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March 27, 2012

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/N. Almagro
6‑3, 6‑7, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Obviously a longer match than you wanted, but your serve, when you needed it, is that as sweet as you could serve?
MARDY FISH:¬† I certainly served better percentage‑wise, but when I needed some free points, I got them.
And you need them against someone like him.  He played great.  He sort of gave me quite a few errors, you know, midway through the first and sort of all the way through to like midway in the second.
I was really close to kinda getting that second break, and, you know, kinda turning it on his head.¬† Credit to him, because he didn't let that happen.¬† I was real close at that and felt like, you know, sometimes my serve games throughout that match were almost ‑‑they were going too easy for me.
I wasn't in trouble in very many of them at all minus that first game.¬† So I knew for sure‑‑ even at the 4‑3 where I did lose serve, I knew that, you know, he was probably gonna play one good game out of those two, those next two, and I just kinda had to execute my shots.
I made some good plays there.  I just didn't execute on that game and went to a tiebreaker, and the tiebreaker was as high a quality as I've played all year, for sure.
I hit ‑‑I think I had two aces in the first two points, and he had a bunch of winners first seven points or so, all finished by winners.
You know, so just gotta kind of hang in there.  He's been playing well.  Quarters at Indian Wells,  and played Djokovic pretty tough there.  Certainly turning around his stigma on hard courts, for sure, because he can play on this stuff.

Q.¬† In the 4‑3 third set, the break game, he seemed to almost give it to you.¬† Were you surprised by a couple of the unforced errors?
MARDY FISH:¬† No, I mean, I hit three good returns in a row to get Love‑40.¬† I think actually ‑‑I was talking to the guys in the locker room, and that was probably the best shot I hit all year was the Love‑30 at 4‑3 me on the backhand down the line.
That probably felt the best out of any shot I've hit all year.¬† I played a good game there.¬† I mean, you know, at the 30‑40 point he hit a good serve.¬† I hit a good return.¬† Sort of just fought the return off, and he barely caught the top of the tape with that.
That could have rolled over.  Those rolled over for me today.  I got lucky with a couple of those and he didn't.  You know, maybe that was the difference, too.

Q.  You said that was probably the best shot you hit all year.  Does this feel like the best round win you've gotten all year?
MARDY FISH:  I think I won my two biggest matches that I played this year.  Davis Cup, Davis Cup means almost everything to me.  So to win those two points in Switzerland was huge.
But, yeah, I mean, outside of that, for sure this is by far the best that I've played all year.  Obviously, you know, beating an opponent like that, I mean, it wasn't like, you know, he wanted to go home or, you know, he had been on a road a while.
Sometimes you get guys in Miami that are from Europe that can kind of see the finish line, if you will, and see the clay court season starting, some of those guys.
And so it certainly wasn't like that.  And credit to him, he stuck in there.

Q.  Did you watch Andy and Roger last night?
MARDY FISH:  I did, yeah.

Q.  What do you think of how Andy played?  You might maybe have a chance to play him.  I'm assuming on Stadium Court.
MARDY FISH:  Pretty impressive, huh?  No, I'm gonna request the Grandstand.

Q.  Yeah, you should keep requesting it.  Play the final out there.
MARDY FISH:¬† You know, I was obviously super‑happy for him.¬† That's probably the best he's played in a long time.¬† I'm sure he said it.
It just kinda tells you a little bit about Roger, too, just the kind of guy he is.  Comes in and says we should all enjoy him while he's around kind of thing.  He's one of the classiest guys out there in all of sports.
But, yeah, I mean, Andy, you know, played great.  Obviously everyone that's on his team, that's on his side, including me, were pretty excited about it.

Q.  What about if you have to face him?  Technically and emotionally a guy you know so well and where he's playing right now.
MARDY FISH:  Obviously we know each other real well.  It will be nice to play a relevant match against each other again.  I mean, hasn't been since 2010 that we've played and that was a semis of a Masters Series in Cincinnati, so we'll relish it.  We'll enjoy it.
Might not be too many left.  I mean, who knows, you know?  We're getting old.  (Smiling.)
No, but hopefully he can win.  Juan is a great player, though.  He has a tough match ahead of him.  Sometimes you can play those matches where you play so well and then you get up so high for a guy like Roger, and then...

