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September 1, 2008
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
M. FISH/G. Monfils
7-5, 6-2, 6-2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Terrific win.
MARDY FISH: Thank you.
Q. But do you think you're in the 1970s or something, serve and volley? Are you in a time lapse?
MARDY FISH: Well, I'm never ever going to beat someone like that from the baseline. I know that, first and foremost, more than anybody else does.
He doesn't miss. I'm not going to last out there against him. He's going to last a lot longer than me. I knew that against most guys these days I'm going to try to keep the points as short as possible, try to come to the net.
My volleys are some of the best parts of my game. I think I volleyed better than I hit my forehand, so I might as well try to do that.
Q. How tough is it to keep an attacking kind of sensibility when you've got guys who play so powerful from the baseline? Do you have to actually force yourself to...
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it's a constant, stay aggressive kind of mentality that I tell myself, just constantly, changeovers in between points, if I'm playing well and doing well and that's what I'm doing, that's what I'm telling myself nonstop.
You know, today against someone like that, you know, the guy -- I mean, we've all seen him, some of the gets that he gets. He makes you hit the extra ball.
The courts are quick. They move through the court. I felt like on the second serve returns he went to my forehand almost every time on the deuce side, and I was able to chip that pretty low and kind of knife it through the court, kind of down the middle of the court. The ball stays pretty low, and it's a tough shot for anybody to come up with a pass from that position.
Q. What's it like to be doing well as an American in this tournament with this crowd and so much attention to the US players?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, this is the biggest tournament of the year, no doubt. It obviously can be argued from a bunch of players at Wimbledon, and this is -- these are the two biggest ones, are the two favorites that they would like to win most.
I think it's to secret, you know, and I said out there on the court, I mean, I desperately wanted to play well and desperately wanted to do well, and this is certainly sweet for sure.
Q. Afterward you almost looked a little emotional. Was it just the sun in your eyes, or what were you feeling out there?
MARDY FISH: I was certainly happy. There were no tears, so I guess that was the sun. You know, I was certainly elated to have beaten a guy, you know, tough opponent like that fairly quickly.
These past two matches I've been able to get off the court and I still feel fresh, you know, and it's nice it be in the quarters of a Slam and not -- and my longest match by far was my first round, three and a half hours or so.
The rest of them have been pretty close to two hours. That's kind of like a normal three-set match on any other tournament.
Q. Hadn't you expected this sort of thing several years ago for yourself?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, again, like this is a great surface for me. The ball stays low and it helps my serve a lot.
You know, I think there are probably a number of reasons: Coming in -- I've come in to this tournament, I think, three or four times playing really, doing well the weeks prior.
You know, I'm a lot more experienced in that case now obviously than when I was 21 in 2003 when I came in after Cincinnati and 2004 after the Olympics, and then last year and this year, playing well in New Haven.
I think there's a ton of pressure. It's just the hustle of the city, and -- you know, I think it helped a lot to play a night match, because I always talk to Andy a lot about it, and he obviously just, I mean, by far loves this tournament more than anything else. I said, What is it? And he said, It's the night matches. It's walking out there, and it's just electric. You can feel it. I said, I've never played a night match, so I guess I wouldn't know.
You know, playing the other night with James, and you can feel it. Boy, you can really feel it. You walk out there, and it's -- it almost jumps up to your favorite tournament once you just play one of those matches.
Q. Since beating James Saturday night, has he said anything to you about the rest of the tournament, given you any kind of...
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I spoke to him this morning. He's back in Connecticut. Yeah, he texted me last night and said, Good luck and a couple other things.
You know, it's going to be a tough friendship to break up by just one match or just by a tennis match. You know, I wasn't -- obviously he's disappointed to lose. I was happy to move on.
But to each other's expense, it's not the best way for us that we want to go about it.
Q. You looked strong there, very strong mentally in the last couple matches. Is there an explanation or reason for that?
MARDY FISH: I think confidence is a big thing; maturing is a big thing. You know, again, it comes back to, you know, wanting to do well here and just having that extra amount of energy into the matches and extra amount of confidence. You know , just wanting desperately to do well and to do everything in my power to do well.
You know, obviously the mental side of the game is huge. I've certainly lost my fair share of the matches because of that, because of not being as mentally tough as some other guys. I know that, and I think it's -- hopefully it's in the past.
I'm certainly my hardest.
Q. You've used the word "desperately" twice now, on court and here. It's a pretty strong word. Is there a feeling that time is running out?
MARDY FISH: No. I mean, I'm 26 and I had all of 2005 off. I feel strong as ever and as fresh as ever. I don't feel like time is running out at all.
However, these are the best of the best, and it's not every tournament that, you know, I make the quarters of a Slam. It's not every Slam.
It's only happened twice now, so I want to -- I've always wanted to do well here. I think obviously I'm not unbelievably -- well, maybe I am desperate, yes. I was desperate to do well.
