Sports

Mardy Fish and Andrea Petkovic Bring Showmanship To The US Open

Andrea Petkovic of Germany (L) and Mardy Fish (R) celebrate after partaking in an event to achieve a Guinness World Record for the most people to bounce a tennis ball on their racquet in one location prior to the start of the 2011 U.S. Open. (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)

Andrea Petkovic of Germany (L) and Mardy Fish (R) celebrate after partaking in an event to achieve a Guinness World Record for the most people to bounce a tennis ball on their racquet in one location prior to the start of the 2011 U.S. Open. (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)

By Justin DeMarco

Mardy Fish and Andrea Petkovic have already made an impact on this year’s US Open by helping to set a Guinness World Record last Friday. Now they’re trying to put their own names into the history books by winning the US Open men’s and women’s singles titles, respectively. Petkovic is also aiming to win a doubles title with partner Julia Goerges.

Both Fish and Petkovic advanced into the third round of singles play on Day 4 of the US Open. Fish defeated Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 and Petkovic struggled early on against Jie Zheng, but maintained her composure and bounced back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“The US Open is definitely much different than the other Grand Slams,” Petkovic said. “It’s much louder and much more hectic. It’s definitely a rush.”

Petkovic’s showmanship has endeared her to the boisterous New York crowd and helped her generate excitement for the fans at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. After her victory against Zheng, she did a new version of the Petko Dance and then continued to pump up the crowd by signing tennis balls and hitting them into the stands the way a rock star throws drumsticks into the audience after a concert.

Fish also showed some flash to his game earlier in the tournament when he hit a shot between his legs in a first-round victory over Tobias Kamke.

“The US Open is America’s biggest tournament of the year,” Fish said. Last year’s US Open drew more than 712,000 fans, according to the official US Open website. “It’s a culmination of a long summer and as an American you want to do your best for yourself and the fans.”

The long summer Fish referred to included his four hour match against David Ferrer in the Davis Cup Quarter Finals, which he and the Americans ended up losing to Ferrer and Spain, his victory in the Atlanta Tennis Championships over fellow American John Isner, and his losses in the Farmers Classic final in Los Angeles and the Rogers Cup final in Montreal to Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray also defeated Fish at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Fish originally planned on playing in two more tournaments this summer, but withdrew from the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, DC due to a heel injury and skipped the Winston-Salem Open to rest and prepare for the US Open.

“There’s a lot of pride playing as an American,” Fish said. “And in this tournament you need to be at the top of your game.”

Both Fish and Petkovic appear to be confident in their play, even though Petkovic is competing with a tear in the inner meniscus of her right knee and had it taped up for her match against Zheng. She’s learned to deal with the pain and knows how to take whatever obstacles the US Open throws at her in stride.

“Last year I played all my matches in the evening,” Petkovic said. “And the problem is you don’t get to sleep before 3 or 4 a.m. since you get a massage and have to eat after.”

Petkovic played her second round singles match in the early afternoon on Thursday and said earlier in the tournament, “As long as I win I don’t care when I play.”

The German star faces Italian Roberta Vinci next, while the top-seeded American takes on Kevin Anderson in round three.

Who’s your pick to take home the hardware at the US Open?