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September 6, 2010

Mardy Fish


6-3, 6-4, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How do you feel about your run here this year?
MARDY FISH: Um, well, it's a little tough to put it into perspective this soon, but, um, it's been a great summer, obviously, for many reasons. Sort of put myself back into a position where I feel like I belong, and I put in a ton of hard work.
Speaking just of this tournament, I mean, I haven't -- I don't think I've played necessarily my best tennis of the summer, but was in a position in the first three rounds, you know, sort of as the favorite of those matches. You know, in the third round of a slam, I haven't been in that situation many times, so it was nice to get through there.
Novak played great today. You know, I just didn't execute. So it's been a great summer, to answer your question.

Q. You've beaten a lot of top players. What is it about Novak that's given you problems? Is it a matchup issue?
MARDY FISH: I mean, it certainly is a matchup issue. We've played a lot of good matches. I mean, we've had -- we played a match in Hopman Cup one year; he beat me 7-6 in the third. The final of Indian Wells was 6-3 in the third. Indian Wells just this year was three sets, as well.
So we've played good matches. I felt so many times today like even off my first serves I was sort of fighting to neutralize the point. I was on my back foot quite a bit even, when I was with the wind.
I think he certainly had the advantage as far as playing -- I haven't played on that court in two years. Man, is it different from playing on Louis Armstrong and Grandstand. There's not hardly any wind outside, and it's windy in there, really windy.
For him to play every match in there and sort of get used to that I think certainly helped him. Didn't help me at all. It took me a while just to get used to sort of the conditions. Even when I warmed up this morning at 10:30 it wasn't too bad. We actually looked at the flag up at the top of the stadium, and it was dead. It wasn't moving at all.

Q. Do you think the Americans have gotten short shrift on the stadium courts this tournament?
MARDY FISH: I like Louis. Louis Armstrong and Grandstand are two of the best courts we have out here. I had 20 minutes to get ready, you know, for that. I never got a chance to get on there the practice week.
You know, for whatever reason, I don't know why they haven't put us on there, but I'm sure that had nothing -- that doesn't mean that if I play Clément out there that I win today by any means.
But it took me a while to get used to it, for sure. It's certainly a windy court.

Q. Can you predict from the way the flag is blowing where the wind is going, or is it different on the...
MARDY FISH: No, it's pretty predictable. The way that the flag is going, it's the opposite of the way the flag is going, for whatever reason.
I looked at the forecast today and it didn't look like it was too windy at all. Certainly got to be the windiest court out there, for sure.

Q. Heading forward, have you set any kind of goals in terms of a ranking or results where you'd like to be at this time next year?
MARDY FISH: Well, I mean, I'm sure I'll sit down with the right people, you know, maybe after Davis Cup, and try to come up with some ranking goals and some tournament goals, like you said.
Just off the top of my head, I'd love to make it into the top 10. I think there's just such a significant difference between a player who's been in the top 20 or even the top 15 and then, you know, a top 10 player.
I mean, there's not many guys that have done it, and seems like most of the really good players on tour have been there, you know, just once just for a couple weeks, if that's what it is.
But, you know, you saw someone like Stan Wawrinka yesterday beat Murray. He's been in the top, as high as 8 in the world. He's had a run, and people have put together runs like that.
I've certainly put myself in a great position. I got 1400 points or so in the summer just in the summer, the U.S. summer. So, I mean, that alone puts you around top 30 in the world.
I've got a great opportunity, and so that -- just off the top of my head, that would be a huge goal for me.

Q. How did you feel today? I mean, it looked like you were laboring a little bit at times. How did you feel on the court?
MARDY FISH: It's just, you know, you're at the end of a long summer. I haven't played many tournaments, but I played way more matches than I ever have, which is a great thing. I'm certainly not complaining, but, you know, I don't think anyone feels 100% at this point.
I've got a few things that are going on, but none of which had any effect on the match. You know, so I think it kind of comes down to just a matter of, you know, trying to put together the best plan of attack to play him, and then execution.
You know, because, I mean, I think sometimes I sort of get into a rut of -- it's so much fun for me now to be able to sort of run down shots and play a little bit of defense. I do that too much, and I'm aware of it, for the most part.
But he plays defense as good as anyone, and so he's better than me at it, for sure. That was the case. I tried to, you know, get to the net, tried to stay more, you know, be a little more aggressive towards the middle part of the match.
I just didn't -- I had some chances. I just didn't execute, generally. He played great. He played -- he kicked my butt. He played great.

