Fish Guts A Tough Night Match Out

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – You have to wonder if Mardy Fish took some Roger Federer pills before tonight’s match, since he came out smoking against No. 15 seed Gilles Simon, winning the first set 6-1 and was up 2-0 in the second.

But this is Mardy Fish we are talking about so nothing is ever easy for the American – or the Federer pills wore off – and he needed four sets to finish off Simon, 6-1 5-7 7-6 6-3 to advance to the fourth round of the US Open.

Fish was looked sharp early and there were a few rumbles about Simon’s shoulder, which some of the French media said was injured.

But Simon found his second wind and fought fish tough in the second and third sets, while Fish ended up with 75 unforced errors in the match to Simon’s 31.

It made the match closer than it should have because of Simon’s apparent injury, but Fish seems to be hanging around. After a five setter in the second, he now has this gritty win under the lights.

With a 1:10 in the morning ending, it was 10 minutes away from going into the top 10 latest endings in US Open History.

Too bad the Federer pills wore off early.

 

Q & A With Andy Murray

Q.  How are you feeling?  How do you feel your preparations have been going?

ANDY MURRAY:  It’s been good.  I mean, it’s obviously been a little different, quite difficult because weather has not been great, and obviously with what’s gonna happen tomorrow.

So we had to make quite a few changes, a few adjustments, and I have practiced indoors a couple of times, and again tomorrow I’ve got an indoor court, too.

So it’s been tough.  Everyone’s kind of in a the same boat.  But it’s been good.  I have been hitting the ball well and done some good training this week.

 

Q.  Is it a bit difficult?

ANDY MURRAY:  Not really.  We’ve known about it for quite a while now.  It’s been five or six days everyone has been talking about it.

So just looking forward for it sort of passing now, because it’s been quite ‑‑ it’s not just like it just happened like overnight.  It’s taken quite a few days for us sort of waiting for it and kind of having to decide how we’re gonna practice, if we’re gonna try to get in sort of more practice early in the week outdoors or stick to kind of what the normal plan is and practicing hour and a half, two hours a day and maybe having to go indoors.  That’s been the only problem.

 

Q.  So are you planning on coming in here tomorrow?

ANDY MURRAY:  No.

 

Q.  Somewhere in Manhattan?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah.  I don’t even know where the court is, but it will obviously be somewhere near the hotel.

 

Q.  Is there any fear for you?  Have you taken any precautions?

ANDY MURRAY:  No.  The thing is, I think people are right to be pretty cautious about it, because, you know, like we don’t see weather like this from the UK.  It’s never, never this bad.  So I think just have to wait and see what it’s like, because I have no idea what to expect.

You know, we had to go and get stuff from the supermarket for the room in case ‑‑ well, loads of places are gonna be closed.  There’s a two‑and‑a‑half hour queue at the supermarket, so everyone’s taking it pretty seriously.

 

Q.  You cut down your schedule a bit coming into the US Open this year.  Do you think that’s helped prepare you physically for the next fortnight?

ANDY MURRAY:  Last year I decided last minute to play the tournament in LA which maybe hurt me a little bit once I got here.

But the years before that I tried to take a decent break after Wimbledon.  I felt like that was the best way to prepare for here.  So I think it was the right decision to give myself sort of three or four weeks off and train in Miami.

I feel pretty fresh just now, which is good.  Maybe the last couple years that wasn’t the case.

 

Q.  There is a lot of talk in the media these days about the greatest of all time.  You have three players now:  Federer and Nadal, maybe Djokovic coming up who may lay claim to that title.  Do the players ever talk about the GOAT, the greatest of all time?

ANDY MURRAY:  Haven’t spoken to other players about that.  I’ve spoken to people that I work with.  Not really to the other players.

 

Q.  When you talk to your colleagues, what do you say?

ANDY MURRAY:  Well, you can never say.  You don’t know, so there’s no right answer.  It’s just a discussion that the same in every sport.  People talk about, you know, who’s the best team and who’s the best boxer of all time, who’s the best heavyweight, you know.

