Mardy Fish is headed back to the courts after a six-month absence due to a heart-related ailment. He returned to the courts on March 4 at the inaugural Los Angeles Tennis Challenge, featuring Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras, and Bob and Mike Bryan at the Pauley Pavilion, an event put together by former pro Justin Gimelstob. Monday night, Fish took on the top-ranked Djokovic in an exhibition and lost in his return. Fish has six career singles titles and reached a career-high ATP Men's Singles ranking of number seven in August 2011. He is four victories shy of 300 for his career.
''I don't feel 100 percent but I'm getting pretty close,'' said Fish. ''We were playing pretty quick. I was getting winded. You can't duplicate that in practice.''
Fish is slated to appear at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. The now 32-ranked Fish will receive a first round bye and will await the winner of the match between world number 91 Benjamin Becker of Germany and a still-to-be-determined qualifier.
''I've retired 15 times in my head,'' Fish said. ''For the first three or four months, I was done for sure. Then gradually I started feeling better and working out. You start missing tennis and the guys. I haven't felt better than this since the U.S. Open. I still feel like I can play at a high level for many years."