MELBOURNE, Australia — Mardy Fish reached one of his career goals last year when he cracked the top 10 for the first time.
Now he wants to make a breakthrough in a Grand Slam tournament and beat one of the top four players — Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Andy Murray — in the process.
Fish is coming off his most successful year on tour, reaching a career-high ranking of No. 7, making the quarterfinals of Wimbledon for the first time and passing Andy Roddick to become the No. 1 American.
"Just tasting that, being able to be a part of that with those guys last year, that's what will drive me now," he said after winning his first-round match over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, at the Australian Open on Monday.
"Obviously I want to go further in a Slam than the quarterfinals and put myself in that position to see what that feels like, see what that is like."
Defeating one of the elite players would make it even more special. Fish beat Nadal last year at the Cincinnati Masters, but lost to the Spaniard earlier in the season in the quarters of Wimbledon.
"I wanted to beat one of those guys in a big tournament, in a big spot," he said. "It's a long ways to get there. I got a long road ahead of me just to get to someone like Federer."
Who could Fish meet in the quarters of the Australian Open? None other than the 16-time Grand Slam champion himself.
HAIRBAND STATEMENT: Laura Robson wouldn't call it a protest, but the rainbow-colored hairband she wore for her first-round match on Margaret Court Arena certainly had significance.
A Facebook group called "Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena" had called for spectators to display rainbow gay pride banners at the court Monday in response to anti-gay remarks made recently by Australian tennis great Margaret Court.
The 69-year-old Court, who is now a Christian pastor, recently told local media in Perth, Western Australia, that "politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take."
"The fact that the homosexual cry is, 'We can't help it, as we were born this way,' as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern," added Court, who won 11 Australian Open singles titles in her career.
Robson, who lost to 13th-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-0 on Monday, said that she wore the hairband to make a point.
"I wore it because I believe in equal rights for everyone. You know, that's it," said the 17-year-old from Britain. "It's not a protest, it's just a hairband."
There weren't a lot of rainbow-colored banners to be seen during Australian Casey Dellacqua's victory over Bojana Jovanovski at the arena earlier in the day — just a lot of Australian flags.
INDIA'S OLYMPIC HOPES: For a country of 1.2 billion people, India has struggled to find success at the Olympic Games, winning just one individual gold medal.
Sania Mirza, the country's top women's tennis player, says she may be able to double the total in London this year.
India only has one singles player currently ranked in the top 100 — Somdev Devvarman at No. 86 in the ATP rankings — but it does have some of the world's best doubles players. Mirza is currently ranked 11th in the WTA doubles rankings, while Leander Paes is No. 7 in the ATP doubles rankings, Mahesh Bhupathi is No. 8 and Rohan Bopanna is No. 11.
Mirza, who lost her first-round singles match at the Australian Open to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria on Monday, says she's planning to play mixed doubles with one of the three men at the 2012 London Olympics.
It's the first time since 1924 that mixed doubles will be included at the Olympics.
"Funnily enough, a medal is a medal at the Olympics. It doesn't matter if you get it in singles, doubles or mixed," she says. "We're a big country, and obviously (the) Olympics is important to us."
As for her partner in London, Mirza says she'd be happy with any of the three men's players. Mirza partnered with Bhupathi to win the Australian Open mixed title in 2009 and won the mixed gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games with Paes.
"I'm in a great position to chose from three people who are in the top 12 in the world (in doubles)," she said. "Obviously, the best people will be put forward."