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March 22, 2008
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Congratulation, Mardy. Could you have played much better today?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, just, I don't know. I got a text message from somebody close to me that just said, 3 and 1 would have been better, but 3 and 2 works. Obviously he was joking.
You know, this wasn't obviously Roger's best day, but hopefully I had a little something to do with that. You know, I put the pressure extremely, from the word go, you know, on him, and you know, I wanted to start out -- sometimes in big situations or against guys who return real well - and I consider him the best returner in the world - that I'll tend to receive -- I want to toss, tend to receive, and just to kind of get my feet under me.
I said, What the hell. Let's go for it and let's start it off and try and jump start him as best I can. Obviously it was a dream start to go up 3-Love and have a couple break points there at 3-0. He had a break point against my second serve game when I was 2-0. That was a huge game to get through that.
Q. How does this compare to hitting ball out at Shea?
MARDY FISH: That was pretty cool. I'm a huge sports fan, period. Shea Stadium is a pretty cool place, but it doesn't compare too much. I would trade that home run for another win against anyone, really.
Q. When you're rolling like that, Mardy, and you know what that guy is capable of, is there part of you that's saying, I've got to brace myself, because this isn't going to be it yet?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I won the first set, and obviously I wasn't thinking this, because if I was thinking this I probably wouldn't have won, but I was thinking, okay, I won the first set, but now he's going to kill me, right?
Now he's going to be me at 0 and 0. I put the pressure on him, and it's the only way I can really describe it. I mean, it was pretty -- it was pretty quick and it felt, you know, felt like it went by even faster, and it's a great win.
Q. Can you think of another upset in tennis history that maybe compares to this one?
MARDY FISH: I don't think I'm that bad. (laughter.)
I have been top 20 before a couple times, but let me think. I don't know. I'm blank. Let me come back to you on that one.
Q. Roger made that point in here before. He said, look, I don't care what the guy's ranking is. He's been in the top 20. We know he can play. In terms of your game, a match like today, does this make you think maybe you're at an even better level than you've ever been before?
MARDY FISH: Possibly. I've always thought I've had the capability of getting in the top 10, and that's always -- you know, that's always been the goal, is to try to get into the top 10 and, you know, be one of those players that, you know, the hunted.
I've always been the hunter almost my whole career, and you know, I'm capable of -- I felt like I was always capable of beating everybody, but it was always here and there. It was always sporadically.
Putting together these wins this week, you know, gives me a heck of a lot of confidence to know that I can beat three guys in the top 10 so far, and, you know, hopefully one more to go.
Q. When Roger has his occasional defeat, most of the players who have beaten him say it's just a matter of believing. Most people go out and don't believe.
MARDY FISH: Uh-huh.
Q. Did you believe today?
MARDY FISH: Well, I think it helped to get off to a great start, you know, to be brutally honest. If he goes out there and he beats me 6-2 in the first set, I'm not thinking things are going to go too great in the second.
So, you know, it's nice to get up. It was nice to win that first set and, you know, then you say to yourself - take a quote out of James' book - Todd Martin told him, If you can win one set you can win two. I actually thought to myself, okay, I won one set, you can win another one.
Q. Is there something clicking in your game these last couple weeks that maybe hasn't been there for the last...
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, you know, apart from just playing really well, you know, for me, you know, a nice solid game plan, nice pretty easy game plan, you know, staying aggressive and trying to take that first ball after the serve.
These courts are really slow, so it's not really a serve-and-volley-type tennis like I try to do normally on a faster surface. It's more of a serve-and-go and a serve and, and you know, take one or two cracks and then try to go, or try to take the initiative.
These guys I've played in the past few rounds are not comfortable really -- I mean, they all defend really well, but the way their bank accounts have grown is because they're aggressive and they're the aggressor. You know, when I'm the aggressor, I'm not sure they like that as much as they like being the aggressor.
