August 27, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
Q. Can you talk about what it means to get to the second round when people are dropping like flies on the men's side?
MARDY FISH: They're dropping? I don't know. I haven't seen hardly any results.
Q. Six players have retired in the first round.
MARDY FISH: Really?
Q. Seven now.
MARDY FISH: I mean, compared to the Bronx, I think this is nothing. I mean, I played there. Obviously, this is three out of five. I had some long points today. I mean, I'm sure the guys -- James had a really long match yesterday. The guy that he played just doesn't miss. That's a special occasion in a long, four-set match. You can get a little tired there. Who else?
Q. Philippoussis today.
MARDY FISH: Well, he got hurt, though, didn't he?
Q. Right. Ancic, Krajicek.
MARDY FISH: Krajicek was early.
Q. I'm trying to think who else today. They set or tied a record for the entire US Open, the number of players that have withdrawn.
MARDY FISH: Really? I guess it feels pretty good to get through and not get hurt or anything like that.
Q. Talk about what it means to finally get through the first round instead.
MARDY FISH: It feels great. This is obviously one of my favorite tournaments, one of the biggest tournaments of the year. The points are a lot more in the Grand Slams. That's what I'm looking for right now, just getting more points and getting more experience in these type of environments. I think I did that today. I have no idea who I play now, but I think I play a seed, if he wins, I'm sure. You know, I would be the underdog obviously and have nothing to lose. I'll just get more experience and see if I can pull out an upset.
Q. Do you feel like this is an important year in your career? You had mentioned earlier, how much longer do you get to be the young, promising kid.
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, I hate to say like 21 wouldn't be young in tennis, but the younger guys, like Robby and myself are the youngest guys, Robby Ginepri and myself are the youngest guys. I don't know if there's any guys younger than Robby, like 17, 18, around there. I haven't heard of any yet. I think we'll be the rookies, they'll call us, for a couple more years maybe - hopefully.
Q. How elated are you after your two previous opportunities here?
MARDY FISH: I mean, like I said, I'm not looking to just win like one round here. I mean, I've been playing well coming in, beating guys in the top 60, 70, 80 pretty convincingly in the past couple weeks. You know, I think I'm ready to step up to the next level and play a guy like I played last week, Chela, who I played really tough, was up a break in both sets, felt like I should have done a little bit better than that, at least won one set. You know, just to step up my game a little bit and beat one of those guys.
Q. When you're making your travel plans for this tournament, how do you do that?
MARDY FISH: I usually get it for like the first weekend or something like that. If you have to change it, then great.
Q. Your thinking is like, "Hopefully, I'm going to have to change it to extend it"?
MARDY FISH: I guess so. I mean, we're not really worried about our flight reservations too much.
Q. It's psychological.
MARDY FISH: I guess. We make our flight arrangements, like, a long time in advance. We made a bunch of them. I think I made mine all the way until the end of the year already, so I don't even know when mine is supposed to be.
Q. Is it just a matter of getting stronger, psychologically, for those big points? What is the hurdle that you need to get across?
MARDY FISH: As far as playing like the higher guys?
Q. Making that step to just be able -- instead of just being competitive, but winning.
MARDY FISH: I think it's playing the big points, not playing stupid is what I usually do. Just hit smart shots. If I can serve well and take care of my serve games well, like I did today, I think I will be pretty hard to beat because I return really well. I returned well today. The guy served great. In the first two sets, he served awesome. I was lucky to win at all in the first two sets. Then I got down a break. I clicked from there. I didn't lose my serve after that. I didn't really think I came too close to losing my serve after that. I was pretty happy about that.
Q. What else did you do today well?
MARDY FISH: I hit my backhand return well, I think. Yeah, I hit that well. I felt like I need to come to the net a little bit more off the ground. But all in all, my forehand was a little shaky - actually, really shaky today. Hopefully, I can get that better. You know, just serve, taking care of my serve games was really good today, especially against a guy like that, where I can hold serve convincingly and work on the return games.
Q. What is the situation on your coach? Where do you stand?
MARDY FISH: I recently split up with Brad Stine. These past two weeks, I've been working with Kelly Jones, who works for the USTA. Pretty soon, going to Asia in the end of September, I'm going to start working with Richard Schmidt. He used to work for the USTA. He traveled with Pete Sampras a little bit this year. He's a really good guy. He knows a lot.
Q. Will that be permanent or could you be switching between Kelly and him?
MARDY FISH: No, I think that's pretty permanent. It's not, obviously, 100%. If I do switch to him from Kelly or from the USTA, then it would be permanent. I mean, it's nice, because Brad lived in California. It was tough. The off weeks are really important as far as getting better and working on your game. It was tough for me to do that when he was out in California and I was in Florida. Richard Schmidt lives in Orlando, I live in Tampa. It's only an hour away. It's really nice.
Q. Playing a seed in the second round, might be looser than playing them in the first round.
MARDY FISH: For sure. Just getting a match under your belt gives you confidence. Beating anybody in this tournament will give you confidence. I don't care if you're Hewitt or you're the last guy in. If you win a match, you know, everybody is really good, so good in this tournament. Anybody can beat anybody on a given day. So, yeah, definitely. I've never been in the second round, so I don't know. It's definitely going to be different, and hopefully it will be better.
Q. Better payday, too.
MARDY FISH: Yup.
Q. Tennis, more than, even, golf, has no off-season anymore. Do you think the sport would benefit from having a month?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. Now there are some tournaments where you can play -- I think the last tournament ends the end of November. There is a possibility that you can play up until the end of November. But I think, like, the tour season where all the top guys play, I think they end like early November. They have almost two months, depending on what you're doing in Australia, when you're going. They've got a couple months. It's not like it's a couple weeks like I had last year. I had like three and a half weeks, then I went back to Australia to play qualifying in Adelaide. I left, like, on Christmas Day. Hopefully, I won't have to do that this year. I can spend Christmas with my family at least.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.