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March 30, 2011

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/D. Ferrer
7-5, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Mardy is now the top American with a career-high ranking of 11.

Q. When you trash talk Andy Roddick, how does it go?
MARDY FISH: Doesn't start with tennis. Somewhere around the golf course, his basketball game maybe. Mostly his golf game because he likes to play a lot golf. I've played my entire life, so I got a few years ahead of him.
But it definitely doesn't have anything to do with tennis.

Q. So this subject is off limits between you two?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, I don't know. You know, I've never been in this position before. Obviously it's very humbling. This is a pretty big country, a lot of people playing tennis. So I'll try to put it into perspective, and I will.
No. 11, career high No. 11 sounds really good, too. You know, these are the rewards that come with working as hard as I did.

Q. Is there a part of you that kind of says, Gee, maybe I'm sorry I didn't work this hard a bunch of years ago, what I might have missed, or you can't look back?
MARDY FISH: You know, I was who I was when I was 21 and 24 and 23. You know, there's just not one ounce in my body that goes back to the past. I had some really good results. I won a silver medal at the Olympics. There's not very many people that have done that.
I mean, I did a lot of cool things. I played a lot of good matches. You know, you can't be as mature at 21 as you are now, as I am now. Never look back.

Q. Did you suspect David was ailing in any way? Didn't seem like his usual self out there.
MARDY FISH: No, I just assumed -- obviously he missed a lot more, especially in the second set, than he normally does. I thought he played fine in the first set. I was fighting; he was fighting me off a little bit. We were into a battle there at 5-All.
Basically double faulted twice in a row at deuce to give me the game. The conditions were -- conditions in a sense that the ball is not exactly where you want it to be with the wind like that.
So you know going out there -- and I've played in these conditions hundreds of times, thousands of times more than he has just because I practiced in it almost every day growing up.
You know you're not going to play well going out there. I know that in the back of my mind. Not nearly as well as I played yesterday, because the ball is not going to be in the position I want it to be in, the wind might take the ball longer or shorter than yesterday, and you're not going to be as dialed in.
I knew that. I tried to use it to my advantage.

Q. Do you watch old videos or whatever, tapes of yourself as a player? Can you just talk about how you looked as a player then and what you're doing now?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think they put in my charity event program -- no, they put in a magazine an article of my foundation this year, like a picture from 2006. I was pretty pissed off about that. (Smiling.)
Didn't look like me really anymore. But my dad was trying to convince me that it was all about the kids. (Smiling.)

Q. Even your style of play, forgetting about the physical...
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, look, I had to go for different -- I had to play differently. You know, there were matches when I felt good, and I could always play in the heat pretty well, but I could never really last that long.
So, yeah, there comes -- with fitness comes a mental edge for sure that I used to never have.

Q. During the match, were you at all thinking about this No. 11 situation? If so, how much of it were you able to put out of your mind?
MARDY FISH: Never. I'm in a quarterfinals of a Masters Series. I've been in the quarterfinals now four times in Masters Series, and I've won every quarterfinal match and every semifinal match that I've been in this Masters Series.
I would like to be there more, put myself in that position more often. But, no, I never thought it about it once during the match.

Q. Did you receive any messages from your fellow American colleagues?
MARDY FISH: I haven't looked yet, but I'm sure. I mean, not only these guys colleagues and people that we play against week in and week out, these are my best friends.
So put them in this position I would be extremely excited for them, and hopefully they for me, too.

Q. I know it's tough to comment or analyze another guy's game, but this guy has been really consistent and his ranking is way up there in the top 10.

Q. Yeah. But he seems to have trouble punching through it even at Masters Series level.
MARDY FISH: No, this guy's got some solid results. He's got results on every surface. I think he's made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. He's put himself in the semifinals of Australia and the US Open at different times.
He's got tournament wins on clay, on indoor hardcourts, fast courts, slow courts, doesn't matter. The guy is one of the fittest guys in the world in any sport. Guy can run forever. You know, he battles and plays hard.
You respect the heck out of him just the way he plays. He's one of my favorite players to watch. Fights for everything. There's nothing -- he doesn't go out and blow anybody off the court. I respect the heck out of his career.
It's tough to play like that. You've got to be real strong.

Q. In the second set he's obviously struggling and the match is getting away from him. When he lobs the ball at the crying baby, what was your reaction?
MARDY FISH: I didn't see him do that. I obviously know that it's going on. He'd probably take that one back if he could. He's a very nice guy. Obviously flustered.

Q. He didn't hit it that hard.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, he stopped. There was a lot people in the crowd. It's going to happen.

Q. I want to ask about the potential of Djokovic, if you were to play him. Talk about what he's doing this year.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, it's pretty incredible, to be honest. Watching him play and the way that he's played, it's not that -- I mean, he's playing so well. He has zero weaknesses right now.
Obviously confidence is a huge part of our sport, and he's got all of it right now. Guy moves as good or better than anyone on a hardcourt surface. You know, sometimes if you get really, really picky, his forehand isn't as strong as his backhand.
He's hitting his forehand as good as anyone in the world. His backhand, two-handed backhand is the best two-handed backhand in my opinion in the world. And he's serving well again. He had some serving trouble there for a little bit, maybe last year at this time. He's certainly rectified that.
So it's not -- to be honest, it's really not that surprising when you watch him play that he hasn't lost yet, because he's playing so well. He's not going to win every single match this year. Whether it be this week or in July, he's not going to win every one. It's just not possible.
So hopefully it can be me.

