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August 29, 2011
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
M. FISH/T. Kamke
6-2, 6-2, 6-1
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Three or four years ago I remember after you lost the second-round match I used the word "journeyman," and you got upset. Now four years later you are the American guy here. Was there any moment where you said, I'm turning my career around; I have reached rock bottom; this is it?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, pretty fair to say the knee surgery when I wasn't able to come back here to defend my quarterfinal run. I had such a great experience in 2008 here, and when I wasn't able to come back and I had knee surgery and was out until February probably of the next year, yeah, I mean, that's when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, How badly do you want it? How badly do you want to give it everything you got just to see where you can get to?
That was the moment, no doubt about it.
Q. Have you ever come into this tournament feeling as confident as do you right now?
MARDY FISH: No, it's pretty fair to say. Look, I have played well in Cincinnati before. I played well at the Olympics in '04, as well. But, no, overall, even without a good Cincinnati, I still would have felt pretty good. You know, still would have felt great.
You know, sometimes I feel like it's a great experience for me to be in this position. I'm having a ton of fun with it. But sometimes I feel like I'm playing with house money a little bit just because I just would never have imagined two years ago, in 2009, not even having to come back here, you know, to be in this position.
So it's great. It's just great.
Q. I think you have said, or other people said, you're in the best physical shape of your life at this point. What made you get in such good shape? Is it something about the game that demands you be in better shape?
MARDY FISH: No, it was the knee. Again, the reason that I had the knee surgery was because I was just too heavy, and the pounding on my knee just took over time. That's why I needed the knee surgery.
In order to get back quicker, obviously with less weight above the knee, you know, I was gonna recover quicker, and, you know, be able to come back a lot better and faster, quicker, stronger, all that nonsense.
So that's why.
Q. Do you think you used to be able to play this game being heavier?
MARDY FISH: Well, yeah, I mean, it wasn't that bad. (Laughter.)
Q. No, I mean less quick, you know, there's a demand on players now that there didn't used to be.
MARDY FISH: There certainly is, yeah. It's a much more physical game than when I came out in '02, '03, '04 kind of thing.
There is a much bigger emphasis on fitness, as well. If you're not fit, you're not gonna win anything significant. You're not gonna do anything significant out here.
Q. You said it wasn't that bad, but I think last year you said you actually looked at pictures of yourself from then and said to Stacey, Why didn't you tell me?
MARDY FISH: I did. And I told Christian, too.
Q. What was her reply?
MARDY FISH: I don't know. She was in love with me, I guess was her reply. (Laughter.)
No, their reply always was that they didn't think I was that -- it's drastic, the pictures together are drastic now, but they didn't know any differently. That's what I always looked like.
Q. Can I ask you a general question, too? Venus is going to be playing later tonight without having had any tournaments between Wimbledon and now. When you're a veteran, just generally speaking, does your experience playing matches negate not having matches leading up to a Grand Slam, or is it always important to have matches under your belt?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I think it's always important. You're always just gonna run in -- and it may not trouble her in the first round or two. You know, I'm not sure how her game is tailored. She plays a sort of a high-risk game, so that requires a lot of confidence. Confidence is just a huge part of tennis.
So, yeah, I would feel like it would be very hard, but it wouldn't surprise me. Those girls are pretty good, the Williams sisters, and so they walk out on the court and they've already intimidated their opponents. They would intimidate me, for sure.
Q. Since they were talking about weight before, I was curious, do you have any dietary tips? What foods have you given up? What foods do you now eat? We could all look healthier.
MARDY FISH: When I was on the diet I watched what I ate. I watched the times that I ate things. I thought that was very important.
But, you know, now it's more of just maintaining, maintenance-type stuff. It's just eating the right things. Maybe last night instead of, you know, going out to a restaurant and trying to find something, you know, you order like a couple pieces of chicken breast and rice and asparagus. I never would have done that before.
It's contagious now for me to be able to do it and to feel as good as I do on the court physically. I find it hard to believe that I'll go back before I retire and just let it go. I mean, it's so much more fun to feel better.
Q. You said that you were playing with house money. I mean, why do you say that? You don't hear athletes speak that frankly that often.
MARDY FISH: Just because of the situations that I've been in previous. I mean, look, you put it in into perspective of what we're doing. We're, you know, just playing in a 23,000-seat stadium and whatever it is, 22,000-seat stadium. 25,000 seat stadium?
