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The Underdog at #1: Mardy Fish Talks US Open Tennis

Mardy Fish slams a backhand shot at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Certain tennis players are known more for their testy personalities (racquet throwing anyone?) or their flashy apparel than their swings or footwork. But 29-year-old tennis pro Mardy Fish is bringing his down-to-earth Midwestern attitude to the US Open beginning today, despite having every reason to bring some swagger. He's hitting the court this year ranked as the top American and number eight in the world! We spoke with the Olympic silver medalist and Generation UCAN athlete, who recently shed 30 pounds and 14 percent body fat and watched his game skyrocket, to learn more about his plans for the upcoming tournament and his intense training regimen.

How did you first get interested in tennis? I come from an athletic family. My dad is a teaching pro, and I've really played as long as I can remember.

We hear you are buddies with Andy Roddick. How did you meet? We went to the same high school and played on the same tennis and basketball teams. Our high school had a pretty good tennis team back then! Now when we get together, we don't talk much about the sport.

And now you're the top ranked American male tennis player. How does that feel? It's definitely different for me! Andy Roddick has been the top American for so long. It comes with a bit of pressure, but it's good pressure.

In less than six months, you lost 30 pounds and your body fat went from 21 to seven percent—wow! How did you do it? I stayed away from junk food and counted calories. My goal was to eat 400 to 600 calories less than I was burning throughout the day, so I'd lose weight at a healthy pace. I was so into the results that I was getting that it was really easy to stick to the plan. Although I did allow myself a break last Thanksgiving when I treated myself to some gravy and bread! The changes on the scale motivated me—it essentially became a game. And the discipline that I used to lose weight and stay on my diet spilled into my tennis. Mardy spilled about his rivals and a pre-tourney training day. Click below to get the scoop!

Who do you see as your biggest rivals going into this year's US Open? The top four [Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray] are the guys to beat, but you can't rule out anyone who's ranked in the top 10.

During your tournament preparations, what does a typical day of training look like for you? I spend three hours practicing on the court, one hour doing strength training in the gym and have rehab, stretching and a massage later on.

You played a really solid match against Rafael Nadal last week at the Western & Southern Open and came out on top against him for the first time in your career. How did that feel? It was great. To beat someone of his caliber is always a nice win. It was really the perfect day for me. Everything fell into place.

Do you ever work out with your wife, a lawyer and former Deal or No Deal briefcase model? She has benefited from good metabolism genes [laughing]. I think she works out her credit cards more than she works out in the gym!

What is your top career goal? I'd love to go to the ATP World Tour Finals in November, and I think I have a really good shot of doing that. And another goal is to make it past the semis in a major tournament.

Now tell us: Who are you most looking forward to watching at the U.S. Open?