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Beyond the Baseline

Mardy Fish needed surgery to fix heart problem

Ever since Mardy Fish decided to skip Davis Cup against France in April, questions have swirled about the nature of his health concerns. At the time, Fish had complained of extreme fatigue, though the details surrounding his condition and illness were vague at best. It was fairly clear for those around the sport that this was more serious than Fish simply needing a break from tennis, but Fish refused to talk about it. Until now.

Speaking to Doug Robson of USA Today, Fish revealed that he had been suffering from a heart arrhythmia that would cause his heart rate to go through the roof when he was sleeping. He says he experienced his first episode the morning before his Davis Cup match against Stanislas Wawrinka in Switzerland in February. He experienced two more episodes after that, but shook them off because he was able to calm himself and regulate his heart rate each time. That changed in April when Fish experienced his biggest scare in Miami after his quarterfinal loss to Juan Monaco at the Sony Ericsson Open. From the report:

Following his loss to Monaco, he woke up around 3:30 a.m. with his heart pounding at 170-180 beats per minute, or about three times what would be normal for a world class athlete at rest.

But this time, it went on. And on. He couldn't stop it.

"I was completely panicking," Fish said of the 30-minute episode. "I thought I was going to die."

He roused (his trainer Christian) LoCascio, and the two decided to call 911. Fish was rolled out of his hotel on a gurney and taken to a nearby hospital.

Fish immediately withdrew from the U.S. Davis Cup tie in France and worked with doctors to try to diagnose his heart condition. Last Wednesday, Fish underwent an electrophysiology procedure in Los Angeles in an attempt to "rewire" his heart to function properly. Fish tells Robson that the doctors are confident the procedure was a success:

Doctors inserted two catheters and guided them through a main vein to his heart. They used chemicals to induce the extreme palpitations and pinpoint where the misfiring was occurring.

Fish said the offending electrical circuitry was then "singed" and rendered "dormant."

"They feel like it was very successful, and that it's totally behind me now," said Fish, who has not been able to move around much because of post-operative blood clot risks.

Fish says he hopes to resume training shortly and wants to be back in time for Wimbledon, which starts on June 25.

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