<
>

Fish prefers gold, but Open to this win

8/31/2004

NEW YORK -- Mardy Fish relished competing in the Olympics, but this week, his goals are a bit more "Grand."

Fresh off his silver-medal performance in Athens, Fish hopes to reach new heights at the U.S. Open.

Looking to make the second week of a Grand Slam event for the first time ever, the American started strong at the Open on Monday, routing David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.

Earlier this month, Fish fell to Chile's Nicolas Massu in the Olympic final to capture the silver.

Fish certainly appreciates his Olympic experience. He was honored -- along with other medalists -- in a ceremony at Arthur Ashe Stadium involving former President George Bush on Monday night.

"A lot of people have been asking me, you know, what would you rather do, win a gold medal or win a Grand Slam," Fish said. "I would prefer a gold medal around my neck with the national anthem playing. You know, I think that would be the ultimate in sports for me."

But while Fish will have to wait four more years for the possibility of another shot at gold, a more immediate opportunity looms if Fish gets hot in Flushing. He next plays Michal Tabara of the Czech Republic.

But the lessons he learned in Athens were not lost over the Atlantic.

Fish tried to be more aggressive at the Games, not just relying on his powerful serve. This different approach proved useful in his victory on Monday, as Fish struggled with his first serve, missing more than half of his attempts.

"I went over [to Athens] and really found a game plan that, you know, can work if I'm not serving well, because I didn't really serve my best over there," Fish said. "If you look at a lot of the tournaments that I've won or the finals that I've made, I've always served well."

It was an interesting day and night for the American men as a whole. Andre Agassi, amid rumors that this might be his last Open at 34, beat Robby Ginepri in straight sets. Taylor Dent advanced when Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco retired in the second set.

Up-and-coming American Brian Baker, in as a wild card, lost to third-seeded Carlos Moya after taking the first set. And Todd Martin capped Day 1 with an emotional retirement announcement after losing a four-setter to Fabrice Santoro.

David Boroff is an editor for ESPN.com.