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August 15, 2011

Mardy Fish


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Tough match yesterday obviously. How close are you to winning a final of a 1000 event?
MARDY FISH: Right now, where I'm sitting, not very close; but yesterday I was pretty close. It's hard, you know. I've lost four of those, every one of 'em in three sets. Last year here was brutal to lose.
You know, it's important to realize that it's a great result as well. Making the finals of a Masters Series for anyone is a good result. So I'll certainly take that out of there.
I'll take the fact that that kind of takes the pressure off a little bit for this week and sort of play a little bit freer.
You know, but what it takes to get there, it's not easy. It's not easy to get to those spots. You know, to play someone like Novak in the year that he's having and to get it to where I can play one set for a Masters title and a win against someone like him in a year that he's having is right where I wanted to be.

Q. When you're playing a top-ranked player like him, do you feel like you have to play perfectly, maybe even gives you a lot more pressure?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, a lot times you overplay. He makes you overplay with his speed, with his returns, his game, you know, the way he saves break points. The way he's going about doing those this year is just an incredible stat he's got.
You know, I don't know what my stats were yesterday as far as break points, my break points, but they were relatively low on my end. I had a lot of chances for sure. I had a lot of chances the first two or three games to break.
We played a 45-minute first set and it was 6-2 the wrong way. I got things going again and got a few errors from him and was trying to keep him as uncomfortable as I could, and we were right there. We were right there at 2-All in the third.

Q. You've been play my game playing fantastic tennis the last year and a half or so.

Q. Is there a signature win or match or tournament in the last year and a half that you can point to that really gave you the confidence to play those big points?
MARDY FISH: Maybe just knowing that I could win again on tour in Newport last year. It's not a strong event as far as the other tournaments are concerned, but, you know, as far as the field is concerned. It's a historic event, and winning is winning. You know, so that got me rolling.
Beating Andy in Atlanta kind of showed me that I could beat top 10 players again, because I didn't beat anybody in the top 50 in Newport. I won all the matches there, but didn't necessarily have to come up against the top 30, top 40 players.
So playing in Atlanta, beating someone like John Isner in Atlanta, I maintain that he's a top 10 player at the very least on that particular court: high bouncing, relatively quick court, and with his serve.
So beating him twice on that court, you know, those are great wins.

Q. Could you break down and compare what it's like playing Novak versus Federer and Nadal?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, Novak makes you play - and Rafa as well - you can sometimes -- more than playing Roger, you can sort of play on your terms a little bit. You know, Novak is gonna, he's not going to necessarily hit winner after winner after winner like Roger can. Roger can go out there and blow you right off the court, take you out of it, and take the racquet out of your hand. You know, and obviously they can do that as well. Rafa's forehand can certainly take you out of play on a quicker surface.
But just the way that he, Novak, goes about sort of playing every point almost reacting to what you want to do. If you're going to bang crosscourt forehands with him, he's going to bang right back with you. If you're going to loop backhands, he's going to loop backhands right back with you.
He's not going to go winner, winner, winner, and it just puts a ton of pressure on your 15-30 second serve, on your serve type games where you're just uncomfortable.
Because he's not going to miss. You have to do something. You've got to put it by the best mover on tour.

Q. Is that the biggest thing, he's not going to miss?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, I remember yesterday, I was down Love-30. Must have been maybe 1-2 or 2-All in the second set. I was down Love-30 on my serve. Second serve, hit the return to my backhand; I went crosscourt backhand to his backhand, and he went crosscourt like in the middle of the net. I was shocked, and he was shocked probably. (Laughter.)
That was one of the only just kind of big-point misses for him that he had the whole time. You just don't see 'em. You don't see any second serve return errors. You're sort of moving backwards as you hit your first ball after you hit a second serve. It's just an uncomfortable position to be in.

Q. You talk about how well he moves. What about anticipation?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, he's got that unique -- like Murray in a sense where he's got that unique ability. Either guys tend to move really well or anticipate really well. I feel like I can more anticipate well than move well.
Guys are usually one or the other. Don't find many guys that do both. Those two, off the top of my head, do it the best, I think. He's as good an athlete as we have out here. He gets to balls, just his racquet on balls that you can't believe he gets to.
First step is very quick, and the way he slides on a hard court a pretty incredible.

