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March 19, 2008

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Two of the biggest back-to-back wins of your career maybe.
MARDY FISH: Ummm, I put together a few nice wins in Cincinnati that year, but these two are right up there for sure.

Q. Lleyton, getting Lleyton in a third-set tiebreak is pretty tough, Mardy. He's pretty tough.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, funny thing, too, is I joked with Kelly, my coach, earlier this week when we were practicing. We play a lot of practice tiebreakers, practice tiebreakers and stuff when we're almost done. Five minutes left and we'll play a tiebreaker.
I hadn't won a tiebreaker the entire year, practice or match. I knew that, and we actually sat down and had a conversation about it. You know, why do you think this? Why do you think it's like this?
Obviously in practice, you know, you're practicing. But in a match, I hadn't won one in a match. I was probably 0-4, 0-3, something like that. Couple big sets, and one big one in Australia against Nieminen. We sat down and had a nice conversation about some of the things I need to focus on during it. For whatever reason, I was just, you know, was maybe a little content with getting to the tiebreak and then saying, Okay this is a crapshoot. It might go my way and might not. I don't think that's the right way to do it.
We focused on making first serves and staying aggressive, and that was the case.

Q. So you played first sets good. Well, you couldn't serve it out, it wasn't a great game, but you managed to get your way through it. Second set he kind of climbs on you. What do you think going into the third set?
MARDY FISH: I'm thinking, Let's keep holding serves as many times as we can. I had a nice look in the second set in the first game and couldn't capitalize on that one.
Then from then on out, from that first game, I don't think I got to deuce the entire match. So he was really, really solid. I mean, I'd like to check his unforced errors in the second and third set, because they could not have been very high.
I think, you know, I felt like he took a lot of pace off his ball, little bit of pace off his ball, and was content with trying to see if I could make the necessary errors to lose serve so he could keep staying solid on his serve games.
You know, I played well enough on my serve games in the third set to, you know, to get into the tiebreak. You know, it was obviously pretty nice to serve first in that set, so I had a chance at 5-4 and chance at 6-5, even though I think I only won one point in both of those games.
But he was very solid, and, you know, it's a nice win.

Q. James was saying more or less you're a confidence player. Obviously that's a big element for anyone at this level. But do you feel like you are a confidence player, that you really need that to bring out your best stuff?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. You know, and I really feel like when I do play well and when I really put things together, you know, I can beat a lot of players.
I haven't necessarily put together back to back to back, you know, wins. I've beaten players, but, you know, have struggled around the next round or what have you. So, yeah, a lot of it is the serve. I haven't necessarily served particularly well this week.
You know, I am hitting my groundstrokes extremely well. I feel very confident with my forehand, which is, you know, something a little bit different from what I feel usually.
My backhand feels as great, as good as it's ever been. Yeah, confidence is a key for everybody.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your next round?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. David is someone I've played only one time, seems like a long time ago in 2003 in the quarterfinals of Cincinnati. You have a huge bug on your leg.

Q. On your notepad. What kind of bug is it? (laughter.)
MARDY FISH: And now it's on your leg. I lost my train of thought. Nalbandian. I was serving extremely well then. I do remember it that week. Better than most weeks that I've played on tour, because, you know, of my result there.
I remember the score: It was 7-6, 6-3, one break in the second set. He's a player that makes a lot of balls. He plays off confidence, as well. You know, someone who is obviously, you know, once he gets deep into a tournament he's extremely tough to beat, especially in the end of last year with him winning Madrid and then Paris and having a great end of the year.
He's been in these situations a lot more times than I have, so he will be a tough opponent for sure.

Q. Have you started entertaining the idea of winning this tournament?
MARDY FISH: No, that's a long way to go, a lot of top 10 players to beat before I start thinking about that. I feel confident and I feel -- I feel great healthwise, which is a nice thing to be. Last year here I was struggling with my shoulder, so it's nice to feel healthy and have a day off tomorrow and go again on Friday.

Q. The two Americans still here in the tournament pretty much from the same area.
MARDY FISH: Pretty much, yeah, same street.

Q. Okay. What's the scene like down there? Is it an advantage having, you know, a world class player?
MARDY FISH: Absolutely. We've got a pretty nice Davis Cup team down there with the Bryans and James and I. We've got a lot of young guys, a lot of hungry young players. Kuznetsov, Isner, Sweeting, guys like that that work extremely hard. We all have a great time down there, practicing in the morning, playing a little golf sometimes in the afternoon, basically using our weeks off as, you know, as time to have fun.
I mean, these are the guys that we spend most of our time with now. Most of my friends from high school and things like that don't live in Tampa. Actually none of them do. So we all kind of hone in on each other.

