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August 19, 2004

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: First question for Mardy, please.

Q. How do you feel?

MARDY FISH: I feel great. I feel I was a little nervous there in the end, as you could probably see and tell. But it didn't occur to me that he would have been nervous as well, and he obviously was. You know, and he had -- he definitely had his chances there in the end, and luckily I pulled through. I'm excited. You know, I want to win the gold. I'm two more matches away. Fernando Gonzalez is standing in the way of a medal, a guaranteed medal, and I'm really excited.

Q. Two hard-fought matches before this. Was that any concern? Those were long, grueling matches.

MARDY FISH: Not at all. I'm in the best shape I've ever been. I'm moving great on the court. I'm feeling very confident. So, I mean, it wasn't -- you know, we have good trainers working for the US, for the US team, period, the Olympic team. They have a bunch of trainers back in the village luckily to take care of us. I saw the chiropractor yesterday just to make sure my back was okay and got a little massage. I'll do the same tonight and I'll be fine for tomorrow, for sure.

Q. Looks like you're -- looks like your game is getting better and you're getting more confidence every set, every point almost. Can you talk about how your game seems to be coming together this far from home?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, well, I don't think it has anything to do with far from home. I've said all along, it all starts with me with my serve. And, you know, if I can hold serve, and I've been -- you know, one of the big things this week is I've been returning really well. You know, I returned great yesterday against a really big server and broke him, you know, I think maybe four or five times. And that's -- you know, that's good to break somebody with that good of a serve-and-volley game, you know, four times. That gave me a lot of confidence today. I mean, today, his serve out there today compared to yesterday was looking like a beach ball for me.

Q. Have you played Gonzalez?

MARDY FISH: No, I've never played him before but I, you know -- we're the same age. He might be a year older than me. I've watched him play Juniors all through, watched him play Andy a couple -- yesterday. So, I mean, I'm excited, you know. I'm definitely -- I definitely think I have the game to beat him on this type of surface. I mean, it's a fast hard court. You know, I'm gonna go out there and try to, you know, attack and play my style of tennis against his, you know, kind of clay courter/baseline-type game, which, I mean, obviously he's playing well. So you can't beat Grosjean and Roddick, and look how he's doing in doubles. Yesterday he had the day of his life. He beat Andy Roddick and then he beat the Bryan brothers in doubles. Can't get any better than that.

Q. Now things are getting kind of serious. Does the medal look more real as you get closer?

MARDY FISH: It definitely does. It's right there in front of me. I keep saying to myself, you know, "This is your time - hopefully." I'm trying to bluff myself through it and say, "This is your time." You know, I've had some bad luck this summer with some injuries and this year and, you know, maybe -- I've lost some close tiebreakers a lot in a row, and, you know, I've won a few this week. And maybe, you know, I was thinking to myself that maybe everything is gonna -- all the downs are gonna ball up into one big good, and hopefully this is it.

Q. Can you talk about some of the frustrations you obviously had with the umpire tonight.

MARDY FISH: Oh, well, the umpire, Molina, is a very, very good umpire. He calls them -- he calls them like he sees them. My only concern was the... Let's see. Why was I acting like a baby (smiling)? I don't know. It's tough. I mean, it's Olympics, you know. I tell him -- every argument that I've had with every ref this week, which is probably every match, I said, "This is not a normal tournament. This is the Olympics and I'm not going to treat it like a normal tournament so you better make the right calls, and I'm gonna try and play, do my best, you try to do your best." You know, I understand it's part of the game, and I'm starting to realize that more and more, and I'm hopefully getting better and better at it. I mean, I do think he's one of the best umpires out there.

Q. I think you lost eight straight points. A couple of those were questionable calls. Is that a time that before you would have come unglued?

MARDY FISH: Possibly. Possibly. I wasn't aware of the eight points, luckily. But it -- yeah, I mean, a couple years ago I probably would have come undone there and, you know, luckily I got it back and played a couple good games. I think I broke him maybe the next game, you know, maybe the next couple games, three games later, something like that. Yeah, I'm definitely getting better. I hope that I'll get even better at it. I mean, it's tough because it's the Olympics. It's just I'm competitive. Gimme a break (smiling).

Q. Where do you rate your next match?

MARDY FISH: This is the biggest of my life. I've said this match today was the biggest of my life. I've said -- yeah, I mean, I definitely said that the match today -- I remember like thinking that to myself this morning riding over in the bus, "This is definitely the biggest match of my career. These are all the biggest matches of my career." Hopefully I'll have two more. I will have two more. You have to play third and fourth, right? These next two matches are the biggest matches of my life, to answer your question (laughing).

Q. You're not overlooked but you're overshadowed by Andy. You said yourself he is like a celebrity among celebrities in the Olympic village. Can you talk about what it means on this big stage that you're the one who's still here, this may be your week, like you said? Is that possible to keep that out of your mind? Can it make you more nervous, more determined?

MARDY FISH: I don't really -- to be honest, I don't really think anything about it. I mean, I would love to be playing Andy tomorrow, yeah. That would be really, really cool. We kind of looked, and it's tough not to look and see what side Andy's on, and I'm sure he does the same thing to see what side I'm on. I definitely saw that I was on his side. You know, I mean, I kind of was dreaming about, you know, making the semifinals of this tournament, then playing Andy. I mean, who would have thought that he would have lost to Gonzalez, you know, on a fast -- on a court that favors him. You know, Taylor is still in, too. It's kind of like a Davis Cup type format now.

