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August 13, 2011

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/J. Tipsarevic
6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Mardy advances to his third consecutive ATP World Tour final, which is the first time, and his fourth career ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. Also he is the first American in the final here since Agassi in 2005.
Questions for Mardy.

Q. (Question about how well he has been playing.)
MARDY FISH: Definitely. It's been a great week. Obviously it's been well-documented that I haven't been here and haven't done well at all in this tournament. It's a dream come true.

Q. Not many problems today.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I had one hiccup, one bad game. There was one game where I didn't serve particularly well, but I got through that game.
Overall obviously extremely pleased with the way I played. You know, it felt like I had the upper hand for most of the match. Minus that just small hiccup there, I think I played very well.

Q. In Washington, D.C. last week in the interesting press conference you did with us, you were speaking about the difference between a player who tells himself he can win all the time and a player who really believes it. How would you characterize what happened within your mind that took you from that first group to the second group?
MARDY FISH: Well, I'm not sure I'm there yet, to be honest. I mean, that's the goal, is to get there, to really believe that you can step out on the court and win a big match like it will be tomorrow against someone like Novak, if he is to win. You know, that's the ultimate goal.
I certainly hope so. You've got to really believe in it, like I said. I mean, you know, I can sit here all I want and say, Yeah, I think I can beat anyone on any given day. Kind of cliché. Look, I certainly believe that. But, you know, it's not a second round of a 250. This is a big, big event. It would be great to win.

Q. Janko said earlier he was very surprised by how often you came to the net. Was it part of the game plan or...
MARDY FISH: Maybe not as much as I did. Certainly was part of the game plan to serve and volley quite a bit. The court is very fast. If you can get a good rhythm on your serve, you can be successful with it.
One of my goals is to go out there against someone like him and break up his rhythm and sort of play not a style that everybody else plays. I feel like I'm capable of doing that, capable of playing a couple different ways.
I mean, he's the kind of guy where if we just play a baseline game, bounce-and-hit, he's probably going to beat me. He's got great groundstrokes and he's very comfortable from the baseline. So I have to sort of utilize my returns, my second-serve returns, being able to neutralize the point a little bit and playing aggressive. That's what I did.

Q. How impressed have you been by what Novak Djokovic has been able to achieve?
MARDY FISH: It's been incredible. I mean, I've said for a couple months now, I mean, knowing the history of the game, McEnroe's streak, Lendl's eight straight finals at the US Open kind of stuff, you see that and you sort of wonder what it would be like to play those guys during that time.
I can step out of it. I played Novak in Miami. He kicked my butt in the semis. It would be pretty cool to look back. I mean, it's going to be a pretty tough record to break or even come close to that. It's so deep, guys are so good, everyone is so good, these Masters Series events are so hard. I mean, you get a bye, and I played Feliciano López in the first match basically at midnight. I mean, it's hard to get through all these matches.
He hasn't lost in these tournaments yet. It's just incredible.

Q. Even he would probably admit that 12 months ago a run of this magnitude was not really on the horizon.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, he was capable of winning any event. Rafa had a pretty good stranglehold on the French Open, you thought. Every knock, if you will, if he had any, he's answered tenfold this year. It's been incredibly impressive. To win Indian Wells and Miami back to back is incredible. Then the two clay court events, I mean, no one thought that that could be possible.
He did it with, I mean, not ease, but straight sets both times. Pretty incredible.

Q. You talked about not playing a style that everybody else plays. Is that something you've been able to hone over the past couple of months? Is that something you've always wanted to play, given that you don't have the one weapon, you have to have something else?
MARDY FISH: Uhm, yeah. I mean, you know, I win a lot of matches because I can play a lot of different styles I think. A faster surface like this is gonna suit my game perfectly. A hard court, you know, where I've got my footing pretty good, but something that really moves through the court, my serve moves through the court well. You can come in. You can stay back a little bit, as well.
You know, to be this successful, I have to play really well, too, and I've done that.

Q. Is it probably the only way that you can beat Djokovic right now?
MARDY FISH: No, he's going to beat me in every baseline game we play. We're not going to play baseline games, fortunately for me.
Yeah, I mean, look, I'll have to play my absolute best and then some. If I play the way I played today, I'm certainly capable of beating a lot of players. This is a long ways into the tournament now and you can see the finish line. So there's no holding back anymore.

Q. This being your third consecutive final, did you feel any additional pressure or motivation coming into Montréal knowing you would have points to defend in Cincinnati?
MARDY FISH: I knew it was a good opportunity. I didn't even get into the tournament last year. I was not even in the main draw and didn't come. So, yeah, it was a pleasant surprise to get here and see how fast the surface was.
I've played well in Cincinnati over the years, so I felt like if I could play some good tennis, I could win some matches there. I'm not sure if I can make the finals again. Certainly a weight off your shoulders a little bit to play well here.
You know, I desperately wanted to go into the US Open in the top 10. I'm not sure where this puts me now or if it moves me at all. At least it gives me a little cushion against some of the guys that are coming up.

Q. Tsonga said the other night basically the tough part about these Masters Series and Grand Slams, when you have to play the top four in the quarters and semis, it allows you to be not too fresh when you move on. You haven't had to face any of the top-10 players going through this tournament. Does that give you an advantage in comparison to some of the other finals you played?
MARDY FISH: Every other Masters Series event that I made the final in, I've had to play a lot of really good players. In Indian Wells, I played in the second round Davydenko, in the third round I played Hewitt, in the quarters I played Nalbandian. Davydenko was top five. Nalbandian was top 10. I played Federer, then I played Djokovic.
So I had a great opportunity this week, there's no doubt about it. I knew that. You can't do anything about that. I can't do anything about Murray and Rafa losing in their first match. Just fortunate for me that I didn't have to play one of those guys. A great opportunity. I'm glad I took advantage of it.

Q. Everybody keeps repeating how fast the surface is here. Would you like to see more of these surfaces around the circuit?
MARDY FISH: Yes, I would. They've slowed down the balls pretty significantly. Wimbledon is much slower than this surface, which is pretty disappointing from my point of view because I would have liked to have played 20 years ago, in that generation. But what can you do?

Q. Another thing that Tipsarevic said is that your return has improved tremendously. Have you done anything in particular to improve your serve or is that the evolution of your game?
MARDY FISH: Look, if working on something every single day is doing something to try to improve it, then that's what we did. I take returns every single day that I practice.
My forehand return was at one point, I felt like, the weakest shot of my entire game. And my backhand is my best shot. Guys would just exploit that. On big points, they would do that.
Sometimes now, you know, it's still not as good as my backhand return, but I'm able to kind of bluff that side away a little better than I used to.
Look, we've put in a lot of work on that specific shot. I take returns every single day before matches and in practice just to the forehand. Sometimes I don't even take the backhand, but just to the forehand, to try to get the groove on that side, so...

Q. Given the course of your career, how it's gone, how you're playing the best tennis of your life right now, 29 years old, do you feel an urgency to get as much done as you can as fast as you can?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, sure. It's pretty safe to say. Yeah, I wish I was 24, but I'm not. Everyone has regrets. I mean, it would be crazy if no one in this room had any regrets that they've had in life. I'm glad I figured it out, to look at that side of it.
Look, I'll just ride it as long as I can and as long as I'm healthy and playing good tennis. I'm having a blast.

Q. You were saying that the surface right now here in Montréal is quicker than Wimbledon.
MARDY FISH: Yes, easily.

Q. Even with the balls?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, the Wimbledon balls are really heavy as well. Obviously everyone knows the weather can get pretty dodgey there. Sometimes it can get chilly and cold and play incredibly slow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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