Q. Speaking of serving, have you ever felt more confident on your serve, first or second?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, look, I've served well over my career. I served 43 aces in one two-out-of-three-set match. I've served well before.
But to be able to be confident enough to not have to press as much is key. I can get free points on my serve; I know that. But then when the shot's not there, I don't have to press. I don't have to go for too much.
I didn't know how I was going to feel coming into today, especially having such a hard-fought match yesterday. It was hot and humid yesterday. I just haven't played in those conditions in a long time. That was partly the problem there in the end.
Just tried to hydrate as much as I could and get back - long-winded answer - I was able to get free points today and save myself a little bit. That's huge.

Q. You're mixing it up real well. You're hitting an ace and you look at the clock and you see that it's nowhere near the max service speed. Is it your spin? Is it your placement?
MARDY FISH: Well, look, I tend to overserve. I served 37% first-serve percentage against Gasquet. I know he's a very good returner, and so sometimes in the back of your mind you're trying to overserve and hit it that much -- too hard.
So we worked on that. We had a day off after that match and did a lot serving. We worked on the ball toss. We worked on trying to -- I mean, you're almost like a pitcher. If you have a good serve and you want to -- or if you have a serve that can win you free points, especially against someone like him that can lock in on the return and put every single one back -- Novak won't be any different than that, or better.
So I'll have to mix up speed, spins, kicks, flats, hard, slice, all that stuff, just to keep him off balance.

Q. Obviously No. 11, you're flirting with top 10. Is that a goal for you?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, that's a huge goal. I've been pretty vocal about that basically since last summer. Close, I guess. Every match, every point that I get, that's the goal.

Q. I want to ask on the off chance that Kevin Anderson were to win...
MARDY FISH: He's beaten him before. He's beaten him here before.

Q. Yeah, and no one is talking about him. Talk about Kevin.
MARDY FISH: No, he's a guy that serves extremely well. Great athlete for his size. He's played well this year. He's won a tournament in South Africa. Had some good results and beat some good players this week, you know, so he'll give him some trouble.
You got to get free points against Novak. If you don't, he's going to win most groundstroke rallies. You got to get to the net. He likes to come to the net a little bit. You can't just loop the ball around the court against him. Like I said, he moves too well and he's too solid right now.
I would expect him to give him some trouble. That being said, he could go out there and beat him 1-1. The guy's playing so well.

Q. What triggers the decision to serve and volley suddenly? Is it the score? The moment?
MARDY FISH: Sometimes it's the score. Sometimes it's a position where, you know, maybe I'm up in the score and I just want to plant that small seed that you can't just keep bringing the ball back on the return with ease.
If you do, I'm going to come in and try to put it away. I have my patterns, like everybody else does, but I'm trying to keep an aggressive -- I'm an aggressive style of player. I can play better defense than I used to because of my fitness, and I can rely on that sometimes.
But I have to keep the mentality of staying aggressive, and that helps a lot.

Q. On the points of confidence and motivation, what you've achieved over here, how much more confidence and motivation do you think it's going to provide you with?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, it only helps, obviously. Like I said before, confidence is such a huge part of our sport. Obviously I'm still here, but I'd love to do well on the clay. I like playing on it. I've won a tournament on it, and I haven't had huge results if Europe, but I feel like I can do well, be seeded in those events now, which helps. I don't have to play somebody in the top 15 in the world in the first two rounds.
I've won matches there. I was close in the French Open. Lost 10-8 in the fifth to Ljubicic in the second round. So I've won matches there. I'm very much looking forward to hopefully being healthy and playing a full clay court season and seeing how well I can do there.

Q. Going back to Djokovic for one second, you said at the moment he has no weaknesses. One of them has that he doesn't perform that well in heat. You said you grew up playing in this kind of climate. Do you think that could be a weakness now?
MARDY FISH: Maybe. I never thought about it like that. I'm assuming that with as many matches he's played he's pretty fit as well. I love playing in the heat. I can't speak for him.
I'm not sure of his results off the top of my head. I think, you know, he's won Canada before, but I don't think he's ever won Cincinnati. It's as hot in Cincinnati as it is anywhere. I can't speak for him. It's a good question.
I know how much I enjoy playing in it. It speeds the court up pretty good for me. Playing during the day here and playing at night are two completely different tournaments, so hopefully we can play during the day.

Q. I know that you grew up around Vero and all that. What are your South Florida ties now?
MARDY FISH: Well, just from my family living in Vero Beach, and my best friends still live there. Still have a lot have friends down in Boca. Friends here in Miami. So it's always fun coming down here. And playing in Delray Beach, I usually try to get there every year.
You know, so family and best friends are my ties, I guess.

Q. Would you rather play in the heat?
MARDY FISH: I would, yeah. I would prefer to play in hot weather. You know, I would prefer to play in humid weather. Probably 80% of it is because I know how to react in it and act in it and how to handle it.
20% is probably because I know the other guy doesn't like it as much as I do. That's a mental thing.

Q. You requested day matches for the whole tournament?
MARDY FISH: I request day matches in every single tournament.

Q. Your dad's one of the few parents who have qualified to be like a coach or mentor, be hands-on, yet they've always seemed to take a -- he and your mom -- a back seat.
MARDY FISH: Back seat is a strong word with him. He's very active in my career. Coaching-wise he's taken a back seat. He's very helpful and been a huge part of my success. He's extremely supportive, extremely positive. That's been a huge help with me over the years.
He's sort of had the approach of learn on your own kind of thing. I'll help you in any way I can, but if you're going to make mistakes, you're going to make your mistakes and figure it out on your own.
So he's certainly been at the top of the list as far as my success goes.

Q. Sergio Garcia a new buddy?
MARDY FISH: No, we've known each other for a long time. He's a huge tennis fan. He has a good game on his own. He's probably the best golfing tennis player. Put golf and tennis together, I think I got him, though. And you can tell him I said that.

Q. Have you golfed with him?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, and he's played tennis with us. He hit with Querrey the other day. He loves it. He'll be out there again on Friday.

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