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January 15, 2003

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Primal scream at the end there.

MARDY FISH: Yeah. It was pretty reassuring to know that I could beat a guy like that twice in a row, you know, tells me a lot about my game and how far I've come and how hard I've worked in this off-season. It's really paying off right now, so...

Q. Did you feel it coming, sort of early season results like this?

MARDY FISH: No, I mean, Andy had his big year in 2001, James in 2002. Hopefully I can follow the trend or somebody can follow the trend. Hopefully maybe we can get a couple guys to do it and have a big year like those guys did. Not saying that I really expected to beat Carlos twice in a row. I was just in the locker room with my coach. I was just saying, you know, I just said, "Wow!" Like that's pretty, you know, we were just kind of stunned that that happened twice in a row. You know, to beat a guy like that once is, you know, a great win. Obviously -- I mean not obviously, but it's the best win of my career. You know, to beat a guy twice like that is just amazing.

Q. Could you tell us how you came to be known as the best two-year-old player in the world?

MARDY FISH: My mom -- my dad is a teaching pro, first of all. My mom was -- fed me balls. When I was born in Minnesota, she fed me balls in the basement like sometimes, and I was on the news actually. I don't know how I got on the news. They said that I was the -- I could hit the ball over the net like from the baseline at two. So the sportscaster said I was the No. 1 two-year-old in the world. That's how I got the title.

Q. Did you play any sports?

MARDY FISH: Yeah. Tell you the truth, I kind of -- you know, my dad, obviously as I just said, was a teaching pro, and he still is. He kind of pushed me, like, towards tennis a little bit more than every other sport. He was very supportive of every sport that I played. I played really good golf when I was younger, and I kind of had to choose which one I kind of wanted to do for college, and used that as a tool to go to college. I picked tennis and I just started playing really well in Juniors and stuff like that, got my name out there, and decided not to go to college. So I guess I picked the right thing - hopefully.

Q. Did the family keep a copy of the tape?

MARDY FISH: She has it, yeah. She gave it to -- she gave it to somebody in the USTA. They gave it to the US Open, some like CBS or USA, something like that, and I was sitting in my hotel room with James Blake actually, in New York. It came on . They were replaying -- it was a rain delay, they were replaying my first round match and it came on. I was like, "Oh, my God. They're not showing that on national television."

Q. What did James say?

MARDY FISH: James was laughing.

Q. You know those guys really well, especially Andy. To see those guys that you know so well succeed and go up high in the rankings, did that make it easier psychologically for you?

MARDY FISH: Sure. There's a lot of pressure now, Andre and Pete going out, Todd and all those guys, Michael Chang. Those guys have taken a lot of pressure off guys like myself and Robby Ginepri, Jeff Morrison. I don't want to leave anybody out. Vahaly, guys like that. We're grateful that they're doing well on one side, and on the other side taking the pressure off us, knowing that those guys have already made a name for themselves and they're going to be really good. James is going to be up there sooner or later, in the Top 10 I think. I think he has the game to be. Andy obviously has (inaudible) he can be there for a while now.

Q. What sort of things has Kelly Jones brought to your game?

MARDY FISH: He kind of played like me when he was on tour. He played a lot of singles. I think he won a couple tournaments. He primarily played doubles at the end of his career, but we kind of have the same game, we have the same mentality on and off the court. We get along great. We started at the US Open last year, or Long Island last year. You know, things just went good from the beginning. And sometimes it's tough getting a new coach. You have to, you know, get used to their teaching philosophy, their philosophy, you know, as well as he has to get used to me on the court and how I am. We just kind of clicked right away. We were really lucky for that.

Q. Why did you switch from Brad? What was the reason for that?

MARDY FISH: I think Brad is a great coach. He got me to a point where, you know, from the no ranking at all , I mean I might have had a couple points to, you know, 150 in the world. I think it was just, you know, I wasn't -- bottom line, I think I wasn't really progressing from, you know, the start of maybe March of 2002. And, you know, I just wasn't really going forward, I didn't think. He got me to a certain point, he's a great coach. And I think it was just time for a change is the bottom line.

Q. Having been down and then up, what were you thinking heading into the final set? What was your sort of thought?

MARDY FISH: Tell you the truth, I have no -- I wasn't really -- I had no idea what was going to happen. I was kind of getting -- I was kind of feeling a little tired in the middle and the end of the fourth set. But, I mean, it was -- I felt like in the fourth set I was in total control, you know, having a couple breakpoints at 3-all. I'm holding serve very, very easily every game up until that 4-5 game. I knew going into that 4-5 game, obviously he's a Top 5 player, he's going to play a solid game. I just didn't step up. I didn't make any first serves. I don't know how many first serves I made, but I think I missed the first three. And you can't do that against those guys, especially in that situation. So going into the fifth, I kind of, you know -- I felt like even though I lost that set, I still had the -- I don't know about the momentum, but I still felt like I was playing better tennis and felt like I should have been ahead even though I lost, you know, just that one game. So I don't know.

