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June 20, 2011

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/M. Granollers
7-6, 7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you feel any more pressure representing and playing for U.S. men, you and Andy, considering the dearth of individuals at the top?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, sure. You know, I mean, I'm ranked the No. 1 American. So, yeah, with it comes, you know, a little bit more pressure. And I feel it for sure.
But, you know, it's where you want to be. So it's a good thing.

Q. Do you have any thoughts as to sort of why the drop-off behind you guys at this point? We've been asking this question and talking about this for about a year now.
MARDY FISH: I mean, I think it's just because we're not -- you know, we're not competing for slams on a slam-by-slam basis. I think that's one of the main reasons why we get the questions.
I mean, we have as many guys in the top 10 right now than any other country. You know, Spain has two, we have two, and no one else has two. So, you know, I think it's just for lack of the big events.
I mean, we've all done well at Indian Wells and Miami and things like that, which are big events for us. But, you know, this is obviously another step above those.

Q. You've been coming here for a number of years now. Your game should fit into the grass. You've had some good grass court results. Can you talk about the evolution of your game on grass and what your expectations are this year?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I feel most comfortable with my style of play on this surface, you know, and it takes some getting used to. I certainly wasn't as clean as I hope to be in the next round or rounds, as I keep going hopefully.
But, yeah, I mean, this is my best surface. I won more grass court matches than anyone else did last year. I played three events. At Wimbledon I didn't do well. I made the final of Queen's and I won Newport.
So I obviously feel pretty comfortable on this surface. This is certainly the tournament that, you know, I look at sort of my résumé of making, you know, quarterfinals in the other Grand Slams, Australia and the US Open, and this is the one that always jumps out at me to want to do well at.

Q. What makes grass your best surface? Why does your game fit it well?
MARDY FISH: Well, I feel comfortable coming to the net. I feel comfortable coming forward. They're doing a really good job of making it tough to do that, as well. You know, the balls are extremely heavy.
When the sun's not out, it's very hard to really get the ball through the court, you know, minus the serve. You feel like it is still grass, obviously, so the serve still takes, the slice still takes, still moves pretty good.
But it's as -- the balls are as heavy as any ball out there. I feel a lot more comfortable serving, if you take away the grass, a lot more comfortable serving at the French Open with those balls.

Q. Can you explain what 'heavy' means to you?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, balls get real big real quick. You know, you can't really feel your shots as good as you can as, you know, like the US Open, with those balls there. And they just get tough to hit the ball through the court.
It's tough to hit winners from the baseline. Like I said, the serve still moves and still takes and you can serve well and hold serve because it's grass. It's still grass.
But, uhm, you know, the grass is so good and the bounces are so pure that, you know, the balls, they're really, really heavy.

Q. Is that frustrating for a guy who likes grass?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, sure, it's frustrating. I serve and volleyed on I think almost every first serve today. But I served well and had a lot of free points on my serve, so I didn't necessarily get into a ton of rallies, have to get into a ton of rallies on my serve games.
It's tough to hit the ball through the court with the forehand. You know, you got to try to generate a lot of pace, and it's hard.

Q. Do you understand why there seems to be this desire by officialdom to homogenize all the surfaces?
MARDY FISH: Not necessarily here. It's such a unique tournament, you know. It's such a unique surface. There's not a ton of tournaments you can play on grass.
We can kind of get around the clay, play a couple clay court events. If you want to, you could play half a year on clay. You can't do that here. So obviously it's such a unique surface and unique event, so...

Q. I guess you consider, of the slams where you should be doing well, you consider this the one where you've underachieved the most?
MARDY FISH: Without a doubt, yes.

Q. Why is that? Is it a conditioning thing?
MARDY FISH: No, it's not a conditioning thing here. Conditioning doesn't play a huge part. Mentally I haven't nearly been as strong. I've had some bad luck.
I remember in the third round in, I think it was 2006, might have been 2007, I had to pull out of a match in the third round against a qualifier, because I was as sick as I've ever been in my life. I had to play Nadal in the first round one year. I had to play Gasquet in the first round one year when he had made the semis here year before. Obviously really good players.
I've had a little bit of bad luck, and I'm ready.