You know, you're playing tennis. I'm just playing something that I love to do. I'm able to put a lot of things, a lot of it in perspective now; whereas maybe before I didn't feel as lucky maybe as I do now. You know, it's harder to sort of figure out the ins and outs of what we're doing, you know, what I mean?
We're very lucky. So I'm able to dwell on that more than the latter.
Q. It seems like then being the top-ranked American here in the US Open, it's not gonna be burdensome, any more weight on your shoulders.
MARDY FISH: No, I'm sure it is. I'm sure it is. It's been a different preparation for me in a sense that I've had a bunch more media things that I've done and sponsor things that I've done.
Those are the benefits of being in the position that I'm in. You know, meeting different people and meeting different companies and things like that. You know, that side of it has been very exciting. I choose to think about the exciting part instead of the nervous part.
Yeah, I was nervous waking up this morning, but I'm always nervous waking up in the morning of the match. It was hard to put food down this morning, just like it was in Cincinnati two weeks ago.
Q. You are the top-ranked American here. Even with hurricane juggling, they made sure you got to play the first Ashe match of this tournament.
MARDY FISH: Yeah.
Q. Just talk about, you know, what it's like to be that guy that the USTA is no way gonna put you in Grandstand, not the way you're playing now.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it's an honor to be able to start the tournament off on that court. It's just an amazing court, and it's just a great honor to be able to do that. I was surprised, you know, when they canceled that first match, you know, just so my match was right on at 1:00.
And, you know, tennis players love knowing exactly when they play, so that was great. It's awesome. Great.
Q. Were your preparations altered much because of the hurricane?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, no one did anything yesterday, really. To be honest, it was pretty nice. I mean, you've never had an easier Sunday before a slam. We just stayed in the room and did a little treatment. I went to the gym and rode the bike. Nothing strenuous at all. It was great.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the atmosphere here and the energy, particularly as the week goes on playing at Ashe, playing in New York?
MARDY FISH: I'd like to, but I don't know how it's gonna be that much playing in Ashe. I'm not sure I'll play there every match.
I certainly know what it feels like to play on Louis Armstrong. It's a great court. People are right on top of you. It's a great camaraderie-type court with the crowd there. They can get extremely loud, extremely behind you and back you 100%. It's great.
So, yeah, this is the tournament that we want to do best at. There's no doubt about it. This is where we get the most support, and this is where we need it the most.
Q. Have you ever felt expectations were higher of you in your career?
MARDY FISH: No. Yeah, I think it's probably pretty easy to say this is one of the biggest tournaments I've ever played, you know, just coming in where I've come into it. I've never come into a Grand Slam ranked higher.
I think I was 9 at the French and Wimbledon, so, you know, this is the best position I've ever come in. This is the biggest tournament in that regard.
I think it's fair to say. I know that for a fact. It's not adding pressure or anything like that. It's just -- this was always gonna be a big tournament for me. I think it's fair to say it's probably the biggest tournament I've ever played to this point, for sure, minus, you know, Davis Cup and things like that, just a regular tournament.
Q. It's a challenge for you then to channel that into...
MARDY FISH: I don't think so, no. I don't think so. I'm well aware of the situation. You know, I'm gonna enjoy it for sure, no doubt.
Q. As you've gotten fitter, your game is definitely suited for short-term points. How much do you have to guard against maybe letting rallies go on just because you can handle it now, just to sort of show off your fitness?
MARDY FISH: That's my style. That's the style that wins me more matches than not. That's the style that gets me to beat the better players, for sure.
I mean, I can stay out there and stay from the baseline and beat a lot of players, but not the really good ones. You know, those guys in the top 10 will probably eat me alive from the baseline if we just play baseline games.
So I'll have to play that way, for sure. Sometimes, yeah, you fall into that defensive mode because I feel like I can do it a little bit. You know, that's sort of the challenge sometimes, is to try to find that happy medium in there.
Q. Biggest difference the speed or endurance or both?
MARDY FISH: That's tough to pinpoint one or the other. I feel a ton quicker. 30 pounds will do that. But I've been able to in that regard -- the discipline I think was the main thing. The discipline that it took to lose the weight translated into everything that I've done, everything that I do now in tennis, whether it be making the right choices, eating the night before a match, or being able to train two hours instead of an hour and a half where I used to before, or an hour, and do that consistently over a long period of time.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports