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April 11, 2004

Patrick McEnroe

Mardy Fish

DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA, M. FISH/T. Johansson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4


Q. How difficult was it to maintain your focus in that situation, right after the match was clinched, to go out there just a few minutes later?

MARDY FISH: It's not too tough. You know, I mean, it is in Davis Cup tournaments a pretty "meaningless" match. But for me, to go out there and win a match against a really good player in that type of situation, it's good for my confidence, I mean, going into next week, and showing Patrick that I don't always play like I did on Friday and that I can actually keep the ball in the court a few more times than I did on Friday (smiling).

Q. You in Houston next week?


Q. Mardy, what was that like watching Andy's third set? He was talking about how he doesn't know if he ever has played tennis that cleanly. Can you kind of gain something from that? Can that rub off?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I was actually watching The Masters at the time (laughter). No, I'm kidding.

Q. There were a lot of people who were.

MARDY FISH: I was flipping back and forth. Yeah, I mean, it was quick. That's all I can remember. I mean, it was 6-0 and - I don't know, how long was the set? 20 minutes, that set?

THE MODERATOR: I have no idea.

MARDY FISH: Probably close to 20 minutes. I mean, I was taped up and ready to go when Doug came in to tape me after the second set ended, then all of a sudden I had to run out and go on the court. I didn't really catch all that much, but I'll take his word for it. He would have to play well against someone like to that beat him 6-love.

Q. Who was leading The Masters the last snippet you saw?

MARDY FISH: Ernie Els was leading when I was watching.

Q. Do you think next time on this type of surface you'll feel, a slower surface like this, more confident?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, every match that I play on a surface like that, I'm learning more and more. That surface requires a lot more thought than a faster surface. You know, yeah, I mean, every match that I play - dead rubber or not - it's a good Davis Cup experience, too.

Q. What do you most appreciate about Patrick as a captain?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: He has to say something good. I'm here, so (smiling)...

MARDY FISH: Apart from that he's just like one of the guys - I'm gonna talk about you right now - apart from he's just one of the guys, he's got a lot of experience. From a personal standpoint, when he was playing and how I play, we play a lot alike. His backhand was a little bit better than his forehand, so he kind of knows what I'm thinking a lot of the time. He played very aggressively. That's the type of style of play that I like to play, too.

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: What about the serves, Mardy? (Smiling). Thanks for not mentioning that.

Q. It seems like he really has a lot of faith in you. Can you talk about that part of it, that he hasn't lost confidence in you.

MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, you know, he's got a lot of talented guys to choose from, from James and Robby and Taylor. You know, I mean, I'm honored that he can pick me and honored that I can play for the United States in Davis Cup. I mean, I think my track record shows that, I mean, there's a reason why. I mean, the rankings, they kind of speak for themselves sometimes. I mean, any one of those guys that I just named can play at any given time, can beat anybody. Consistently , that's more what he's looking for. I mean, he knows that; you can ask him that. We can all beat each other, we can all beat anybody, it's just a matter of consistency and a matter of doing it in the big matches.

Q. How much less nervous were you this time than Friday night with the thing already being sealed?

MARDY FISH: Not really. I mean, I was nervous on Friday, but, I mean, you know, that kind of goes away when you start really trying to focus on winning. But, I mean, I was nervous. We had already clinched, and that was the goal - to win. You know, I mean, the goal was probably to win 5-0, but the goal is to win every match. But, you know, when we hardly get three points, it's a little bit -- it's not that tough to get up for it, but it's just a weird match, almost like a practice match almost. But, you know, it's good. It's a good experience.

Q. Patrick, the ultimate judgment on whether or not this court surface was the right surface is whether you win on it, which you did. Did you ever have any remote doubts, "Did I get the right surface for this tie or not"?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Not really. I mean, the whole point of playing in a relatively slow, high-bouncing court was to negate the sort of "bang-bang" tennis that a Bjorkman and an Enqvist can play. Obviously, they can still play well on this surface; I mean, we all saw that, and we all knew that. But I think it definitely blunted some of their style of game plan, you know, which is to take the ball early, hit it pretty flat, try to finish points quickly. So, yeah, I mean, I think it paid off for us. Certainly paid off in the doubles as well, which certainly was a key match, looking as we looked ahead to the match. So I think the results tell that story.

Q. Still several months away from the semifinals. If one assumes that "The Beast" and Voltchkov are going to be there, would you select the same surface?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: It will be similar. It will be either this or maybe clay; that's a possibility as well. We'll obviously talk to the guys, and bottom line is if the guys feel strongly about a particular surface, that's probably what I'm going to go with because they're the guys that are out there playing. They all felt strongly about this surface, and we went with it and it worked. So looking ahead, I think those will probably be options that we'll talk about.

