Re: <~> MaRdY iN aThEnS.....cHeErInG tHrEaD <~>
ATHENS, 18 August - Comments from Mardy FISH (USA) after his 6‑3, 4‑6, 6‑1 win over Max MIRNYI (BLR) in the third round of the Men's Singles Tennis tournament.
Q. A game in the final set, you were up 40‑15 serving. That game went to deuce how many times?
MARDY FISH: The one he was serving me?
MARDY FISH: That was a tight game. I mean, I just kept telling myself, "Just keep working hard." You know, he's a tough player. He's a tough player in that he makes you take advantage of your opportunities when you have them, and if you don't, he can make you pay. And I got a little lucky that game. I mean, I had some chances and missed a second‑serve return.
But most of all, you know, I just stayed with it that game and was lucky enough to get a break, get the momentum on my side, and really started playing well after that.
Q. Having lost the second set, you could easily have lost the match. Is it incredibly satisfying to have been able to pick up in the final set and play the way you did?
MARDY FISH: It is. Every win, especially in the Olympics, is even more special than any of the other tournaments. You know, my goal is to win a medal. I came here hoping to win a medal. You know, I'm a couple matches away from that. I'm definitely excited and definitely happy with the way I'm playing, the way I'm serving. Hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.
Q. This has pretty big implications for you. The win yesterday, today. This is the kind of thing that can turn things around for you.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, definitely. I didn't have the summer I would have liked to my expectations at all. I was a little bummed out there, you know, not having been able to play Toronto and having to pull out of Cincy with a hurt back.
Now that I'm a hundred percent, feeling really good, starting to feel really, really confident in my game and in my serve ‑ with me it all starts with the serve. If I'm serving well, I can put pressure on a lot of guys.
Q. Your backhand in the last set.
MARDY FISH: My backhand is, you know, the thing that holds my game up the most. You know, when I'm not playing well, I always have my backhand to kind of back me up. Unfortunately, it's not a huge forehand like Federer has or Roddick has, but it's definitely been there my whole life, and it's been a great, solid shot for me.
Q. I haven't looked ahead to see who you play.
MARDY FISH: Youzhny. I played him one time in Australia in 2002, I think. You know, obviously he seems to be playing well, beating Kiefer today. I don't know what the score was.
You know, I mean, he's a dangerous player. Very, very solid off both sides. Good backhand. I'm definitely going to have to, you know, serve well and take advantage of my chances like today.
Q. Do you have any family here?
MARDY FISH: No, nobody came over just because it was tough, you know, to get tickets, all that stuff.
Q. Girlfriend, nothing?
MARDY FISH: No. She didn't come.
Q. Totally solo?
MARDY FISH: Yup. Not even my coach.
Q. Who is your coach?
MARDY FISH: Kelly Jones.
Q. Can you talk about the American losses today.
MARDY FISH: Venus lost, I didn't know that. It's definitely tough because Andy's match finished right before I went out. It's tough to see a buddy like that, his dream, his goal was to win a gold medal. It's definitely a downer, him going down right before I went out there.
But I think he'll be okay. I definitely think he'll be okay. I definitely think he's going to take advantage of, you know, his trip here and being in the Olympic village tonight, tomorrow night, whatever.
Q. Can you tell us how you wound up in Saddle Brook.
MARDY FISH: For me, ideally Saddle Brook is the best place in the world, for me, in my opinion, to train. You know, they have the best trainer there in Pat Etcheberry. They have great practice guys ‑‑ great players to practice with like James Blake, Jeff Morrison, Alex Bogomolov. I know I'm forgetting some guys. You know, there's plenty of guys to hit with.
You know, there's two golf courses there, and I love playing golf. I mean, it's just perfect for me, in my opinion. I can't think of a better place to train than Saddle Brook.
Q. Your parents?
MARDY FISH: They're in Vero Beach. I was born in Minnesota.
Q. (Question regarding the Lightning.)
MARDY FISH: The Lightning is actually the only team I cheer for outside of the (inaudible) sports. I root for the Devil Rays.
Q. Did you go to the Stanley Cup game?
MARDY FISH: I had glass seats for every game except for 5 and 7 of the Finals because I had to go to Halle. If it were up to me, I think I would have stayed.
Q. How did you get those seats?
MARDY FISH: We have a couple connections there. Campbell.