Q. Do you feel like you missed an opportunity with that Love-40 breakpoint in the middle of the second set?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, that's a huge -- I think I was down a break at that point, as well.

Q. Yeah, you were.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, to get back on serve, maybe switch the momentum a little bit would have been huge. You come out of most matches and you think, Man, well, if I would have won this point or won that game, you know, things would have turned around in the match.
It's really hard to say that with the scoreline being so one-sided. But, you know, yeah, maybe that would have been a nice game to win and maybe switch the mode a little bit.

Q. I'm sure you're aware Patrick McEnroe announced this morning he will be stepping down as Davis Cup captain after the tie in Bogota. I'm wondering just your thoughts on his tenure as captain and what qualities you think are needed at the moment for his successor?
MARDY FISH: I had a great time playing for P-Mac. It truly was an honor to play for him. I saw him -- when he took the job, I was, you know, sort of part of the mix in the beginning of my career.
I saw him evolve from, you know, a rookie Davis Cup captain to a great Davis Cup captain, which is what he was now.
I saw, you know, him handle players the way he handled players in the beginning of his captaincy and sort of the way he handles players now. He was extremely open to, not really criticism but, you know, handling players specific ways, not handling everybody the same way. I think he did an amazing job with that.
It's a tough job in a sense that you've got to let a lot of people down, as well. Sometimes I was on that -- at that end of it. I felt like maybe sometimes I, you know, could have played certain ties or could have been that second singles guy sometimes.
He always was really straightforward. You know, sometimes brutally straightforward as far as where I stood, and I also respected that, as well. So we had a great time.
He was one of the guys when we were -- you know, during the weeks, and he will be missed.

Q. Patrick and José Higueras were up here before talking about American tennis and why there would be six Spaniards in the round of 16 and two Americans. Do you have any theories on that, about why Spain, what they do? You play these guys. Why do they do so well?
MARDY FISH: Just off the top of my head, I think that tennis is a huge sport in Spain. Clearly Rafa Nadal and Fernando Verdasco are Spain's best athletes. They're getting a lot of their -- you know, obviously soccer is their biggest sport, but tennis is right there. I mean, Rafael Nadal is arguably the biggest sporting athlete they've ever had.
They've got -- they just keep coming at you with guys that can play on hard courts or clay courts. If I named all the guys, I'd forget three of them probably. (Smiling.) They're just unbelievably tough outs week in, week out, David Ferrer, guys like that.
So, you know, these guys are their best athletes, I think. They've got a lot of people playing tennis over there, and they love it.

Q. Just to follow up on that, is there anything that Spanish players do in general that you see, any characteristic of theirs as their approach to the game, strategy or mental?
MARDY FISH: I think one of the things, if you look at, they're all in unbelievable shape. You won't come across a, you know, a top 50 Spaniard who isn't afraid to take his shirt off in practice, you know, and looks good doing it, you know. (Laughter.)
They're in shape. They're physically fit. You know, they can play on all surfaces, you know. Having a high number next to your name means you have to be successful on a lot of surfaces, you know.
These guys can play on clay, clearly can play on fast hard court that's here, and do well at Wimbledon, as well.

Q. Yesterday Sam said that too much is being made of the changes in your physique and the upgrade to your game. What are your thoughts right now about the changes in your game and your physique and what it might predict for the future?
MARDY FISH: Well, I can't -- you know, I don't know where it takes me. I've always said that. I'm not sure where I'll end up as far as, you know, 12 months from now coming back here, where I'll be ranked or what I've accomplished or what, you know...
But I know that I feel like a completely different person. You know, I mean, I always had the ability to beat a lot of good players, but not consistently. I feel like consistently I can do it now over the long haul.
And I've got to do a better job that I didn't do today. Just sort of figure out the exact strategy that I want, and I'll hopefully try to figure that out over the course of, you know, the next few months or however long it takes me to sort of find that happy medium between staying aggressive and playing defense.
I'd love to -- I feel like I can play on clay a little bit now, as well. So it's, you know, Sam has a higher metabolism than I do. He doesn't know what it feels like to, you know, be overweight and then to work as hard as I did to get back to where I am now.
You know, I think he's sort of trying to stick up for me a little bit in the sense that everyone's saying, Well, I've lost this weight so now I'm a good player where maybe I wasn't before. I just wasn't consistent before. I could have a result here and result there, but never consistently.
So I think that's maybe what he's trying to say.

