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AUSTRALIAN OPEN


January 16, 2012


Mardy Fish


MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

M. FISH/G. Muller
6‑4, 6‑4, 6‑2


THE MODERATOR:  First question for Mardy.

Q.  On paper that potentially was a very dicey match.  You seemed to take care of business pretty well.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I played him in L.A. only one other time.  I broke him.  He's a guy that takes care of his serve relatively well.  I played well the first time I played him, too.  I broke him three times in that match, as well.
You know, conditions were good for me.  It was hot, windy, you know, the balls were flying pretty good.  So I like my chances in those types of conditions.

Q.  So sort of like being at home?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah.  It was hot today.  It's tough for everyone when it's 65 and windy, you know, every day that we've been here, and then all of a sudden the first day of the tournament it's 90.  No one likes that.
But, I mean, I like those conditions.  I mean, I like it hot.  It's not easy for anyone.  I prefer to play in that.

Q.  What is your mindset coming into 2012?
MARDY FISH:  It never ends.  You know, to be honest, it just feels like, geez, you know, I really enjoy the position that I'm in as far as, you know, being seeded in the top 8 in a Grand Slam, No.1 American.  There's no room to breathe at all.
So that's the way it feels kind of going in.  You know, you want to get some matches in.  You don't want to overplay, but you need matches.  What do you play?  Do you play exhibitions?  Do you play tournaments?
This year, with the condensed schedule, there's going to be a lot of times when you're only going to have a few days off after a lot of tournaments.  So you have to pick and choose your spots wisely, I guess.
I hadn't played a real match coming in yet.  This is definitely the most comfortable I felt down here, for sure.

Q.  You sound worried already.
MARDY FISH:  No (smiling).  You know, you feel like sort of the same.  Look, I'm a lot healthier than I was at the end of the year last year, so that feels nice.

Q.  You made the quarters here five years ago.  Do you feel the way you've took off to the degree you have now, do you think this is probably your best slam surface?
MARDY FISH:  I think the US Open is my best slam surface because of the balls.  The surface is fine.  The balls that they choose here are extremely heavy.  They get big when it's cold out or at night.  If you play at night or if you play during the day, it's two different tournaments as far as the conditions are concerned.
The US Open is gonna be my best chance to go as far as I can.

Q.¬† You mentioned being the top‑ranked American.¬† Did you ever think that you would be the No.1 ranked American?
MARDY FISH:  I mean, ever since I started out professionally, Andy Roddick, he skyrocketed right away.  I mean, he's been the guy, so never thought about it.  It wasn't ever really a goal.
You know, the goal was always to get in the top 10.¬† The goal was to do well in tournaments and such and such, ranking‑wise, things like that.¬† It never really occurred to me being No.1 in our country.
But it feels good.  It's a nice title.  You know, I'm never going to put my career ahead of Andy's, you know, just because I'm ranked ahead of him for eight months.  But it feels nice.  It's a nice position to be in.

Q.¬† You've given a lot of reasons, fitness, a bit of a wake‑up call three or four years ago, getting married, all those things.¬† Is there something that stands out in all those things that you did that got you to where you are at 30, which is unusual?
MARDY FISH:  I think the biggest thing was just realizing that there wasn't many years left.  Realizing when I did get married that it wasn't just me anymore, there was someone else to take care of.  So I wanted to do it for her.  Obviously, I want to do it for myself, but that sort of drove me in the beginning, to provide.  That's what really got me going, I guess.

Q.  Roddick said yesterday he feels there is a clear gap between the top four and the rest of the field.  They've kind of proven that.  He said he also thinks it's cyclical, which lends itself to the possibility that maybe one of you guys can break through and knock one of the top four guys out of the semifinals.  Does it feel like there's such a wide gulf that Roger, Rafa, Novak, Murray are going to end up in the semis?
MARDY FISH:¬† On a single‑match basis, it doesn't feel like that.¬† Over the course of a year, it certainly does.¬† They're way more consistent than everyone else is, that's for sure.
But there's no reason to believe that a handful of guys can't beat one of them in the quarterfinals or whenever.  It would probably be in the Round of 16 or the quarterfinals, something like that, in a Grand Slam on any given day.
To say that, we don't have to go out there down here and beat them 10 times in a row.  So out of a single time, absolutely.

Q.  You've just played Bernie; Sam is going to play him next round.  Can you break that down?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah.  He's a great player.  He's going to be a great player.  He already is.  He's gotten so much better since I played him in the fall.  He was a good player then, too.
He showed out there that he enjoys playing down here.¬† He enjoys this surface.¬† He enjoys playing during the day in the heat, all the conditions and variables that this tournament has.¬† Pretty impressive from a 19‑year‑old.
I mean, he's light‑years ahead of me now, but especially when I was 19, at that time.¬† Very impressive.¬† He's confident.¬† He's not cocky.¬† You know, you got to be confident.¬† Handles himself well for a youngster.