Q. I guess the next big question for you is if you play your top level, your attacking style, do you have the confidence to really hurt Nadal?
MARDY FISH: Absolutely. Absolutely. I feel like a guy with my style of play is someone that he doesn't want to see. I think it's an extremely tough matchup for Sam right now just because Rafa is playing so well and he's just so solid from the baseline. He's so confident and he moves so well.
You know, you got to be able to finish points quickly. He's going to last longer than anybody. He wants to keep the points as long as possible and run the guys down, kind of body blow after body blow.
If he's on the other side of the net, I don't intend to let him do that. You know, I'm going to come in and I'm going to, you know, not necessarily a Kamikaze-type tennis, but I'm going to try to keep the points as short as possible if it is him.
Q. After playing James on this stage on Saturday, do you have a more empathy for what the Williams sisters go through in Slams, especially here? Can you even imagine what they deal with when facing each other?
MARDY FISH: Well, we're far from brothers, but, yeah, we're close. It's probably extremely tough for them. But they're competing for Grand Slams. I think I would be okay if I lost in the finals of this tournament to James.
Q. You talked about mental toughness, and in any sport you need it. Was it something that all of a sudden just clicked in, or was it a process that it evolved? When did you realize, Now I got it.
MARDY FISH: I think it helps to play well. I think it helps to -- you know, if things are going well. I think it also helps to get up in matches early, to stay positive and stay aggressive, and it helps to win.
Who knows if I -- you know, I know that I won't do it this tournament, but who knows. In the first round of Madrid if I get down a couple breaks and I'm a little pissed off.
So I think, again, it helps to play well and to be on top of your game, to have a lot of confidence coming in from last week and in Los Angeles and here.
Q. That night match, you served for the match, and everybody said, Oh, my God. You're down 4-2 in the breaker. Was that a defining moment in your career to pull that out?
MARDY FISH: To be honest, I haven't thought about it like that. You know, I still felt like --you know, I obviously played a tight game there. Two double faults. I had like maybe three in the entire match.
So I certainly was nervous and the nerves got me definitely, but I still lost that game. I still had breakpoint in the 5-All game. I immediately told myself that I'm still up two sets to Love and on serve in the third. Finish line was close. I knew that; he knew that.
You know, we'll try to get this game at 5-All. If not, we'll try to get it in the breaker or get into a breaker. Anything can happen in a tiebreaker. I felt like I was serving well to be able to get it. I thought at 4-2 that maybe that wasn't going to be my set or my tiebreaker.
But I certainly didn't think that even if I lost that set that that was going to be the end of the match. I still felt like I was playing well. I still felt like I was disrupting what he wanted to do.
Q. What will you do tomorrow, find a lefty to hit with?
MARDY FISH: I'll figure out who I play first, and then go from there. I don't think I'll find a lefty. I've played three lefties in New Haven and a lefty in the first round here, so I should be fine.
Q. You've been talking a lot about friendships in the press conferences. The other day you mentioned your friendship with Andy was slightly different than with James. Just talk about your friendship.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, Andy is one of the first ones that when I check my phone after a match to get a text from. We've known each other for a long time and had a lot of ups and downs. We've had some tough matches; some easy matches. He's won most of them.
I admire the way he's gone about his career and how much pressure he's got on him to succeed here. But not only here, almost every tournament.
You know, you almost sit back and watch at how well he handles it and how much he hasn't changed at all from knowing him at such a young age. You know, still knowing his family well and his brother well and, you know, know a ton about him. We're real close, and will remain real close for a long time.
Q. How important is it for a guy like Monfils or some of the other guys that play so much from the baseline to actually have a small window of opportunity rather than be able to load up and go for winners from the baseline?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think he's comfortable. I think he expects guys to kind of self-destruct when he plays. He gives people a lot of fits.
If you watched the match with him and Nalbandian, you know, Nalbandian is not the kind of guy that usually just hits people off the court. He usually gives people fits and is running down a lot balls kind of with his amazing groundstroke play.
Monfils is the kind of guy you got to be able to -- either you're going blow him off the court with some huge forehands. Like James has played extremely well against him just because his forehand is so big he can finish points with his forehand.
Or you got to come to the net and serve well. So he's the kind of guy that just relishes people on the other side of the court throwing the racquet and self-destructing. I think he loves it when he sees people do that.
Q. When your ranking was down around 300, did you have doubt you would get back to this level, and what was that process like for you?
MARDY FISH: I didn't. It was extremely tough. It was also, you know, a year that James started doing really well, and Robby Ginepri had a run here in the summer.
I just couldn't play. I wanted to be with -- to be with them. We all push each other, especially Robby and Taylor Dent back then as well, and James was in that category as well.
You know, we all push each other, and that was the toughest thing, was watching them do so well and then not having a shot to kind of stay with them.
Obviously I was real happy for them to do well, but that was tough. Everyone was doing well, and I wanted to go right there with them.
End of FastScripts