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August 12, 2013

Mardy Fish


7‑6, 6‑2

MARDY FISH:  I feel all right.  Just have an awful long way to go tennis‑wise.  Just kind of shows you how amazing Rafa has been coming back after seven months off.  To do what he's done is just not normal.
It makes you sort of question‑‑ matches like today and days like today really make you sort of question how far you've got to go, if there's still that sort of fire and drive that you need, and that's tested.
This is not an easy game in that regard at all.  When you get to be out here for that long, for this long, it becomes challenging for sure.

Q.  Flat just from the start or...
MARDY FISH:  Not necessarily.  There's a lot of things that I'm working on as well to manage‑‑ sort of manage the stresses of matches and everyday sort of life and stuff, so sometimes speaking with psychiatrists and things like that on a week‑to‑week basis.
So apart from tennis, there's a lot of things that I'm working on as well that I have to work on for my health and sometimes just not being able to play a ton of matches.
These are‑‑ I mean, the guy's really good too, and he played really well.  He's beaten a lot of players and he's ranked 20 in the world.  I could lose that match playing at a high level anyway.
So you just don't‑‑ right away, you're just not sure what to take from it.  But you just got to kind of keep pressing on if you want it, if you want it bad enough.

Q.  And how do you determine that?  Because you sound like you're not totally sure.
MARDY FISH:  I think there's going to be some sort of assessment period, maybe after the US Open, where I'll kind of see how far‑‑ feel how far away I am to where I want to be.
I mean, I left ‑ with all these problems that I had health‑wise, I left the game in the top 10 in the world, and that's pretty hard to deal with.  It was very, very hard to get there and to stay there for a while, for a little while and to make the World Tour Finals and to do all those cool things.
So it's been very hard and very challenging to know that I had really no control over it.  And sort of here we sit 12 months out, 12 months away from playing really good tennis, some of the best tennis of my career, and doing well in most tournaments, and now I sit out in the first round in one of my favorite events, one of my best events, so that will challenge you mentally for sure.

Q.  When did it turn to, I assume, maybe a fear, you were afraid something would go wrong with your heart if you started playing and getting over that mental challenge?
MARDY FISH:  There was a lot of that for sure.  That took quite a long time, to answer your question.  It's still a process.  It's gotten miles and miles better than it was 12 months ago, for sure.
Obviously, it's always going to be a partof‑‑ I'll never forget it.  I always said, I just can't wait to sort of just forget, and years, five years down the road, whatever I'm doing at the time, I can't even remember that.
I'm never going to‑‑ it's never going to happen.  I can't ever forget what I went through.  Only a certain few saw me in those moments, and they're the ones I have to lean on.

Q.  And when did you get to the point where you said, Gee, I've got to seek a psychiatrist, whatever, seek some help, this isn't going to work on my own?
MARDY FISH:  Probably 3:30 a.m. after I beat Gilles Simon in the US Open last year.  That's when I knew I had some issues.

Q.  Do you feel it's working?
MARDY FISH:  Yes.  I've come a very, very long way.  It's been a very slow process.  Come an extremely long way.
Like I said, it's very hard to come back.  I had a protected ranking of 25.  You know, like I said, when all this happened in sort of February, March kind of thing, I was in the top 10 in the world.  That's hard to take.

Q.  So, Mardy, you've sort of stepped your toe back into these events and come back.  I haven't seen you in all these events, but are you more dispirited today than you have been in some other tournaments?  Have you been more down in this comeback trail?
MARDY FISH:  I feel like my tennis today, more so than any other of the matches was pretty subpar.  And so that's not how I want to play for sure, and that's not how I'm used to playing in the past few years.
So like I said, that will really make you question‑‑ something like today will really make you question can you get back there?  Do you want to do all the things to get back there?  So we'll see.

Q.  And you're scheduled to play in Salem?
MARDY FISH.  Winston‑Salem is the tournament now.

Q.  Winston‑Salem.
MARDY FISH:  Yeah, as of now I've taken the wild card there, and I'm still playing doubles here as well.

