New York: Mardy Fish found himself dealing with all sorts of problems as he tried to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the second time.
There was the brief flap with his opponent, 11th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and the chair umpire over some distracting cheering in the stands.
There were the aching right hip and hamstring that left Fish flat on his back, getting massaged by a trainer before the fifth set.
There was the pressure of knowing that he was, for the first time, the highest-ranked American at the country's Grand Slam tennis tournament.
There was the whipping wind that sent shots this way and that.
And then, of course, there was Tsonga, the big-hitting, athletic Frenchman, who feels more confident than ever — and it shows. The eighth-seeded Fish wasted a lead and lost the fourth-round match at Flushing Meadows 6-4, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday night, bringing what he saw as a premature end to what he hoped would be a run to a major semifinal.
"This might have been my best chance so far," the 29-year-old Fish said, knowing that he played well all summer on the type of hard courts used at the U.S. Open, including one title, two other appearances in finals and a victory over Rafael Nadal.
"For whatever reason — old age, I guess — my body didn't check up like I had hoped," said Fish, who limped out of his news conference. "Look, that's not why I lost. But it would have been nice to be able to run without pain."
Tsonga reached his first U.S. Open quarterfinal, but unlike Fish, he's already tasted this sort of success. Tsonga made it to the final of the 2008 Australian Open before losing to Novak Djokovic, and got to the Wimbledon semifinals this year — where he again lost to Djokovic — by stunning Roger Federer after dropping the first two sets of their quarterfinal.