Mardy Fish wore a T-shirt that read “Have An Awesome Day” and Ryan Harrison explained how smashing rackets isn’t so bad and maybe Roger Federer should try it again.
The top-seeded Fish did, indeed, have an awesome day Saturday in the semifinals of the Farmers Classic at the Los Angeles Tennis Center at UCLA. He beat the equipment-pummeling Harrison, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (3), in an emotional 2-hour 11-minute match that featured elegant baseline shot making from Fish and ferocious hitting from the 19-year-old Harrison.
In the 2 p.m. final Sunday, Fish will play the winner of Saturday’s evening semifinal between 28-year-old American veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr. and 22-year-old Latvian Ernests Gulbis, who previously had eliminated second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro and fifth-seeded Xavier Malisse.
Fish, who is married to a UCLA graduate and lives in Beverly Hills, pumped his fists after hitting a 119-mph ace to end the match and reach the final here for the first time.
After Fish won the first set in 20 minutes by playing nearly flawless tennis, it seemed unlikely Harrison would need the passion to smash equipment or fight from 0-5 down in a third-set tiebreaker.
It was in the third set, during a game in which he double faulted and eventually had his serve broken, that Harrison threw his racket to the court and earned a warning from the chair umpire. As is his habit, Harrison gave the broken racket to a first-row fan. And he eventually got the service break back and evened the final set.
Harrison was unapologetic afterward about his equipment abuse and suggested that Federer — who, many years before he won a record 16 major championships, had a reputation in junior tennis for having too much of a temper — might try to relocate that emotion.
“To be honest with you,” Harrison said, “Federer, personally, if he had a little more fire, it would help him get back to the top.”
Harrison has yet to finish on top in an ATP Tour event. He’s been only as far as the semifinals, last week in Atlanta and now in Los Angeles. Both times he lost to Fish.
He has been asked often about his temper and said he is trying to curb it, but only to a point. He said he’s trying to keep his language PG-rated but he’s not averse to throwing down his racket.
“I’ve got a lot of energy and I’m not embarrassing myself,” Harrison said. “It wasn’t like I broke it and kept carrying on. I got it out of my system.”
Fish needed no antics and is taking aim at winning a second consecutive tournament. He called his first set “probably the cleanest set of tennis I can remember playing in a long time.”
As for Harrison’s temper tantrum, Fish just smiled.
“You sort of want your opponents to be doing that kind of thing,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me.”