Fish withdrew from his fourth-round match with Federer on Monday as a precautionary measure. He was sidelined for two months earlier in the season after undergoing a medical procedure in May to treat severe arrhythmia.
Fish began experiencing problems shortly after his third round match against Giles Simon. The match went four sets and lasted more than three hours. He did not appear at the post-match press conference, while getting unspecified treatment.
Problems with arrhythmia first surfaced for Fish back in March after he lost a Masters Series match in Miami. He was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Davis Cup team's quarterfinal against France while he underwent the procedure on May 23 to pinpoint the cause of his arrhythmia.
It seemed like Fish had overcome the health scares when he returned to compete in Wimbledon. Fish had a strong showing there, reaching the fourth round before falling to fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets.
Fatigue and stress after the match against Simon exacted a tough toll on Fish's mental and physical health. His doctors were concerned about the effect on his heart and advised Fish to withdraw. He left New York and will return to Los Angeles to undergo further tests this week.
There is no shame in seeing Fish listen to medical advice from his doctors and retire. He is wise to be cautious and listen to his body, rather than endanger his health. Still, it isn't the way that anyone wanted to see Federer advance to his 34th consecutive quarterfinal at a Grand Slam tournament.
It is an awful twist of fate for Fish. He enjoyed a strong season in 2011 and entered 2012 as the top ranked American in men's tennis. Fish began the year ranked no. 8 in the world, but dealing with heart problems has made it tough for him to build upon what he accomplished a year ago.
Seeing these developments is scary for Fish. If the cause of his irregular heartbeat is the symptom of an even more serious problem, this could be the beginning of the end of his tennis career. At 30 years old, Fish is unlikely to come back from prolonged heart problems.
It is a disheartening turn of events to see another U.S. tennis star potentially facing the end of their career. Andy Roddick has already announced he will retire at the conclusion of the 2012 U.S. Open. If Fish ultimately decides to follow a similar course, the United States will be left without its two highest ranked men's players.
Hopefully, this episode ends up being just a scary chapter in the book on Fish's tennis career and not the concluding one.
John Coon has covered tennis at all levels as a sports reporter based in Salt Lake City. Coon was raised in a tennis loving family. All three of his sisters played competitively and Coon himself enjoys playing at a recreational level.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mardy Fish
- Roger Federer