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January 21, 2007

Mardy Fish



Q. Must be nice to get through tight spots like that. Up and down.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, he's a tough, tough player. I've lost to him the last two times we played. We've played in some pretty big matches, but none like that. It was nice to win that one.
I played him last week in Auckland. Was pretty fatigued after having played two matches the day before, then coming back the next day to play him was tough. I think it played a pretty big part on the fact I haven't logged too much court time, to be able to stick with him like that.

Q. Feel overdue to be in the last eight of a major finally?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. I mean, maybe. I feel like I played some pretty good tennis in 2003, 2004, last year. I mean, the good news of playing the fourth seed in a first round, if you beat him, the draw is going to open up, give you the chance to play someone like Ferrer, who is obviously a great player, but not someone in the top five in the fourth round. You take advantage when you can.

Q. How did this match not get away from you? You were in the driver's seat, controlling well. He digs back in.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I stuck with it. I went into the match thinking if I could hold serve every time, I felt like I would win the match in straight sets. I didn't lose serve until the third set. I was up two sets to love.
Felt pretty confident there in the fourth, up a break, serving and hitting the ball pretty well. Missed a pretty easy forehand at 30-15 right before we stopped at the rain. That was a little frustrating. Eventually lost that game. I knew there was that one side, the one side with the wind, without the sun, when it was sunny, was the best side to win the games on. I knew if I kept holding serve, even though I lost serve there, we were still on serve, if I could keep holding serve, get him on that side one more time, see what happens. Sure enough I hit a return winner on the first point, played a couple good points. He missed some shots he didn't normally do. Got a little tight there. Took advantage.

Q. You and Andy go back a long way. You've never met at this stage of a major.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, that would be pretty special. Guys were asking me in there who would I rather play. I think I'd rather play Andy. I think just growing up, we've kind of dreamt about, talked about playing in the quarterfinals, finals, whatever, of Slams, big tournaments and stuff. That would be pretty special. I'm sure he would say the exact same thing.

Q. How does this compare to the silver medal at the Olympics?
MARDY FISH: If you said, What would you rather have, quarterfinals of Australian Open or silver medalist for your country? I'd say silver medal. But apart from that, playing Davis Cup, it's right up there.

Q. Talk about some of your mental work with Todd. Seems to be working out pretty well for you.
MARDY FISH: That was one of the main focuses of our off-season, apart from the forehand, was to try to find maybe a happy medium on the court, try to find your place where you can go, relax. Scott does a great job as well here when he's in our corner. He's always positive.
We sat down for quite some time and logged a lot of time off the court talking about different situations in matches, in tournaments, in games, in points and stuff, about not only playing the points but in between points and stuff like that. We spent quite a lot of time, more time than we ever have, this off-season talking about that.

Q. How many sets do you think you and Andy have played total, including practice sets as kids?
MARDY FISH: That's tough. We've played a lot. I don't know maybe sets. We've practiced sessions. We've logged a lot of time. I was 17, he was 16, through till we were about -- I was two or three straight years there, we would practice every day.

Q. What would you have to improve to win a Slam?
MARDY FISH: I think there's that big hurdle of Mr. Federer, first of all, trying to beat him. I feel like I can beat anybody if I play well, if I serve well. I've never been in this situation in a Slam before. You kind of feel like, and guys have said, other guys who are here consistently or guys in the quarters consistently, like Andy, just put yourself in the second week and anything can happen. It's only three matches away. That's not at the forefront of my mind by any means.
But, you know, it's nice to be in that situation, in that environment, to be able to play these types of matches. It's different. It's something that you work hard to try to accomplish. I mean, these are the tournaments you want to do well at.

Q. Todd is a pretty cerebral guy, pretty intense. You're pretty laid back. How does that work?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, we have completely different personalities. But I think, you know, I kind of maybe fire him up a little and he brings me down a little. Not "brings me down," but bringing my fieriness down a little bit (smiling).
Like I said before, he's a great tennis mind. Even when he was playing and I was playing, he was someone you could go to, he was always there for all the young guys coming up to ask any questions. I mean, I feel like I have an invaluable source where I can just call him up, like I do every morning here, it's in the afternoon there, and I can talk to him about, okay, the wind was like this, I was playing this guy. He just stopped not that long ago, so he's played Ferrer, he's played Andy, he's played Ancic. He's played all these guys not that long ago.
I feel like we have similar styles of play. We both like to use our serve as a tool to get to the net. We both want to get to the net as much as we can. He brings the aspect of thinking on the court a little bit more to me. He also brings the hard work to me. I might bring a little bit more shot-making than he had, but he was a lot smarter than me when he played. It's a great mix. It's invaluable to be able to call him up and say, I play Ferrer today, what should I do? He's got a hundred things to tell me about. He talks a lot.

Q. What is separating you and Andy?
MARDY FISH: Well, Andy's battle-tested. Andy's played a lot of these types of matches before. He's got an enormous serve. He's got one of the biggest forehands in the game. We play different. We both try to serve big and use our serves in our games. I mean, I try to get to the net. He likes to stay back. It's a fun contrast to play because my backhand is better, his forehand is better. I'll try to exploit his backhand; he'll try to exploit my forehand.
We've played four or five times. Two of them have been 7-6 in the third. The other ones we played I think six tiebreakers out of 12 or whatever. We've had a lot of great matches even on tour.

Q. For you it's stepping up on the big points?
MARDY FISH: I mean, he's real intense. No one out here really wants it more. You can tell when he's playing. He's a fiery guy, very feisty, hates to lose like everybody else. Everybody hates to lose. But he takes it to another level. His brother John, they're a great mix because they're -- John is the exact same way. They just hate to lose. That's kind of cliché, but it's really true with Andy. He just works his butt off. He's worked his butt off to get to where he is. He deserves all the credit.

Q. Do you have to get in his face, match his intensity?
MARDY FISH: Absolutely, absolutely. That's no different than how we've been playing. We were more like brothers when we were growing up than best friends anyways. We fought all the time. We've always been friends. I'll always be friends with Andy regardless of what happens on a tennis court. He knows I want to win just as bad as he wants to win. Whatever is said or whatever happens on the tennis court, we'll always be friends. We'll always leave it on the court. It's not a problem.

Q. Have you practiced at all since you've been down here?
MARDY FISH: Down here, no. I played doubles. John called me one day, but I played doubles that day. Otherwise we would have hit. We haven't hit.

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