hey girl! i met him in paris too..hes totally hot haha. and he checked me and my friend out too lol at the hard rock cafe. very cool! lol i cant wait to meet him again! he's in my avatar with me too..bottom left corner. gorgeous. lol bye
Q. Tell us first about that match in terms of turning it around after the first set. I mean, anything change for you?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, I just came out flat and I wasn't aggressive. I wasn't playing my game. He was kind of lulling me to sleep there a little bit as far as when he would, you know, when he was at the back of the court and just slicing a lot. And, you know, kind of messes up your rhythm a little bit.
And, you know, I just kind of told myself early in the second set just to keep staying aggressive. And, you know, that's my game, and I have to do that to win; if I don't, I'm gonna lose. Basically what it boils down to.
Q. Did you tell yourself just to be patient and wait, you may only get a couple opportunities to break his serve?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, you know, I said before to my coach, I said, you know, "Basically what it boils down to here is I have to hold serve, then I have to take advantage of my opportunities on his -- on my return games."
And, you know, I think I did that. I think I had -- I don't know what I was in breakpoints, but I was probably two or three or something like that maybe. I think I maybe lost one.
But, you know, he gave me a little gift there at the end with a double-fault. But, you know, I think that was a little bit of credit to my returning, second serve returning. I tried to stay as aggressive as I could. He was serving right into my strength, right into my backhand. So I was happy about that.
Q. A win like this, when you come back after a first set like that, playing a pretty tough guy, is that a symbol of the kind of year you're having or your continued improvement?
MARDY FISH: Yeah. I mean, you know, mentally, I know that I'm there, and I know that I'm not going to give up. Maybe a couple years ago I might have gone down 6-1 to a guy in the Top 20 like that and just kind of bailed. I know now that I can beat those guys, whether I'm down a set and a break, or 6-1.
I pretty much got blown out in the first set. I mean, I won one game, but he played a great first set. I mean, he was passing me from all angles. And, you know, I just stayed positive and aggressive. And, you know, that's what I have to do to win.
Q. When you play a big, big hitter like that, is it almost a question of just not having any fear as much as anything?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, he's a pretty intimidating guy. He's a big guy and a big server and a big forehand when he really wants to hit it. And he, yeah, he can be very intimidating. So, yeah, I mean, you have to kind of go out there with no fear and just have a lot of confidence that you can beat him playing your game.
Q. Can you talk about working with Kelly. It's been almost a year now. What has he meant for you?
MARDY FISH: He's been awesome. I mean, when he played, he played almost exactly like me, you know. He had a good first serve and he came to the net all the time. And I think he's got a lot of good advice for me as far as, you know, knowing -- he knows my game now, you know, being with me for a year. We're just -- we're kind of starting to click here.
You know, it takes a while to get used to somebody like that, used to a new coach. If you don't look at Andy, then a lot of other people are normal, and Andy kind of is a little bit under the norm. I mean, he's, you know, he's so different in everything that he does. And, you know, he came out, he usually takes a while to get to the Top 50. It took him a couple tournaments (snapping). He switches coaches, and right away he plays well. It's not as easy as he makes it seem.
So, you know, we're kind of getting used to each other, and, you know, we're having a lot of fun. He has -- he makes me out there have a lot of fun and be a lot more relaxed, you know. Because you can get uptight and you can get, you know, you can get out of your -- mentally, you can get out of the game a lot. He kind of keeps me grounded and he keeps me having fun.
Q. Since you knew Andy growing up, do you almost have to kind of separate that from your mind sometimes to say, "What he's doing isn't normal"? You have more of a traditional path, you have to grind for a while.
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I'd like to think that I could do some of the things that he's done. You know, but, again, he's a pretty amazing guy in that there's nobody out here that, you know, wants it more than him. I mean, there's probably people, but he wants it so bad and he's got the game to do it.
You know, he's, for me, he's one of the funnest guys out there to watch because he's just, away from being my friend, he's an amazing tennis player and just fun to watch.
Q. Some of your results this year, a couple finals, a couple wins over Moya, can you just feel your own confidence growing now that in a given match or going into a given tournament like this, you don't start to think, "I hope I get lucky and win a round"?
MARDY FISH: No. Yeah, I mean, anybody in the Top 50 can beat anybody. You know, I was around 75 when I beat Moya twice. Whether he played well or not is beside the point. You've got to play pretty well to beat somebody in the Top 5 twice in a row.
A match like this today, though, losing the first set to somebody who's Top 20 and then coming back and winning is a huge confidence builder for me. I don't think I've -- I can't remember off the top of my head losing a set that badly against a player like that, of that quality, and then coming back and winning.
It's going to help me confidence-wise to know I got to hang in there and anything can happen.