Q.  Going back to New York, what's that going to be like for you since that was sort of where all this began?
MARDY FISH:  I don't know.  I don't know.  I mean, I absolutely love the tournament, so I think I'll be okay.  It will be my first three‑out‑of‑five sets since all that, so that will be different.
But, you know, look, obviously, days like today, you still know you've got a long ways still to go.  You've just got to press on if you want to.

Q.  It's not a straight trajectory, right?  It's two steps forward, one step back, right?
MARDY FISH:  Yeah.  And it's been like that.  My health, it's been like that for quite a while now, better part of 12 months.  So it's been a lot of that.  It's been very challenging for sure.

Q.  Are you totally healthy now that they tell you, or what do the docs say?
MARDY FISH:  I'm not sure‑‑ I mean, I still struggle a little bit.
But, yeah, so, no, I'm not totally 100%.

Q.  How is the traveling, just being away from home?  Is it getting better?  Easier?
MARDY FISH:  It's easier in the States, obviously, I think.  I haven't left the country in a long time, since Wimbledon last year.
But you keep everyone close, you know, and everyone that's been around you during that time is all very close right now and has been for the past few weeks.
It's been a nice process.  It was a nice process in Washington.  I felt like that was a good step in the right direction; this is obviously a step backwards for sure in the singles, no doubt about it.

Q.  Had you reached a point where you were afraid to even go out of the house to do anything because youwere afraid of what's going to happen or I might not be able to get to the doctor?  A little agoraphobia?
MARDY FISH:  A little.  I probably spent three months straight inside my house.

Q.  Not even going out around your property, backyard or something?
MARDY FISH:  I think I went in the backyard maybe a couple times.

Q.  So something happened after the Simon match, not before the Federer match, or both?
MARDY FISH:  No, it was throughout summer was really the worst times.

Q.  And then you decided you were going to play that match, right?
MARDY FISH:  I came on site thinking I was going to play that match.
Stacy's been a rock.  She's been an angel really.  I'm not sure, without her there's no telling‑‑ without her help after the US Open, there's no telling where I'd be.  This is a scary time for sure.

Q.  Are you using a protected ranking here?  Do you have a protected ranking?
MARDY FISH:  No.  Believe it or not, I still got into this tournament with my ranking, but six weeks out.  So I got into all those events.
That's why I obviously was high enough‑‑ I haven't had to use a protected ranking.  I only have like two tournaments on my ranking now, and I haven't had to use a protected ranking.
So obviously I was in a nice position where all the hard work had paid off, like I talked about before.

Q.  Can you still use one?

Q.  Because, I mean, you're 129 this week.  You're going to fall after this because you were a semifinalist last year.  Do you care about the ranking and thinking about going back to playing challengers and working with that?  Is that okay?
MARDY FISH:  That's not okay.  I don't care about the ranking at all.  I won't be playing challengers.  I have nine tournaments over the course of eight months or whatever it will be, seven, eight months to play.
Yes, I mean, I'll have my opportunities.

Q.  Mardy, since you're talking about rankings, can you just talk about today.  There's no American in the top 20 in the rankings.  Can you just kind of talk a little bit about the state of the men's game for Americans.
MARDY FISH:  I mean, we miss Andy, for sure.  But, yeah, there's no doubt that some guys need to step up.  I can't really speak too much on it just because I don't know.  You know, I only look after myself, and I can't help that right now.
I did as well as I could for a lot of years being in the sort of top 25‑ish, and the last four years being inside the top 15 for the most part.  I think you might want to ask them.

Q.  Were you surprised when Andy decided to walk away?
MARDY FISH:  I was, yeah.  I was surprised at sort of the timing of when he told everyone as well.  I mean, it was just‑‑

Q.  ‑‑ random.
MARDY FISH:  Altogether, yeah, it was just completely out of the blue.

Q.  Winston‑Salem, New York, and then assess?

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