 09/08/2010 at 11:23 AM

@WozniNadal and Uncle Toni taps Rafa's @$$
You're ridiculous posters with nothing insightful or remotely interesting to say, so i just won't bother answering. I simply don't waste my time with haters that can't see further than what their brains allowes them.
I also don't like the political overtones of this thread and I certainly don't care about Bodo's origins. As a Djokovic fan who is Spanish (why would people think all Djoko's fans are Serbs?) I'm bothered to post my opinions here because he's my favorite player ever and I think he has the real talent to achieve a lot in his career. Time will only tell, but he already has anything he needs to be a champion. He has already achieved so much but I really hope that he can develop his full potential. He has at least 4-6 slams in him.

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