|Mardy Fish reacts after his Rogers Cup final loss to Novak Djokovic in Montreal, Que., Aug. 14, 2011. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - Don't expect moral victories to put a smile on Mardy Fish's face.
The $224,000 paycheque, the new career-high No. 7 ranking and the valiant challenge to Novak Djokovic's dominance meant nothing following his loss to the Serb in the Rogers Cup final Sunday.
America’s top player has shaken off knee surgery, excess weight and advancing age to play the best tennis of his life.
The 29-year-old said prior to the match that he hoped to win, but wouldn't say for sure if he believed he could pull off the upset.
That all changed after he dominated the world No. 1 in the 6-3 second set.
The loss made things all the more painful.
“It hurts,” the dejected American told his post-match news conference.
“It’s really hard to get to these spots in the first place.”
Fish has made four Masters 1000 tournament finals dating back to 2003 and lost all of them.
That’s 0-4 at the most prestigious events in men’s tennis outside of the Grand Slams.
What’s more, he lost all four matches in three sets.
“It’s really hard to take. I mean, just so much energy mentally and physically goes into going that far. I've never won one. I want it so badly.”
As the top American heading into the U.S. Open, the spotlight will shine that much more brightly on player with the versatile game that speaks much more loudly that his soft-spoken persona.
It’s the thrill of competition that keeps the Minnesotan going at an age when most tennis pros are running on fumes.
“I love being really good at something,” he said, before dropping a one liner that drew his only smile of the news conference.
“I don’t think I would be in the top 10 in the world in anything else, so I think I might as well play tennis.”