Montreal: Mardy Fish rolled to a 6-3, 6-7, 6-0 win over Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters on Friday, becoming just the third American to reach the semi-finals of the Canadian hardcourt event since 2000.
Until this week, Fish had never found his footing on the Canadian pavement, failing to win a match in his two previous appearances, but a victory over unseeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic will put the sixth seed in the final with a chance to join Andy Roddick as the only American winners in the last 14 years.
Tipsarevic, chasing his first career ATP Tour title, booked his spot in Saturday`s semi-finals by upsetting seventh seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.
Victory in one of the major tune-up events for the U.S. Open would be a massive boost for Fish and American tennis fans who have watched U.S. players crowded out of the top of the world rankings.
Not long ago Americans held a monopoly on the top 10 but heading into Flushing Meadows, the ninth ranked Fish is the only U.S. player in the elite group.
With Roddick fighting to regain his fitness, the 29-year-old is now likely to be the standard-bearer for American tennis going into the year`s final grand slam.
"With the title (of top ranked American) comes a responsibility," said Fish. "It`s a big country, there are a lot of American tennis fans.”
"It will certainly be exciting if it happens, to go into the U.S. Open as the highest ranked American including the women.”
"There`s a lot of pressure, that`s for sure."
Fish`s route to the final was cleared of some major hurdles when three of the world`s top four players -- number two Rafa Nadal, number three Roger Federer and number four Andy Murray, all double winners of the event -- failed to advance past the third round.
Until a third set blowout, it was far from a dominating performance by Fish in an error strewn match that failed to produce the best in either player.
Fish broke Wawrinka three times in the opening set to grab a 1-0 lead but neither could land their serve in an ugly second set that featured eight service breaks - four by each player.
A battling Wawrinka forced the match to a decider taking the second in a tiebreak 10-8 but the Swiss fell flat in third as Fish steamrolled his way to the win.
"The second set was very strange for both of us...we couldn`t hold serve to save our lives but we returned really well," said Fish. "There`s the positive, I guess.”
"I mean, he`s a good player, very good player.”
"You don`t expect to go out and think you can blow through someone like that."