Q. Does that push you a little bit, having the elite level of players there?
MARDY FISH: Sure, I came through with James playing the challengers and the tour events and had sort of the same timeline that he did. Seeing him have such a great year in 2005 and 2006 and 2007, you know, he's been in the top 10 for a long time now.
And, yeah, that drives you. You know, you see him doing so well, you see a great friend doing so well, and you want to be there right there with him. I want to help out with Davis Cup and I want to give Patrick another option. You know, as does Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri and all these other guys. They all push us, for sure.

Q. You worked with Kelly before, and then you worked with some other coaches and came back to Kelly. What's it like when you come back to a guy you've worked with before? Is that dynamic different, or...
MARDY FISH: The reason that we split was not, you know, because we weren't working well together. It was, you know, Todd retired and he had helped a little bit, you know, while he was still playing. He had helped some of the other younger guys: James, myself, and Robby. It really felt like it was an opportunity that I didn't really want to pass up, to try at least.
You know, we gave it a try, and, you know, it didn't work out. You know, it was great. You know, made my first and only quarterfinal of a Slam and he changed my forehand and helped me with my serve and he did some great things for me.
Kelly is a great fit because, A, he's in Tampa, so we're always there during the practice week. It was tough for Todd to be there during the practice weeks. I'd either have to go there, he'd have to come there, come to Tampa. With him having such a young family, that was hard.
Obviously in the off weeks I'd like to be home more than I'd like to be on the road.
So Kelly -- it was, you know, a perfect fit because he knows my game so well. I had some great results. I've never been higher ranked than with him. I was 17 in the world when he was my coach, and we've had some great results.
So, you know, he was eager to help. We started out very slow, you know. We started out just on the practice weeks and, you know, just we kind of timed it and said, We're just going to do a couple weeks here, we're going to do a couple days there, not overdo it.
His brother-in-law, Craig Boynton who went to Australia with me is at Saddle Brook and works at Saddle Brook, so he's there every day. It's an awesome fit for me now, for sure.

Q. Not to be a wise guy, but let me put you on the spot: Mardy Fish to win the Pacific Life Open: Deal or no deal?
MARDY FISH: I'll take a deal, but who knows?

Q. You seemed a little frustrated with some of the officiating in tonight's game, match. Comment on that a little bit. It seemed at one point it almost could even affect your game a little bit.
MARDY FISH: Well, it has in the past affected my game. I think it was pretty will documented that in Australia I struggled with an umpire's call. It wasn't a line call, but a call that they made, and I went down 40-Love and got a code violation for hitting a ball, which I shouldn't have gotten.
They said that, you know, in the press they said that that was the reason that I lost. I actually came back and won that game, had break points in the next game, won the next game and he held and then I lost my serve. So it didn't really affect me.
I've come a long way. Believe me, I've played quite I few matches where it's affected me to where I've definitely lost matches because of it. I'm well aware of it. You know, I've had a lot of experience with it. It's a comforting feeling for us, and especially for me, when we have ShotSpot, because we know if we're wrong.
Look, I could be wrong on every one of those, but I feel like I'm right. You know, so I could just challenge it and there you go, and it's a moot point.
You know, tonight's case, you know, I felt like a few calls -- there wasn't any calls, thank God there wasn't any calls that were, you know, just had to do with, you know, was -- I got a bad call and lost a game or lost serve because of it.
You know, it was a first serve here or second serve there or, you know, forehand at 15-All. So it wasn't too big, and I tried to keep my focus.

Q. Do you think bashing a ball up into the stands is like a no-harm, who-does-it-hurt kind of situation?
MARDY FISH: As far as getting a code violation for it?

Q. Yeah.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I do. I mean, you're not really harming anyone. They can just pull the ball out of their pocket and throw it back in.
You know, if you're having a nice match and there's no -- there's nothing going on, extracurricular stuff going on as far as the players or interaction with the refs and stuff, I don't see why, you know, why they need to get involved with something like that, something as minuscule as that.
But, you know, if it's the rule, it's the rule. I'm fine with that. It's just you step over that line one more time. I've done times where I've hit a ball out, gotten a code violation, forgotten about it. Two hours later I've thrown the racquet down and I get a point penalty. That's happened actually this year, so...

Q. You feel the same way about cracking a racquet?
MARDY FISH: No, I mean, that's -- you're trying -- there are young fans out there, and, you know, you're trying to be a role model as best you can as well, and it's obviously not something you want to show.

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