Q.  That's what he said.  Last time he said he lost to Davydenko in the next match after he beat Roger here.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah.  So hopefully that doesn't happen for him and we can play.

Q.  How did you feel in the game today?
MARDY FISH:¬† I mean, I felt ‑‑ physically I felt great.¬† That's the kind of conditions I love playing in.¬† That's why I request to play during the day all the time.
I feel like I can manage the heat as good as anyone.  I grew up in this weather, so I felt as good as I felt in a while.

Q.  You joked about being on Grandstand for the next match.  You have been on the second court through Indian Wells and here.  Is that surprising for you, being the No. 1 American?
MARDY FISH:¬† No, I mean, you've got to look at the guys that are ‑‑I mean, I want to play there, for sure.¬† I mean, I think the interview that I did, it's sort of hard to ‑‑ when you read it, it's sort of hard to realize the context that I was talking about sometimes.
I certainly want to play on Stadium Court, there's no doubt about it.¬† But, you know, they've got to put someone out there that‑‑ and who's that gonna be?¬† Are you gonna put Federer out there or Djokovic or Nadal or, you know, Serena?
I mean, I'm not ‑‑you know, I'm not gonna go ahead of them.¬† Or Andy?¬† I'm not gonna go ahead of those guys as far as people watching, coming to watch them play.¬† You've got to go where you've got to go.

Q.  Sorry to ask you to look ahead, but Davis Cup team was announced today.  How fired up are you after what happened with the Swiss?  Are you more fired up now that you have a nice little run going now?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I'm excited for myself that I can get off schneid a little bit.  I'm excited that Isner is on my team and the Bryans are on my team, because we have a really good team.  I mean, you know, two guys right now in the top 10 and best doubles team ever.
You know, everyone keeps playing us on clay and we keep winning on clay.  So Isner, that's one of his best surfaces.  And the Bryans, clay is their best surface, as well.
Any team that we play, they've got to beat‑‑ you know, they've got to beat Isner both times, gotta beat the Bryans both times, and they've gotta beat me.
You know, we have a good team right now.

Q.¬† Have you played the Monte‑Carlo tournament?
MARDY FISH:  One time, yeah.

Q.  What was your...
MARDY FISH:¬† Yeah, it's tough.¬† It's a really tough time looking at the schedule for Americans.¬† It's almost impossible.¬† You've got to ‑‑we have to be over there for Madrid and Rome.¬† What do you do?¬† Do you go after this, stay there for seven weeks, or do you come back and then go back over and have a week and a half off?
It's a really hard time.  It's a beautiful place, beautiful tournament.  Everyone in my family wants to go.  My wife wants to go.  My dad wants to go so bad just to see it.  (Smiling.)
I have good memories from there.¬† I actually got to play ‑‑it was one of my first Masters Series that I got straight into, and I got into it last minute.¬† I was ranked 75 in the world in 2003.¬† I got into it last minute.
I remember I went with my coach.  We were boarding a plane.  We had left from Tampa, and we were going to Atlanta, to go Atlanta, I think, to Nice, and then you drive from there.
I saw my draw and I played Gustavo Kuerten.  We almost got back off the plane and went back to Tampa.  (Smiling.)
It was a quick trip, because I got in late, like I said.  I got in like Saturday, so we might have left Saturday night.  I got in Sunday, I played Monday, and I was home on Tuesday.
But we had fun while we were there.

Q.  (Indiscernible.)
MARDY FISH:  I didn't know that.  No, I did not know that.

Q.¬† You mentioned that one of Isner's best surfaces is clay.¬† He's actually going over to play Monte‑Carlo.¬† Do you feel like he's sort of a different mold of American player than has come up the last 10 years?¬† Yourself, Andy, Sampras before you not playing a whole lot of optional...
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, he prefers slower surfaces.  If you kinda break down his game, his serve can go through on anything.  He can serve through the slowest of the slow on clay with any balls, but he has trouble returning on faster surfaces.
That's why he doesn't particularly like grass, which is amazing to me.  But it's whatever he likes.  He has time on clay.  His forehand is as big as anyone's forehand out there right now.
When he's hitting it well he can play through the court.  He can hit it by people.  You saw that against Roger in Switzerland.  So he can just blow through that stuff.  That's how unique he is.
So, yeah, I mean, he might look to play more on clay than some of the other guys that would prefer to play on hard courts, for sure.

