August 25, 2003
NEW YORK CITY
Q. Good way to start things off, Mardy.
MARDY FISH: Yeah. You know, fairly winnable match on paper, you know. I felt great out there. My serve was working. You know, kind of cliche, but happy to go to the second round, and looking forward to another match out here.
Q. Opening round of the US Open is always special, perhaps even more so today in that it's the end of an era with Pete. Any thoughts on Pete's run, and also you being one of the young Americans.
MARDY FISH: As far as Pete, I mean, I grew up watching him play, winning all those Wimbledons and US Opens and Australian Opens. Grew up idolizing him. Got lucky enough to play him one time. You know, I think if you ask me if there's one person that I would love to play, it would be him, I think. You know, his Grand Slam titles speak for themselves. You know, as far as the guys coming up, you know, there's a lot of talent, but I don't think -- you know, who is to say, but I don't think that we have somebody like that, that's for sure.
Q. They don't come around every day.
MARDY FISH: No, they don't.
Q. Can you talk about those cheering Fish Head people?
MARDY FISH: Sure, they were great. You know, it's great. It's cool to get recognition, I guess, you know, for your tennis. I don't think that has all to do with my tennis. I think it has a lot to do with my last name. There was something similar in Australia as well when I played my third-round match there. You know, they were great. It was awesome.
Q. Kind of had the football atmosphere. Do you think when you're playing it needs to be livened up a little bit more?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I thought it was cool they were playing music in between the changeovers. That doesn't happen very often. You know, kind of gets us into a more relaxed state, I guess. Kind of keeps the people into it, I guess, if it's a fairly boring match.
Q. Did you know those guys were going to be there?
MARDY FISH: No.
Q. It seems like there's become a general apathy in the States towards tennis. Back-page coverage. A lot of players need to be begged to play Davis Cup. Do you think something is missing in the way that tennis is clicking with the guy on the street in this country? If so, what would you attribute that to?
MARDY FISH: That's a good question. A lot has to do with marketing. The average person out there, you know, has no idea who I am, just to give an example. I'm 26 in the world. You know, a lot has to do with marketing in the United States. I mean, outside the United States, you know, you go to London and Hamburg and Rome, those places, those kids know everybody. It's exciting to play in front of people like that who know who you are. I mean, it's getting better. I think it can only get better. Like you said, Andy and I played a great match in Cincinnati, you know, it's on ESPN 2. It was live, at least. That was one thing that was good. I think we got a little slip in USA Today on the back page. "Oh, by the way," kind of thing. As far as you say about Davis Cup, I think Andre might be the only one who right now doesn't want to play. All the young guys want to play, that's for sure.
Q. What do you think can be done about it? Do you think the players can do anything about it themselves? Is it just such a full-time job concentrating on your tennis?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean it's tough. I think that we can kind of keep ourselves open to doing more press stuff, trying to promote the game. But you're kind of asking the wrong person. I'd love to promote the game. To answer your question, I think that's something that we can do. Not a lot of guys are into that. Most of the guys, they just want to play, you know, go back to the hotel. Unfortunately, that's not how to promote the game in the United States. They do a great job in Europe. There's always a lot of fans coming out to watch those matches. The US Open here, it's great, as well. I mean, they're breaking attendance records, I think. I'm under the assumption that they're breaking attendance records every year.
Q. Do you feel a higher level of enthusiasm when you're in Roland Garros or Australia than Cincinnati or other good tournaments?
MARDY FISH: Not really. Those are good examples that you gave for tennis in the United States. Cincinnati, they have an awesome atmosphere there. Here, as well, under the lights in the city, doesn't get any better than that. But, you know, some of the littler tournaments. I haven't really played, to be honest with you, too many in Europe. Like a Delray Beach or Scottsdale. You know, usually in those small tournaments you get real tennis fans, tennis fans who have a lot of knowledge of the game. It's fun to play in front of those people, as well.
Q. The Aussies play for country as well as themselves. Is there ever a feeling among the Americans that you're representing the United States of America when you're out there playing?
MARDY FISH: Sure. That's what makes Davis Cup so much fun for a lot of young guys - for all of us, actually. You know, we love the team aspect, we love playing for our country. I'm speaking for all them. Especially me, it's an honor to play for your country. I don't understand why anybody wouldn't want to play, you know, for your country, to answer your question.
Q. What has Patrick said to you about you earning that second single's spot?
MARDY FISH: I'm under the assumption that James and I are going to play off for it. He took five -- he took six guys, with Brian. It's tough to say. If James is better than me here, he gets to play. It's indoor clay. It's a totally different surface, a totally different game. You know, James might be better than me on clay. We're going to go over there and try to battle it out with each other.
Q. So will you play sort of a series of sets?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, we'll play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I'm sure we'll play all the time, or he'll play with other people, I'll play with other people. Whoever's playing better.
Q. What is the one aspect of Pete's game or demeanor that maybe is lost on people that aren't so knowledgeable about tennis but that you really admire and appreciate?
MARDY FISH: You know, I loved watching him. He would always get that one break in a set. I mean, obviously he wouldn't every time. But, you know, you rarely ever saw Pete get like a second break in a set. He just had so much confidence on his serve games to hold serve that, you know, he knew that all he needed was one break. Especially at Wimbledon, all he needed was one break, and he'd pretty much win the set every time. It was amazing to see somebody just with so much confidence. You know, he didn't have a serve that was like Roddick's or Rusedski's. Actually, Rusedski is a bad example. But like Andy's, just blows it by you. He could hit it if he wanted to, but he took a lot of pace off it and he placed it. There's nobody better, ever. I mean, I remember watching him at Saddle Brook when I trained when I was there when I was younger. He trained there. They'd put cones up for the serves. He would knock down the cones in 10 serves. It was amazing.
Q. What is the first memory you have of seeing Pete play?
MARDY FISH: I've watched tapes of him when he won his first US Open. I remember a lot of Wimbledon, when he won all those Wimbledons. I was lucky enough to play him in Indian Wells.
Q. Are you more disappointed or are you more surprised that at the level you're at right now people don't know who Mardy Fish is?
MARDY FISH: I'm not disappointed at all. It was last week when I went from 40 to 25, whatever. You know, I mean, I think it can only get better. You know, the more matches I win, the more people get to know who I am, people kind of get to know the name Fish.
Q. As you volley more and more, thinking back to Pete's positioning on the court for the first volley, did you sometimes wonder how he could be in a perfect position almost every time?
MARDY FISH: To be honest with you, not really.
Q. He just had the ability to sense where the ball was coming.
MARDY FISH: Yeah. If you watched a lot of Pete, he never -- nobody could ever get a lob over his head. You know, his net coverage after his first serve, he would get so tight, he would get back, knock off an overhead like nobody else. I mean, obviously I never really thought about it like that, thought about him in that way. He was an awesome athlete.
Q. Is it just instinct?
MARDY FISH: No. A lot of it has to do with instinct. He's a great athlete. A lot has to do with not very many returns are going to come back at his feet the way he serves. He puts the ball in the corner every time. It's not very often that somebody can put the ball at his feet, you know, every time. Most of the time he has volleys where they're above the net. Obviously, you have to be a great volleyer to make those volleys and knock them off. You know, he did them.
Q. Where did you get those tapes that you saw of him?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. Maybe I didn't watch tapes. I watched highlights, that would be the correct term.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.