Q. Are you concerned at all with your schedule coming up to the Open? Six, seven straight weeks, and after here you're playing Winston-Salem, aren't you?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I'm slated to play there.

Q. Do you worry about peaking too soon maybe?
MARDY FISH: I didn't play in D.C. I played Atlanta and L.A., took D.C. off. I didn't play after Davis Cup for a week. So I played two weeks, one week off, and then I'll play Montreal, here. We'll see how it goes next week.
You know, I'll put myself in the best position for New York, no doubt about that.

Q. Just kind of adding on to that, can you talk about going from Montreal to here? You had such a physically and mentally exhausting finish. Then to come back and start all over against all these guys, what's that like?
MARDY FISH: Well, if I had to start today I would probably struggle. I'm not ready right this second. The bye is huge to get an extra day, and that's just a credit to, you know, your consistency out here and just being able to get a top 8 seed, which is obviously not easy to do.
This is only the second tournament. I'm not going to act like I do it every week. This is only the second tournament that I've ever been able to do that at. Certainly a luxury last week. Only had to play five matches instead of six. Last year here I had to play six matches, and it's just a ton of matches.
Yeah, it's two out of three sets, the weather wasn't too taxing last week. So it's way more mental than physical. This is what we train for, to play day after day after day. I played Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Physically I feel fine. Just the mental side needs a little bit of a break.
You need just that night or two in a row to not have to worry about playing the next day. You know, putting food down easily and not having to -- going to get a cup of coffee in the morning and not really having to worry about not drinking too much because you're going to get dehydrated.
Just trying to sort of let go a little bit. That's my letting go, is drinking a little bit more coffee than I probably should. (Laughter.) But, you know, things have changed.
So those are the things that are the best for you, to have those two, couple days.

Q. When you talk about the best returns of serve, like Andy and Novak, is it just movement and anticipation, or is there something else?
MARDY FISH: Well, you've got hit the ball in the court, too. They have great hands. Like you said, they have great anticipation. Their first step, you know, those two are the toughest to aces probably - Rafa as well.
You know, it's just their first step is so quick. They don't necessarily have to guess where some guys might guess against you. So you just overserve just that little teeny bit to where you serve 52% instead of 58, which could mean the whole match.

Q. Can I just follow up? So it becomes sort of a chess game where you're almost thinking, Where they think that I'm going to be?
MARDY FISH: On their return? On my serve?

Q. Yeah.
MARDY FISH: You know, you got to throw a bunch of stuff at 'em. If I go out there with Djokovic and we play a baseline game to 11, I'm not going to play for anything because I'm not going to win.
I have to utilize my returns, my second serve returns. I have to utilize my first and second serve, mix the speeds. You got to be a pitcher. That's the best analogy. You got to throw curve balls and change-ups and fastballs and body serves and things like that.
Otherwise, you know, he's just going to get a groove. You got to serve and volley. You got to stay back. I think anyway. That's the only way to go about it.

Q. For you, what's the best and worst parts of playing pro tennis?
MARDY FISH: The worst part is just the travel, like being away from what's comfortable for you. You know, being away from sleeping in your own bed for long periods of time.
And there are a lot of really good things. We get to work in the sun. We get paid to do what we love to do. I'm not sure what it would be like to -- I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that don't enjoy what they do for a living, and I really enjoy what I do.
I love the sort of the benefits of winning and of being a good tennis player, and I enjoy the lifestyle that it gives me and allows me and allows my family.
So those are good things.

Q. You're in very good position to qualify for the year-end championship. What would being one of the final 8 guys in London mean to you?
MARDY FISH: It's probably the No. 1 goal sort of long-term. Not like a weekly tournament-type goal.
I think I'm 6 right now in the race. I've never been this high this deep into a year. It's only indoor and outdoor hard courts from here on for me. I don't think there is anymore clay that anybody can play anymore.

Q. Romania has got one, but I don't think you're playing.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, so it's good surfaces from here on. Big events from here on. So I've got obviously a great opportunity. That's probably the No. 1 goal.

Q. Wish you well.
MARDY FISH: Thank you.

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