Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Fish's bad back serves up another loss


Pain forces 2003 finalist out of another event this season

By Dustin Dow, Colleen Kane and Neil Schmidt
Enquirer staff writers

MASON - For two sets Mardy Fish looked almost as if he would challenge Andre Agassi in their first-round match Monday at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

Agassi
Andre Agassi returns in the third set against Mardy Fish during first round play at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.
(Craig Ruttle/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)
More photos from Monday

TENNIS COVERAGE
Mason showcases stars
Agassi wins after vow to go down swinging
Relaxed Federer has tight grip on top spot
French champ seeks success on hard courts
Haas reaches goals as quickly as he sets them
Injured Clijsters joins fiance Hewitt at tourney
Russian ends losing streak with first win in two months
Fish's bad back serves up another loss
Masters results, schedules

But by the time the third set began, the back pain that caused Fish to miss last week's Tennis Masters Canada flared up again and forced him to retire from the match. For the 2003 W&S Masters finalist, it was just another injury frustration that's cost him what had figured to be a promising summer.

Instead, he's missed the last five Tennis Masters Series events, including Cincinnati, and now is hoping to get healthy by the time the Olympics begin Aug. 15.

"This tournament I can play next year, but I can't play the Olympics next year," Fish said. "That doesn't start for another two weeks. I'll be fine. It's gotten so much better in the last 10 days."

After injuring the back during practice in Indianapolis a week and a half ago, he considered withdrawing before the match began Monday.

"I decided to give it a go, and I could have won it there in the second set and had two more days to rehab, which would have been huge," Fish said.

BIG BOMBER: Ivo Karlovic is a 6-foot-10 Croatian, dubbed "The Leaning Tower of Zagreb" by NBC analyst Bud Collins. What he leans on most is his serve.

That's what bailed him out Monday in a 6-7 (2), 7-6 (7), 7-6 (9) first-round victory over Wesley Moodie. Karlovic won with an ace on match point, his 35th of the match.

That tied the record for the most aces in a three-set match this year on the ATP Tour, a record he established against Arnaud Clement in a tournament in The Netherlands in June.

Karlovic has the top two totals this year - firing 40 aces in two different matches at Wimbledon - and six of the top 10. He leads the Tour in aces per match at 20.4. He also leads in tiebreakers played, 40, having won half of those.

The match Monday was just the 11th here in the Open Era and the first since 1997 to include three tiebreakers. Karlovic saved three match points, one in the second-set tiebreak and two more in the final breaker.

MOYA WINS STRUGGLE: Carlos Moya said he wasn't happy with the way he played in his 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Arvind Parmar. But that's nothing new in Cincinnati.

"Usually I play really bad here. Only one year I played well, and I won the tournament," Moya said. "They treat us very well, but maybe it's too hot, very hot."

Moya, who won the tournament in 2002, made first- or second-round exits in five other Cincinnati appearances. He was on his way to another departure Monday, losing the first set and then falling behind Parmar early in the second set, but he broke Parmar's serve for the turnaround.

---

E-mail ddow@enquirer.com, ckane@enquirer.com, nschmidt@enquirer.com




BENGALS / NFL
Lewis signed through 2007
Meet the Bengals: Terrell Roberts
Day 3 passes without Perry, Ratliff
Garcia eager to meet expectations
Fitzgerald's contract belies status as No.3 pick

REDS / BASEBALL
Kearns to third wouldn't be easy
Reds at Giants series preview
No fuss, no muss and still no 300 for Maddux
Offensive ineptitude spoiling bounce-back season for Brewers
Blue Jays 6, Indians 1
Red Sox 6, Devil Rays 3

PREP SPORTS
Football's back: The pads go on

TENNIS
Mason showcases stars
Photos from Monday
Agassi wins after vow to go down swinging
Relaxed Federer has tight grip on top spot
French champ seeks success on hard courts
Haas reaches goals as quickly as he sets them
Injured Clijsters joins fiance Hewitt at tourney
Russian ends losing streak with first win in two months
Fish's bad back serves up another loss
Masters results, schedules

MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Sports digest
Sports today on TV, radio

THIS WEEK'S SPORTS POLL
What will be the Bengals' record this coming season?