And you never know.  You don’t know.  So right now I know that tennis, the level of tennis at the top of the game is very, very high.  You know, the year Djokovic has had this year, probably won’t see something like that for quite a long time, you know.  No matter what happens between now and the end of the year, the first six months, six seven months were incredible.

But, yeah, the level that Roger and Rafa set, you know, the previous years is being equally as impressive.

 

Q.  You’ve always talked about how you like the atmosphere in New York.  How does a kid from Dunblane sort of get into the vibe of a city like this?  It’s got to be different than where you came from.

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, the thing is, like obviously Dunblane there’s really not a whole lot going on there.  I started traveling when I was like 11 or 12.  I came over to the States first time and played the Orange Bowl in Miami when I was like 11.

I started doing quite a lot of traveling, and when I got to 15 I moved over to Barcelona, which is a pretty energetic city.  Then, yeah, came over here the first time when I was that age and I just really enjoyed it.

I’ve always liked busy places.  Like I have always enjoyed sort of having things to do.  There’s a lot really close by.  It doesn’t take long to kind of get anywhere.

And also the center court I think is just incredible atmosphere.  It’s so different to anything on the tennis calendar, and I really like playing here.

 

Q.  Does it not amaze you in this age of technology that when it rains, all they can do is bring out the squeegee mop and a few towels?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah.  I spoke about that the other day.  I was speaking to some of the guys about it when it started raining, and everyone comes up and it’s like, Oh, it’s typical.  It feels like we’re at Wimbledon.

It rains here every single year, so it’s like annoying.  And because I’m from the UK, everyone always says the same thing to me.  I was asking, I don’t understand why they don’t just have covers.  I heard that if they have covers, something to do with the paint on the court and the moisture and I don’t know, it’s not good for the court, the court can lose color or something.

So I think they should probably ‑‑ well, I’m sure they are thinking about doing something, but like most things, it takes a bit of time to push it through, I guess.

 

Q.  You have had obviously a couple of disappointing years here.  When you have time to reflect above and beyond sitting there immediately after the match, did you come to any kind of specific conclusions as to why a place that you enjoy so much, why you didn’t perform the last couple of years as well as you would have hoped?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah.  I mean, last year, you know, I felt like even from the start I didn’t feel all that fresh, which is something that, you know, this year I have made quite a big thing of getting ready for the slams and making sure that I’m at in my best physical condition going into them, because these are the tournaments I want to play my best tennis at.

And the year beforehand, you know, I was playing okay, but I also had relatively bad sort of tendinitis in my wrist.  I was struggling to hit my backhand, which is normally one of my strongest shots.

I tried playing Davis Cup, which I should never have played in.  I missed like nine weeks after that.  You know, didn’t go over to Asia and spent a lot of time sort of rehabbing it, trying to get it better.

That was something where I realized that I need to make sure that I prioritize events and make sure that physically I don’t have any niggles and twinges going in, because things always happen at the slams.

You’re going to get problems throughout the tournament and things that hurt with long matches especially on the hard courts, and I want to make sure like happened in the Australia the last couple of years, I have prepared very, very well.

 

Q.  John McEnroe says he thinks this is your best shot ever at winning a Grand Slam.  What do you think about that?

ANDY MURRAY:  No.  It’s a silly thing to say, because it’s not one tournament, you know.  It will be Federer is not playing well and Rafa is struggling and Djokovic’s shoulder is sore.

But I know come Monday they’ll all be fine.  I have a chance of winning for sure.  Whether it’s my best chance or not, no one has a clue like that.  And someone like John who has played hundreds and hundreds and thousands of matches probably knows that one bad day and you can put yourself out of the tournament.

And especially towards the latter stages when you’re playing against ‑ like the man there was saying ‑ you know, three of maybe the three greatest players ever.  You’re going to have to play an incredible event to win.

So I feel like I’m ready to do that.  But to say it’s my best chance, no one knows.

 

Q.  Cincinnati must have given you a lot of confidence.

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah.  No, it was great.  It was a really good tournament for me.  Montreal didn’t quite go as I would have liked, obviously.  Then I knew going into Cincinnati that I needed to get some matches and if I was gonna be in sort of good shape to play well here.

