by JAMES HENRY
ATLANTA – The scoreboard showed a different result. It would be 2014 finalist Dudi Sela advancing to the second round of the BB&T Atlanta Open.
But Mardy Fish, playing only his second tennis match in nearly two years, still was a winner.
“It was a success just to get out there and play,” said the tournament’s 2010 and 2011 champion.
Fish has been sidelined by anxiety-related issues. He retired in the third round of the Winston-Salem Open in August 2013 and, after a year-and-a-half hiatus, attempted a comeback at the BNP Paribas Open in March earlier this year.
The winner of six ATP World Tour singles titles plans to retire at the U.S. Open this fall, after competing in Cincinnati next month.
Fish said he is grateful to finish his career on his own terms, reconnecting with the sport and people he cherishes.
“I’d love to win some matches, but that’s not in the forefront of my mind,” he said.
“This sport, my job, was taken from me so abruptly that it took me a long time to sort of get my life back. I have different goals now than I did a couple years ago – just to play again, just to compete out here again in this tournament is a blast.”
“It’ll be a lot different at the Open, I’m sure,” he added.
Fish is speaking candidly of his crippling panic attacks and strides to overcome them, hoping his story helps others.