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August 30, 2004

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Bit of a whirlwind, your experience the last few weeks.

MARDY FISH: Yeah, you know, I came over -- went over to Athens, you know, obviously just looking to have fun, to have a great experience, and, you know, to play a big tournament. Underneath it all, a lot of people have been asking me, you know, what would you rather do, win a gold medal or win a Grand Slam. I would prefer a gold medal around my neck with the National Anthem playing. You know, I think that would be the ultimate in sports for me. So, you know, I went over there with not too many expectations. I mean, I hadn't really had that many results, you know, coming off Cincinnati, there playing a pretty good match with Andre, having to pull out with my back. You know, it was disappointing. But, you know, I still got a little boost of confidence there knowing that I could still -- you know, that I could play with those guys, you know, I just needed to get healthy. You know, I strung a few matches together, and it's all history, I guess.

Q. How does that euphoria translate? Can that translate into this tournament?

MARDY FISH: Well, that's what I'm hoping. I mean, it's obviously a long ways away, but it's definitely a good opportunity. I mean, I've never had more confidence, you know, with my game. I really feel like I've finally figured out how I need to play. It's just a matter of executing. But I really, you know, feel like I went over there and really found a game plan that, you know, can work if I'm not serving well, because I didn't really serve my best over there. If you look at a lot of the tournaments that I've won or the finals that I've made, I've always served well. That tournament I really didn't serve my best, and I just -- I returned well and I played very solid from the baseline and I volleyed well. I came in a lot, put a lot of pressure on guys. So I really feel like if I can serve well and put it all together, you know, I figured out how to do it.

Q. Was it that you experimented with different game plans when your serve wasn't working, or you were reluctant to do that because you felt your serve would carry you?

MARDY FISH: No, I think it was kind of just a little bit missing. Kelly and I really didn't know what it was. You know, we always knew that I had to come to the net to win, you know, because there's a lot of guys who can beat me from the baseline, just from the baseline every point. I mean, I can win points, but not consistently, you know, with the Ferreros and guys like that. So, you know, I have to come in and put pressure on those guys, end the points quick, try not to give them too much rhythm. That's what I did in that match over there.

Q. With this new plan or method, is it a matter of a different plan of stroking?

MARDY FISH: No, not so much pattern. I think it's just -- well, maybe a little bit. You know, trying to come in a lot on the second serve returns, you know, just trying to, every short ball, trying to put pressure. In the past, I played guys like Mirnyi. Over there I played Mirnyi. I would resort to kind of hitting my serve and staying back, knowing that I could beat him from the baseline most of the time. But, you know, I was trying -- and then I'm not -- you know, I'm not being as aggressive as I should. You know, I went over there and played him, serve and volleyed on almost every point on the first serve. You know, it worked. And I think, you know, I just need to stay aggressive for me to win.

Q. Pete used to chip and charge a lot on second serves. Did you pick up any of that from him?

MARDY FISH: No. I mean, I don't really -- I can't really chip too good. But I can hit over on the backhand well. I try to stay 8-8 from the chips because I don't make too many of those.

Q. Where is the medal right now?

MARDY FISH: Right now it's in my locker because I have to do that thing tonight. I brought it. But before it was in the safe in the hotel.

Q. Do you have any expectations for this tournament? Patrick McEnroe predicted you to come out of your draw. What are your expectations?

MARDY FISH: Well, it's nice for P. Mack to put some pressure on me like that (smiling). No, I'd like -- I'd like to make the second week of a Grand Slam. I've made a couple third rounds and had some chances to get into the second week, and haven't converted on them. I mean, I have a lot of confidence. I mean, obviously you have to take it one match at a time. You can't look ahead. I mean, I've done that before, I've looked ahead and I've lost.

Q. There's a lot of expectations for someone to come and challenge Andy Roddick. Does that put more pressure on you? Do you feel like there's more pressure there?

MARDY FISH: No. I mean, I was -- you know, I was Top 20 for like a year. You know, I was a couple tournaments away from being up there in the Top 10, and I didn't really take advantage of that at that time. I feel like the Olympics has gotten me back on track. You know, if I can take advantage and really -- you know, when I'm playing well, do well in the tournaments, you know, try to scrap out some wins and try to play, you know, some good tennis against some really good players deep in a Grand Slam.

Q. In Athens, what was the most poignant moment you had over there that had nothing to do with tennis?

MARDY FISH: I think, I mean, it was just a bunch -- every day we went -- if we weren't playing at night, we went down and hung out in the lounge with all the athletes. You know, everybody was so nice. Everybody was, you know, so humble. You know, the opening ceremonies, you just met so many cool people. They're the elite at their sports. You know, Michael Phelps is in there all the time. He's the most humble guy you'll ever meet, and he won eight medals. I'm just happy with my one little medal, and he's got eight around his neck. That's amazing. You really feel -- I went, you know, after I won, after I won my semifinal match, I was guaranteed a medal. I went down there, I look around, there's like four or five people that have already won like three gold medals. I'm like, I have to win just to kind of do my part a little bit, you know. I was just happy that, you know, it was -- it wasn't like it was anything real special over there. Everybody was really excited and happy for me, obviously. But, you know, I just honestly felt like I was just doing my part really.