I didn’t start off play that great the beginning of Cincinnati, but each match I got just a little bit better and started feeling more comfortable.  I started moving better, and then come the end of the week I was playing some of my best tennis.

I have been hitting the ball well, but I still felt like there were some things I could have improved upon, which was really nice coming in this week, being able to work on some things and not feeling like I was almost recovering before the US Open.

I felt like this week I have been preparing for it and looking forward to it.

 

Q.  What are your thoughts on Devvarman?

ANDY MURRAY:  I know him a bit, and Danny knows him well because he played the same age in college and played a few times, played a few times against each other in college.  So Danny knows him well.

I have seen him play a few matches and he’s solid.  Kind of does everything pretty well.  Very good attitude, very positive.

So he’s gonna be solid.  He’s not going to give me anything, so I need to play well.

 

Q.  Rafa said just before that he has not been really surprised that Djokovic has jumped up on him and Roger.  But looking at it, you four have been up at the top of the board for the last three or four years now.  Are you surprised that Djokovic did make that leap from 3 to 1 a bit?

ANDY MURRAY:  I think it’s not been that he’s got to No. 1, it’s kind of maybe how he’s done it.  The consistency is something that, you know ‑‑ well, he probably wouldn’t even have expected it, I am sure.  He’s won something like 10 tournaments this year maybe.

You know, a lot of matches he wasn’t even struggling.  He was winning matches very comfortably.  He’s always been capable of doing that, I guess, but I think this year his consistency has been incredible.  But I think he’s always been right up at the top of the game for the last four or five years.

Rafa, before he got to No. 1 he spent maybe four years at No. 2.  Obviously, you know, Djokovic spent, you know, four or five years at number sort of 2 and 3 and now he’s made the jump.  But it is taking a bit longer for guys sort of to break into that sort of 1 or 2 bracket, I guess, because the guys, Rafa or Roger have been taking those two spots up, and they’ve been, like I said earlier, so consistent and doing stuff that the game probably won’t see for a long time.

 

Q.  How did Djokovic wrest that away from Rafa?  He beat him five or six times this year in finals.

ANDY MURRAY:  It was just confidence.  His game hasn’t changed much.  His technique is the same.  I think physically he looks better than he did like in the warm conditions.  Like in Miami where, you know, he struggled in the past.  I think he’s looking better physically.

Even here last year in the first round when it was really hot and humid, he was struggling, and I think that’s something that he’s got better at dealing with.  So that’s helped.  And also, yeah, I don’t know.  Best person to ask is probably him, because he knows how he’s feeling and how he’s managed to get that consistency.

 

Q.  Are you still gluten free?

ANDY MURRAY:  It’s not gluten free as such.  I wasn’t ‑‑ there are certain things I can and can’t eat.  It’s something like gliadin or something.  I don’t even know exactly how to explain it.

 

Q.  What have you cut out, then?

ANDY MURRAY:  Cow’s milk.  I’m drinking more soy milk with cereals and stuff.  Like a lot of the protein bars and stuff and protein shakes I used to take sort of after matches and after practices and stuff, like I have had to cut them out.

I never really used to have much fish unless I was having sushi, so I’m having a lot more fish and vegetables and just trying to have like just a more balanced diet rather than just the typical sort of like pasta before matches and steaks and chicken.  Having a lot sort of more different types of food.

 

Q.  Have you had to give the elbow to anything you really like?

ANDY MURRAY:  The problem is breakfast is quite difficult, because normally I could have like bagels, bagels at breakfast and stuff and like spreads, any spreads like peanut butter or cream cheese or any of that stuff.  Breakfast is quite difficult.

And then like snacks during the day.  Rather than having a chocolate bar or something, you know, having like an apple or a banana or something, just fruit.  It’s something that, you know, now like I know how I feel, I wish I had been doing it longer.

