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August 5, 2011

Mardy Fish

TIM CURRY: Thanks everyone for joining us today, and thank you to Mardy for taking some time to talk with us.
In addition to being the U.S. No. 1 player, Mardy is currently No. 1 in the US Open Series Bonus Challenge men's standings, having reached the finals of the first two events: Winning in Atlanta and with a runner-up finish Sunday in Los Angeles.
Mardy finished third in last year's Bonus Challenge. Mardy is joining us from the Legg Mason Classic in Washington D.C. where he's currently fulfilling some tournament obligations after having to withdraw with an injury.
Mardy, why don't you start us off telling us how you're doing and your status for next week's Rogers Cup in Montréal.
MARDY FISH: Hello everyone. Thanks, Tim. I'm feeling a little bit better. I'm I've got a bone bruise on my heel, so it's just sort of more nagging and annoying than anything else. Certainly good to rest it a little bit; something that probably would take a little bit longer than five or six days to rest to fully heal it.
But shouldn't hamper me too much in Montréal.
TIM CURRY: Okay, we'll open it up for questions.

Q. How you doing?
MARDY FISH: Good, thank you. How are you?

Q. I'm good. This is the first year Cincinnati will be a combined event. What are your thoughts on that format, and how will it change the atmosphere for you there this year?
MARDY FISH: Well, there will be a little more people in there, a little more packed. I think it's great for the tournament. Indian Wells and Miami and Madrid, just off the top of my head, that aren't Grand Slams that do the combined event. Apart from sometimes struggling to get a practice court, it's a great thing for the tournament.
Obviously I always look forward to coming to Cincinnati, especially this year having played so well last year and coming so close. I really feel like I can, you know, take a step further and win the tournament this year.

Q. One follow up. Because Masters Series 1000 events like Cincinnati have smaller fields packed with higher-ranked players and there are more matches in a condensed period, are they, in a sense even more difficult to navigate than, say, Grand Slams?
MARDY FISH: Oh, 100%. The tournaments in Rome and Madrid and Montréal and Cincinnati, or Canada and Cincinnati, are probably the toughest events of the year. There are zero easy draws, zero draws where you're just like, Oh, I've got kind of a walk-through to the third round kind of thing.
You can certainly get that at a Grand Slam just because you can play someone outside of the top 100 in the first couple rounds just to make it to the third round. So these are by far tougher events than the Grand Slams; and, you know, therefore, you, you know, respect people's results and guys' results that do well, and especially guys that have done well throughout the years in Masters Series events and consistently done well, because they are so tough.

Q. You have a bit of an ambitious schedule with the US Open Series. Everything on the schedule except for Washington?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. Yeah, everything is good. Obviously I look forward to these next three and then the US Open. Winston-Salem is a place that I spent a lot of time throughout the years there, and I was super-excited when they added that one on the schedule.
You know, we jumped right at it. I remember calling my agent almost immediately after I heard that Winston-Salem was going to be on the schedule and said, I want to play there. So I'm really excited to get there.
You know, we spent a lot of a time at Roaring Gap, which is just up the mountain from there, in the summers and stuff. My dad used to work there in the summers every year when I was growing up. That's where I learned to play golf there.
So, you know, we still go there all the time.

Q. We're look forward to having you down here.
MARDY FISH: Thank you.

Q. I had a question about Ryan Harrison. You played him consecutive weeks there, and he certainly, I guess, raised his game a little bit in Los Angeles. Just give us thoughts on where he's at, where he can go, and just what you saw from him in those two events.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I saw a lot. I mean, obviously we didn't play in the first or second round at those tournaments, we played in the semis. It was a position that he hasn't been in before.
He impressed me a lot even from Atlanta to L.A. He easily could have beat me there. Obviously 7-6 in the third is a kind of a coin flip, and I was really impressed with sort of his moxy and the way that he competes. He doesn't give up and get down on himself, even though he's young and inexperienced in that level.
Yeah, he's going to be a great player.

Q. A lot was made about his temper and propensity for throwing racquets. Any thoughts on that? You've probably calmed down a bit in your years on tour.
MARDY FISH: Well, I don't know about that, but we've all been there. Look, he's a firey kid. I bet that if you asked him if he played better, you know, if he didn't get fired up, sort of subdued -- I think he was a little more subdued in Atlanta, and to be honest, he played a lot better in L.A. when he broke three racquets.
You know, over the years he'll figure out how to channel that energy, but he's got a lot energy, a lot of good energy. You know he wants to win if it's he's breaking racquets like that. I think that's a good sign.

