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June 22, 2009

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/S. Roitman
6-3, 6-2, 4-1

Q. How did you feel your form was?
MARDY FISH: I felt like it got better and better as the match went on. This is arguably the biggest tournament that we have, so naturally you're a little nervous coming out.
I've played my fair share of tight first-round matches when I'm supposed to win, when I feel like I'm supposed to win. US Open for sure, and getting through, and a couple sets feels nice. I went up to Liverpool last week and played a bunch of matches, played four matches there and played a few, three matches in Queen's, so I feel great.
It's nice to win a match here. I've had some tough draws the past couple years, right on the cusp of being seeded and then having to play Gasquet and Nadal, and I played Murray pretty well in Queen's, so it was good.

Q. Why did you go to Liverpool?
MARDY FISH: The matches for one is appealing, getting out of London and getting away from everything. I like to play the week before. You know, the way the ranking system is set up now, there's so many of those 250s. You only use two on your rankings, and I've already got the two that I need. I don't need to play 17 250s. I went up there to get a few matches.
You never know how Queen's goes. It's such a tough tournament, you could lose in the first round. I remember a couple years ago I was seeded eight or nine and played Karlovic in the first round. That was just a few years ago. So you never know how that goes.

Q. You've got to feel like your game translates well to the grass, though.
MARDY FISH: I love the grass. This is my favorite part of the year because I know that there's nothing but good surfaces ahead, the States after this, and nothing but good opportunities for us. My results haven't shown it in the past few years, but in the past two years my losses on grass have been Nadal, Murray, Roddick and Gasquet. I haven't gone that far in any of the tournaments. I've had to play those guys relatively early.
But I feel comfortable for sure on this surface.

Q. Have you had chats with Patrick about Davis Cup?
MARDY FISH: No, not at all.

Q. Interested in going? Obviously you have to look at James --
MARDY FISH: Absolutely, if I'm the guy. It's a few weeks away, but we've got some stuff to worry about right now, and then we'll think about that. I don't know, he likes to keep it under wraps as best he can, I think.

Q. Would that be a little bit of a tough thing for you? Obviously you'd be replacing James.
MARDY FISH: Well, he replaced me (laughter). I replaced him and he replaced me.
I mean, I feel sick for James right now. I mean, I really do. He wants to do well here just as bad as anyone does, so what can you say? He's had a tough year and not his best results, but he played well last week, and you think he's going to get it going again. Seppi played really well for sure. It's a match that James usually wins more often than not.

Q. What's your best guess as to why, because you actually know James better than anybody.
MARDY FISH: Who is a grass courter these days? Some of the guys that have made the semis and beyond and done well here aren't necessarily grass courters. He certainly has a good game. James is a hot and cold player, like a lot of players are. I'm just the same. When he's playing well and when he's on his game, when he's playing within himself, he beats everyone, literally everyone. We've seen that before.
Confidence is, as you guys know, is just a huge thing in this sport. If you struggle, all you need is a little bit to struggle with and you can take it to a whole 'nother level.
We've all done it, and I'm sure obviously he's just struggling with confidence a little bit. The guy works his butt off. He's not lacking that aspect of it. He's just had a few tough breaks in Slams. But again, come out, and this is, again, one of the biggest tournaments, and you're so -- the nerves just roll through your body in the beginning of this tournament and it obviously got the best of him.

Q. We all know that James is one of the nicest guys in our sport, maybe in all of sport, a really great guy. He had the two match points at the Olympics, he had match points at the clay final, and today he was up four or five points in the tiebreak and then just lost, I guess, seven in a row. Does he just have walkabouts or does he have trouble closing?
MARDY FISH: In general, no, he doesn't. I don't think you can get to 4 in the world without having some success in big spots and closing out big matches and small matches, in anything. He had big matches in Davis Cup finals. He's been inside the top 15 for a long time, three, four years now.
I don't know, like I said before, it's a confidence sport, and the mental side of the game is just as big as any sport there is. When you're just wavering just a little bit, that's all that guys need. There's no doubt that he'll be back. I just feel really bad for him because he loves this tournament and he wants so badly to do well here.

Q. People say you can work on your mental toughness. Can you work on your confidence? Is that something you can really shore up?
MARDY FISH: Part of it is mental toughness. I mean, every player goes through times where -- even the great Roger Federer goes through times where he feels like he's not playing well. But somehow he obviously has a mental game that's better than pretty much everybody. I don't know how to do it. But it would be a good question to ask him. I'd like to ask him, just one-on-one, how he does that. It gets everybody, and it's tough. I mean, I can't emphasize it more. It's a huge thing in tennis.

Q. You can obviously sympathize in having some moments like this. Is that something you want to hear, an encouraging word from your friends, or would you rather they just leave it alone?
MARDY FISH: I think it depends on the person. James is the kind of guy who likes to just get away. He likes to keep to himself when he's down. Andy and I and all of us, we all feel bad for him. Everybody loves James. That's as true as it gets. You can't say it enough. He wants to do well here so badly, and sometimes it's like Andy said, the last couple years here at Wimbledon, you want something so badly that you try too hard almost if it's possible.