Q.  You have been chasing this guy, Roddick, your whole life.

Q.¬† Seems like he's finally going away; you're the top‑ranked American.¬† Don't you just want this guy to go away already?¬† Tell us the truth.
MARDY FISH:  No, I don't.  He's one of my best friends.  I was texting with his wife last night at 3:30 in the morning for her, because she's in Germany doing publicity for her new movie, and she was watching on live scores, you know.
I had to tell her how to go and get it actually on video.  She was just watching the scores, just click over.  How bad is that, you know?
We're very close, all of us.  You know, no one was more excited, more happy for him.  Maybe a few people.  Maybe his wife and family or something.  But I certainly was excited for the way he was playing.
We're all on the same team.  I'm on Team Roddick; he's on Team Fish.

Q.  Who's better on the basketball courts, you or him?
MARDY FISH:  I'm probably better now.  We haven't played in a while.  I shoot a lot at Carson because there is an indoor basketball hoop there a lot of NBA guys practice at.  It's right next door to the gym, USTA training center there, so I shoot a lot there.
I can probably shoot better than him.

Q.  Are you undecided about the Olympics?
MARDY FISH:  Um, yeah.  I mean, I have a lot of great memories from the Olympics, and I have a lot of tough memories from the Olympics, as well.  I didn't go to Beijing.
So, yeah, I haven't decided yet.  It sounds amazing.  My memories from Athens I'll always have.  So we'll see.

Q.  If you didn't do it, what would be the reason why?
MARDY FISH:  Scheduling, yeah.  Staying closer to home, playing tournaments that I'm comfortable in.  I think it comes up against Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles I ride my bike to UCLA right now, so I'm pretty close there.

Q.  When will you decide?
MARDY FISH:  I think it comes up relatively soon.

Q.  After the French?  Will you wait till the last minute?
MARDY FISH:  I think you have to like register and stuff.  Yeah, pretty soon.

Q.  You're not ready to say which way you're gonna go, though?

Q.  Are you working with Mark Knowles now?
MARDY FISH:¬† Uh‑huh.

Q.  How did that happen?  Is it temporary?
MARDY FISH:  No, no, it's not temporary.  You know, he still plays, as well.  He's a huge help.  He's got his work cut out for him the past month or so trying to get me back on track.
He's got a great tennis mind.  He's been around for a long time.  He's played in this era; obviously still plays.  He's played a lot of the guys.  He played doubles with Kevin Anderson who I played yesterday two weeks ago, so he knows everyone's game pretty well.
We played doubles in 2010 together.  He helped me a ton at that time, as well, just sort of mentally on the practice court and things like that.
I thought, you know, just sort of getting sort of a new voice would be beneficial.  I still train with the USTA in LA and with David Nainkin still and spend a lot of hours on the practice court with him, those guys, so I'm still fully vested in the USTA, as well.

Q.  Can you give us an example of something he's taught you, some tip he gave you, something that helped you?
MARDY FISH:¬† It's not necessarily one specific thing.¬† He's very good at analyzing the game.¬† He breaks down ‑‑he likes to go in with a serious game plan when he plays.¬† He likes to, you know, scout everyone.
It just sort of brings a different element into it, a new voice.  I was with David Nainkin for three years, and sometimes it can run its course.  Sometimes he can be telling you gold, and sometimes you just need it said a different way.
Mark, I've always thought ‑ and a lot of the guys in the locker room think ‑ that he's one of the best tennis minds out there.¬† He reminds me a lot actually of Justin Gimelstob just how he knows this era, knows, watches so much tennis and can appreciate, you know, how good someone like Almagro is, what his strengths and weaknesses are.
It's extremely helpful for me.

Q.  When did you start working with him?
MARDY FISH:  Started last week.  It hasn't been long.  Indian Wells.  But it's been in the process for a month or so.

Q.  Is he still entering more tournaments?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, he's playing this year.  His ranking as dropped a little bit, but he'll still play all the slams and the big tournaments.  We played here,  so...

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