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August 31, 2010

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/J. Hajek
6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What happened to you out there this afternoon?
MARDY FISH: I won. (Laughter.)
No, these guys are good, man. You know, I started out great. I made one unforced error in the first set, entire first set. Played a bad game early in the second and he held, served well, held throughout there. 4-All in the third set he hit four winners, broke me there, and played a long game the next game and he held.
Next thing you know, you're down two sets to one thinking, you know, maybe you're going home. That's not where I want to be right now, so I was lucky to turn it around and play a little more aggressive. I was playing a little too defensive. You know, lucky enough to turn it around.

Q. I know you've cited your fitness as a big reason for your success, but I'm wondering, was there ever a point in the past couple months where you wondered, have I lost maybe too much weight in order to withstand a five-set test? Was that a thought? And if so, what did today tell you?
MARDY FISH: No, it hasn't. We didn't -- I didn't think the match was all that long. I mean, there were three sets that were really quickly or really quick. So, I mean, it was only a two-hour-forty minute match.
Yes, it's hot. This is probably the hottest it's gonna be here. But, I mean, from what we went through this summer, what John and I went through this summer in Atlanta, I mean, it's just not even -- I can't tell you. It's not even close. It's not even -- I mean, it's 50 degrees less, I'm telling you, and no humidity, so it just feels nice. (Laughing.) It just feels kind of hot.
So to answer your question, I don't think so. I mean, I haven't put myself in that position yet. I've just played a five-setter in the French in the first round and then a five-setter in the French in the second round that I lost 10-8 in the fifth. But I felt -- my body felt fine. That wasn't the reason that I lost.

Q. During the summer, can you talk about the motivating factor in your decision to go on the diet?
MARDY FISH: Well, I had my knee surgery because I was too heavy. That was why my knees were hurting. Both knees were hurting. I mean, one needed repair and the other one was just sore all the time.
I was just too heavy, flat out too heavy. So that's why I did it.

Q. Do you consider it sort of a body reinvention or career reinvention?
MARDY FISH: Probably maybe a little bit of both. I mean, career is more important to me than, you know, sort of how I look on the court. I mean, I feel like a completely different person, playing like a completely different player, and able to do things that I've never been able to do before. Hopefully it's a career thing.

Q. Do you look at pictures of yourself just from a couple years ago?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I've seen them. I look at Stacey sometimes and say, What was your problem? Why didn't somebody tell me that I looked like that? (Laughter.)

Q. Really? It's just that stark to you, the difference?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it's really -- it looks really different. I mean, you guys would know, too. I feel so much different, as well. You know, I can look at pictures, and some pictures I might look okay and some, you know, not.
Even from 2009 Wimbledon, I mean, you know, it's almost embarrassing to think about as a professional athlete or a professional tennis player. I mean, we have to be in such good shape. It's pretty crazy how I kind of got away with it - for a little while, at least.

Q. What do you feel when you say you feel completely different? Try and describe what feels different.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I just feel like I can do -- you know, sort of do -- I feel healthy. You know, a lot of it has to do -- to be honest, a lot of it has to do with just sort of walking around. Walking around the locker room, walking around...
You know, just sort of feeling confident. A lot of it's mental. You know, I want to set a precedent to the guys that, you know, I can play in the hottest stuff out here and outlast as many people as I can, you know. So I want to sort of at least try to put some sort of myth out there that, you know, that I can last as long as anyone.

Q. Is there one thing that was hardest to give up?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, lots of stuff was hard. I saw a Domino's Pizza commercial the other day that looked pretty good. That looked really good. Yeah, but I love -- it wasn't necessarily just what I ate, but when I ate them and times that I ate them, and, you know, days of matches and nights before matches and things like that. I miss a lot of the stuff.

Q. Does it say anything about tennis and what it takes to play at a high level that you could have been an elite player 30 pounds heavier?
MARDY FISH: Well, I mean, I think it shows that you can't do that. I think I've had some good results here and there but never sustained them, never kept -- I've never been, you know, consistent throughout a year, throughout an entire year.
I've had, you know, a big result here and a big result there at the end of the year, a final of Indian Wells and something in Delray Beach, but then nothing for five months because I was injured or not feeling well or not playing well.
So I think that speaks volumes to what you need to do in this sport to be, you know, at a high level, is that you have to be fit to want to be consistent.

Q. How did your new physique and your new mental state affect today's match in your mind?
MARDY FISH: It's huge. I mean, it's absolutely huge. I can feel how the other guy's feeling. I can see that, you know. I can see that he's struggling to move out to his forehand even, you know, early in the fourth set, even when he won the third set.
You know, so I felt great. I mean, I felt fresh. It's a good feeling, you know, sort of to wear down a player and know that all the hard work that you put in just paid off right there.

Q. Was this a match you would have lost before?
MARDY FISH: I don't know about this one. I think a lot of the matches that I've won this summer, it's a lot easier to play when you're winning, a lot easier to, you know, sort of play mentally at a high level when you're winning a lot of matches, too.
You know, I think in the long run, yeah, I probably wouldn't be in that position. But I haven't won very many five-set matches throughout my career apart from this year, so it's tough to answer yes, you know.

