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March 22, 2006

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mardy, please.
Q. That's obviously a good win considering you've been working all week already.
MARDY FISH: Uhm, yeah. Yeah. He's, if you followed some of his results in the past few weeks and stuff, he wins a lot of matches. He's not easy to play. I did beat him once before, but it was a tough match, but it was a couple years ago. It seems like everybody I play was a couple years ago.
But, again, it's nice to be back. This is the first time in a while that I've won three matches in a row, so I'm excited.
Q. How critical is this tournament for you in terms of positioning your ranking for the clay court season so you can get into tournaments over in Europe?
MARDY FISH: Well, I don't think I'm going to get into anything in Europe. You know, I lost basically everything but a hundred points or 120 points. So I haven't looked at my ranking at all, but I'm guessing it's around 300.
Q. 256.
MARDY FISH: Thank you, Charlie, for telling me that.
I mean, that's not going to get me into anything over there unless I go and play quallies, and I'd rather stay over here and try to earn my way through the challengers and stuff like that.
Q. You'd rather not play the quallies in Europe then?
MARDY FISH: In where?
Q. In Europe.
MARDY FISH: Well, on clay. I mean, I'm going to go -- I have full intentions of going and playing the quallies on grass, if I don't get in.
But every match that I win seems to help my ranking more and more. The lower I am, the higher I go with every match. So it definitely helps.
Q. So let me understand, if you say it comes down to a matter of qualifying for Barcelona or Rome or wherever versus playing challengers over here --
MARDY FISH: I'll play challengers, yeah.
Q. Do you know when the last time was you won three in a row?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. I have to think.
Probably the Olympics, you know. 'Cause after the Olympics, I played a few Masters Series and won rounds and everything, but never won three, you know. That's a little bit tougher competition than playing in the qualifying.
But nevertheless, it's still a win's a win.
Q. How do you feel about your game right now?
MARDY FISH: I feel good. I mean, I feel fit. I worked really hard when I was off, you know, 'cause that was really all I could do - off the court. I feel strong. It's just a matter of putting points together and kind of remembering how I played and trying to get to the net and trying to play the way that I played my best. That's, you know, coming to the net, playing aggressive. I'm getting better and better at it and learning more and more.
Q. You're with Todd Martin?
Q. What does he bring?
MARDY FISH: He brings a lot. I mean, he's been in every situation that I can imagine. Whenever I have a question about anything that happens, that has to do with tennis, he's the first one that I call or the first one that I talk to. You know, he's very knowledgeable and we play -- or I like to think that I play a similar style to his, when he played.
I think he has a lot to offer for me. I think that, you know, I play similar, like I said, but I didn't have the mental game like he did, and I think that's where he can help me the most, and he has -- he has a lot. We made good strides, and hopefully it will keep going.
Q. How long have you been working with him?
MARDY FISH: We started in 2005, but it kind of cut short and really didn't give us much of a chance in that year so we kind of started over this year.
Q. Is it possible for you to quantify how much fitter you are today than you were a year ago? Does it come down to how much you weight lift?
MARDY FISH: No, it's not so much weightlifting. I've gotten stronger, but I've trimmed down a little bit and just, you know, I mean, I had 10 months. That's, you know, usually you have a month and a half at the end of the year, really, to really work on your body and work on your fitness level to get it better and better because the year's so long and it's not really spaced out very well. So there's a week off here, two weeks there at the max.
So, you know, I had -- I mean, after the second surgery, I had five months to go nonstop, and I did. It's, you know, it's paid off. Again, like I feel really good on the court physically. I love playing down here. I love the heat. I grew up in Florida, so I'm used to this weather.
Q. So you've dropped a little bit of weight, you feel physically stronger. How does that translate on the court?
MARDY FISH: Staying in points longer. I'm able to stay in points longer. Just mentally, confidence. I can play with a clay-courter on clay, I feel like. I can, you know, play with someone like Nadal, play long points with him, and then try to work my way into, you know, the net. But, again, I have to play my style of play. My style of play is not staying way back behind the baseline; it's coming into the net and playing aggressive. I have to kind of find the thin line between those two.
Q. What did the Nadal match tell you about your game?
MARDY FISH: You know what, I hadn't hit -- I haven't hit with him before, before that. I never, you know -- I've seen him play, obviously, but I've never played him and I never practiced with him so I didn't really know what to expect. I went out there and he was a lot better than I thought he was. But, again, I thought that I played better than I thought I was going to play.
