Mardy Fish has never missed a Thanksgiving at home, nor has he ever visited London in a gray November.
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Not that he’s complaining.
The 29-year-old American has qualified for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals for the first time in his career and he is determined to enjoy it – even if he is finding England’s capital a little ”chilly” compared to what he encounters at Wimbledon in June and July.
”It is exciting to be here at this time,” Fish said Friday. ”Thanksgiving is obviously a big holiday in the States and I’ve never missed that with my family so it’ll be different. I’ll be playing that day (Thursday) so that’ll be interesting, a little different from past years.”
Instead of Fish visiting family for the holidays, the family has come to him.
”Everyone’s over here as far as family is concerned on my side,” he said. ”My parents are coming, my wife’s here – everyone that’s played a key role in getting me here is over here for the most part.”
That took some last-minute planning since Fish didn’t know for certain that he would be playing in the tournament until Nov. 10, and was the last man to qualify at eighth.
”I was clicking on ATP World Tour (website) quite a lot,” Fish said of the days before he finally sealed his place. ”Wake up in the morning and make sure no one played at 2 a.m. It was a great experience.”
With an attitude that this could be his one and only chance at the tournament, Fish could be a dangerous opponent in a round-robin group that includes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
”I’ve seen every one of these (tournaments) on TV. It looks fun,” said Fish, a Minnesota native who lives in Los Angeles. ”I’m gathering memories that I might not get a chance to get ever again.
”I’m not taking it for granted. I’m taking it all in.”
Fish will make his debut at the tournament on Sunday against the No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal, who has won seven of their eight matches.
”He presents a couple of issues for sure. It’s a nice introduction,” Fish joked. ”Playing the best is what this tournament is all about. This is not your regular tour event and that’s what makes it so special.
”He presents a lot of challenges but I always enjoy playing him. I feel like at times I can match up well against him.”