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August 24, 2003

Mardy Fish


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Has Patrick said anything to you or James?

MARDY FISH: We are -- James and I are both well aware that it's one of our spots to be decided, and we definitely have to go over there and play for it. You know, so he hasn't -- I don't know if he's told James if he's got it, but he definitely hasn't told me that I have it, so...

Q. Could you settle it here?

MARDY FISH: I don't know about that. I think that it's, you know, it's on a different surface. It's indoors. It's gonna be indoor clay.

Q. Indoors?

MARDY FISH: I'm under the assumption that it's indoor clay, yeah. So it's a totally different, totally different game, you know... So, obviously, if one of us makes it to the semis or finals here, I would assume that we would play, if one of us did that, but who knows...

Q. When do you leave?

MARDY FISH: I'm not sure. I think we leave like the Friday before - like a week before. I couldn't tell you the dates yet.

Q. Mardy, you obviously had the great run in Cincinnati. What did you feel like your first day here, coming into a Slam, different environment?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I don't really like getting to the Slams like the week before because it's just so hectic, especially here. So I got here on Saturday -- or on Friday night, and tried to kind of get my mind ready for, you know, for a good US Open run. You know, we got to do the kids' day stuff, which was awesome for us. And, you know, we had a couple good practices yesterday and today, and looking forward to my first Grand Slam where I'm seeded and hopefully to go deep in the tournament.

Q. So how do you avoid the nerves now, knowing that a lot more people this year are going to be aware of who you are?

MARDY FISH: I don't know. I mean, it's a different situation for me and, again, another learning experience. I've said that all along. But most of these matches that I've played are all learning experiences. You know, last week in Cincinnati, you know, my first Round of 16 in a Masters Series, my first quarter, my first semi, my first final. So I got all that experience out of the way in one week. You know, looking forward to the Open and to hopefully playing some good tennis here.

Q. Your serve is on fire right now. Is it just you've caught some kind of rhythm or something? Have you changed anything? It's just there?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, I'm making a lot more -- a lot higher percentage of first serves. You know, when I had breakpoints down in Cincinnati, I made -- pretty much made first serves on almost every one of them and tried to make them come up with the big shot. Luckily, they didn't. You know, who's to say that if I'm in that same situation this week, somebody doesn't rip a winner off the first serve, or I miss a couple first serves and, you know, who knows? It's a lot of luck. Last week it was, and I was just happy that it went my way, I guess. But 74 straight games is unheard of - for someone like me, especially, and, you know, when I don't consider my serve my best part of my game. So, you know, again, looking forward to improving those parts of my game even more and improving my forehand and just wondering, you know, how good I could be or, you know, who knows...

Q. Is it more backing up your serve than it is the serve itself?

MARDY FISH: I think a lot of it is, you know. A lot of it has to do -- had to do last week with me volleying. I volleyed great last week. I tried -- I think that for the majority of the time, I put a lot of pressure on them. That took a lot of pressure off of me on the return games and put a lot of pressure on their serve games to know that I was gonna pretty much hold serve every time. You know, so they had to do the same thing. Unfortunately, you know, I couldn't break Andy, you know, the two times that I needed to do or needed to get that one point in the tiebreaker. But, yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it had to do with after, after the serve.

Q. There's a lot of talk about your serve, but what about your returns? It seems like those have really improved over the last year. You're making people really from the start of a point, both when you're serving and returning, come up with the goods. Has that been a big difference for you this year?

MARDY FISH: I think returning has always been -- I mean, obviously, it's gotten better. My whole game has gotten better, every aspect of it. But my returns, especially in doubles, I return really well in doubles. That's one of my better parts in doubles. And, you know, I would have liked -- like I didn't break Schuettler in the semis of Cincinnati. Usually, I mean, I usually get one break. I mean, it's kind of like the final where I broke Andy just one time. I usually get at least one break. Yeah, I mean, so to answer your question, yeah, my returns have gotten better. They were definitely working last week, that's for sure. Yeah, like I said before, I just missed that one break, you know, in the third set against Andy or that one return of serve that I needed in one of those breakers.

Q. What is your confidence level coming into the Open?

MARDY FISH: You know, I think it's probably as high as it's ever been. I mean, it's the best result that I've had in my career and the highest ranking that I've ever had, my first time being seeded at a Grand Slam. So, you know, it's never been higher.

Q. How much are you gonna treat this tournament as a learning experience again and how much are you gonna treat it as, "I want to fulfill some of my own expectations as a player"?