Q. You guys are going to play doubles?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, we're in the doubles, and we'll see how he's feeling.

Q. What can you tell me about Michael Yani?
MARDY FISH: I can tell you a lot about Michael Yani. I came up in juniors with him. We're the same age. Nice kid, went to Duke and was real good in college obviously.

Q. Did he graduate?
MARDY FISH: I don't know that much about him (laughter). I'm not sure what he got on his SATs (laughter). But a really good kid and works hard. He's been around playing Challengers and Futures for a while, so one of those journey guys that you find and certainly young enough to still make a career out of it for sure. I think grass is probably one of his best surfaces, has to be. He's got a great serve, a great second serve, moves forward. He's a great athlete.

Q. Is he U.S. born?
MARDY FISH: I think so. But he plays Florida tennis.

Q. He's from Florida?
MARDY FISH: Either he's from Florida or he's around there. I don't know to be honest.
I practiced with him yesterday and asked him how qualifying went, and he's been doing real well in some of the Challengers in the States.

Q. Has he been in a main draw Grand Slam before?
MARDY FISH: I don't think so. Possibly the US Open maybe he qualified there one time. He said he's been playing the best tennis of his life. We'll see how it goes. He's got a good opportunity here.

Q. Did you practice with him?
MARDY FISH: I just hit with him yesterday for the first time in a long time. Certainly keep an eye out for his name. He's been doing well.

Q. How do you make sure that the pressure doesn't get to you here and that you can actually play the tennis that you're capable of?
MARDY FISH: Well, it's just like one of those things. I've never really done well here. A couple third rounds isn't exactly how I'd envision Wimbledon going for my career when I started playing well. I thought I was going to win Wimbledon when I was ten years old, that I'd be pretty great.
But I feel like this tournament just suits my game perfectly. I love serving and volleying. The grass certainly helps my serve. I love attacking, coming forward, and that's what I feel like what you have to do to win here, or you can certainly do to win here.
I finally broke through at the Open, played real well. I feel like I have one of those type runs in me. I'm not sure when it will go or if it will go, but why not now? I'm playing well and had some good wins in Queen's with Lopez and Llodra and guys that can play real well on grass. So it'll feel real good.

Q. There's probably some TV executives that would love to see the best of five go to the best of three at the Slams. What's your take on that from a broadcaster's perspective or an injury perspective? Do you think that could be beneficial?
MARDY FISH: Well, for one I think the doubles here might benefit from going two out of three. Three out of five in doubles is pretty tough.
That being said, I think that's the uniqueness of the Slams is that they are three out of five. It does bring in fitness. Obviously it's a huge part of our sport. But it's even more in the Grand Slams, at every Slam. You might think that you don't need some stamina here. It's a little bit different here with the points being short and that, but three out of five sets on clay in the French Open has got to be one of the toughest trophies to win in all of sports, the mental side, the physical side, and then actually being able to swing a racquet.
So I do like that they've taken away the three out of five sets in the Masters Series, some of those finals. I feel like they should be two out of three, especially with guys playing back-to-back, guys playing in Rome, Hamburg, three out of five sets and then having to go play two days later.
But I do think there should be something different to the Slams, and I like that it's --

Q. You've obviously been off with injuries and you've seen Nadal whose knees are a little bit gimpy. Is that specific to him or --
MARDY FISH: Look at the way he plays. Just being injury free, he had missed only one other Slam, in 2007 maybe I think it said. He's had some pretty good luck, period. So has Roger. Andy has had an injury here or there and basically for the most part been able to play a lot of the Slams. Injuries are a part of the sport, just like any other sport. So again, I think that the Slams -- I like it a lot, and I've certainly been on both sides of it. Probably the wrong side more often than not because of the three out of five. But I enjoy it.

Q. Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist?
MARDY FISH: Not to any extent, no.

Q. One of the big arguments is after Roland Garros, many said that, hey, Roger is now the best of all time, yet has a pretty decent losing record to Rafa and Andy, as well. Could you just comment on that?
MARDY FISH: Just his record in general or if I think he's the best of all time?

Q. Just the irony that he's said to be the best of all time.
MARDY FISH: I think if you throw a few results of certainly Pete against his rival, which I think we all can say was Andre, he had a pretty good -- he had at least a .500 record or around there with his rival. But I don't think he had a winning record against everyone. I think Wayne Ferreira was a guy that played him really well, Krajicek, there are always guys that play everybody, that match up better than most.
With that being said, boy, it's tough to start -- as great as Pete was, six years No. 1 in a row, it's really hard to start the conversation that Roger is not the best once he gets to No. 15. Where do you start? As great as he was -- in my opinion once Roger got that French Open -- he's been so good on clay anyways, and if he got to 15, 16, 17 Slams, people would come back to the French.
But it's really not even fair because he still made the finals almost every year. He's been by far the second best clay court player in the world. Winning that, with or without Rafa, beating Rafa, not beating Rafa, he won that trophy, and I think that sets him apart.

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