You know, he played awfully well in the first set and I didn't think I played that badly. You know, there were a little bit of nerves in there again because I haven't played a match like that, you know, a night match, in a long time, and just a match on a big court in a long time. So it took a little bit of getting used to.
I felt I played well in the second set, had a few chances, held serve all the way to 4-5, and he won a long game at 4-5 and that's it. That's the reason why he's one of the best.
Q. Can you talk about James Blake and how he's playing right now. You guys know each other real well.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I know him pretty well. He's, you know, playing great. It's just --
Q. What's the difference?
MARDY FISH: He just has a world of confidence, you know. Everybody knows he's got a big game and he's talented enough to beat anybody in the world. It's just a matter of, for him, and he'll be the first one to tell you, putting it all together consistently. Because he can definitely play. You know, we saw flashes, you know, against Hewitt at the Open a couple years ago. He made third round at the Open and lost to Federer a couple times -- or one year, I can't remember when that was. So you saw flashes of him being able to play this type of tennis. But consistently was the key for him.
You know, he just got on a roll. He's just on a roll. His confidence is sky-high. You know, he feels like he can beat anybody - and he can.
Q. It's easy to take competing for granted when you do it all your life. You've had long and I'm sure at times very tedious rehab. How much do you appreciate just the sheer act of --
MARDY FISH: Competing again? Yeah, that was one thing that I missed. I love to compete at anything that I do, and it was really good, even, I mean -- I got my butt kicked the first three times that I played, the first two times and then Andy's match in Memphis when I lost 7-6 in the third, it was my third match back.
But the first two matches I lost pretty bad, but it was still, you know -- it was still really good to be out there, just to be competing. I forgot. I mean, to be honest, I forgot a lot about it. I missed it a lot. You know, I'm starting to get it back more and more, starting to be more aggressive mentally, you know, just trying to stay in every game. That's where it comes in with the fitness, with doing it with Pat Etcheberry for eight months or ten months, to be able to stay in games when I'm down Love-40 and still try to come back. I'm doing that better than I was before my injury.
Q. How do you keep from getting bored, though? All those reps.
MARDY FISH: I mean...
Q. Do you have games in your head, when you're rehabbing?
MARDY FISH: It wasn't easy. I went through times where I would practice for 15 minutes a day just because I just -- it was, you know -- I knew I had four months left before I was playing. But I still stuck with it off the court. That was the main thing and that's what I'm most proud about, or proud of, because I could have, you know -- I mean, the only thing I could do was hit forehands and hit serves. That gets old after a while. So I stuck with everything off the court, and I'm happy that I did because it's, you know, paying off.
Q. This win is important for you, but can we get to the really key question: Culpepper, Dolphins. Good move or bad, and why?
MARDY FISH: I think Brad Johnson is my new favorite quarterback now.
Q. How did you feel about this trade?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. I mean, if Culpepper plays like he did last year, then it's an okay trade. If he played like the year before, then it's a steal.
Q. I know you grew up in Florida, Vero Beach.
MARDY FISH: Vero Beach.
Q. You say you love this tournament. What is special about this tournament for players? What makes it distinctive?
MARDY FISH: Well, it's close to home. For me, it's close to home, and a lot of my family and friends can come. They don't get to come very often, they don't get to watch very often live.
I just love playing in Florida, you know. I love these courts. I've grown up -- I played the Orange Bowl here. I practiced a lot here over the time with the USTA. You know, it's nice to be close to home, for me.
Q. For you. A lot of players seem to like it. Does it have a different feel from other tournaments?
MARDY FISH: There's a lot of Spanish-speaking players on tour as well, and they speak a lot of Spanish here in Miami. They feel like home. A lot of people have homes here. There's a lot of players that live here or around here. It's close. It's easy to get to. It's easy to get in and out of. I think everybody enjoys it. It's not every week that we go to Miami. There's a lot to do here, and there's a lot -- it's a fun week. People get really excited to play here, and people get really excited -- the fans get really excited to come watch us play.
Q. You played against Gonzalez and Massu in the Olympics. Now, the United States have to play against Chile in Davis Cup. Do you think the United States, it's a big favorite, because the match will be played on grass?
MARDY FISH: I would say so, but I would say it would be the other way if it was played on clay. But, I mean, I would say the Americans were the favorite just being at home, being on grass. I don't think they're very comfortable on grass. Obviously, Andy Roddick likes Wimbledon, making the finals there the last couple years so...
Q. Do you think the Chilean guys will grow tennis here?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, every time you're playing for Davis Cup, you play for your country. You kind of throw out all the records and, you know, you saw a couple years ago Alex Corretja beat Pete Sampras on grass, so you never know what can happen.

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