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March 23, 2008

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations, Mardy.
MARDY FISH: Thank you, Bud.

Q. You have restored yourself. Have you been planning or thinking about this and wondering what has happened to your game and how you could restore yourself?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, sure. Obviously, you know, with some results that came early in my career and wanting to, you know, stick with those and improve on those, you know, with the injuries and, you know, just bad game plans or not sticking with the game plan I need to stick with, it was definitely gratifying to know that -- I had some, you know, some tough times at the end of last year, in the summer of last year, and, you know, during grass court season, stuff like that, and I just -- I was, you know, playing injured and trying to get through it, and wondering when I was going to get healthy again, feel better again, and, you know, that's come this entire year, and, you know, hopefully it will continue.

Q. How much of what you accomplished here do you put into the technical and strategic excellence of the game this week and how much do you put in the emotional bin?
MARDY FISH: I think everything has to go together. I think one thing has to be stated that I did play about as well as I can, you know, and that yesterday, thinking about it more and more, I know I came in here and I was slightly subdued, you know, probably because I just didn't really realize what, you know, what had happened, you know, to get a few wins against, you know, players like that, and to play a match like today, you know, and be in there.
You know, it was Love-40 in that first game. Three aces in a row is tough. That's why he's one of the best in the world, and, you know, and to hang in there today and to have all these matches and -- you know, you can't forget Hewitt because he -- I put him up there with just about anybody if he's playing well.
You know, you can't, just can't -- you can't count out, you know, how well I did play, but the tactical side -- it was -- I think that was a huge -- obviously a huge part of it. If I don't play the way I need to play, I'm not going to beat those games, that pace, if I don't put the pace on.

Q. Does Djokovic have the tools to be No. 1 at some place soon?
MARDY FISH: Absolutely. I think the results speak for itself. He's got all the weapons. He doesn't have any weaknesses. He's extremely competitive, which is obviously a loose term, loosely thrown-out term in sports.
He's very competitive. I mean, there are different levels, and he's on the top levels of those. He wants to win badly, and he's got game, for sure.

Q. Who do you think the best tennis player in the world is now?
MARDY FISH: I think it's Roger Federer, hands down. He's -- he's, you know, he hasn't shown anything, you know, to say otherwise. He's got, you know, few results these past these few weeks that, you know, are uncharacteristic for him last year to build on, and, you know, I think he's going to continue to be No. 1 for a long time.

Q. When you came in here yesterday, you said you hadn't realized what had happened yet. When did you, and what was that like?
MARDY FISH: More like this morning at about 4:00 a.m. when I couldn't go back to sleep, you know, kind of realizing, you know, what I was about to embark on and what I was about to, you know, try to do and try to, you know, try to win this tournament.
I think I came in here a few rounds ago and someone said, Are you ready to fathom the fact that you could win this tournament? It just seems so long ago. It was like -- I think it was maybe my quarterfinal match or even before, right after -- I was going into the quarterfinals, maybe. And it was like, Jeez, I can't even fathom that. I've got a lot of guys to go through and a lot of great players to go through and I was one set away. It is what it is.

Q. What were your thoughts when you were trailing 2-4 in the second set, and what do you think is the key to you turning it around?
MARDY FISH: He was the aggressor, for sure. I felt like, you know, obviously would have loved to have served better today. And, you know, he's a guy who you need -- you have to get free points against. He's going to kill you if you're just hitting second serves all the time.
He's eventually going to just wear you down and break you down. That was the case, and you know, he played a loose game. Obviously, you know, obviously was nervous with a couple of games away, and pretty much rolling, you know, my opinion, to the title.
I remember he missed a couple backhands in that game and he might have double-faulted, missed another backhand and made the last point.
You know, I just tried to take over as the aggressor, tried to get back to my, you know, style that got me where I was. You know, I had a 30-All, I remember, at 4-2 down in the third and he hit a serve out wide, and I kind of know that guys are going to go to my forehand in that spot.
I would love them to go to my backhand, but I just assume they're going to go to my forehand since it's my weaker side. I said to myself, Look, you got here going after this shot, and I'm not going to go home tonight go to bed tonight thinking I didn't take my chances in the final when I got all the way there.
So, you know, I put a good crack on it. Obviously I would like to -- I would have liked to have made it, but it's one of those ones where you can -- you can question all you want as far as, you know, should I have gone for something like that, you know, tried to get into a point, tried to get a break point.