Q. Does tonight change your goals for this tournament?

MARDY FISH: For this tournament? You know, I didn't really have too many goals for this tournament - or a goal really. Just coming in, looking at the draw, you know, you have a qualifier, who is obviously a winnable match, something that I should have won, you know, I should have won that match. Then playing a Top 5 player, you don't really know what to expect. Obviously, you have to play your best tennis. If you don't, you're gonna lose. And so I think I just came in, really just -- I knew I was playing well, obviously played well in Sydney, won like five matches, got some great match practice for this tournament. So I -- I'm not surprised that I'm in the third round. I mean, I'm surprised that I beat Moya twice, but I'm not surprised that I'm in the third round. Let's put it that way.

Q. Where would you like to be this time next year considering you've improved every year for the last few?

MARDY FISH: Some of my goals, some of the more reachable goal -- a goal would be Top 50 by the end of the year. I'm approaching that pretty quickly now. I think I'm - I don't know - 75 or something after Sydney. So I only have a few more after that. But far-fetched goal would be Top 20 and, you know, you have to kind of make those type of goals something that might be unreachable but something to work for, so that would probably be good.

Q. What's the visor?

MARDY FISH: This is Minnesota Twins. They're a baseball team.

Q. What are the pros and cons of having a tennis coach for a dad?

MARDY FISH: For a dad? The pro, I mean -- I'll tell you some of the cons (laughter). My dad was coaching me until I was like 15 or 16. And some of the things that, you know -- we get along great off the court. Like he's an unbelievable dad. He's so supportive. He loves tennis. He just wants me to, you know, do well. But there's a certain line where you have to draw to be a coach and to be a father. Sometimes a coach has to be tough on you. I mean, it was probably -- it was all my fault, you know, being 15 years old and not knowing, you know, the boundaries between a coach and a father. But, you know, he would -- a coach has to be stern sometimes when you're messing around or you're not focused or you're getting angry or something like that. He would yell at me, you know, like a coach is supposed to do. I just didn't understand , because he never yells. I was like... So then all of a sudden we started not getting along very well off the court, and I just -- you know, it was just time for something new. Sometimes it works for people; it doesn't work for me.

Q. Is he here?

MARDY FISH: He's not, no. But they were definitely watching it on the computer, I'm sure.

Q. Does he go and watch your match?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, he works a lot. My mom and him come to -- they came to Wimbledon last year, the US Open. My mom just loves the big tournaments. She doesn't come to any of the small ones. My dad will come to anything if he can, but he can't get away from work that often.

Q. So in your house growing up, was it all the Slams were on TV all the time, tennis, tennis, tennis all over the house?

MARDY FISH: Not so much. I wasn't into tennis. It's probably not my favorite sport to play. I mean, I love tennis, don't get me wrong. But I wasn't a huge fan when I was growing up. I played everything. I didn't really watch that much TV. I just -- a lot of football, basketball, baseball. Not so much tennis or golf, and those turned out to be, like, my two favorite sports. So it was kind of weird.

Q. Were you pretty bitter when it looked like the Twins might...?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I was trying to voice my opinion, but it turned out that nobody really cared about my opinion. So, yeah. But luckily they -- I know they had a good team. They got to pull it together one of these years, win the whole thing.

Q. Is there something specifically you worked on in the off-season that brings you to your first third round in a Grand Slam?

MARDY FISH: Just I think in general, we just worked harder away from the court. I took a lot of time off after my last tournament and a lot of time away -- on the court, I'm saying, didn't hit as many balls. Took like two weeks off. It was great. I just worked out in the gym, worked really hard on my fitness with my trainer at Saddlebrook, and tried to stay away from the court, you know, for as long as I could until, you know, until it's necessary or you have to, you know, go back to the court. I'm not really one of those guys that needs to practice, practice, practice all the time. But, yeah, I think it was just harder in general, was the main thing.

Q. So you're fitter and you feel mentally fresher, is that it?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, mentally I feel, you know, like I'm in the fifth set out there and I feel like I can play. You know, my serve is still -- I think I hit the fastest serve of the night in the fifth set. That's a good sign that I'm still, you know, going after it and still am able to, you know, do those types of things.

Q. Can you talk about your next match?

MARDY FISH: Who do I play?

Q. Wayne Ferreira.

MARDY FISH: Wayne Ferreira, I played him once in River Oaks, that exhibition tournament. I lost 7-6 in the third. But we had courtside tickets to the Rockets game that night so I was trying to get off the court as fast as I could. It was 6 in the third. He's a veteran, obviously a great player, good forehand, good first serve. So, you know, it's a tough match. I think it's a winnable match if I play, you know -- obviously if I play the way I have played tonight or the way I have been playing lately. One of the main things I think I'm going to work on this next match is not having a letdown, like I've had a couple good wins like that, especially like last week. Then just went out against Schuettler, the German guy, and didn't play nearly as well as I did the night before. So I'm going to get a lot of rest and hopefully can come back fully recovered and maybe -- hopefully not have the letdown after a big match like that.

Q. What year was that?

MARDY FISH: I think it was last year, 2002.

Q. Is Davis Cup a good motivating thing for you?

MARDY FISH: Yeah. I always had that in the back of my mind. Hopefully this win right here would kind of cement the fact that I can be a backup singles guy for those guys and play doubles. You know, Patrick was out there tonight, so hopefully he liked what he saw and he'll take me. But, you know, that's a goal. That's the highest goal that I could possibly have, is just to play Davis Cup, so... See how it goes.

End of FastScripts….

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