Q. When that happens, when Andy does lose, do you feel like, "Okay, this is a moment I really have to take advantage of"?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, it's tough not to think about -- I mean, if Federer loses or Andy Roddick loses in the same week, it's a wide-open tournament. There are a lot of unbelievable players, but those guys are kind of -- especially on this type of surface. I mean, if it's a different type of surface, if it's clay, then there's a lot of good players. This type of surface, those guys lose, and this tournament's wide open. Look at the draw now, it's wide open. Anybody can win it. It's going to be any four of the guys that are left, if you would have said at the beginning of the tournament they would have won the gold medal, you would have been slapped - by me (smiling).

Q. Tennis is a individual sport, but you played a lot of team sports growing up. Do you think sort of the atmosphere of playing for your country, your team sort of brings out your best tennis?

MARDY FISH: Possibly. You know, but I'm starting to realize more and more that it's just not about me in these types of situations, especially, I mean, this type of situation and Davis Cup. It's not just about myself. It's about this one. It's about your country, and winning a medal and putting another number in the medal count. I think that would be really cool, you know, trying to get ahead of China, I think is right on our tail. You know, I mean, that was the goal kind of coming in, I think, was just to add to the -- you know, add to the tally of medals that all these unbelievable athletes have gotten for the United States. Yeah, I mean...

Q. Do you go back at night and check the info system and see what the medal tally is?

MARDY FISH: I do. But when you sign on to the computers, it pops up right there, like on the home page. You can always see it.

Q. Kelly here with you?


Q. What's that like here, coming out here?

MARDY FISH: I've kept in touch with Kelly. I've talked to him every day about every match that I've had. It's not easy not having your coach here. Definitely you get into a routine week in, week out. Kelly does an unbelievable job, in my opinion, that he takes care of everything. I don't need to worry about anything except for playing. And, you know, I wish that he's here, but, you know, unfortunately, with like the security and the, you know, the badges are pretty tight to get here. So it wasn't ideal for him to come. But, you know, I have Patrick, who has, you know, seen me play quite a few times and knows my game, you know, very well. And has a lot of insight to what he thinks I should be doing. It just so happens that it's the same type of stuff that Kelly thinks as well, so that helps.

Q. Tommy Haas had talked earlier, when he was talking about the Olympics, that he went into 2000 and he felt like his game was so-so. Then he got to Sydney and he felt like he was just transformed. He got kind of caught up in everything. He felt like it took his game to another level. Is that what's happening with you? Did you feel like your game coming in was at a high level?

MARDY FISH: Well, it's tough to -- it's tough to say that I felt like I was playing really well. I mean, I hadn't had any good tournaments. So I'd be lying to you if I said I was playing great tennis coming into this tournament. I mean, I felt like I was capable of playing good tennis. I felt 100% physically. You know, I mean, I go back in the village, into the lounge, I see all these athletes that, you know, don't make any money doing their sport, and they're better than I am. And, you know, I'm just -- we're so spoiled getting -- you know, getting paid what we get paid to, you know, play this game. You know, I go back there and I sit down and I see the guy who -- I think it was Paul Hamm, who won the gold medal, and, you know, he's just a normal guy there. You know, he's probably a national hero when he goes back home. But over here, he's just another guy with another medal. And, you know, kind of like a teammate type, you know. And everybody's so friendly. It's so much fun. I can't really describe it.

Q. Can you talk about adding to the medal count. Is that the fact that you and Taylor...

MARDY FISH: We're guaranteed one medal, yeah.

Q. Does that play on your mind at all? Does it enter your thoughts?

MARDY FISH: What's that?

Q. The fact that you basically are carrying the hopes for US tennis.

MARDY FISH: No, I mean, we're winning plenty medals elsewhere. It's nice to be able to add to, you know, the medals. I'd like to add myself, but unfortunately that's not the case yet. Hopefully. But, you know, we're definitely guaranteed one medal. I mean, it's not really a competition, though. That's the thing with everybody over there. Everybody's rooting for everybody. You should see it when we go back and we turn on, like, women's volley ball and everybody's crowded around the couches and TVs just cheering and yelling like for every point. It's Judo guys and track and field guys and everybody, whether they know volley ball or not. I don't know anything about volley ball. I think women's volley ball is so, so exciting. I'm gonna try to go when I'm done.

Q. Do people bring their medals in, like if you're in the lounges?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, Blaine Wilson had his medal. He actually -- Andy and him went to the softball game today, the women's softball game. He had his medal in his pouch thing. I put it around my neck. It was pretty heavy. Actually, it was really heavy. But, yeah, and then another one of the gymnasts brought his down and showed us all. Everybody's so humble and so nice. It's really amazing.

Q. One of your closest friends, Andy, won obviously the Open. Now you're looking at these guys who have won gold, silver, bronze, what whets your appetite more: The US Open or the gold medal?

MARDY FISH: That's a very, very good question. I mean, obviously, ranking-wise it would be better to win the US Open. You know, people have asked me, "What would you rather do, win the gold medal or win a Grand Slam?" I've always said I think it would be really cool to stand on the podium with a gold medal around your neck, playing the National Anthem, with one of those stupid-looking ring things around your head. Just kidding. I'm just kidding (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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