Davis Cup spot in jeopardy for Fish?

Updated: September 2, 2004, 9:07 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- After his first-round victory on Monday, Mardy Fish said he had a goal here at the U.S. Open.

"I'd like to make the second week of a Grand Slam," the 22-year-old American said. "I've made a couple third rounds and had some chances to get into the second week and haven't converted on them.

"I mean, I have a lot of confidence."

And why not? Fish is the newly minted Olympic silver medal champion and left a string of victims behind in Athens: Juan Carlos Ferrero, Max Mirnyi, Mikhail Youzhny and Fernando Gonzalez.

But on Thursday, like several notable players before him, the No. 26 seed seemed to become a victim of his sterling Athens performance. Up two sets to one, Fish collapsed against qualifier Michal Tabara of the Czech Republic, losing 6-3, 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

And so, the dream of Week Two in Grand Slam will have to live for another season. Was this another example of an Olympics hangover, Fish was asked, referring to his five-set loss in the final to Chile's Nicolas Massu?

"I don't think it really has anything to do with it," Fish said. "I think, if anything, for me it helped. I definitely didn't have as much confidence before the Olympics as I did before this tournament. So it helped me."

Fish has had a relatively tough year. He won a title last year in Stockholm and finished the year ranked No. 20, an impressive achievement. This year, he was the runner-up in Athens, San Jose and Halle, but his ranking has hovered in the low 20s.

What's the problem in the Slams, where in 13 major events he has yet to progress past the third round?

"I don't know, said Fish, who was dour throughout his post-match press conference. "I mean, there's definitely something. I had been trying to not really think about it too much that I haven't, you know, that I haven't really done too well in any of the Slams.

"Now, I'm starting to really think about it, to be honest with you. This is the only thing missing on my ranking."

Well, maybe not the only thing. Fish has been part of the United States Davis Cup team for three years now. His singles record is a less-than-spectacular 1-2. Will he get the No. 2 spot behind Andy Roddick when the U.S. hosts Belarus in the semifinals in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 24-26? It probably depends on the success of Taylor Dent, who like Fish has been up and down in recent years.

Fish was asked if the loss to Tabara would linger.

"I don't think so," he said. "I'm not the kind of person that dwells on losses. The Olympics -- that's a little bit different. That's a tough loss. I'll forget about it for sure in a week, start getting focused again, hopefully, on playing Davis Cup.

Hopefully?

"This is kind of my sophomore year," Fish said. "I'm kind of taking my lumps. I don't want to be taking my lumps, obviously.

"I felt like this was my year to do well here. Coming into the tournament, I had a lot of confidence -- just haven't taken advantage of it. I can't really explain why."

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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