It’s always great to see Mardy Fish in action, and that’s the treat Winston-Salem tennis fans are in for tonight.
The 31-year-old American will play the feature match on Stadium Court against Evgeny Donskoy, as the Main Draw gets under way and the final round of qualifying finishes up.
Fish, who climbed as high as No. 7 in the ATP rankings in August of 2011, is healthy and playing again after spending much of the past two years sidelined with heart issues. He had surgery in early 2012 to correct an irregular heartbeat caused by faulty electrical connections in his heart, and has been on and off the ATP World Tour ever since.
He returned from a three-month layoff last month in Atlanta, and is playing just his fifth tournament of the year. He won two matches in Washington, D.C., three weeks ago, including a win over 2011 WSO finalist Julien Benneteau, and comes to the WSO after losing to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round at Cincinnati last week.
Fish knows that he’s not back to the form that has seen him win six ATP World Tour singles titles and reach 14 other finals. With all the inactivity, he has dropped all the way to No. 129 in the rankings and is a wild card in the WSO’s 48-player Main Draw. But given the ordeal he’s been through it’s just good to see him back on the court again.
"The post-traumatic experiences that I’ve had are what I need to get over right now," he said. "It’s still a process, there’s no doubt about it. I still feel a little uneasy and that’s to be expected. It’s not going to be roses right away. It’s not an easy game and these are tough tournaments. But it’s great to be playing again."
It’ll be the first meeting ever between Fish and Donskoy, a 23-year-old Russian who comes into the WSO ranked No. 82.
Also scheduled for Stadium Court today are two interesting singles matches, one pitting Romain Bogaerts against Yen-Hsun Lu, followed by 2011 WSO semifinalist Robin Haase against Adrian Mannarino. Bogaerts is a Wake Forest sophomore who was the NCAA Rookie of the Year last year as a freshman.
Andreas Seppi, the tournament’s No. 2 singles seed, will close out the action on Stadium Court after the Fish-Donskoy match as he teams with Igor Sijsling in a first-round doubles match against the team of Andre Begemann and Martin Emmrich.
And qualifying winds up with third-round action involving top seed David Goffin against Michal Mertinak, Steve Johnson against Joao Sousa, Dennis Kudla against Frederik Nielsen, and Thiemo De Bakker against Sanam Singh.
The top 16 seeds, including top-seed Tomas Berdych and two-time defending champion John Isner, received first-round byes and will not be in action until Tuesday. The remaining first-round matches will be held on Monday, with Americans James Blake, Rhyne Williams, Jack Sock, Michael Russell and Tim Smyczek all scheduled to make their 2013 WSO debuts