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Fish Passes Roddick to Become Top American Tennis Player

Mardy Fish returns a shot to David Ferrer at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla., where Fish won the match 7-5, 6-2, March 30, 2011

When the new men’s world tennis rankings come out next week, Mardy Fish will be the highest ranked American on the list. He has reached this milestone in his tennis career, remarkably, at the age of 29. With his 7-5, 6-2 win late Wednesday at the Sony Ericsson Open over world No. 6 seed David Ferrer of Spain, Fish earned enough rankings points to move ahead of compatriot Andy Roddick.

Reaching the age of 29 in men’s tennis often is a time when many players start thinking beyond hitting balls, beyond the hours of training and the steely focus that is required during a match.

A player who certainly has no such thoughts is Fish, who for the first time in his 11-year pro career, assumes a position that has been revered by players from the United States. He will be the No.1 American in world tennis, moving ahead of one of his closest friends, Roddick.

Defeating Ferrer to reach the semis of the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami brought him that glory.

"I've never been in this position before. Obviously, it’s very humbling. This is a pretty big country, [with] a lot of people playing tennis, so I will try to put it into perspective, and I will. Number 11, a career high of number 11 sounds really good, too. And these are the rewards that come with working as hard as I did."

Roddick had held that position every week since January 23, 2007. While Andy will be delighted for his buddy, it’s not something that Fish will readily bringing up when they are trash talking. On those occasions, Fish will rub in their golf scores. Mardy says Roddick’s tennis career has been far better than his.

This is an honor that’s well deserved for Fish, who has been through more than his fair share of health and physical problems. At his lowest ebb, he dropped to No. 341 in the world, and just recently he was diagnosed with a thyroid problem that currently is in check.

Now that Fish has achieved this milestone, he feels the job is not yet done, but the confidence it brings will be an added bonus.

"Confidence is such a huge part of our sport. Obviously I’m still here [competing on the tour], but I’d love to do well on the clay [courts]. I like playing on it. I’m very much looking forward to hopefully being healthy and playing a full clay court season and seeing how well I can do there."

The understated Floridian said this will be something to look back on when his career is over.

"Being the number one American would be something that would be pretty cool to tell my kids about," said Fish.