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March 10, 2013

Mardy Fish


M. FISH/B. Reynolds
6‑3, 3‑6, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You seemed pretty emotional at the end of the match.  Was it a little emotional?
MARDY FISH:  It was, yeah.  It's been a tough few months, for sure.  It's nice to ‑‑ you know, you sort of feel like it was a win just to get back out there.  There is a lot of people that have sort of dealt with what I've dealt with and not come back.
It's nice to just play, first and foremost, and then you get out there and you want to win.  You want to stay within yourself a little bit and not get too fired up or too low or too high or anything like that.
Then all of a sudden you find yourself in the third set, you know, deep in the third set losing.  You know, some of that sort of fight starts kicking in and you want to win.
So, yeah, it was nice to ‑‑I certainly didn't expect to win, you know, so soon.  The tennis side of it hasn't been an issue.  I have been playing for quite a while now as far as months is concerned, but just competitive matches, you know, you can't duplicate those.

Q.  You sound almost surprised that you found out you still wanted to win in the third set.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, you know, you just never know.  There is still some demons there that you try to fight, you try to deal with, and it's just nice to be out in the sun playing for something again.

Q.  Demons is the word you use with some repetition.  Is it just fears?  Is it anxiety?  Did you feel them out there on court?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I mean, I've got some health struggles that, you know, reared its head last time I played.
You know, naturally when you get back out there and start playing again, it's going to be one of the toughest things to deal with.

Q.  In a real match, was it different from playing Novak?  That was a great experience, too?
MARDY FISH:  It was different, but that was a great thing for me to be able to do.  You know, I couldn't just walk away from that if I wasn't feeling well.  So that was a nice thing to be able to play.
I came here and played an event as well the day after that and felt much better here than I did that night.
So that was nice to be able to do that, to be able to play in front of almost 9,000 people in an event that we put a lot of sweat into to try, you know, to bring up and try to come to life.
It was rewarding, for sure, to be able to play that.

Q.  How do you feel now after this match?  Do you feel good?  Normal?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah.  I feel relatively normal right this second.  You know, it's nice this tournament is sort of ‑‑there is a lot of reasons why this tournament made the most sense to try to come back for:  being in the same time zone; the same climate; no flight; it being a comfortable place; a place where I have played well before; it probably being my favorite event of the year, as well.
And then I think two out of three sets and the sort of week and a half as well where you get some days off between matches, too, you know, it's one of the factors.
There is a lot of good things that will come of coming back for this event.

Q.  Would you have preferred not to be on the main stadium today, or did you request that?
MARDY FISH:  No, I didn't request it.  I enjoy playing on that court.  No, it actually almost feels like you're far away from everyone.  I mean, there is quite a lot of room out there.
So that wasn't daunting at all.  To be honest, you know, Court 7 where I played doubles on yesterday was sort of a more intimate court where you feel people are on top of you.  I enjoy playing in those settings as well, but maybe this one was definitely more preferable to sort of get out there on a big court with a lot of room.

Q.  You have talked about trying to limit your stress doing things like not worrying about other people's rankings.  Could you just talk about that process?  It's not always an easy thing to do to tamp down.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, you just don't look.

Q.  But it's not from the rankings?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I mean, look, I haven't looked at my draw.  Someone just told me who I play the winner of.  That's when I found out who I play next.
You know, sometimes you just deal ‑‑you just add stress to your life that you don't need.  This is already a pretty stressful business, so it's something that I have tried.
I mean, look, this is the first tournament that I've played, so it's the first time that I've actually done it.
You know, you try not to read too much and you try not to watch too much.  Just kind of stay, you know, sort of stay as comfortable as possible and watch basketball this week instead of tennis, you know, a little bit more.  (Smiling.)

Q.  Do you think that having the situation like running your own XO in LA and being locked in to play there was something you needed to force yourself to get back on the court?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah.  I mean, like I said out there, it wasn't something I could just walk away from, you know.  There is a lot of ‑‑when there is a lot of people that you know personally there, that could be a little bit tougher than a scenario where you don't know as many people so you don't really worry about it too much.  I had a lot of family and friends there that night.  We put a lot of hard work into it.  That was very rewarding to be a part of.
But, yeah, that wasn't the easiest thing, but it certainly helped.

Q.  Do you think going forward past this tournament it's going to be easier to bring yourself to...
MARDY FISH:  I hope so.  Yeah, I hope so.  I mean, putting myself into difficult situations, different situations, is the reason why I've gotten better and better.
Because in the beginning, after the US Open, it wasn't like that.  I couldn't put myself in those situations.  Sort of beating around the bush a little bit, but...

Q.  Where are you in terms of planning?  Have you got a long‑range schedule, or is it going to be just kind of assess it after each event?
MARDY FISH:  I'm going to play Miami, and then I'm going to assess it after that, assess sort of the clay court season.  Maybe step back and see how I feel, see where I am personally, see if, you know, after these two weeks if it's something that I can still do at a high level.
That will certainly be a question I'll ask.  But, you know, hopefully I'll resume a normal, sort of a normal schedule.  We'll see.

Q.  What was the overwhelming kind of reaction after the match?  Was it pride or relief?  Elation?
MARDY FISH:  Elation probably.  Yeah, I mean, look, and not even just to win.  There's just ‑‑there has been a couple of people that have really been there for me through these past months, and it felt good to play for them, as well.
My wife has been a rock at my side the entire time, so it's been very difficult for her, as well.
You know, so it's nice to be able to play for her and her family who lives in LA and has seen me‑‑ saw me at my worst times.