Q. Aside from the surface, what are your initial thoughts about that matchup in September?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: I like it. It's a good matchup. Obviously, for them, it's huge to get this far; it's the first time they've ever done it. Mirnyi is a big-match player. He's won big matches - not just in Davis Cup, but he's also had some decent results on clay. Voltchkov was a Wimbledon semifinalist. He's a streaky player, he can get hot and hit a lot of shots. In saying that, we'll be playing at home. We've got another five months or so for these guys - meaning the Mardys and the Ginepris and the Blakes and the Dents and the Spadeas - to, you know, step up, basically. It's a long way away now. It's sort of weird, you play two matches pretty close together, and now we have a long break. So that will give me a lot of time to see where the guys are. I think the clay court season also will be important, we'll see how well we do on clay. I think the Bryans obviously love playing on clay, so that's a positive. Andy, I think, has a very strong -- has a lot of motivation to play well this year, you know, at the French and at the big tournaments on clay. I think it will be a good test for the other guys, to see how well they can play. If we have a lot of success on clay, then it might make that an easier decision for us.

Q. Two quick questions. How do you keep this momentum going through the next five months, this whole team chemistry you got going, with so much tennis to be played in between now and September? And, also, do you feel like when the team's playing well, do you feel like you're getting the kind of breaks you need, too, as far as getting home matches and the way things are shaking out?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Oh, we definitely got a couple breaks with Australia losing. We knew the Swedes would be tough, but to play at home is obviously an advantage, certainly an advantage travel-wise, and it's certainly an advantage to play home again against Belarus other than going to Argentina - not just from the standpoint of playing on clay and playing away against a great team, but also just, you know, it's going to be after the US Open, it's going to be a long summer for the guys with the Olympics this year as well. So it would be nice to know that we won't have to travel that far and pick the place that we want to go to play. What was your first question?

Q. How do you keep it going?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Oh, keep it going. I don't think it's going to be that tough. I mean, these guys are committed. They're excited about it. They were talking about Belarus winning a lot. They're already looking ahead. So I don't think that's going to be a problem as far as keeping the motivation there; in fact, I know it won't. You know, thankfully for me, there's not a whole lot I have to do other than keep in touch with them and show up and do what I normally do. And whether we have a match next week or in four months, that's what I've always done.

Q. Mardy, you played two very different matches over the past couple days. When you put it all together, how would you assess your performance this weekend and how it might affect your future role on the Davis Cup team?

MARDY FISH: I don't know. I mean, I felt like I played pretty tentatively at times on Friday, didn't play my game, didn't play that well; still had a few chances. Today, I tried to stay as aggressive as possible and try to, you know -- that's the style that I need to play, and I know that, and Patrick and I know that. We talked it over after Friday. And as far as my future, I don't know. I mean, I won a big match in Slovakia and that was on clay, and it's a slow surface, this is a slow surface. Maybe if they give me a chance on fast court, the court that I like to play on...(smiling).


Q. What are your plans and how do you see your chances on the slower surface, coming up with the clay court season?

MARDY FISH: I mean, I've been playing really well in the past few months apart from Australia. Last year I finished well. And then had a good indoor season. I mean, in San Jose it was a slow indoor court. I made the final there. You know, I mean, it's a different surface for me. It requires a lot of thought. My game is more "bang-bang" type - serve big and try to get to the net quick and try to maybe blow people off the court. That's the style that I like to play. So, I mean, those guys are gonna try to play like that as well, Belarus. They serve big, and Mirnyi is going to try to come to net all the time, and we'll see if he's able to do that on a slow court.

Q. Davis Cup experience, can it make you a better player?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think experience-wise, playing in big, tense situations can help your game a lot. I think, you know, I mean, if I ever get in a situation -- I mean, it's no -- I mean, there's no bigger event, in my opinion, than like playing on Friday. I've never played in a bigger match than that, where there were more people there, a better atmosphere. I've never played in that type of situation before, you know, better than that. So if I ever make a final of another tournament or, you know, there's a really good atmosphere or a lot of people watching or it's a tight situation, I can kind of look back on experience of this match and previous Davis Cup matches before.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Mardy.

Q. Patrick, I have an Andy Roddick question for you. Andy has had a couple of very tough first sets in this tie. Can you examine his mental toughness in both of those matches.

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, he has the ability to raise his level; I think all great players have had that. You look at great champions, you know, especially guys that maybe play a similar style as him, at least with a big serve, you know, like a Becker or a Lendl or someone that used to come up with big serves when they needed it, and Andy has the ability to just focus better, I think, when he gets to the end of the set. Obviously, he has tremendous confidence in his serve. Each of the matches here, his serve, you know, he struggled a little bit early on with his serve. Then once he sort of gets into the flow of the match and once the match -- you sort of get into the meat of the match, his serve gets better. As the match goes on, he seems to just click it in. He finds his rhythm. He continues to mix it up. And, you know, he knows he can count on that.

Q. Thinking more about having been broken midway through the first set and then breaking back and hanging on in a very difficult 11th game also.

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, as I said, I mean, he understands when you have to raise your intensity. And over a five-set match, three-out-of-five set match, you can't be super-duper intense every single game, every single point. But he knows when it gets to 4-3, 4-all, etc., he can kick it up. He just has a natural ability to do that.

