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August 18, 2011

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/R. Gasquet
7-5, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: With this win today, Mardy is the Olympus US Open Summer Series Bonus Challenge winner. He is 13-2 during the North American summer circuit.

Q. Talk about the depth of the field in the sense that you're two top players, you and Richard Gasquet, and you're on the grandstand, you can't get the center court match.
MARDY FISH: No, no, that's part of it. There's only so many matches they can put on there, and there are a lot more deserving of guys to be on there. I mean, Andy Murray played on Court 3 today.
It also shows the versatility of the tournament. There are plenty of big courts to put big matches on.

Q. You're making this look all too easy. Talk about the level of your play right now.
MARDY FISH: No, it's not. I'm sure you're being modest, but these guys are good. Gasquet has beaten me twice in my previous career, I think pre 2009, or '10, I guess.
I've gotten three times in the past on hardcourts, once last year here in the same round. So, look, it's a great win. He's beaten Federer a couple times and he's a great player.

Q. Talk about your next round match against Nadal in the quarterfinals.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, if you want to play someone like Rafa, you hope that he plays a match that's four hours long before you play him.

Q. He almost did.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, that's as physical as it gets. It's hot out there, so I'm sure he'll be pretty tired. He's a human being.

Q. Plus he's playing doubles.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I would be surprised if he was out there probably.
But, you know, he'll put himself in the best position. He's one of the fittest guys in the world in any sport. I'm sure the fitness level will be a nonfactor.
It's a great opportunity for me. I've never beaten him before. This is probably a surface that I would choose to play him on if I were to pick: something hot, something quick.
I hope that tomorrow will be like that.

Q. Does the fact that Nadal's playing so much impact your game plan for tomorrow? For instance, will you try and extend the rallies maybe, make him run more?
MARDY FISH: I mean, he runs pretty good. He wants to extend the rallies. That's how he plays.
No, I mean, we'll come up with a game plan. Just off the top of my head, no. I mean, I will be aggressive. I'll try to may play my game. I'm not a counterpuncher.

Q. Novak and Roger and Rafa have won 25 of 26 Grand Slams since '05 and have had a strong hold on the rankings. What has their dominance done to the game, and how has it affected the rest of the men's field?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, there has only been three or four guys that have won slams. Del Potro got one in there as well. You know, Murray has played well, too.
Look, there are four or five guys playing a lot better than most everybody else, especially in the majors. Those guys are making the semifinals. All of them made the semifinals of the French, and almost all of them made the semifinals of Wimbledon altogether.
So in the big events they're playing a lot better than everyone else. They have got the mental edge over a lot players, too.
It's just another good opportunity for someone like me. It was a good opportunity for someone like Verdasco to play him today like that. It doesn't seem like he's blowing guys of the court like he usually does, so maybe he needs more matches, he feels like he needs more matches to be confident.
I am sure he would say that.

Q. Did you think it's make the rest of the field better, these three guys?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, you got to play up. You're going to get blown of the court if you don't play at a high level. That's for sure. I would have lost relatively easy last Sunday to Novak if I didn't play at pretty high level.
Yeah, they make you pick up your game for sure.

Q. I believe you're based in California now. Can you elaborate a little bit on the change of scenery? Has that done anything to your game, helped you relax?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it's a lot different. My coach is out there. I share a coach with Sam Querrey. David Nainkin works for the USTA. We're all on the same team as far as the USTA is concerned, and they have been generous to let David travel with me while Sam is on the mend a little bit.
That's based out in Carson, California, so that's where if he we train. That's been spectacular for me.

Q. Your strong summer has helped you garner the top spot for Americans in world ranking. Who would you consider to be the strong American in the field going into the Open? Do you consider yourself there?
MARDY FISH: That's a good question. Andy has played extremely well there over the years, and I can't put my US Open record against his; not even close.
So if he can get healthy and if he can get a little bit of momentum in Winston-Salem and get a few matches under his belt, I would still think he's the favorite.

Q. As prudent as it was for you to not play at Legg Mason, to pull out of Winston-Salem, was it harder to withdraw from those tournaments as an American in the summer series than it would have been if these tournaments were in Europe?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, look, you don't want to -- it's a hard position to be in, because you felt badly either way. Look, I would feel badly if it was in Europe, too.
But I feel worse because I know Jeff Newman who's the tournament director in Washington D.C., and I know Bill Oakes. I know them pretty well. Those are tournaments that I certainly want to be at, but I'm in a best-case scenario.
I entered a lot of things, as I said yesterday in this same room. I entered all the events because I knew I had a lot points to defend.
So when I started kind of picking the tournaments off one by one and started doing well and winning a lot of the matches and gaining points, you know, it's just what happens. They came off my schedule.
I needed to point exactly to the US Open, because that's the -- I've done well here and I've done well in some of the US Open Series events, but I've only made the quarterfinals once. I would like to go further there. I want to put myself in the best position.

