Can Mardy Fish ever win a decent sized match? After going up a break in the 3rd set against Nadal Sunday, Fish hands the break right back to Rafa in the succeeding game, and as soon as lost the first point of the tie break on serve to go down 1-0, the match was over. Not only did Fish hold a 3-2 lead in the 3rd, serving for 4-2, but he also broke back after going down one love in games. How many times can he really expect to break Nadal in a deciding set?

Fish has done a lot to dodge the label we gave him a few years back when he was all pudgy and before Stacey G came along (“embarrassment to America”), but it is rather sad to still see such a laborious learning curve. His first time in any big spot is a guaranteed loss. Oh he’ll spank Feliciano Lopez in some little event nobody’s watching, but when we need him, playing A in Davis Cup, he blows it. Look at how long it took Fish to get a singles win off good buddies Blake and Roddick. Not until he was 27. Not against Nadal in the first 7 tries. Once against Roger — Mono Roger. And so in his 1st try at the YEC, his failures have been par for the course.

Fish is a backhand player. When Nadal, and today Tsonga, give him good looks on the backhand, he is a fool not to go for winners. Fish might have lost the belly roll, but baseline to baseline will never fly against Nadal. Tsonga, an aggressive guy, is gonna be all over those backhands that Fish just rolls back. So it was. Today Tsonga bested Fish 7-6, 6-1, so now Mardy is 0-2 with only 1 set in the bank. His odds of beating Federer Thursday are nil and even if he does, he is still likely headed home early. Or for Fish, right on time.

It’s a shame since a lot of younger players will be in the mix next year, like Del Potro for one. It took Fish 30 years to work out 1 YEC opportunity. We wouldn’t rush to pencil him in for any others. Too bad he doesn’t have the makeup to take advantage of such opportunities.

Later today:

Federer: – 250

Nadal: + 175

So Roger is a sizable favorite over Rafa in what will be their 26th career tilt. Must be the surface, Federer’s lifetime unbeaten streak against Rafa indoors, and his current 14 match unbeaten streak indoors. The man still rates on a fast, windless court. Still, we wouldn’t touch this action. Nadal is quite a dog. Though we expect Roger to come through and for Tsonga and Nadal to battle it out for the other semi-final berth from their group.

As for Andy Murray’s dud against Ferrer yesterday, we understand he is lame and that there’s intense pressure in front of a UK crowd, but crying injury is bad form. We thought it was an Uncle Toni press affair, sans the accent.

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