Q. Why didn't you do it sooner, like a couple years ago?
MARDY FISH: I mean, I never -- I always wanted to be in better shape. I've always worked hard. You know, I just kind of would go until I got tired, and I got tired really, you know, sort of too quick.
You know, then I just wouldn't make the right choices as far as what I was eating, and a lot of it was, you know, that I wasn't educated enough on some of the good, you know, some of the things that I needed to do.
A lot of it is maturity and getting older, you know, sort of getting married and realizing that you don't -- you're just not out there for yourself anymore. You can be pretty selfish as tennis players, being an individual sport. You know, Stacey travels a lot with me, and she's part of it. You know, you want to do your best. You want to make as much money as you can while you can and do some -- try to do some cool things while you can, because it's not going to last too long.

Q. Coming off the third set, you had to be thinking, No way can I lose this match given all the results I had this summer.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it was a scarey position to be in, no doubt about it. Sitting there in the changeover, I wasn't thinking, you know, No way can I lose this, because guys can beat anybody. But I just didn't want to sort of go out kind of playing like I was playing.
I mean, I wanted to play a little more aggressive, to say the least. You know, I knew that it was still a long ways away. Still has to win a whole set. I was close in those couple sets, you know.
But, yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean, this is a new position for me, you know. It's new sort of to have a lot of expectations, have a lot of people talking about you. It's a new spot for me, and it's where we want to be, you know, for sure.
But I'll have to get used to it. (Laughter.)

Q. You've had two slam quarters before. You've come into tournaments playing well. I would think as well as you're playing now, a slam semi isn't completely out of the question, huh?
MARDY FISH: No, I don't feel like it is. That being said, I've never done it. And then on the other hand, like I said before, I mean, I feel like a completely different player. I mean, I know that I am.
So how far that takes me, I have no idea. But, you know, I've never been fitter and never been mentally as strong. I've never wanted it more, and so hopefully that goes a long way.

Q. Couple years ago I think you lost a five-setter here early on. We were talking about your career, and I used the word, "journeyman" which you weren't very happy at the time. But now that you've had this resurgence, were you concerned that it was going in that direction? Thankfully now that there has been this a resurgence, and you said you were happy with the higher expectations, but you can't go under the radar screen anymore. Is that also...
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, it's just different. It's where you want to be. I've put in so much work this summer, put in so many hours this summer, you know, playing in tournaments, playing matches, and fighting through matches that I wouldn't have won before.
I never would have beaten Murray three times in a row before, you know, years past. Yeah, I have been -- I have gone into slams and come out disappointed a lot. You talk about the Robredo match, I lost 6-4 in the fifth and I was up 4-1. I remember it, because, to be honest, I was feeling some cramping coming on and my body just kind of gave out.
I don't want to be in that position anymore. I hope that I'm not. You know, who knows? Who knows what it will be this year.

Q. You have been talking about this before, but a big part of our sport, so mental, is belief. You've have had really a breakout season. It's a long ways away, but in your gut, do you think you can win this thing, go all the way? Talk about that, and belief.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, I haven't shown that I can beat the top players in three out of five sets, because it's much different than two out of three. But coming off a tournament like Cincinnati, you know, every guy that I played there was either in the top 10 or was just in the top 10. Every single player all the way from Simon to Gasquet, you know, those guys weren't in there. They'll be back there, you know.
So I played Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and doubles, as well, three times. You know, so I feel like physically I can do it, and that's really important. I've never felt like that before. But maybe you'll have to ask me if I'm still sitting here next Wednesday.
You know, I mean, I don't -- I know that I can beat those guys in two out of three sets. I know that I can beat them, but I haven't shown it in three out of five. So I'd like to do it once and then answer your question.

Q. Jimmy Connors said earlier today that your situation was kind of a better-late-than-never scenario. Are you okay if that's kind of the truth? Are you not somebody who is going to look back with any regret?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I get asked that question -- I have got asked that question quite a bit this summer. Why didn't you do it before? I mean, that was me, you know. Just really hard to -- it's really hard to try to dwell on, you know, some of the mistakes that you've made in the past.
I'm not even saying they're mistakes, because I've had a great life. I've had a lot of fun. I've got great friends out here that I've made throughout the years. So, you know, that was who I was when I was, you know, between 20 and 26 years old.
Yeah, I did make some decisions then that I probably wouldn't make now. Yeah, I did. I mean, I definitely made some bad choices.
That's long gone, long gone. I just want to, you know, use these next three, four, five years, however many I have left, to see how far I can go. I've got an unbelievable opportunity now from Newport, you know, the 12-month calendar from Newport, to get into the top 10. That's where I want to be.

Q. Talk about the support your wife has given you and gives you. There was a belief with Borg and McEnroe where they kind of dovetailed after getting married, and that married life would kind of takes away the competitive spirit and your focus. You seem to have the opposite experience.
MARDY FISH: I really do. I really feel like it's added a ton.
Like I said before, I've been really selfish over the years just, you know, because it's just such an individual sport. I mean, you have guys on your team, coaches and trainers and things like that.
But, you know, it's really hard to think about them when you're 4-All and in the third of a match and you want to dig it out. You're thinking about yourself.
That's just not the case anymore with her, and to be honest, with them. It's sort of a transformation of realizing how much work my trainer, Christian, puts in and has put in over the past couple years, how much the USTA has invested in me in letting me share David Nainkin, a coach who is also coaching Sam Querrey.
So there's a lot of people I've realized that want me to do well and want to put in a lot of work for me to be in that position. I realize that now.

Q. Do you look up to her in the stands for support? Is it something that you...
MARDY FISH: Maybe not too much -- I try to look at the coach during the match. I can glance at her every once in a while.

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