Q. Obviously Roger's run these past four years has just been incredible, really nothing like it. But now there have been some losses, and shock of shocks. Is there a different sense you think with players who are come on court against him?
MARDY FISH: No. I mean, to answer your question, brutally honest, no. I mean, no one thought -- no one in the locker room -- I mean, yeah, we've heard -- you know, we just kind of laugh at it. We just kind of think it's kind of a joke. You know, oh, my gosh, Roger hasn't won a tournament yet this year. You know, he's only played two tournaments. You know, semifinals while he had mono is pretty good.
You know, that match I actually talked to him in the locker room about his match, about Australia, and he said he had a bunch of chances and it could have gone either way. Novak played really well. He just had a bit of bad luck in the beginning of the year. He came up against a really tough draw in the first round of Dubai, and, you know, played a guy that's 11 in the world in the first round.
You know, if you're not on top of your game -- I mean, everybody's real good, and if you're not on top of your game, you know, somewhere down the road guys are going to get you.
Q. 2003 it was thought maybe your time had come: Cincinnati, 2004 Olympics maybe. Did you think it would take this long, 2008, when you could put together a string this long and sit up here, big press conference, big final coming, you just beat the No. 1?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I would have thought it would have come sooner than that. I also would have thought I would have been a lot healthier than I have been in the past few years.
You know, I missed five big tournaments last year. I've got five zeros on my ranking from French Open to Monte-Carlo to, you know, Montreal to Miami, all those tournaments that I missed.
Those are opportunities that, you know, that go on, as well. But, yeah, I obviously would have thought that how great, you know, how nicely my career did start when I was 20, 21, 22 years old, that I would have liked to have kept it going and stayed there, you know, around 20.
Tried to put myself in the position to, you know, to really get into the top 10 like I talked about.
Q. How calm or how nervous were you serving for the match?
MARDY FISH: I was more nervous maybe than I ever have been with two breaks, serving with two breaks. (laughter.)
Usually I'm relatively comfortable with two breaks in a set. You know, and again, I just kind of kept telling myself that, you know, there's somebody else on the other side of the court. You just try to blank out who it was and just trying to play the ball and kind of, you know, keep control of what I could control on my side.
Q. Did you hug yourself a little bit too hard there? Just got a slight feeling of, right, I'm not quite believing what's going on here today?
MARDY FISH: I figured I did it one time, I might as well keep doing it till I'm done.
Q. It's just a precaution, is it?
MARDY FISH: Oh, this? Sorry, yeah, this is -- I try to hit my serve as hard as I can every single time so my arm starts hurting every once in a while.
Q. The trophy they give out here to the winner because of the corporate sponsor...
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it's cool looking, isn't it?
Q. Yeah. It's kind of a big fish. Do you think that might be an omen?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, that would be nice. I've seen it before. It's one of the coolest trophies we've got. I'd love to have it on my mantel.
Q. Your matchup with Novak going into tomorrow's championship?
MARDY FISH: We've played a few times. We had a 7-6 in the fourth at the US Open in 2006, and a 7-6 in the third. We played Hopman Cup, which is an exhibition-type tournament. It was in the final, and I would assume that he wanted to win as much as I did.
We've played two good matches. Obviously he's on a heck of a roll. I might call Andy to try to see what he did in Dubai this afternoon and try to get some tips on that. But, you know, it's another one of these matches where I'll go out and try to control what I can try to control and see what happens, give it everything I got.
Q. Have there been times this week where you said to yourself, I cannot believe this is my forehand?
MARDY FISH: Maybe. Maybe. Maybe, you know, maybe not saying, Oh, wow, I can't believe I made that shot. But I guess consistent is a tough word to put it, because I am trying to just try to stay as aggressive as possible with it.
I'm not trying to hit winners, complete winners off it. I'm trying to beat him with pace, try to beat Roger with pace today up the line and crosscourt. It seems to be working.
Q. When you walk up to the net, having played a match like that and won a match like that, does your mind race? What am I going to say to him when I actually get there?