Q. After the US Open, what's your schedule like?
MARDY FISH: Following the Open?

Q. Yeah.
MARDY FISH: I'll play two events in Asia and two in Europe. Hopefully that last one at the end of year, too.

Q. Is it just a fact of life for a tennis pro that your self-interests, self-preservation is gonna sometimes collide with the tournament's self-interests?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it doesn't happen that often that it doesn't work out to play an event that you enter because you just want rest - especially for me.
I don't have an injury. My heel is healing better and better. You know, I pulled out of San Jose this year because I had the thyroid problem. You know, that stuff happens all the time.
Look, it's a long year. Injuries are going to happen. It helps a little bit that they got Andy and they'll have Isner and James probably. But Andy wasn't entered, and they can maybe take out my name and put his name in. Makes me feel a little bit better, I guess.
But I just don't want to go there and not put in the maximum effort. That's just not me. Guys have done that the past. That's how it works. You can go there and take your benefits that come with playing a smaller event as a highly-ranked American, and guys have done it in the past.
You can go, and, like I said, take whatever you get and move on. That's not me. So I don't want to do that to them.

Q. Coming into the US Open, you as an American, what would it mean to you personally to have a good showing at that big tournament?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, personally it's a Grand Slam. It's the biggest event of the year. It's the culmination of a long summer and a long year kind of where I know I have a few weeks off after it. You just give it everything you've got.
So, yeah, it's no secret that's the one you want to do best at.

Q. Is there any pressure being the highest-ranked American?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think so. I think so. It's pressure that I've never had to deal with before, so I don't know. I'll have to get there. I'll use the week leading up to get a lot of the stuff out of way, a lot of the media requirements and things like that that are different for me, and try to make it as regular an event as possible - even though obviously it's not.

Q. Because Nadal returns so well, does that put additional pressure on your service game?

Q. What do you have to do to do better in that area?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, a high first serve percentage; free points on your serve are all big. Staying aggressive on my return games, on his serve games, you know, those are all keys. There is no secret about that.
I played him relatively well. I feel like if we would have played 5 out of 11 sets instead of 3 out of 5 at Wimbledon, maybe I was getting better and better. I don't know. (Smiling.)

Q. Is there anything you're not happy with in your match today?
MARDY FISH: No, I haven't looked at the stats or anything, but I had one break point against and converted on both of mine.

Q. When you go into a match against one of the top three players, how did you pump yourself up? What kind of attitude do you have to go in with? Do you like at this as an opportunity?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. If you're not going to get up for playing Rafa Nadal in the quarters of a huge tournament like this, then you've got issues.

Q. That's not what I meant. It's obviously different than playing a player that you're more confident against.

Q. So how do you address that issue?
MARDY FISH: You mean like because I've lost to him every time and maybe you don't think I can win kind of thing?

Q. I think you can win.
MARDY FISH: Okay. Look, you have to go in thinking you can win. I understand what you're saying. It's just, yeah, you have to put yourself in the best position. You have to come up with a game plan that you think suits yourself best and go for it.
What do you have to lose, you know?

Q. Given all that's been said about this being good conditions, how much pressure is there on you?
MARDY FISH: Like I just said, look, I would like to be in the position where I can say, you know, I don't have anything to lose. I'm playing a top 3 player in a quarterfinals of a big event and blah, blah, blah.
I would love to get to the point where it's not anything to lose. I would love to get to the point where I can say, This is a coin flip. I can beat this guy not just one out of ten times, you know.
I'm not sure I'm there. I've been pretty candid about that. That's where I want to be.

Q. You just clinched the US Open Series making the quarterfinal here. Sam Querrey won it a year or two ago and said it felt sort of like winning a title. Do you feel like that? Sort of a small long-term achievement award?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it's a great honor. You know, Novak could win both of these events. It would feel a little weird to win that if he didn't lose in the summer and still didn't win the thing.
But, I mean, you know, as an American, playing throughout the summer is the most fun time for us. To be successful through this time of the year is, in my opinion, is the best time of the year to be successful as an American.
I'm certainly happy with that. I would like to cap it off and win here for sure.

Q. Do you have a preference for when you play tomorrow?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I prefer to play during the day. Yeah.

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