Q.¬† Do you think he's light‑years ahead of Ryan?¬† How do you see him matching up against Sam?
MARDY FISH:¬† I think Sam's got the game to beat anyone.¬† Who knows how he'll turn up in two days.¬† I'm guessing a 19‑year‑old, he'll be okay.¬† Sam kind of puts the ball in his court when he plays.¬† He plays big.¬† So if he plays well, he certainly can win.

Q.  How would you compare him to Ryan, basically the same age?
MARDY FISH:  Ryan's doing all the right things, as well.  He's got the work ethic.  He's got the drive.  He's willing to pick a lot of guys' brains.  He's following in Andy's footsteps a little bit, going to Austin to train with him.  He's doing the right things.
You know, some people take longer.  There's a big difference.  One thing you just look at, without even looking at their games, Tomic is 6'5".  That's a nice spot to be in to play tennis, especially with the serve.
So, you know, you have to have big weapons, that one big weapon.  Ryan is developing it.  He's doing all the right things for sure.

Q.  Mardy, you said always one of your goals was to crack the top the top 10; you've done that.  What goals do you set for yourself for 2012?
MARDY FISH:  I'd like to stay obviously as long as I can.  The goal is to try to make the Masters Cup.  I never really set that goal last year.  I wanted to get to the top 10.  I forgot about actually finishing in the top 10.
Just tasting that, being able to be a part of that with those guys last year, that's what will drive me now.  Obviously I want to go further in a slam than the quarterfinals and put myself in that position to see what that feels like, see what that is like.
I want to win a Masters 1000 event, too, because I've lost four of those in the final set.  Those are the goals really.

Q.¬† How much did you need a mental break after London?¬† When you came to Australia, which was fairly early ‑ you played Hopman Cup ‑ did you actually feel refreshed?
MARDY FISH:  No, certainly not.  Look, you know, I'm used to having quite a bit of time off, 'cause last two years, besides last year, '09 and 2010, I didn't play after the US Open but maybe one tournament.  So I actually had quite a bit of time off.
I thought that if I didn't have a lot of time off, something like what Djokovic did at the end of the 2010, last year, then '11 he didn't have that much time off, so you don't really lose that much and all you're doing is gaining.  All you're doing is sort of gaining your play.  You don't lose a lot of play.
I start out slow usually.  It's tough to figure out how to put points together, put games together and such.  So I thought that maybe that would, you know, sort of catapult me in the beginning of the year.  Maybe it will.  This is my first tournament.  Perhaps it will.
But, yeah, I mean, you need those breaks throughout the year, period, because it's just such a grind.

Q.  Was there anyone in tennis, maybe outside, that was a role model for you in terms of peaking later in their careers?
MARDY FISH:  Someone like Agassi jumps out at you.  He won his last Grand Slam at 33, I believe, maybe even 34.  My coach, David Nainkin, who works for the USTA, he's always been a proponent of that.  He doesn't believe that you peak as a male player until you're 28, 29, 30 years old.  He thinks you feel just as good or better.  You're stronger, you're more experienced, you can see the finish line a little bit so you want it just that much more.
So he's been a driving inspiration with his words to me, as well.

Q.  Is the major challenge to beat one of the top four guys, to just knock one of those guys over in a slam?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, that's a huge goal.  I mean, I played the summer last year.  I made the final of Montréal, but I didn't beat anyone that was ranked ahead of me to get there.  Then I lost to Djokovic pretty close in the third set.
I wanted to beat one of those guys in a big tournament, in a big spot, and I did the next week.  I beat Nadal in Cincinnati in the quarters.  You know, you got to get there.  It's a long ways to get there.
I got a long road ahead of me just to get to someone like Federer.  I believe I'm in his quarter, though.  But that's the goal.

Q.  Do you feel any pressure both from yourself and external factors to really match it with these guys?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I mean, I feel fairly comfortable.  There is more pressure, for sure, but I feel fairly comfortable with the things that I'm doing, you know, sort of away from tennis or on the practice court or just making the right decisions, period.
So I don't really get too caught up in what anyone else says because I know I'm doing the right things.¬† I put my work ethic and my decision making at this part of my career, at the end of my career, right now, up with anyone's.¬† I mean, every choice that I make, whether it be in the off‑season, you know, December 5th in the off‑season or tonight or tomorrow is what I feel like the right decision towards my career.¬† I don't want to leave anything short.
So I feel very comfortable going to sleep at night.  I sleep a lot better now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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