The Washington Post

Drug testing rules prevent an Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish comeback at the U.S. Open

“I wanted to see him back on the court, be happy back in the space, because he deserves it,” Andy Roddick said of his friend Mardy Fish. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish have wanted to play doubles together at the U.S. Open since they were high schoolers in Florida.

The pair, both having at one point been the highest ranked American men singles players over the past decade, never got the chance because their successful singles career took priority.

Roddick, who retired after the 2012 U.S. Open, floated the idea out to Fish to get together for this year’s U.S. doubles tournament, which Fish, who has not played a professional match since last August because of health issues, eventually agreed to last week.

Unfortunately for them, Roddick was deemed ineligible to play because of International Tennis Federation rules stipulating that formally retired players must make themselves available for drug testing at least three months prior to the event they plan on entering.

“Since I actually did what they wanted to do and filed my retirement papers, I am not eligible for a U.S. Open wild card, which [expletive] sucks because I was looking forward to it on a lot of different levels,” Roddick said on his Fox Sports Live podcast. “I know selfishly, I would’ve had a great time. I know Mardy and I would’ve had a great time. I would of had fun watching him getting the attention he deserves for his career and the struggle that he has the last couple of years.”

Fish, 32, reached a career high of world No. 7 in 2011 but suffered from severe cardiac arrhythmia in early 2012 that eventually needed surgery to correct. His last professional match was a second-round retirement at last year’s U.S. Open tuneup tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“He had to get out of the game of tennis to take care of his health problems,” Roddick said without elaborating. “He had a negative take on the game for a while because he felt like it had been taken away from him. One of the coolest things of my year is when I got a text from Mardy a couple months ago saying, ‘Hey, lets go out and hit a couple tennis balls.’ And this is someone who had not wanted to be around tennis at all. I was pumped as a friend, because I want to see him be able to enjoy tennis for the rest of his life.”

The 2003 U.S. Open champion added that the tournament would have been a “one time thing” and that he has no intentions of any other kind of comeback.

“I wanted to see [Fish] back on the court, be happy back in that space because he deserves it,” Roddick said. “He deserves a proper last memory if it is that. And if not, maybe it would’ve been a springboard to playing more singles and back into tennis.”

Roddick lamented feeling punished for filing his retirement paperwork, which removed him from the ATP rankings, and added that players such as John McEnroe have never officially retired from tennis and would be able to enter tournaments without the three month waiting period.

“Frankly, if common sense won in this one, I passed 14 years of tests during my career, filed the papers that you wanted me to file … I feel by doing the right thing and actually filing my retirement papers and not just letting [his place in the rankings] fall off, I kinda got [screwed] in the end of this thing, which I’m not really thrilled about.”

Roddick, 31, doesn’t know if the two will attempt to play again in the future.

“I think it’s a loss for an exciting story in the early parts of a Grand Slam,” he said. “It’s a loss for getting an American, who’s proven that he’s top 10 potential, possibly using it as a springboard to getting back in the game, and if not, getting his just due and the long goodbye that he deserves.

“Fishy, I’ve tried for you man, and who knows if we’ll ever get that chance…which sucks.”

Listen to podcast below. The tennis segment, which includes profanities, starts at the 24-minute mark.

(H/T Sports Illustrated)

Kelyn Soong is a news aide, blogger and reporter in the sports section. He currently covers high school and local tennis and has written about a variety of sports.



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