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March 29, 2011

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/J. Del Potro
7-5, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You're the last American in the tournament, men and women. You may be the No. 1 American at the end of this tournament. You're out there and it sounded like you were playing in South America. You're a native Floridian. What did you make of it?
MARDY FISH: I didn't know where I was. He certainly has a lot of support here. I didn't think it was going to be that much. He certainly had the crowd on his side, so it didn't -- you know, I'm not sure where we were playing out there today.
No, I did hear some people rooting for me. I appreciate that.

Q. Are you ready to wave the banner for the USA here the rest of the way?
MARDY FISH: I hope so. Look, I've got a tough match tomorrow. I'm excited to be in the position that I'm in. Certainly didn't feel great for the past couple months. In Indian Wells I had a quick exit there, so it's nice to be in the position that I'm in.

Q. How do you feel about the court speed here? Roger Federer last night compared it to a clay court. He said you can't slide. That's the only difference. Isn't it strange that all these hard courts are playing so slow?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I would assume -- to be honest, the difference between night and day playing here is night and day.
Even in Indian Wells when you can play during the day and you can play in the heat it plays pretty quickly, I think. I mean, not quickly, but I mean, it plays -- you know, you can use your serve a little bit. You can get free points. You can play aggressive tennis during the day.
I haven't played at night here. I've requested to play during the day every single match, and thankfully they've given me that. I just know that it's extremely slow at night. You know, the humidity drops a little bit, the temperature drops a little bit, and the balls get pretty big.
Yeah, I mean, it's frustrating because you want some big tournaments to be on faster surfaces, and there just isn't any.

Q. You had some pretty big games out there with break points. What was the key to getting through them? You had all those set points and break points.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it was one of those matches that, you know, a couple points here and there and you lose the match even worse than the score that I won.
You know, to be honest, that's tennis. I mean, it's a brutal game in that sense. He probably had a ton of break points. I had a few, as well, and converted on two of them; he got me on one.
You know, it was pretty high-quality tennis for the better part of it, I think. I'm sure he came off thinking he played pretty well. And I played great.

Q. You have been doing this for a dozen years. There's always been somebody over you.

Q. Pete, Andre, Andy, even James. I know you try not to think about it, but what would it be like to be the top player?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. You just kind of feel like coming through with Andy and the career that he's put together, you really feel like it would probably be pretty tough to still feel like I was the No. 1 American.
I mean, his career put on my career, he could put it on top of mine 15 times. I mean, he's won so many more matches, so many more tournaments, you know, so many more Davis Cup matches.
So I don't think I would ever feel like the No. 1, even though, you know, if I were to win tomorrow the number next to my name would be smaller than his.

Q. Twelve months ago I remember you standing in this room with a bag of ice on your knee, and you were telling us how you lost so much weight. Now, twelve months later you are on the verge of being the No. 1 American. Can you pinpoint a couple of things that actually led you to where you are now?
MARDY FISH: Ah, a few injuries, you know, the knee surgery that I had to put myself in the position to have that time, you know, to have that three or four months to where I could actually lose the weight, could actually change my lifestyle, my eating habits.
You know, and that's an injury that I had to where I was -- it was for lack of work ethic. It was for lack of discipline, not being, you know, a true professional in every sense of the word.
So, you know, we got together, Christian and I got together, and we just said, You know, there are some things that we'd still like to do, that we'd still like to do in this sport. I've got some time still and still feel relatively young -- probably won't tonight, but I still feel relatively young -- and, you know, I've had some years where I haven't played very many matches, and I'll hopefully get those on the backhand.

Q. Most guys on the tour are afraid to take a lot of time off. Would that be a blessing, too, with the season being so long? Is it nice to take a few months?
MARDY FISH: It sure is, yeah. If I never had that knee surgery, I wouldn't have had the time to, you know, to lose -- you needed two months straight with, you know, without basically training. I mean, I couldn't train for six weeks, you know, apart from the rehab that we did with the knee.
So, you know, if you're trying to lose and trying to lose a ton of weight quickly, you know, you've got to eat, eat and fuel your body when you're training and playing and trying to get better. And, you know, I was able to go the other way and not eat as much. I couldn't have trained how I was eating.
You know, I just tried to get in the best shape I could and then see where it took me.

Q. Did you have some problems, physical problems, that kept you out of Ecuador and the Davis Cup?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I had a thyroid problem that is now past me. Certainly playing a match like today would [sic] have come out pretty good if I still had it. We have gotten my blood work done the past three months, you know, every five days or so, and monitoring it.
It was at its worst in Australia, but I didn't know what I had at the time. I got the results back after I played that tournament, and have stayed on it now.

Q. Are you on certain medication for it, or is the thyroid, was it a temporary thing?
MARDY FISH: No, it was basically time that your body reacts to it. I had a hyperthyroid, and then it was supposed to go down to a hypothyroid, and then came back up to normal. I guess you can't take anything for the hyper, and it was pretty high.

Q. Was that cramps at the end of the tiebreaker?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it sure was. (Smiling.)
I was very lucky. Probably 5-Love I started feeling some twinges, and then it just came. It's extremely humid. Certainly I'm used to these conditions growing up here, but I haven't played a match in these conditions in a while, obviously.
It was much more pleasant when I played Gasquet. There was a little more wind, so I didn't have to work as hard. It was obviously a pretty physical two sets, two-and-a-half hours.