Q. Unusual for someone 21 years old?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: I don't think it's unusual for someone as good as he is and as competitive as he is. I think that's something he's always had. I think he's improved in his mental approaches, playing point in and point out. He's much more focused now. He doesn't play loose games. He doesn't play loose points, really. I think that's very, you know, wearing on his opponents.

Q. Pat, I'm just wondering, there's a formula, obviously, for what surface you're going to play on. What's more important - what we like versus what they don't like? I mean, how do you weigh and balance such a thing?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, we have to do the same thing here. I think it's to make -- I think number one is for us to be comfortable, but number two is to make the other team as uncomfortable as possible. You know, so that means that you sort of weigh up the negatives and positives. I'll have a conversation with each of the guys, you know, separately to sort of get their own read on it, what they want, how they feel their games match up better against the opposition now that we know who we're going to be playing. That's how we came to the conclusion to play on the surface here, and that's how we're going to come to it there. I mean, if it's so obvious that a particular team we're going to play hates one surface, and maybe it's not our best but we can play well on it, that might be the surface to go on.

Q. Patrick, when the draw was made for the Davis Cup this year, the Swedes were obviously upset that they weren't seeded and made a stink about that. With their results, having beaten Australia, and even though it was 4-1 here, they did put in a good fight, do you think they've made their case at all for the future?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: I think they made their case in Australia. I mean, you know, winning that match on the road was a heck of an effort. Obviously, you know, giving us a tough match here. So, I mean, I think there's a lot of teams that are, you know -- you look at the teams that are between 7 and 10, it's pretty tight. I imagine you could have an argument that could go either way.

Q. What were you saying to Andy during the changeovers in the first set?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, what I was saying to him was Bjorkman is playing a heck of a match at that time, sort of I reminded him of the Enqvist first set, you know, when the guy came out firing, just saying, "Just weather this, just stay in there." He was making him work hard every game, on Bjorkman's serve, and I just continued to remind him of that, that that, I thought, would pay off down the road. And as I said earlier, Andy has that ability to pick his serve up as the match goes on. So I sort of sensed that that probably would happen again, so if Andy could just stay in there, stay positive and keep trying to make Jonas work hard on his own service games . And even if we lost the first set, we felt like we'd still be in a pretty good position to win the match.

Q. He said one of the things he likes about you is you know when to say things and when not to say things. Is that something that's come just...

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, I think that's experience with me and I think it's experience with Andy, just personally knowing the guys. Andy's played a lot now, Andy's done a lot, and he's been in a lot of tight -- I think when he first came on playing, I probably talked to him a lot more. So now it's just a question of picking your spots. Sometimes he'll even say something to me, you know, "What do you think about this?" Because I think he's now mature enough that if he feels something about how the match is being played, he'll ask me. And, you know, that's just experience of being there and being sort of in those crisis situations with him.

Q. In years past, the Aussies, even the Swedes at one point, there was a team camaraderie that kind of carried through the rest of the year, even between Davis Cup matches.


Q. Do we have that yet?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: We've had it for a while, yeah. I think we definitely have it. I think that's been going on for a couple of years. I think just genuinely these guys get along and support each other. They have a great time with each other. They're all going to be on a plane tonight to Houston, and they're all going to go and party with each other and have a good time and play basketball next week and play ping-pong with each other. That's just the way they are. So, you know, we're extremely lucky - meaning the US Davis Cup contingent and myself as a captain - that it's not like there's a lot we have to do. These guys really do get along. Mardy will play doubles with James, and, you know, these guys continue to do that. And that's all a positive, I think.

Q. What did Mardy show you today and this weekend as a whole for that matter?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, I think he came back well today. He lost the first set, he was getting a little negative, obviously frustrated by the other day. You know, maybe it was my tactical mistake on Friday to have him stand back a little bit. Maybe we both learned something about him being a little more aggressive, and that his best tennis will come out then. We just kept working on that today. And certainly to come back, you know, for him to get a win after losing the first set just gives him a nice boost of confidence, you know, and a positive feeling about what he was able to do this weekend.

Q. Where would you put Mardy's fitness level right now?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: I'd put his fitness level needs some work.

Q. Why, so early in the season?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: He just needs to keep working. Bottom line, he has to get stronger and he's got to work harder off the court. If he does that, there's no telling, you know, how far he can go.

Q. You assessed Roddick's mental game. How do you see him, in this early hard court season, his technical improvement?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: His technical performance?

Q. Improvements, I guess.

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: A lot of improvements. I mean, I think we saw a lot of it today. I mean, he came up with a couple of key volleys, hit a couple of beautiful sort of little dink passing shots, he's mixing up his serves still. He and I talked about it the last couple weeks, he was looking for that breakout week, you know, and he got it in Miami. And I think we all were expecting it would happen in one of those big tournaments, and it did. I think that really sets him up for the rest of the year. As I said, I think his movement is good. He's looking to dictate with his forehand, you know, more and more, which I think is a positive. At the same time, his backhand's continuing to improve. So I think he's becoming a more and more well-rounded player, and, you know, there's just some mental toughness. I'm really looking forward to see what he does this clay court season, because I think he feels like he has something to prove, and I think we'll see some good results from him.

End of FastScripts….

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