Q. Have you ever felt crowd support quite like you did today?
MARDY FISH: Outside of Davis Cup, no, not even close. It was it was fun, for sure. It almost felt like a basketball game, you know. It was amazing an atmosphere, amazing feeling, something I'll never forget.

Q. Did it affect the way you played at all?
MARDY FISH: Absolutely. They definitely pulled me through. You know, I don't win the Nalbandian match if it's in Argentina, that's for sure. That same court, same surface, same stadium, different fans, I don't win that match.
They pulled me through that one, and, you know, they were on my side when I played Roger. Definitely today felt great.

Q. A lot of guys have good games for the surface, given the way people are playing today and stuff, but are there special things about his game that stand out and strike you as being particularly difficult to play?
MARDY FISH: Well, he's a big guy and he serves well and he just moves so well. You know, he defends -- he can defend with the best of them, and he slides like a clay courter out there on a clay court, and, you know, in the forehand and on the backhand and he can change direction on any ball.
He's got great hands from the baseline. He can unload on the forehand whenever he wants, and then he can just tighten the screws up on you and not miss at all. He can play all different styles of play, can play on grass. He can play on clay. He can play on slow and fast hardcourts, and he's going to be here for a while.

Q. So many people feel technology is flawless. My question is two parts: Do you think Hawk-Eye is accurate, and do you think it puts, the system puts too much pressure on the players to make instant calls on?
MARDY FISH: I do think it's accurate. I think that's -- I think that's a pretty good thing to think, if you're out there, you've got to believe that it's right.
I know I had one out there today that I must have missed the mark, because it was -- there was a mark that was long, and it showed it in. I definitely missed the mark, because the mark I thought definitely didn't show on the board. I do think it's 100 percent accurate.
I don't think that we think about it too much. I think if anything, it gives us peace of mind to know we're not going to lose on something. We don't have to worry about, you know, the human error aspect of it.
But the umpires are -- you know, you can tell. We put a lot of points out there and it rarely happens. We hit a lot of balls close to the line. It doesn't happen too often.

Q. Third set, at what point did you feel like the momentum started switching? At what point did it feel like he regained the momentum?
MARDY FISH: I think it was that first game was huge for him to get back and win that game. Obviously I'm still, you know, still 0-1 and I'm serving.
But if I could have gotten that game, he came out a little lax in the first game, missed a couple easy shots he doesn't usually miss.
I felt like the momentum was on my side, crowd was getting into it big time. You could kind of sense there was a little spot there I could take control of the match. And even though I didn't really feel like I had control the entire time, even though I did win that second set, you know, I was serving sporadically and serving over the baseline sometimes, and just didn't really know what I was doing on the serve and trying -- I was just thinking about trying to get that back, getting my rhythm back on that.
It obviously would have been awesome to get that first game and go out there with a lot of confidence and definitely a lot of momentum.

Q. What was the struggle with the serve today? Anything you can pinpoint to?
MARDY FISH: No. You know -- I mean, obviously he puts a lot of pressure on you because he returns so well. You know, he's definitely a guy that you need to have free points against, for sure.

Q. What did you do at 4:00 in the morning? You couldn't fall back asleep. Did you start replaying yesterday's match? Answer e-mail?
MARDY FISH: I turned the TV on first and checked some basketball scores and stuff that I had missed some highlights. My bracket is just out of control, bad, so... (laughter.)

Q. Join the club.
MARDY FISH: Yeah. So, you know, eventually I went back to sleep, but it's -- that was definitely a special day yesterday to -- one to remember.

Q. There were some sporadic calls from the crowd all the way through between the first and second serves. Did that bother you at all?
MARDY FISH: No, no. And Novak was nice enough on that one to give me a, to give me a first serve, which I made and then he ripped back at my feet, so I was actually -- probably would have been better with a second serve, but no, no, it wasn't bad.

Q. Do you feel that you found yourself this week?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, yeah. That would be -- I think that would be accurate. You know, it would be -- it would be really nice to take this momentum and take this confidence into next week, because next week is just as big, just as big of a week for me. I didn't play last year.
You know, I think I put myself in a nice position now around 40 in the world with not a match to defend until August 19th, which I checked.

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