Q. Istomin, your next opponent?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I never played him. Sam has played him. Obviously sharing a coach with Sam, Nainks has seen him play I think four times in the last year, has played Sam, so we'll get a good plan.

Q. What was your reaction when you heard who Isner will be playing here? And what are your thoughts about last year and this year?
MARDY FISH: Pretty shocking, obviously. And let's hope that it doesn't happen again for their sake, because you want them to do well. I want John to do well. First and foremost, he's a tough opponent. He's a really good grass courter. Let's hope it's not a perfect storm again.

Q. What do you remember most about last year's match between them?
MARDY FISH: Just sort of it being surreal. It just kind of -- you just couldn't really believe what was unfolding. You knew going through, you know, when it was kind of in the 30s and 40s that it was never going to happen again; you were never going to see that again.
Yeah, so just pretty surreal. You know, you'd almost capture the moment, and I think it's a cool plaque that they have out there on Court 18.
Is the schedule out? Do they know when they're playing or where they're playing? Haven't seen it.

Q. You're not a short guy, but when you walk around the locker room these days, do you feel like the height of the players...
MARDY FISH: There's a lot of tall guys, a lot of big guys. You know, serving is a big part of today, because if you can get some free points, you know, the way they've slowed the surfaces down, it's big.

Q. Do you have to be like 6'4" to get those free points these days?
MARDY FISH: It certainly helps. You know, I mean, there's not a lot of guys in the top 10 that aren't at least six feet tall maybe besides Ferrer. Is he 6 feet tall? I mean, he's not 5'3", you know. I mean, he's the only guy that jumps out at you that doesn't require a ton of free points.

Q. Has Andy given you any crap about out-ranking him or anything?
MARDY FISH: Crap? No. I mean, he wants it back. I'm going to try to hold him off as long as I can (smiling).

Q. How strong would you say the top four seeds are here right now, given the surface, and how each one of those guys are playing?
MARDY FISH: Very strong. As far back as I can remember, it's as top-heavy as you've ever seen. I mean, those guys have all the points.
You know, if you look back maybe five or ten years, I think I have like around 2400 ATP points, and I don't think that would put me in the top 10. So those guys are doing well on every surface.
It's not a fluke, you know, that you see the top four seeds almost every event in the semifinals, it doesn't matter where it is.
Murray, any one of those guys could win the tournament. I wouldn't be surprised if any one of those guys did.

Q. How intimidating is that to everybody who is in the next group?
MARDY FISH: Well, I mean, you got to go about your business. You got to hopefully not face 'em early. And, you know, once you get there, I mean, you know, certain guys feel like they can beat 'em.
You know, personally I feel like I can, especially on this surface. Murray's obviously a really tough out here just because this is one of his best surfaces and it's home. Roger's Roger and Rafa's Rafa. Djokovic is playing as well as you've ever seen anyone, as I've ever seen anyone play across the net, for sure.

Q. You talked about the serve. If you look at the top four guys, Roger can serve, Murray can hit the big one. Isn't it more of a return in baseline games outside of mental that is their strengths all around?
MARDY FISH: Their strengths, yeah. Djokovic and Murray return as well as anyone just from a serving point of view. You know, when they're across the net from me, I mean, they're the scariest ones to me.
I haven't played Nadal in a little while, so, you know, I can't necessarily speak from experience with that. I haven't played him since, you know, maybe '08, quarters of the Open.
Those guys I played recently, they're the ones that strike the most fear returning-wise.

Q. You spoke earlier about the dearth of players or the perceived dearth of top American men players to follow you guys. When the Williams sisters are not around, as they weren't the last year or so for the most part on the women's side, how different do you perceive the women's tour without the Williams sisters?
MARDY FISH: I mean, it's always wide open, it seems like. You know, it's great to have them back because, you know, just missing them at the French Open, besides Sam, I was the only seeded player.
We missed Andy obviously there, too. You know, they're always missed. I mean, they're such big personalities, you know, you can tell when they're there and you can tell when they're not there.
You know, so with the exception of Bethanie, I mean, I feel like we're kind of struggling on that side, you know, minus them. And when they're not there, you can really feel it.

Q. Did you see Venus' outfit today?
MARDY FISH: I didn't. I didn't see it. I was playing.

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