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January 23, 2007

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Mardy, take us through what happened.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, started out I guess pretty flat. You know, real nervous obviously, which I thought was to be expected. It felt real different out there. I never played on that court before. Never even walked out on that court before. It felt real different.
You know, two breaks in each set before I even knew what was going on. I got one break there back in the second set, thought maybe, Okay, this is when the rhythm of my serve is going to start coming back.
You know, I felt like I was coming to the net good, getting good looks at volleys and stuff. He played real well. He's been playing great lately. Obviously it's a lot of pressure on your serve games when he serves that well, because he's going to hold most of the time.
You kind of feel like every time you walk out there, not unlike Ljubicic, where it just felt like, If I lose my serve, I'm going to lose the set almost.
He played well from the beginning. I don't know if I was flat. I tried changing things up a little bit. Maybe coming in off seconds, you know, serving and volleying, staying back, trying to take the first ball. Didn't really feel like anything was working.

Q. You know Andy so well. Do you feel a Jimmy Connors' effect in his game?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, I feel like -- I mean, today is the best I've ever played against him. For him, it all starts with the serve. If he's serving well, again, he just puts so much pressure on you to hold. You start pressing, start thinking, Okay, if I'm down 15-30 here, this is a huge point, I better make the first serve. You miss the first serve.
He's hitting his backhand well. You know what he's doing well, he's really passing well. I don't think he missed very many passing shots. He just made me hit tough volleys almost every time. I made a couple. I hit a couple back to him. I missed a couple. You know, he just puts a lot of pressure on you that way.

Q. Besides the serve, do you feel him putting pressure on you at other points in the game?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, you kind of feel like, uhm, you know, maybe he's looking to attack on that second serve, which wasn't the case before. You could kind of spin the serve in, you know, start the point from there. You know, he's using his slice real well to kind of make the points a little bit longer.
He knows I'm the type of person that wants to make the points short, want to get to the net on the first ball if I can. He just slices that kind of nothing ball deep where I have to generate all the pace. That was something he wasn't using as much. I don't know if Jimmy has done a lot of that.
I mean, you just see it in his confidence level as well. Maybe not necessarily in his game, but you feel like he's on a mission almost, you know, to get back to the top.
I didn't give him much I don't feel like, but he came up with every answer that I gave him today.

Q. The way Andy is playing, do you think he can go all the way this year?
MARDY FISH: Absolutely. Roger doesn't like to lose, even in exhibitions. Andy won that Kooyong thing. They've played tight matches before. Finals of the US Open was pretty close. A tight four-setter. He definitely can win the tournament. I mean, you know, if Roger gets by tonight, it will be a pretty interesting match.

Q. What did you talk about up at the net when it was all over?
MARDY FISH: Not much, to be honest with you. I wasn't too talkative. I just said, Great playing, good luck. He said, Thanks.

Q. Before we didn't give too much importance to the coach. Now sometimes you have the impression even players give maybe too much importance to the coach. What is the right size? How important is Martin for you? How important is Connors for Roddick?
MARDY FISH: I think, for one, speaking maybe on Andy's behalf, he's just real confident. It's not something that he uses on the court necessarily. Jimmy's in his corner. That's a pretty big tennis mind to have in your corner. I'm sure he's giving him lots of stuff.
I speak for myself, Todd Martin has been a huge aspect of my tennis so far this year. Kind of scratch 2005. Worked our way back the best we could last year into the top 50. He knows a lot.
Yeah, there's only so much that they can do. We got to get out there and play. Someone like Brad Gilbert, for instance, I think is a great strategic coach, knows other people's games really well, gives Andy Murray a real good scouting report. I think Jimmy I'm sure does that just as good. I know Todd does it real well, too.

Q. What is it going to take? This is your first time at this level. What is it going to take for you to build on this and come back strong, do better the next time?
MARDY FISH: I think it helps to be seeded in some of these tournaments now, not to run into someone like Ljubicic in the first round would help. You know, just build on the year so far. I've won quite a few matches so far this year, including Hopman Cup. Won a couple matches there. Thought that was a great start to the year.
To get three matches under my belt before going to Auckland. Making the semis there, losing in three sets to Ferrer. Beating him here. Winning three or four matches here. It's going to help to build. I don't have anything to defend until Houston, which is in April. It's a great opportunity for me right now, and I'm well aware of it.

Q. You know Andy really well. I know he's played Roger tough last couple times. He goes into the match 1-12 against a guy. Can he really go out there with a lot of confidence?
MARDY FISH: I mean, I think now more so than ever he will. Knowing that you can take sets off a guy, knowing that you can play with a guy. With his serve, if he serves well, I think in my opinion he's got a real good shot.
Roger is Roger. I can go on and on talking about him, how good he is. Obviously it's a huge mountain to climb. To beat him in a Grand Slam, three out of five... Two out of three would be easier, if that's even a good term for it.
You know, a stage like this, I think Andy likes these courts a lot. These courts, they're playing pretty quick this year. I was able to serve and volley pretty much my way to the quarters. This surface is going to help his serve a lot against him. I think that's big.

Q. You mentioned you considered Andy like a brother. Does that make it easier or harder?
MARDY FISH: I'm sure we prefer to not play each other. Maybe we'd prefer to play each other in the final. We've had some real good matches. This one was probably the most lopsided match we've ever had. It's ironic it comes on one of the biggest stages we've played on.
We played a lot of great sets, even on tour, tiebreakers. It's a little bit tougher to play friends. You want to get fired up out there. I'm sure Andy's obviously stoked to make the semis, but he didn't show much emotion. I'm sure that was because -- I don't know if he felt bad for the way I was playing.
You know, he didn't want to show me up or something. It's not that he shows up other players, but he'll show a lot more emotion if he's not that close to someone else. That makes it a little tougher. Maybe you're not as fired up about beating a guy as you normally would be.

Q. What happens next? Do you have the kind of relationship where you two can have a laugh about it, or will it become the match that doesn't get mentioned for a couple of months?
MARDY FISH: No, I mean, we won't talk about the match. We talk about what 25-year-olds talk about, I guess. We never really talk about tennis until right before. We had a joke or two right before we were walking out on the court, then it's business. We're both professionals.
I can easily sit here and lose 2-2-2 and not mention anything about how I played and talk about how great he played, because he did play a great match. Everything that I tried to do, tried to change, tried to come up with, he came up with better shots, so...

Q. In terms of confidence, do you put more stock into Andy getting close to beating Roger in Shanghai or the XO?
MARDY FISH: I think Shanghai. He had match points in the second set, right? That's one of the biggest stages we have out here. He played him tough. I mean, he's played him tough the past few times he's played.
Who knows, maybe I'm making too much of the XO. Maybe people are making too much of the XO. Or maybe we're not. Maybe that was one of the steps mentally that he had to get over to take him out in one of these tournaments.

Q. What kind of respect do you have for the wheelchair tennis here in Melbourne Park?
MARDY FISH: I haven't seen much. When is it on?

Q. From Thursday.
MARDY FISH: Today is Tuesday. I might be gone by tomorrow. But I would watch if I could.

Q. Will you talk to Andy or make him buy you dinner or will it take a couple days for this thing to get over?
MARDY FISH: No, we -- unless he wants to go out -- unless he wants to come out with us tonight, which I'm sure he won't. No, I mean, we won't talk about it. I'm sure I'll see him in San Jose. I'm sure I'll talk to him when we get back. We talk on the phone all the time. I'm sure he'll give it a couple days for me to let it all soak in.

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