MARDY FISH: I think it's a lot of both. I think in the back of my mind I know that these matches are learning experiences. I mean, maybe not the first round anymore so much. But, again, my first time being seeded at a Grand Slam, it's my first time in one of those matches. So that will be something different for me. But, yeah, I mean, it was, like I said at Wimbledon this year, you know, I mean, I kind of got that one Wimbledon where I was in awe of everything out of the way. I really wanted to do well at the tournament. I was kind of over the fact, obviously I was happy to be there and obviously I'm still happy to be here, but I want to win and I want to see how far I can go.

Q. Go back to Delray Beach. Probably the court surface isn't that much different between there and Cincinnati. What do you see differently in Roddick's tactics on the court today as opposed to six months ago?

MARDY FISH: First of all, he's serving - if that's possible - a lot better than he was in Delray Beach. He is -- one of the things that makes him so tough is that he never gives up on a game, 40-love, 40-15 he's down, and he's still gonna grind out a point just to keep the game going and just to maybe see if the guy can get tight. And, you know, that's something that I've seen, you know. He's changed a little bit, he's coming forward a little bit more which is smart for him because he just dominates from the back all the time. You know, his forehand is so big and it's always been so good, but it's just getting a little more consistent. His backhand is, I think he might be just realizing what he has on his backhand. Obviously, it can get better. I think he's just realizing what he has, and he's just kind of taking that as he may and trying to look for the forehand to end the point or to get control of the point. He's doing that so well. Just, I mean, he's just consistent. It's amazing how many matches he's won this summer and going back to Queen's. It's just, you know, I mean, it's not possible for some of these guys to do that, and he's done it and it's amazing. You know, two Masters Series in a row. I mean, one, it was so hard for me just to make the finals and he won two in a row. That's just incredible, that's awesome.

Q. You would think that with Brad, a lot of joking around during practices as well as practicing hard, that he might be a more relaxed player on the court. Is that perceptible during matches?

MARDY FISH: No, I don't think so at all. Well, Andy's nature, first of all, is not to be relaxed at all on the court. I mean the guy, if you'll ever see him, watch him play, he's just so intense in every round, of every match. I think that -- I don't know if that has anything to do with Brad, I think that has to do with his personality and just the way he plays the game. You know, but, I mean, obviously Brad has brought a lot to his game and helped him out a lot, you know, in those aspects.

Q. You think if Roger plays his best on this surface and Andy plays his best, who wins that match?

MARDY FISH: That's a tough question. That's kind of a pick'em I guess. I mean, those guys, obviously they were both playing unbelievable at Wimbledon and Roger beat him pretty easily there, but I think that's a better surface for Roger than Andy, I mean, because he comes to the net so well. I think Roger might have a better all-around game just, you know, because he volleys so well, he can hit every shot in the book. You know, but Andy's just overpowering. You'll never know on that one day, any given day, Andy can come out and just kill somebody, you know, just like 1 and 1 or something, something crazy. Like he beat Zabaleta in the quarters of Cincinnati like 1 and 2. I mean, nobody does that. He can go out there and, you know, do that to somebody. I don't know if Federer can do that.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Sampras and him heading out tomorrow night, what that means to your generation of players, what he meant to your generation of players.

MARDY FISH: Sure. I was lucky enough to get to play him one time in 2001, Indian Wells, in the first round. He beat me, but we played a night match. It was one of the funnest matches that I've ever played just to, you know, one, to be able to play against him - in my opinion, the greatest player that ever played. But, you know, I mean, I wasn't too -- I'm not too aware of all the tennis history, and I haven't seen too many like old tapes of guys playing, but in my opinion he's the best player that's ever played. Obviously, his Grand Slam records speak for themselves. But he was an amazing player. I used to say sometimes when I'd watch him play on grass, it was just like art in motion, and how he would -- nobody was better than him at Wimbledon. You know, I mean, it will be a cool night, I guess, for him, you know, having so much history here and winning last year. It was an amazing run last year, I don't have to tell you that. It will be pretty cool. I'll definitely be watching.

Q. There's no guarantee, of course, that you would meet Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals. But if you were playing him in the first round - of course that's unrealistic because you're both seeded - but the point of the question is, do you feel like you're emotionally ready for a match like that now? You played Andy twice, but Andy is your generation. Here's Agassi, 33, an icon in the game.

