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March 16, 2004

Mardy Fish


Q. How are you feeling after this match?

MARDY FISH: A little frustrated just 'cause, you know, I had a few chances not really to win the set, but chances to stay in the set, in the first set. The second set he played great. You know, but that 4-5 game, you know, it's just frustrating to play a bunch of good points all the way until the last shot and then miss the easiest one, you know, or miss the one -- hit the wrong shot at the wrong time - maybe like instead of going to his backhand, hitting it to his forehand, trying to catchh him off guard. He's there. He just puts so much pressure on you. He's just constantly, just constantly pressuring you. That's why he's so good.

Q. Clearly it wasn't your A game, or maybe it was. Can you give yourself a grade on your performance?

MARDY FISH: I mean, I played great at times. I think the first set was pretty high quality, maybe from like 2-All on. We were kind of feeling each other out in the first four games probably. Maybe a little shaky. You know, after that in the first set, it was good quality. I mean, I played a good game that 4-5 game up until I had game points. I had a bunch of breakpoints against me, played good points, hit good serves on those. Those were obviously good. You know, just didn't -- I mean, him just constantly pressuring me, you know, he just gets you a little tight, a little nervous in those types of situations. The second set, I mean, he played great. Hit a topspin backhand around the net. That was an unbelievable shot. I mean, I had one breakpoint. That was my shining moment. So, I don't know, maybe a B minus. I mean, I have to play well to get five games against the guy. I mean, you saw in the first round against Pavel, he got two games. I got five games.

Q. Is he the toughest guy you've faced this year?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, by far. Maybe not by far. But, I mean, he's definitely the best player in the world. He's obviously showing it. I mean, he just consistently beats guys, you know, in the -- I'm ranked 19. You know, I didn't play that badly today, and he beat me 4-1. He consistently beats the guys that he should beat relatively easily every time.

Q. How is he different from the Federer you faced at Wimbledon where you did take a set off him there?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I played an unbelievable set that set that I took off him. I mean, I don't really remember that much about how he was playing. I mean, I remember he was playing great. I can't really tell if he was playing better now as opposed to back then. I would assume that he's playing a little bit better now just because he's gaining more and more confidence. I mean, he's just so confident out there on the court. So, yeah, as far as that set, that was like the best set I ever played and I won 6-4.

Q. What is the mindset that you go into a match against Federer, world No. 1?

MARDY FISH: You have to go in thinking you can win the match.

Q. Did you do that today?

MARDY FISH: I certainly did, yeah. I definitely did. I mean, I played him twice before and played him pretty tough. Took that set off him at Wimbledon, then lost to him 3-6 in Madrid. I was up a break in the second set in that match. I knew that I could play with him, and I just have to kind of get over that hump of, you know, winning that tiebreaker, winning that 4-5 game, getting that breakpoint to go my way.

Q. Has there been any talk with Pat about the Davis Cup, how that's going to be decided or when?

MARDY FISH: No, I haven't talked to him personally at all about Davis Cup. I mean, we talk about some of the matches, some of the match-ups, what he thinks, what I think. But we haven't talked anything really. We talked a little bit today about the court, you know, how it's going to be down there. I mean, I don't know. I couldn't tell you who's going besides Andy and the Bryans. I'd love to go, though, obviously.

Q. Do you think Roger Federer is a great deal less recognized in this country than abroad?

MARDY FISH: Sure, yeah. I mean, tennis in the United States is not nearly as big as it is in other parts of the world, especially Europe and Australia. I mean, I would assume in Switzerland, I read something today, he's the Michael Jordan of Switzerland. That's pretty big. And in Europe, with tennis so big in Europe, I think it's the second biggest sport behind soccer, I would imagine he's pretty well-known over there, too.

Q. He was talking to us that some guys come up and talk to him in the locker room. He seemed to enjoy that. Have you had some banter, chatted at all?

MARDY FISH: Sure, yeah. He's a fun guy. You know, he never seems like he's down. He's a very approachable guy, that's for sure. He likes to joke around. He's always laughing and stuff. Yeah, he's very easy to joke around with.

Q. What was it that persuaded you to appoint Kelly Jones as your coach?

MARDY FISH: I think we did a little trial basis just before the US Open in the Bronx challenger and in Long Island in 2002. I won the Bronx challenger, I made the quarters of Long Island. We just kind of had fun. We really clicked. He played a lot like I do now. I think he had a lot to say. He brought a lot to the table in that aspect of where, you know, he knew how I needed to play. You know, he knew -- because he played like that when he was playing.

Q. If each match is a learning experience, what do you take away from this one?

MARDY FISH: You know, just that I know that I'm there. I know that I'm there, and I just got to get over that hump. The score doesn't really indicate it. I mean, the first set was more of tennis that hopefully I'm going to be used to playing. The second set, obviously he blew me away. I don't really even know if I played that bad. It was so quick, I don't even remember. But the first set, you know, that's the type of tennis that I need to keep playing. Some of those shots at the end of the points where I play the great point, get the short ball, I need to hit the right shot there. Hopefully it's only a matter of time. I don't know.

Q. When you're playing somebody with an all-around game, is it more important to execute than to have certain strategy?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think so. I think -- you know, I mean, he's got all the shots. You know, it's really tough to pick on one shot of his. You know, I mean, you got to obviously stay away from his forehand because he's got, in my opinion, one of the best forehands in the world. So I try as much when I play him to get to his backhand. That's where your question comes in. I have a short ball, and I think that he thinks I'm going to go to his backhand, so I think he's cheating over to his backhand, and he's not, so I hit it down the line. Backhand down the line, he's there on a forehand passing shot. It's one of those where I kind of get ahead of myself. I have to go and try to play his weakness, if you call it a weakness at all, towards his strengths, which is his forehand.

End of FastScripts….

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