MASON, Ohio (AP) - A seven-minute rain delay saved Mardy Fish.
Fish turned the brief break into a rallying point Saturday. Only
one game away from a straight-set defeat, he pulled out 4-6, 7-6
(3), 6-1 victory over boyhood friend and high school teammate Andy
Roddick in an all-American semifinal.
Fish reached the championship of the Cincinnati Masters by
regrouping during the match's third rain delay. Roddick led 5-2 in
the second set when the players briefly went to the locker room. He
was on his game when they returned.
Fish will play Roger Federer or Marcos Baghdatis for the title.
It was a good week for the two good buddies.
Roddick came to town trying to get in shape to contend for the
U.S. Open title. He pulled out of Toronto last week, unsure why he
was feeling sluggish this summer. A blood test found he'd been
fighting off a mild case of mononucleosis the last couple months.
The top-ranked American was revived in Cincinnati, dropping only
two sets during his first four matches, including a 2-hour,
44-minute victory over No. 5 Robin Soderling that tested his
endurance. Roddick called it a "big success" to reach the
semifinals and play his friend.
Roddick and Fish know what the other is about to do on the
court, a bond that goes back to their boyhood. Fish lived with
Roddick's family in Boca Raton, Fla., in 1999. They went to the
same high school, played on the tennis and basketball teams
together, and practiced against one another nearly every day.
They remain close while competing against each other. Roddick
has gotten the best of it - he had a 9-2 advantage in their career
series coming in, though Fish won the last one in Atlanta on July
Fish has played some of his best tennis lately, winning
back-to-back titles in Newport and Atlanta while putting together a
In their 12th head-to-head match, the momentum changed with the
The start was delayed 50 minutes by heavy rain. Another
cloudburst during the first set resulted in a 1-hour delay that
knocked Fish off his game.
Roddick was up 5-4, with both players on serve, coming out of
the delay. Fish had gotten the better of it to that point, forcing
Roddick to fight off three break points.
Everything changed. Fish suddenly had trouble with his forehand,
dumping three into the net while Roddick won the game and the set.
Fish trailed 5-2 in the second set when another shower forced
7-minute delay, one that had the opposite effect.
This time, Fish was better when they got back. He broke
Roddick's serve for the first time in the match to keep it going,
then won the tiebreaker when Roddick began missing routine shots.
Roddick fell behind 3-0 in the third set, becoming so upset with
himself that he swatted a ball away and bounced his racket off the
Roddick faded at the end, showing little emotion while Fish
finished him off.