Q. What do you take out of the gold medal match?

MARDY FISH: Well, I mean, it was a fun match to play. You know, who knows if I'll ever get in that opportunity again. You know, five sets in the gold medal match, being up two sets to one, you know, it's a tough loss. It's tough to take a lot of positive out of it, you know, just because I felt like I played good tennis. I felt like at the end he beat me. I didn't really feel like I beat myself. So I really don't have a hard time -- you know, I felt like maybe in like Cincinnati when I lost that final to Andy, I was really disappointed, you know, because I felt like I could have taken it to him a little more, you know, when I had those match points or whatever. And I felt like I just gave it my all in the match, and I really, looking back, don't have any regrets about the match because I felt like I left everything I had out there.

Q. But with all that said, if you get into a similar situation here in a big match, do you think you have another level in you?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, perhaps. I mean, you know, that was the -- I was used to two out of three sets that week, all week. I would have liked that final to have been two out of three as well, because then I would have been off the court and celebrating. But, I mean, I got sidetracked a little bit. What was your question (smiling)?

Q. Basically you gave it your all. You felt like you performed.

MARDY FISH: Another level?

Q. Is there another level in you?

MARDY FISH: I mean, who knows. I'm yet to show myself or anybody else, you know, that I do. I mean, I feel like I can play good tennis against top players. You know, that's a good thing. You know, I feel like I can beat the top players. You know, it's just a matter of doing it in Grand Slams, in three out of five sets, in matches like that.

Q. Your next opponent might have been a preview of the Davis Cup, but Max lost. You'll be playing Michael Tabara who hasn't played here since 2001. His last match was against Justin Gimelstob, memorable match. Do you remember it at all?

MARDY FISH: I remember. I remember. I remember it was a long match. I don't remember what happened during the match, but I definitely remember something happened. But that's not surprising with Justin.

Q. You talked about comparing the Olympics and Grand Slam events. Where does the Davis Cup fit into that?

MARDY FISH: I mean, it's a huge priority for us, for all the guys. You know, there's nothing like playing for your country. You can't explain it. You know, I really felt like over there in Athens that I wasn't just playing for myself, you know, I was playing for my country, I was playing for the guys on the team, I was playing for, you know, everybody in the USA little village that we had back there. We had TVs back there in the lounge. And I felt like everybody -- I know that everybody was watching, you know, the semis and the finals, you know, back there in the lounge. I felt like I was playing for them, as well. It's no different with Davis Cup. I mean, you feel like if it's a home match, you're playing for everybody there, you know, in your country. You know, there's nothing better than that.

Q. What was the sensation for you like being the silver medalist, on the podium? Bittersweet?

MARDY FISH: It was tough. That was probably the toughest part of the entire time because I didn't want to be standing where I was standing. I wanted to be in the middle and I wanted to be singing the national anthem really, really loud. You know, the song, the Chilean national anthem is a beautiful song, but I really didn't want to hear it at the time (smiling). That was definitely the toughest part. But looking back - and I knew this at the time - looking back, you know, it was a great experience. It was a great experience, the whole trip. I'm sure even if Andy didn't win a medal, if you asked him, I guarantee you he would say the same exact thing.

Q. Players always say they don't want to look ahead, but sometimes you can't help it. Has it crept into your mind that it could be the Olympics and Davis Cup final in the same year?

MARDY FISH: I didn't really think about it, but I guess. I mean, it's doable. I mean, we really have a great opportunity here to beat Belarus and make the final in Davis Cup. You know, I would consider us definitely the favorites to win that match. You know, obviously if Spain wins, that would be a tough match to win, in Spain on clay, unless they put it on grass or something like that - that would be nice (smiling). But, yeah, I mean, that would, you know, be an unbelievable year.

Q. To develop a kinship with people outside of the sport of tennis, you spend your life competing in one sport, but to be part of an event with swimmers, gymnasts, track and field stars, do you come away thinking, "My God, I'd love to do that again"?

MARDY FISH: Sure, yeah. Like you said, it was a great opportunity. You know, I had an unbelievable experience over there meeting so many cool people. You know, Andy and I hung out with Blaine Wilson, the gymnast, a bunch. Rulon Gardner, who is an unbelievable guy. Loves tennis. We were watching Andy's match against Haas. "I can't believe this. Never sit so close before. Never sit so close before." We were like the 15th row up (laughter). So many good friendships, you know, that I've made. Some Judo guys. They were really, really nice. You know, you find yourself going down there just to try to find people just to talk with them and hang out with them during the week.

Q. Do you think any of those relationships will last?

MARDY FISH: I've got a couple numbers from some guys; not some girls. I got Blaine Wilson, he's going to try to come here. He's in Connecticut I think right now. They have like their little tour. I think he's in Mohegan Sun pretty soon, so he's going to try to get up. Rulon, he said if we're ever near Wyoming, which we won't be...

Q. Don't go snowmobiling with him.

MARDY FISH: I hung out with him four times, and I heard the story like four times. He showed me his toe, and I didn't want to see it.

Q. How many hours of film, how many photos did you take?

MARDY FISH: I took a lot of pictures. If I were to ever show you the pictures, I need to give you the commentary about it, otherwise you would have no idea what they were. There's a lot of Andy making weird faces and a lot of different athletes. I got one picture with us going like this with a water polo guy (making fist). My arm is like a stick compared to his. Those guys are so strong. I mean, yeah, I got some great pictures. I did the video camera in the opening ceremonies. I ran out of batteries with 20 seconds before the flame - obviously - lit. That was good.

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