Q. You guys always get the obligatory questions about the group of Americans, you young guys. Last year there was maybe 8 that finished in the Top 100. There's maybe 12 now. What do you see when you look at all of you together?
MARDY FISH: You know, they always say -- there's a lot of people saying that "they can't succeed the past generation." And those guys, you know, those guys were unbelievable. They were competing for Grand Slam titles every Slam.
You know, I don't know if we could do that, but we have a lot of talent in the group coming up. We're all very young. There's no telling in three, four, five years what's going to go on. I mean, you know that Andy obviously has been in two semis this year and has been one of the more consistent guys out there. I mean, you can see in the Champions Race that he's coming up pretty strong here. You know, he's only 20 years old.
Then you got Robby Ginepri who's 22 -- 20 as well; you know, me that's 21; James is 23. You know, oldest one is 23, and that's not old.
Q. You guys do all kind of get along pretty well?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, we get along great. We play cards and go out to dinner like every night.
Q. Not like Pete and Andre?
MARDY FISH: It's different. Those guys, like I said before, they were competing for Grand Slam titles like every Slam. So who knows if that's different.
But, I mean, I've played Andy twice and we're still -- we still don't have any problems playing. James, I've played James one time, you know. But, I mean, we're gonna play each other 20 times, I'm sure, over our careers. We'll see after we have a couple battles and something, you know, something gets heated, if we still stay friends, but I'm sure we won't have any trouble doing that.
Mardy Fish is awesome! He first got my attention when he played A-Rod in Cincy this year (cracked me up how he got nailed by Andy's serve and then later they did a high-five at the net after a prolonged point was played.) And his playing at Davis Cup against Slovakia was incredible. He really saved their team after Andy lost the first round. The commentators couldn't stop gushing over him.
I'm so glad he won the Stockholm title! He deserves to win and I hope he wins many more titles next year.
VERO BEACH -- Mardy Fish raised a few eyebrows this time last year when he talked about how he planned to finish 2003 as one of the world's top 50 tennis players.
It turns out the former Vero Beach resident set his sights too low.
Fish spent the next 12 months earning his first ATP Tour event championship, reaching three other finals and winning a critical Davis Cup match. By the time the best season of his pro career had ended, Fish was ranked 20th in the world.
Now he has to figure out what to do for an encore.
"Right around Nottingham (where he lost in the final this summer), everything started moving really quickly," Fish said Wednesday. "Everything just started clicking. I really can't pinpoint how it all happened."
Fish looked back on his remarkable year after completing an exhibition at Sea Oaks with former Vero Beach High School teammate Robert Kowalczyk and fellow touring pros Robby Ginepri and Robert Kendrick.
The exhibition benefited Adopt-a-Family, an organization that provides Christmas gifts, clothing, school supplies and groceries for 75 needy local families. This marked the second year Fish held an exhibition at Sea Oaks to raise money for this charity.
"I was born in Minnesota and I live in Tampa now," said Fish, "but this is where I'm from."
Maybe so, but his name's much more well known all over the world now thanks to his breakthrough season.
Fish, who entered the year ranked 85th in the world, has enjoyed his success.
He got front-row tickets to an Orlando Magic game for his father. He recently attended a Dave Matthews Band concert and spoke backstage with violinist Boyd Tinsley, who happens to be a tennis fan.
But the highlight of his year came in September when he helped the United States stay in the top tier of the Davis Cup. After Andy Roddick lost to Dominik Hrbaty in the first match of a series with Slovakia, Fish rallied to beat Karol Kucera 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-1.
Fish's win proved to be the margin of victory as the U.S. team edged Slovakia 3-2. Fish considered that victory even more important than winning the Stockholm Open in October.
"There's a different level of pressure when you're playing for your country," Fish said.
Fish, who turns 22 on Tuesday, now is looking to build on the momentum he established this year. The first step is getting beyond the third round of a Grand Slam event.
Fish squandered a two-set lead to Wayne Ferreira in the third round of the 2003 Australian Open and lost to eventual champion Roger Federer in the third round of Wimbledon. He lost in the second round of the U.S. Open and in the opening round of the French Open.
The good news for Fish is that he should be seeded in next year's Grand Slam events as long as his ranking doesn't drop.
Fish also would like to help the United States capture the Davis Cup, earn $1 million in prize money and finish the 2004 season ranked in the top 10. Those are pretty ambitious goals, but Fish has been asked why he doesn't aim even higher.
"A friend of mine said that all the goals I set last year, I accomplished," Fish said. "So she said, 'Why don't you just say you want to finish No. 1?' Who knows what might happen? But finishing in the top 10 would be a huge accomplishment for me."