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August 16, 2003

Mardy Fish


MODERATOR: This is our first all-American final here in Cincinnati since 1996 when Agassi beat Chang in the final, and tomorrow Mardy will attempt to win his first ATP title of his career and his third final. Okay. Questions.

Q. Looked like a pretty solid performance out there tonight.

MARDY FISH: Yeah. Do you want me to talk about it?

Q. Yeah. Tell us.

MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, you know, I went in knowing that I had to serve well and hold serve, and I did that, and you know, I had a couple chances. He had a couple chances, and you know, it definitely could have been a 6-3, 6-4 couple sets, but you know, we both held six times each set, and it comes down to a breaker, and sometimes those are crap shoots, and I just got the best of him today.

Q. What about your emotions, I mean getting to the finals? This is a big one.

MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean this is definitely the best week that I've ever had tennis wise, and you know, looking forward to playing a buddy and somebody who, you know, we growing up dreamt about playing in stuff like this together, and you know, it's going to be exciting for the both of us, I'm sure, even though Andy -- you know, even though Andy won it last week and has been in the finals -- this is his third final, I guess, but you don't make the finals every week, so it's not like he's probably not going to get used to it too much, but you know, it'll be a lot of fun.

Q. Can you talk about that year when y'all were living together and just what it was like competitively with the tennis and then also just your relationship personally?

MARDY FISH: Sure. I mean we were very competitive. You know, we played a lot of one-on-one basketball in his backyard, and we'd race to school every day, and we were competitive on everything. And you know, we were best friends for a year there when I lived with him, and I moved away, and you know, it's tough to stay best friends when you don't live in the same city, but you know, we're still good friends, and we enjoy each other's company. But as far as your question, I mean, you know, we would practice every day together, and we had the same coach, and you know, we always had the same goals, and I'm sure if you ask him, this was one of them, to be playing each other in the finals of a big tournament like this.

Q. And what was it like -- you know, you say that you had the same goals. What was it like when you sort of saw him start to take off and you weren't kind of seeing those kind of results right away?

MARDY FISH: I mean I was happy for him, knowing that, you know, he was achieving his goals, and extremely happy for him, and you know, I thought always personally -- and I never told anybody this, but I always thought it was a matter of time before I hopefully was going to do the same things. You know, I mean he's kind of stepped it up a little bit to Top 5 now, and I don't know if I ever dreamt about being Top 5, but he -- you know, I was extremely excited, to answer your question, about seeing a friend achieve his goals like that.

Q. Did you guys ever keep track of all these -- you said you were very competitive. Did you keep track, a running total of what your record was against him?

MARDY FISH: No. I mean we always make little bets, and I never beat him at bets, and it kills me. I mean I can bet him -- like we'll be watching a match, and it'll be like a tiebreaker and he'll take one guy and I'll take the other guy, and his guy will win every single time and it pisses me off so much.

Q. Mardy, what was the arrangement for when you were living with him for a year? Were you boarding in his house?

MARDY FISH: I mean they were just kind enough to let me live there for the school year. It was my senior year, I guess, or half of my junior year and half of my senior year. You know, it was probably for about 9 or 10 or 11 months or something like that, and I mean I was lucky enough to not have to pay them any rent or anything like that, and they were just extremely kind and giving in that time. You know, because it was tough because I lived in Vero Beach and our coach was in Boca Raton, and so I moved down there to try to be closer to that and to try to put my tennis game into full throttle and try to do -- you know, try to be a pro.

Q. Was that also to find tougher competition for your game?

MARDY FISH: I don't think so. I don't think that was the goal. I think -- you know, we had a great group of guys there. We had Bo Hodge, we had Chris Martin, Dave Martin and we had Jeff Boyd for a little bit, and you know, there were five or six of us practicing every day and just beating up on each other every day on and off the court, in the gym. We would always try to race -- you know, we had a tough coach, man, he would put us through some tough fitness stuff, too. And we would always try to beat each other running wise, and so I don't know if it was the competition so much as to just get better and to get more in shape and to just kind of see how -- I guess kind of see how good I could get.

Q. Tonight, was it difficult mentally in the first set to keep fighting off those break points?

MARDY FISH: Sure. I mean, you know, he's got -- he had a bunch of break points there in the first set. You know, and I tried to take a little bit of speed off my first serve and try to get as many -- try to get the first serve in every time, and I think I missed one first serve on all the break points that I had against me, and I can't remember what happened on that point, but you know, I mean I put a lot of pressure on him by making the first serve, and you know, I got lucky enough to get out of every one of those games.

MODERATOR: There were five in the first set.

Q. What was the difference between the match you played in Australia and today?

MARDY FISH: To tell you the truth, there wasn't much difference in the first set. I mean I played -- I remember in Australia I couldn't get into his serve games at all, and you know, I was holding relatively easily, but I couldn't -- you know, he was holding at love almost every time, and I think he held at love the first four games he served in Australia, so I mean it wasn't really that much difference. You know, I kind of just played -- I was more experienced and I played a lot better breaker in the first set, and you know, once you have the first set, kind of the pressure is off you, you know, because it's not life or death to win that second set. And you know, he -- you know, I tried to put as much pressure on him as I could in that second set, early in that second set, and I had a couple chances there. I think it was like two-all maybe or something like that, or one-all.

Q. It's one thing to know somebody's game and just know them a little bit around the tennis court, but what kind of advantage do you have when you go into a match like you will tomorrow where you know someone; you've lived with them, you know things about them that other players might not know?

MARDY FISH: I mean just right there, I mean that might be the only advantage against Andy is knowing that, you know, I might know maybe -- you know, I mean it's not even probably 70 percent that, you know, I know what shot he's going to hit here. I mean he's playing extremely well, and you know, there aren't a lot of guys out there right now that can beat him, and you know, but I feel like if you put anybody -- I've always said if you put anybody on the other side of the court, I feel like I can beat them, so I'm not going to go into tomorrow thinking I don't have a chance, that's for sure. And you know, even though in Del Ray when I played him, you know, I won the first set and was up in the second set, but you know, it still didn't feel like a victory because, you know, he got hurt, and even though I won, it wasn't really, you know, the way that I wanted to win. So you know, I'm looking to try to beat him, like really beat him, and you know, what better place than tomorrow in the finals of a Masters Series?

Q. Isn't Kelly supposed to be moving, packing up this weekend?


Q. Fouling that up for him at all?

MARDY FISH: He's actually -- he's packing up and he's going to drop me off in -- I'm going to just ride down with him in the big truck, maybe tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning, and he's going to drop me off in Tampa on his way down.

Q. Who was the better basketball player?

MARDY FISH: I mean -- that's a tough question. He beat me sometimes when we played one-on-one, but when he got into like a team, like we were on the same basketball team, high school basketball team, and he wasn't very good. But I remember him -- he used to blow a lot of layups. He used to miss layups, and he was -- I mean he was funny, though. He knew that he wasn't very good, so he just kind of messed around, so we had fun with it.

End of FastScripts….

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