Q. Playing Djokovic, is it kind of hard to read him sometimes as far as get a rhythm because he has that sort of a sleeping giant effect where you can't really see what he's gonna...
MARDY FISH: He puts a lot of pressure on you with his movement. He's probably -- you know, he's top, you know, 3 fastest guys as far as his movement is concerned on tour.
It's very hard to wrong-foot him. It's very hard to win a winner from the baseline. It's very hard to get him sort of on defense. You know, you can't really rely on much as far as a game plan against him.
I mean, he returns so well. He can go through stretches where he can serve really well, too, serve as well as anyone. When he hits his spots on his serve and holds serve all the time, he's always up there as far as breaking serve.
He's, you know, probably in the top 2 or 3 as far as return games won on tour. There's just not many holes there to try to figure out. Clearly, I mean, his record speaks for itself. He will -- I'm sure in no time he will win more Grand Slams than he's got now.

Q. What are your thoughts on Sam's game and his chances here in Week 2?
MARDY FISH: He seems like he's in a great spot right now.
I think his draw has opened up pretty good for him. I think probably the toughest guy in there might be Youzhny to make the semis, and he's in a great spot. He's put himself in that spot.
I think the world of Sam's game. I really think he's got a lot of upside. If he were a stock, I'd buy big time. (Laughter.)
I've said that for a while. I mean, his serve alone will keep him in the top 30, easily. And then, you know, once he develops his backhand and figures out that he's 6'6" and moves like he's 6', you know, and sort of uses his movement to his advantage, the sky's the limit.
I mean, he won't have very many weaknesses. He plays a lot of doubles, so he tries to, you know, figure out his short game a little bit as far as the volleys and stuff. He's got that sort of happy-go-lucky mentality that, you know, nothing really gets to him as far as the stage.
He's played a lot of big matches and doesn't seem like that affects him all that much.

Q. If U.S. men's tennis right now were a stock, what would you do?
MARDY FISH: I'd buy high. No, I think Sam's got a great future. I'm not sure how high, you know, how high that is, but he's won a lot of tournaments this year and he's only getting better.
And then, you know, I think Harrison has a lot of Roddick in him, a lot of, you know, Roddick when he was 18. He's got a big game. More importantly, he wants it. You can tell he wants it real bad. Just being around him, he is intense about tennis.
We said -- we saw him after his match where he lost here and said, you know, Bad luck or whatever. He said, Oh, I shouldn't have missed that forehand in the fourth set or something like that. I was like, What are you talking -- I said, I knew you were doomed when you lost the first point of the match, you know.
He's an intense kid. You know, these two guys are gonna be around for a long time.

Q. Mary Carrillo was joking that you might let up on the diet now and have a beer or something to relax. Is there something you are looking forward to?
MARDY FISH: Well, I still have to play doubles. I'm looking forward to getting out there on the Grandstand right now, and then after that we'll see where it takes us. We've got Davis Cup, you know, in a week. There's not really -- not too many breaks.
I won't slip up, though. Tell her I won't slip up. (Laughter.)

Q. Speaking of Harrison, what's your explanation for the lack of teens in the top 100 or 200?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. Something that Andy said to me, he asked me what the average age in the top 100 was or what I thought I was. I said, I don't know, 23, 24. He said 27 years old.
I was surprised at it. I think it's one of those things where you -- it's a really physical game now. And by that, I mean it's a long year, year after year after year, and, you know, the young guys in these -- they're just fragile, I feel like.
You know, you look at Rafa and some of these guys, even Andy. I mean, these are big guys. Soderling, he's a big guy, you know.
Just over the course of a season. Maybe they can -- Harrison can beat a player here or a player there, but he's got to grow into his body. He'll get physically stronger and fitter.
Gosh, it's a long year. Once you finish that year then you have to do it all over next year and then do it ten years in a row.

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