At the Net: Fish ready for return after heart scare

Mardy Fish will return for ATP duty next week when both tours descend upon Indian Wells, Calif., for the first Masters event of the year.

The Minnesota native has been out of commission since September because of an ongoing heart condition, but he hopes to play a full schedule for the rest of 2013. He'll compete in the California desert, starting next week, followed by a trip to Miami for yet another Masters tourney after that.

The 31-year-old former top-10 star, currently ranked 32nd in the world, tweeted this week: "For those of you wondering when I'm going to play again... Indian Wells will be my first one back. Thanks for all the love."

It's been a tough road of late for the veteran pro, including nearly a full year of treatment and recovery for the heart issue.

The American slugger decided to be checked out by doctors following a match in Key Biscayne (Miami) in late March of last year after his heart started racing uncontrollably that evening. He promptly pulled out of a U.S. Davis Cup quarterfinal tie the following week.

In May, Fish underwent a cardiac catheter ablation in Los Angeles to correct faulty electrical connections in his heart. He was then off the tour for about a month before making his return in time for Wimbledon.

On doctor's advice, however, Fish later withdrew from the U.S. Open in September, just hours before he was scheduled to battle the great Roger Federer in a fourth-round affair. His third-round victory over scrappy Frenchman Gilles Simon was a grueling five-setter, and that was the last time he played before shutting it down in 2012.

In 2010, the 6-foot-2 Fish dropped over 30 pounds, going from a sluggish 203 down to a fighting 170, and his career began to take off from there ... before the heart problems started.

The more-than-capable Fish is one of only a few players on the circuit to possess an all-court game. His main weapons are a big serve and a steady two- handed backhand and he often wins points at net with deft volleys.

Fish has reached quarterfinals at three of the four Grand Slam events and reached a career-high ranking of No. 7 in August 2011. He was also an Olympic silver medalist in Athens back in 2004 and is a four-time Masters finalist.

Did You Know?: Fish's wife, Stacey Gardner, is a California attorney who once worked as a "Briefcase Model" on NBC's "Deal or No Deal."

Fish is scheduled to play world No. 1 stalwart Novak Djokovic in California on Monday in an exhibition match to benefit the Mardy Fish Foundation. He'll then fire it up for the Indian Wells event, where he was a runner-up in 2008, seeking his first tour title since running the table in Atlanta in 2011.