Andy Roddick congratulates tonight’s winner at the net, Mardy Fish (above).

World # 49, American Mardy Fish upped his meager lifetime record versus friend, American, and world # 9, Andy Roddick, by winning virtually all the big points tonight in their all American semi-final in front of a prime time crowd this evening at the first ever Atlanta Hardcourt Tennis Championships.  For Fish, it was his first win over Roddick in their last ten matchups and only his 2nd career win over the American # 1 and top seed here in Atlanta in 11 career head to head matchups.

Fish played a great match, and took more risks than Roddick, who seemed tentative and moored to the baseline, once again.  Prior to the match, Roddick’s coach, Hall of Fame coach Larry Stefanki, told reporters that he wanted to see Roddick play a lot of “first strike tennis.”  But then the match started, and Roddick got surprisingly few easy points off of his serve, while Fish seemed to take Stefanki’s advice and run with it–rushing the net 19 times in the set and claiming a whopping 16 of those points.  With Fish up 6-3 in the first set tie breaker, Roddick won two straight points on Fish’s serve, giving Roddick an opportunity to serve for 6 all in the breaker, yet Fish took the next set point on Roddick’s serve with a nice approach and a beautiful backhand volley.

It was a set Roddick really needed, but he played the set way too timidly, and the fact that he only made 2 errors in the set didn’t amount for much in the end.  Roddick also seemed unable to handle the way Fish picked on Roddick’s backhand, which he told Ted Robinson and Jimmy Arias after the match, was a weakness in Roddick’s game, a sentiment echoed by the announcers all night, who continually pointed out Roddick’s lack of pop on his cross court 2 hander.  Roddick only hit 2 winners off the backhand side in the match–totally unacceptable.

Fish took a fairly early break off of a Roddick error in the 6th game of the second set, and cruised to a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory in 1 hour and 41 minutes, despite only making 40 % of his first serves.  Though Fish served poorly in general, he allowed zero breaks of serve to Roddick, who is still looking very poor with his footwork, and who could not even dial in to Fish’s second serve.  Check out the match stats below.

For Fish, it’s another all American final, this time with Giant John Isner, who survived a tough match from top South African Kevin Anderson in 3 sets.  Fish has now made the finals of 3 of his last four events, and is in excellent form going into tomorrow’s final, which will air live on ESPN2 at 3 PM EST.

And beautiful wife Stacey Gardner was all smiles in the player’s box.

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God Bless America!

–Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)