MARDY FISH: It's tough.
Q. Do you say, Sorry?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, sorry, man. (laughter.)
I've been on the losing end four times to him, and he's won 53 tournaments, so I don't feel too badly for him.
Q. You kept him under pressure early on and sustained it, but was there anything in particular about his game today which surprised you?
MARDY FISH: Well, you know, he's always been, you know, extremely solid from the baseline. His forehand is just maybe the most deadly shot in the game.
You know, he had some -- he hit some great shots out there. He's got a different spin than people -- than other guys put on the ball on his forehand, so it's always tough to hit it, just to hit it back.
I tried to beat him with, you know, with pace on the forehand side and tried to get over the backhand as much as I can.
You know, obviously I don't think he played his best tennis. But I'd like to think maybe I had a little bit to do with it.
Q. Can you possibly go into more detail on that spin, how is it different than...
MARDY FISH: He just puts so much topspin on it and he can flatten it out and he can spin it -- Nadal has a spinny forehand like that, as well. He always spins it and it's always heavy.
Roger can flatten it out. You have no clue where he's hitting it. He can pull it up the line on you as quick as he can hit it inside out.
Q. The celebration today after was so much more subdued than yesterday. It's a bigger win. What was going through your mind at that point?
MARDY FISH: I got some huge raspberries from sliding yesterday, so I figured I wouldn't do that. I don't know. It's just one of those -- just kind of I'm not sure what just happened, but I might as well go up to the net because I think the match is over, kind of celebration.
You know, it was pretty surreal, you know, for something, for the score line kind of like that.
Q. Morgan Pressel is here. Tell us how your golf is.
MARDY FISH: Hi Morgan. Yeah, I can play okay. I know your uncle.
MORGAN PRESSEL: Yeah.
MARDY FISH: Aaron Krickstein. He came to my charity event. Congratulations on your major. Last year here? See, I know golf.
My golf game is good. I'm +1. I'm pretty excited about it. I'm a lefty, though.
MORGAN PRESSEL: We'll play sometime.
MARDY FISH: Okay.
Q. You have a made a point of mentioning the crowd support this year. What is it about the crowd this year? How has it been different from other venues here in America?
MARDY FISH: You always get -- in the States you always get -- you know, the fans are always behind the U.S. players. You know, I think everybody likes an underdog, and certainly that today and yesterday, as well.
You know, yesterday the support was so big and just got me through, got me through the match when, you know, if I was playing on the same surface and on the same stadium in Argentina, I don't think I would have won that match. You know, they helped me out today. It was huge, and I'm forever thankful for that.
This is my favorite tournament of the year, one of my favorite tournaments of the year, and I've always wanted to play well here, and really go deep, and it feels great.
Q. Why is it one of your favorites, Mardy?
MARDY FISH: I just love the area, the weather is always extremely nice, and they've got plenty of golf courses around, even though I haven't had a chance to play this year yet.
It's just very relaxing, people love tennis here, and it's a great venue, and, you know, the hotel is real close, so it's real nice.
Q. You spoke very positively about this match here yesterday. You said, I just beat a guy who beat him, meaning Federer, the past two times. I feel I can beat anybody right now. One would suggest that you almost expected to beat Federer?
MARDY FISH: I don't necessarily think that, but I did, after yesterday's match, feel like I could beat anyone after that. Not necessarily the score line yesterday, but just beating someone like David that is so good in tight matches, and like Lleyton who's so good in tight matches, that's a good feeling. Gives you a heck of a lot of confidence.
Q. We're looking at 90 degrees again tomorrow. Do you think that helps or hurts your game?
MARDY FISH: I think it helps me. I grew up in Florida. It's 90, would be nice in the summer. It's over 100 there always, and the humidity is so low here it just feels like sun, so it feels nice.
So I love the heat. I love the summer months, you know, playing in Cincinnati and Indianapolis and Montreal, places like that where it's real hot. Hopefully it will be hot again.
End of FastScripts