Q. So you were not wanting to play a third set?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I didn't. I didn't want to play -- I would not have recovered from it either. I was struggling just to serve there that last point.

Q. In terms of this makeover, Mardy, do you feel a sense of urgency like you got to get it done because the clock is ticking, or is it more like a rediscovery of a way of life?
MARDY FISH: It's just really not taking things for granted anymore. You know, trying to understand, you know, what goes with winning and losing, just trying to realize that -- obviously you're out there by yourself, but it's more of a team thing than anything else. You have a lot of people behind you that really care and you want to do well for them, too.
You know, so, yeah, it was a lot of changes. You know, started obviously with the diet, and then I started working harder, to be honest. I mean, I sort of pride myself in my fitness now, trying to be the fittest guy out here, trying to play matches like that and still staying fresh.

Q. You have reflected a couple of times on your work ethic and being the true professional that you are now, and you see the results that the diet and other changes are having. Do you ever reflect on what results you might attain, you might have attained, if you were 20 years old with this sort of outlook?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean -- no, I mean, just because there's nothing I can do about it. I can't go back. And that was me. I mean, that was an immature, you know, person who got thrown in at -- you know, I was 20, 21 years old when I made the finals of Cincinnati that year in 2003 and finished 20 in the world and thought it was going to come pretty easily.
I just simply wasn't as mature then as I am now. It's been a good ride, you know. I mean, certainly been through a lot of ups and downs, and hopefully I can still have a few years left to have some good ups and finish my career on a high note.

Q. The other day Del Potro spoke of you almost like you were a friend. He said he liked you. Could you just talk about what, if any, relationship you have with him.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, we've played doubles in Madrid. We were going to play doubles again -- two years ago we played doubles in Madrid, this year. I don't play doubles with too many guys outside of James and Andy, so he's certainly one of the best guys around.
His team, you know, they just play -- there's no -- there's no nonsense, you know, coming from his box when you're playing or yelling or screaming. There's no screaming from him. He's just a professional. It's pretty impressive at his age.
He's one of the best guys out there, for sure.

Q. Could you talk about your next match against David Ferrer.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, no, it's gonna be tough. He's obviously 6 in the world for a reason. He's had a lot of great results on every surface. You know, he's gonna make you play for every ball, every point.
That's where he makes his living. He runs every ball down. He's as fit as anyone out here. It will be a very tough match.

Q. We are from Argentina. Two questions: First, your opinion about Juan Martin's tennis level. The second one, he told us you are close friends. You have said something, but at the end of the match, you said something to him.

Q. What was that?
MARDY FISH: Well, we just kind of -- I played him in Delray Beach. I mean, you know, he's a guy that tennis certainly missed. You know, just being a friend, and a close friend, I missed him. We all missed him. Just, you know, my wife knows him well. We had a great time playing doubles in Madrid. We're going to play again this year there. I just said, It's great to have you back. You know, Sorry for today, but it's great to have you back.
And then on the same -- you know, on the level of his play, he's certainly -- the way he played two days ago playing Robin, you know, kind of shows you where he's at, you know. He can play with anyone now.
His results are -- it's only a matter of time. If you're not in the top 5 in the world, you can just add a number to your ranking because he's gonna be up there in no time.

Q. He said that you have been with him when he was injured. Can you comment?
MARDY FISH: I have his phone number and we text, and, you know, just keep up. You know, we're friends, good friends.

Q. I know you're not comfortable with the fact that you could be the leading American with Andy's situation in mind. But on a personal level, at the ripe old age of 29, what does it mean to you going to what's going to be a career-high ranking?
MARDY FISH: Um, it means a lot. I mean, it means that the hard work that we have put in is paying off. You know, you want to try to -- you know, when it's all said and done, you want to try to put yourself in the best situations and be in the best situations and be in all situations.
I mean, I have been in -- I have never been past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. Apart from that, I've played a lot of big matches. Played a Davis Cup final match, Masters Series finals, and you just try to -- like I said, when it's all said and done, you're gonna want to try to be in every position possible.
Being the No. 1 American would be something that would be pretty cool to tell my kids about.

Q. What are your thoughts for the Davis Cup game against Spain?
MARDY FISH: It's very exciting. Obviously it's a few months away now, but it's going to be in Austin where Andy lives, and he couldn't be more excited about it. Obviously we are, too. With Nadal committing to play, I mean, probably will be hopefully the best tie we've ever had.

Q. Is the diet still as strict? Are you...
MARDY FISH: No, not as strict. I was very, very disciplined when I lost all the weight. And then, you know, now you try to maintain. You cheat every once in a while. But certainly weeks of matches I'm still very disciplined.

Q. What are some of the things, some of the cravings that you have?
MARDY FISH: Oh, cravings?

Q. Or things you cheat...
MARDY FISH: I have a glass of wine every now and then when I'm cheating a little bit. I try not to have any alcohol, you know, during weeks prior and obviously during the tournaments. Pizza is really good. Tastes really good to me. (Smiling.)
Burgers. Christian had a burger the other day. It looked really good.

Q. What do you like on your pizza?
MARDY FISH: Just cheese. I don't like anything to get in the way of it. (Laughter.)
I miss those things, sure.

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