 

Q.  So you do feel a lot better for it?

ANDY MURRAY:  Way better.  I wake up at like 7:00 in the morning now and feel great.  Before I would wake up at like 9:30 and feel terrible.  You know, I probably feel like you do when you wake up every morning.  You know, stiff and sore and tired, and now I wake up and I just feel much fresher and feel good.

 

Q.  But it’s not gluten free even though you cut out the breads and the pasta?

ANDY MURRAY:  I’m not intolerant to gluten.

 

Q.  You’re not intolerant, but have you cut it out or tried to cut it down?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but the reason I’m not having gluten is because the stuff that gluten is in, the other thing that I’m intolerant to is also in it, so that’s why I’m not having those things.

Just stuff like corns.  That’s also quite annoying, because that’s in like a lot of snacks that you don’t realize.  Like when you look at the back of the packet, it’s in loads of snacks and things.  So just have to be a bit careful.

Like I retest after the US Open, and then you get like your results back again because it changes.  Like when you cut stuff out, hopefully it’s gonna come on the green list again.  So maybe after the US Open I can start reintroducing those foods back into my diet.

Q & A With Rafael Nadal

Q.  What are your thoughts about being here during a hurricane, and how will you spend your time?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t know what’s going on, I think.  Nobody knows exactly what’s going on, no?

But having the club closed, all the places in Manhattan will be closed, so not much.  Just stay in the hotel.  Maybe watch some films.  But we will see what’s going on.  I never had an experience with a hurricane.  Is something new.

I think is very bad for the city, for the weekend, for everybody.  But, you know, that’s a new experience, and not enjoyable experience, but we know how is when is hurricane.

 

Q.  How are the fingers?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Much better.  I am able to practice with normal conditions.

 

Q.  Bandages?  No bandages or anything?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Bandages, yes.  The skin is still very thin, but it’s fine.

 

Q.  A lot of people have said you’ve been stymied, you’ve been flummoxed by Djokovic this season.  I mean, do you feel like if you possibly meet him in the US Open this week or next week that you have good chance against him?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I am here.  You know, I am here at the start of the tournament and you start to talk about a match against Djokovic.  I have to win a lot to play Djokovic.  And probably him, too.  He’s not in the final yet.

I am focused on try to play well and try to have very good practice this week.  That’s what I am doing.  And the good chances against Djokovic, those chances always depends how I am playing, how he’s playing.  Not talking about here, talking in general.

After we will see, no?  I think I played a fantastic year this year.  I had a lot of victories all the year; I am not happy about how I played against him.

 

Q.  Could you talk about exactly what happened to your fingers?  You got burned in Cincinnati at some restaurant, right?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, I get burned in a Japanese restaurant.  Probably, you know, the Teppanyaki grill was there, probably the plate.  When I arrived at the restaurant the plate was there, so probably the plate stayed there for a long time.  Not inside the grill.  Something like this away to the grill.

You know, when they put the food, I tried to put the plate closer to me and was obviously very hot.  (Smiling.)

Q.         So your pointing finger and two fingers?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Two fingers.

 

Q.  Can you tell us a little bit about this book?  Was it important for you to do something like this?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, it is something that we decided to do.  Was the really first autobiography I was able to do.  Was a good opportunity to work with John Carlin.  We had a very good feeling together.  He speaks in Spanish, too, so it makes a little bit easier everything to talk about the emotion and to talk about, you know…

I think it was a fantastic experience.  I talk a long time with him and remember a lot of things that you normally usually don’t think about the past, no?  So when you start to talk you remember, yeah, few moments of your career, few moments when you were a kid.  Was interesting and I had fun, and hopefully the book will like to the people.

 

Q.  In the book where you talk about your parents’ separation, it seemed like it came out of the blue for you, that you did not realize that they were having any troubles.  Is that right?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I didn’t understand that very well.

(Translation.)  You know, what happened there was ‑‑ but in the book ‑‑ I never talk about my personal things in the press, but, you know, all the changes in your life needs a little bit of time.  That’s what happened.

So after a little bit of time I was perfect, but, you know, at the beginning it’s tough.  But, you know, I am not the only one who has the parents divorcing in one moment of my life.  Only thing is that Mallorca the family is very important, you are very close of the people that your friends, your family.  So any change in this part, these people close to you, affects you, no?