Q. You have had a really good 2011 so far. What are your thoughts on your year, and what are your goals for the rest of the summer heading into the US Open and the US Open itself?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, it's been a good year. It's been a pretty consistent year for me basically starting in Memphis, I guess, when I started feeling better from the thyroid condition that I had. I was feeling pretty crappy in Australia and wasn't really sure why, and figured out why obviously after that.
Yeah, I've had good results, and I've also had good results on almost every surface as well. That hasn't been the case throughout my career. Just staying healthy for the most part. Playing every tournament that you want to play is not an easy thing to do over a 12-month year.
For the most part, except for here and Washington, I've been able to do that, and, you know, sort of be able to pick and choose my schedule just a little bit just on where I'll peak.
I pulled out of Queen's this year because I felt like I needed just a little bit of rest after the long clay court season. You know, that worked and played well at Wimbledon.
So the goals from here on are obviously the US Open is the big one, and I would like to have a good summer like I did last year. I had a great start so far, you know, winning Atlanta again.
The ultimate goal so to make the Masters Cup, which I've never done before, the year-end tournament. I'm right in the mix, so that'll be the goal for sure.

Q. You often credit your weight loss and conditioning as the key factors in the turnaround in your career. Frankly, I hear in your voice such a high level of confidence that wasn't there in the early years. Do you credit other factors, changing strategy, changing coach, technique, et cetera, to also add in the mix of your success lately?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think it started with the weight loss. It started with changing my discipline and changing my outlook sort of on the game and how I took it from a week-to-week basis and a month-to-month basis.
I changed, sort of changed the reasons why I played. You know, found better reasons to enjoy being on the court and enjoy being on the practice court. You know, but it all kind of started from that weight loss thing and the discipline that it took to do that.
Then the confidence just comes from, you know, you hope it's not arrogance. You hope it's just confidence sort of on the court and sort of speaking about your game. That comes from just winning matches.
It's been secret that it's been a goal of mine to get in the top 10. It's just not a fluke to get there. You have to really -- you got to win a lot matches against a lot of good players to get there consistently.
So that should give you a lot of confidence. That should give anybody a lot of confidence who gets there.

Q. I think, and correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think this is the first time you're going into the US Open as the top ranked American. Can you tell us a little bit about how that feels, if you're feeling a little bit more pressure from this.
MARDY FISH: It's definitely the only time that I've been ranked No. 1. I don't necessarily feel like I'll be the top American. I will be maybe be ranked the highest.
But it sort of feels strange to say that considering Andy has been the No. 1 player - and I've said it all along - the No. 1 player throughout our generation or my generation that I've played.
And James Blake has always been a guys who has played extremely well over the years as well and sort of taken on sort of the blunt of the pressure and stuff.
I've sort of gone under the radar pretty comfortably. Haven't had to answer too many critics. I had sort of my reasons why, and that I could have worked a little bit harder or could have changed some things around earlier in my career than I have now.
So, you know, with it comes -- with the No. 1 American comes a little bit of extra pressure, but it's good pressure. It's certainly a position you want to be in.
Again, it's new for me. It's not a place that I feel extremely comfortable in. Like I said, I feel like there have been other guys that have been -- have had great careers, way better careers than I have throughout the years that I've played out here.

Q. We hear that you've helped recruit Andy to the Winston-Salem Open. Talk about your role as an ambassador for the tournament.
MARDY FISH: I did, and I'll be asking for extra money there because I recruited him. No, I didn't recruit him at all, actually. You know, just seems to have worked out with his injury that he feels like he needs some matches. I'm sure he's looking forward to it as well.
Sounds like it's going to be a great event. I've seen pictures of the process of the courts going up and the site, and we're all very excited.

Q. What kind of rehab have you done with your injured heel, and how are you going to prepare for the two Masters Series events coming up?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, we've been doing a lot stuff, just a lot of ice, a little bit of rest. Try not to lose too much fitness. I've tried to stay off the corners of the heel and things like that.
You can't just sit on the couch as well and feel like you'll be prepared for a Masters Series event. So we've done a lot of ultrasound and electric stim, a lot of ise. Basically just around-the-clock type stuff four and five times a day just trying to calm the injury down a little bit.
Because I know we can't get to to where it's going to go away completely, but hopefully we can get to the point where it doesn't bother me too much on the court.
TIM CURRY: Again, thanks everyone for joining the call. Thanks, Mardy, for taking the time, and good luck in Montréal and the rest of the Series.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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