The most important tennis match in American Mardy Fish’s career is one that never happened. On September 3, 2012, facing a severe anxiety attack, the former top-10 player abruptly pulled out from the fourth round of the U.S. Open against Roger Federer. Fish has called it one of the most difficult days of his life, and told USA Today last summer that keeping his anxiety at bay is still “a daily struggle and a daily battle.”
Today, Fish returned to the U.S. Open to play in what he says will be his final tournament. And he won. Fish beat 102nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy in the first round 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. “This is a special place,” Fish told the crowd. “I’m glad I got to come out here one more time.”
Over the past three years, Fish has talked openly about his struggle with severe anxiety disorder. “I was at the bottom, man. I was in a deep, deep place,” he explained to ESPN earlier this year. “It wasn’t like I needed a little bit of medication and a couple of therapy sessions, and then we’re back.”
Fish says he will continue to speak openly about his struggle. “I just want to share my story so maybe one person or 10 people or 100 people, whatever it is, can have something to fall back on and say, ‘Hey, there’s someone who went through what I went through and got through it,’” he told the Associated Press last week. He now moves on to the second round.