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.
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.
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