SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish traded barbs
about their basketball skills nearly as often as they pounded
booming first serves.
The hard-hitting young American stars played another thrilling
match Sunday in the friendly rivalry that dates to their high
Roddick again came out on top, winning his first title of 2004
with a 7-6 (13), 6-4 victory in the Siebel Open.
The top-seeded Roddick, ranked No. 3, won his 12th career title
and improved to 12-2 this year by outlasting Fish in a fabulous
first set. It featured sizzling serves by both and plenty of
razzing between players who lived together for a year in high
As they shook hands, Roddick pulled Fish into an embrace and
patted him on the behind.
"We just know what each other's going to do," Roddick said.
"I found myself going against what I do instinctively because he
knows what I do instinctively. ... I know when I make a joke, no
matter how intense it is, he's going to get it. No stepping on
Roddick has won the last three meetings against Fish, and the
two have played four tiebreakers. Roddick saved four set points in
Sunday's tiebreaker, the third straight between the players. He had
five break points before winning the ninth game of the second set --
the only service break of the match.
In the tiebreaker, Fish took a 3-0 lead before Roddick found his
rhythm. Roddick took a 13-12 lead when Fish netted a backhand.
Roddick then missed a forehand to make it 13-all. He finished the
set with an acrobatic overhead and jumped up and down in
celebration -- and relief.
Later, Roddick joked to Fish: "Don't be jealous of my hops."
The first set took up 55 minutes of the 1-hour, 35-minute match.
"I grew up playing Andy, and I'm sure we had longer tiebreakers
than this," said Fish, 22. "We didn't have umpires. That backhand
he hit on set point was out."
Fish lived with Roddick's family in Boca Raton, Fla., in 1999.
Both players trained under coach Stanford Boster. The doors to
their rooms were 5 feet from each other, and they spent many a
night battling it out in basketball and pingpong. According to
Fish, Roddick "bricked" his layups.
When Roddick won the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston last November
to secure the year's No. 1 ranking, Fish interrupted Roddick's
postmatch news conference by giving him a champagne bath.
Of their relationship, Roddick said: "We were like brothers. We
would fight, then we'd walk out of the house holding hands three
Roddick won his first title since capturing his first Grand Slam
tournament in September at the U.S. Open, and girlfriend Mandy
Moore cheered him on all week as he hit a tournament-high 79 aces
and lost only one service game in five matches. Fish was right
behind Roddick in aces with 72 in a tournament that promoted itself
with the slogan "Fast Service Guaranteed."
The third-seeded Fish outaced Roddick 17-16 after slamming a
career-high 29 in his three-set semifinal upset of Andre Agassi on
Saturday night. But Roddick had one more winner -- 35-34. Fish also
committed 29 unforced errors to 17 for Roddick.
The players combined for 11 aces in the first five games.
Roddick became upset with chair umpire Steve Ullrich after a let
call on his serve in the first set.
"Why do we both seem confused?" Roddick said, whose coach,
Brad Gilbert, won this tournament in 1999. "We were both
ready for the next point. Why don't you turn the machine off and
use your own brain?"
Fish also argued with Ullrich.
It marked the first all-American final on the tour since Aug.
17, 2003, in Cincinnati, where Roddick saved two match points to
beat Fish in a third-set tiebreaker.
The last final here featuring two Americans was in 1998, when
Agassi defeated Pete Sampras.
After the singles final, Fish had a short break before going
back on court to team with James Blake to beat the fourth-seeded
tandem of Rick Leach and Brian MacPhie 6-2, 7-5 in the doubles
"James carried me relatively well today," Fish said.