Q. I heard that you were the best two‑year‑old.
MARDY FISH: My mom started feeding me tennis balls when I was really young. I guess the news in Minnesota didn't really have a piece to run that day. I think one of the anchors was hitting and saw me hit and wanted to put it on there. He just thought I was the No. 1 two‑year‑old in the world. I was actually three at the time. I just turned three.
Q. Did you ever allow yourself to think about this sort of thing?
MARDY FISH: It's tough because it's not really ‑‑ it's not like swimming or some of those other sports, track and field, you know, because we have 13 tournaments this year that are, points‑wise for us, bigger than this tournament.
But in my opinion this is the biggest tournament of the year for me. There's nothing like it, outside of Davis Cup. I mean, there's nothing like playing for your country. I, I'm sure a lot of other guys, personally go out there thinking, "I'm just not playing for myself this time," you know. And, you know, it's a normal tournament. It's not like Davis Cup where, you know, you can go out and root for your teammates, keep an eye on those couple matches we play that weekend. I mean, it's for yourself and it's for your country. If you're not playing anybody from the States, you root for them, as well.
But it's really tough to explain. Definitely feels like it's not a normal tournament.
Q. Sounds like you're in for the whole Olympic experience.
MARDY FISH: I love it. I love it. I got there the first day. I had wanted to stay there, regardless of how the conditions were there, I wanted to stay there the entire time. I was just hoping some of the other guys wanted to stay there with me. Luckily Andy wanted to stay there.
The first day we checked into the hotel. We got some clothes for a couple nights to stay, because we were going to stay for a couple nights, go to the hotel before our matches.
I got there the first night, walked around, ate in the village and stuff like that. I went back the next afternoon and got all my stuff and brought everything back over to the village. I mean, I enjoy it. I was hanging out with volleyball players, men's volleyball team, you know, watching volleyball. The Judo guys are teaching me all about how to score Judo. You know, the men's gymnastics guy got a silver medal. He brought it around to show everybody. It's just exciting to make new friends with world class athletes that are in better shape than I am.
Q. The US men's gymnastics team?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. One of the guys went to eat lunch with us today. He had his medal in his little pouch thing because he was going to show it to his dad. I got to put it around my neck. It was pretty heavy.
Q. Do you remember who it was?
MARDY FISH: It wasn't the brothers. It was the guy that has tattoos on his leg, like down on the bottom. He's really small.
MARDY FISH: That's probably it.
Q. Short, stocky, chews tobacco?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, chews tobacco. Nice guy though, yeah. I mean, we were watching women's gymnastics last night. One of the American girls kind of had a little stumble in the normal routine. It was kind of weird where she kind of fell. They just went, "Oh, my God."
I mean, all the guys from every different sport are showing us. I don't know anything about volleyball, gymnastics, Judo. It's so much fun to learn.
Q. They were showing you and Andy the medals?
MARDY FISH: And our assistant coach. We have actually a pretty big place. It's nice. It's like a four‑bedroom place. We have my room, Andy's room, Dean's room, and the guest room I guess they call it. Venus came and stayed a couple times, Vince, the Bryan brothers. Everybody came once except for Taylor.
Q. Did you play anything else in high school?
MARDY FISH: I played everything. I still love golf. I still play golf all the time. I played basketball in high school with Andy. I played basketball till I was 16. I played a lot of sports.
Q. Is it starting to seem real to you, what you're doing?
MARDY FISH: I mean, I'm trying to take it as normal as a tournament as I can, saying, "I'm in the quarters of the tournament," then see how far I can go, and suffer the consequences if I win the tournament or lose the tournament or finish fourth or whatever. I want to win two more matches. My goal coming here was to win a medal.
Q. Two more will do that?
MARDY FISH: And it hasn't changed. Yes, two more will do that.
Q. Has it changed that all the American women are out?
MARDY FISH: All the American women are out?
Q. Except for Lisa and Martina. Andy went out. Does it change anything for you?
MARDY FISH: No. I mean, unless he comes back late and keeps me up, wakes me up. No, it doesn't. I mean, it's a bummer that your friends don't achieve their goals. I mean, I grew up with Andy. I know that he's doing what he loves to do. I mean, the guy, he loves tennis. It was his goal, his dream his whole life to win the US Open and be No. 1 in the world, and he's already achieved that. I'm just a friend who is extremely happy for another friend to achieve his goals. I know that one of his goals was to win a gold medal. I'm sure he's bummed out. But he said in there, in four years he'd try again.