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think so. But, you know, I mean, I might go out there and play him tomorrow if I were playing him in the first round, like you said, and lose, you know, badly. Or, you know, it's all -- tennis these days, the depth is so, it's so big that anybody can go out there and play well. You saw Ancic go out there and play him well in the second round of the French. Who's to say -- I mean, if you asked him that same question right before he went out, who knows what he said. He probably would have said, "No, I'm not ready for this but we'll go out and see what happens." I mean, anything can happen. I think I've showed in the past few months that I think I'm ready to play a big match like that, but who's to say I'll go out there and beat him or, you know, give him a close match.

Q. I only saw the final of Cincinnati on television. Did you play serve and volley throughout the tournament?


Q. So it can be done?

MARDY FISH: Uh-hmm. I did, I tried -- that's what makes the game fun for me, is coming to the net. I love coming to the net whether it be on the serve or the return or ground stroke. That's my kind of fun tennis and I like to have fun, so that's why I do it.

Q. What do you know about your first round opponent? Sometimes it's a dicey situation to play a qualifier, especially a guy that's 6'6.

MARDY FISH: Yeah, first of all, playing qualifiers are not easy. I mean, it's definitely not, you know, an unbelievable draw, if you will, I think, coming in, winning three matches coming in. Somebody does that obviously has good confidence. But he did the same thing, and I played him in the first round of the Australian Open this year. I think I beat him like maybe 3, 5 and 2 or something like that. Definitely wasn't an easy match. I don't know if you know, down in Australia, he's Swedish, and down in Australia there are a lot of Swedish guys down there. So that was not an easy match. We played on an outside court, it was just packed full of yellow and blue. Hopefully, they'll be cheering for me out there tomorrow and give him a little taste of what I had in Australia. We played Juniors together. We played doubles together in Juniors. He's a great guy and a friend of mine, and I'm looking forward to playing him and starting the tournament.

Q. You had some big wins and letdowns. In Cincinnati you showed you could keep a string alive. Where does that come from? Is it just experience? Where does it come from?

MARDY FISH: I've been working on -- in Australia, having that big win and then losing to Ferreira, I mean, it's kind of mental, I think. I hadn't really brought that up at all or thought about that at all. I didn't think about it at all, to be honest with you, at all in Cincinnati, you know, when I beat Philippoussis. In my opinion, that's a big win for me. Then to go out and play Xavier Malisse who I'm ranked ahead of, who's a great player obviously, but go out there and beat him shows that -- shows me that I know that I should beat players like that and I can consistently. And then follow it up with Clement, who's Top 30, and then Nalbandian who's been playing awesome this summer, then Schuettler's been playing amazing. Then to almost win it with Andy, it's almost like a storybook tournament for me in a sense that, yeah, maybe it was like -- maybe it was like, you know, I was finally getting that luck that I didn't get in Australia or that I didn't -- maybe I had a little bit of bad luck...

Q. Weren't you up two sets to love on Ferreira, though?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I was. Let's not talk about that, though (smiling).

Q. That volley?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I missed a volley that I could have made. I had a little letdown there, but we won't talk about that either. And, you know, maybe I just -- I mean, I know -- had to have been a lot of luck involved and, hopefully, there was a little bit of skill involved as well to win all those matches in a row. But I don't know, I lost my train of thought there (laughter)... I lost the question.

Q. There's a lot of talk about what Brad's brought to Andy's game. What's Kelly brought to your game?

MARDY FISH: I've been saying all along, when I get that question, I don't know if I could put my finger on it. I mean, we're having a lot of fun. I'm having a lot of fun on the practice court, playing matches. You know, he keeps me loose. I think one thing -- one aspect of his coaching style brings to my game well is that he -- when he played, we played almost identical. He did a lot of serve and volleying, he loved to come to the net, he tried to get to the net whenever he could. He had great volleys. He was No. 1 in doubles. I love playing doubles. So in that aspect I think he brings a lot to the table. He had an awesome forehand, and my forehand is not awesome, so he can help me with that (smiling). He has helped me with that. He's helped me with my serve. You know, we're kind of realizing, I think, that we can't do everything in one day and that we're doing little things, you know, to kind of gradually get up there and hopefully get into the Top 10 or Top 5 where hopefully I can get.

Q. Would you jump out of an airplane with a parachute?

MARDY FISH: I don't know. Andy's asked me to do it. I tell him the same question that James, when James asked me to do it, because James likes doing it, too, I don't like putting my life in jeopardy any more than I have to, so I don't really feel like jumping out of an airplane is that big a deal to me. So I don't think you'll see me do it very often - if ever.

Q. Final question. This is important, so think carefully. Packers or Vikings?

MARDY FISH: Oh, my God, come on. Are you serious?

Q. Yeah.

MARDY FISH: Vikings. Packers are a joke, so bad (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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