Q.  Is there anything special you implemented in your program right now that you haven't done in the past just to deal with the circumstances of your comeback?
MARDY FISH:  There's quite a bit.  I mean, just trying to sort of limit my surroundings as far as getting in tough situations, getting in different situations.
A lot of it has to deal with going to bed early, even.  You know, practice has been tough because I‑‑ you know, sometimes I feel like I'm pushing myself too hard.  Sometimes if I pushed myself too hard I take a step back, and then that would take me a week to get back from that just to climb back to where I was before.
You know, there's a lot of sort of things in place that have helped me get to where I am now, which comes the hard part, which is the unpredictability of this sport in that you can't just guarantee me we are going to go out there and play for 90 minutes.

Q.  What about diet?  Nothing unusual?
MARDY FISH:  No, nothing unusual with the diet.  That's something I have stayed pretty disciplined with for the better part of three or four years now.
Diet comes easy for me now, so I enjoy feeling like that.

Q.  You were talking about demons.  How hard is it during a match to put those sorts of things out of your mind and to just concentrate on the job at hand?  And the second part, from what you were just saying about assessing the situation after Miami, is there a possibility that you might feel you need to walk away from playing?
MARDY FISH:  I'll answer the first part.  It's actually relatively easy when you're out there.  You've got so many things to worry about:  your opponent and what's going on and how you need to play.  We have so many things going through our heads about how we need to focus and this and that.
So that part isn't hard.  It's sort of before and after that are the toughest parts with that.
And then the second part, you know, for the first three months after the US Open I had retired and nonretired in my head almost every week.  And there was a while where I was done.  I had gotten it through my head that I was done when I was just trying to get my normal life back, just trying to have normalcy again.
I don't envision that, but it certainly is possible.

Q.  On a more serious front, in the past you have talked about how you have spoiled your dog crazy.  Has it been fun?  Have you really gone crazy spoiling the dog and all that?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, it's been nice to have ‑‑like I said, this is a drive for us from LA, so we were able to bring our bedspread and our, you know, dog and things.  It just makes it feel like more at home.  (Smiling.)

Q.  Is he the one who scratched you?
MARDY FISH:  This is actually ‑‑I don't know if you have ever scratched yourself with soap.
(Showing left biceps.)  You know, how they have exfoliating things in the soap?

Q.  Irish Spring?
MARDY FISH:  Apparently I scrubbed too hard.  That's what that's from.  (Laughter.)
So, yes, you know, that's one of the reasons why I picked this tournament to try to come back to as hard as I could, because that's when it's most comfortable and when everyone is pretty close to home, you know.

Q.  There are many athletes who have been at the top reaches of their sport, they're unwilling ‑‑ when you have been at the top it's not much fun.  It's better to just retire because it's not much fun being unranked.  Are you the kind of guy who would just like to play out here no matter what, or if you can't make quarters or semis, would it be...
MARDY FISH:  It would be difficult, for sure.  I would want to play at a high level, there's no doubt about that.
Look, that's something that we'll have to come to.  Being at the top of the game, being at, you know, at least where I was, your expectations change a lot.
All of a sudden the fourth round of a slam is not a good result anymore when, in all seriousness, it is.  It's a great result; things just change.  That's what happened to me, for better or worse, and I worked so hard to get there, to put myself in that position, but it's hurt my health in the long run, for sure.
But from what I have been through in the past six months, seven months, it will‑‑ you know, I hope to come out stronger.  I know I'll be stronger.  I know if I can get through this, something like this, then, you know, what's a tennis match?  That shouldn't be too tough.

Q.  Some of us were a little bit shocked when your good friend Roddick retired back at the US Open.
MARDY FISH:  Me too, yes.

Q.  Just talk a little bit about that.  You have known him since you were a kid.  Being on the tour without him around must be...
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, usually we go to LGs and pays for my meals.  I miss the free meals from him because he has way more money than we all do.  I miss the sort of the silent cheering from afar for both of us.
You know, I'm still lucky to have James around, as well.  He's in the same sort of boat as Andy and I were.  We're all very close in that regard.
But it's certainly different.  He's been a mainstay at tournaments for my entire career, and I certainly miss him.  You know, no more so than a tournament like this where we stay in the same hotel, the same resort.  We go to dinner practically every night together.  We actually had breakfast here every single morning.
So it's a little different when you're eating by yourself, like this morning, when he would be there.
I certainly miss him.

Q.  Would you be stunned by a comeback, if he came back?

Q.  Why?
MARDY FISH:  Have you seen him lately?  (Laughter.)  A little bit overweight right now.

Q.  Would it have been easier to come back sooner if you knew he was going to be there?  Does not having one of your friends there make it harder to jump back in?
MARDY FISH:  No, that didn't play at all.

Q.  On a more general note, Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock are out already.  It's not the best of times.  Could you just talk about the young American players?  Pretty much the standard question.  Do you think things can kick start...
MARDY FISH:  Well, look, I think we can all now acknowledge how great Andy was for American tennis.
You know, this could be the first time I believe since the rankings have come out that no U.S. player will be in the top 20 if Sam doesn't do anything.  I guess you could put me in there.
You know, so you certainly respect what he did for our sport and for this country in our sport.
But I think you see someone like Harrison who has been out here now for a few years, and the years start adding up.  And it's not as easy as when you come out, just come out on fire and you get to the top 50.
There is a huge difference between 50 in the world and 20 in the world and 10 in the world.  It's a long way to go, and they have to realize that.  Someone like Jack Sock is ultra‑talented, but he's still young.  These guys are still really young.
It's a man's game now.  It's physical, you know; the travel is tough on you.  Takes you a while to mature.  Takes you a while to really get everything down, to get into your comfort zone.
Certainly I'd be sitting in a glass house if I was criticizing what some of the younger guys were doing.  Took me a long time to figure it out.  Didn't take me until 27 years old to really fully mature and to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with this sport and how I wanted to leave my mark.
You know, we'll see.

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