That’s happened.  That’s past.

 

Q.  I understand how it affected you.  What I don’t understand is how you did not see problems between your mother and father.  You did not notice problems between your mom and dad?

RAFAEL NADAL:  I know the problems, but anyway, I gonna repeat you, I don’t want to talk about that now.

 

Q.  How does it feel to come here after having you won it last year?  Do you see the tournament different?  Is it less pressure because you won it once?

RAFAEL NADAL:  The emotions probably are a little bit different, because when you come back after the victory of last year the emotions are higher.  Of course, it was the last Grand Slam for me to complete all four.  Was very, very nice moment of my career, one of the biggest moments of my career.  That makes the comeback a little more special.

But if we talk about the goal, is the same.  Play well, try to arrive to the final rounds.  That’s the same, no?

Pressure?  I don’t feel extra pressure.  I am happy about how I did.  I didn’t play very well during the summer, but I am practicing much better here.  So we’ll see.

 

Q.  Have you been surprised this year by the turnaround, where before it was you and Roger for so long at the top, and now all of a sudden ‑ Djokovic didn’t come out of nowhere, but he really has jumped up very quickly this year.  Have you been surprised by that change?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Djokovic didn’t arrive this year, no?

 

Q.  But he was not playing at the level that you were…

RAFAEL NADAL:  He was No. 3 of the world for three years.  That’s not bad.

 

Q.  But he only won one slam.

RAFAEL NADAL:  Only one, and most of the people never won one.

For me is a little bit strange about the people here from tennis talks about Djokovic, about his big new improvement.  Djokovic was here before, no?  Djokovic played fantastic before.  He had fantastic potential to be where he is today.

He’s doing great.  He’s playing without injuries.  He’s playing very solid, the mental, the tennis.  What he’s doing is something very difficult to repeat.

For me surprise?  I think for everybody surprise see a player that he’s not losing.  He’s only lost two matches during all the year.  For everybody surprising, but for me is no surprise that Djokovic is No. 1.  For me is not a surprise that Djokovic is able to win Grand Slams, because he’s very good.

That’s not from six months ago.

 

Q.  Two questions:  One, you’re 25 years old.  Does it feel strange to have a book about your life at 25?  And second, you seem like generally a pretty private person.  What did you want to tell?  What did you want to accomplish with this book?

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, I am lucky.  25 years old and I enjoyed a lot of experiences in my life.  You never know if you can have another book in the future, but I felt it’s a good time to have that one.

Is a little bit of the history of my life.  Is a little bit of the history how I am where I am today.  Just open a little bit more of my life to them, to the fans, to the people who support me, the people who are interested about me.

For me, you know, now I am a little bit more open with the fans with the Twitter with the Facebook, and now with the book.  So I am trying to be more connected with them, and that’s probably a good way to do it.

Mardy Fish Transcript

Q.  What are your thoughts on how you’ll spend the time during the expected hurricane, and what are your thoughts about being here during that in general?

MARDY FISH:  Yeah, it will be pretty surreal, I think.  Obviously it doesn’t happen a lot, but I’ve been through quite a few hurricanes living and growing up in Florida.  I remember maybe going through ‑‑ we had like three or four in one year go through Vero Beach, pretty close to Vero when I was growing up, so we’re used to it.

My wife is a little freaked out about it being from California.  She had the earthquake that I have never been used to, and I’ve got the hurricane that I’m used to.

 

Q.  What’s your advice to New Yorkers who are not used to this?

MARDY FISH:  Well, seems like it’s gonna be like the worst stuff is going to be the floods.  The wind I don’t think will be too much of an issue, although they’re not used this kind of stuff up here.

So if people can stay as calm as possible will probably be the best.

 

Q.  Maria was saying she thought maybe people were overreacting.  What’s your take?

MARDY FISH:  Probably, yeah.  Probably.  I think it’s probably best to prepare for the worst than what it actually is, so…

 

Q.  Were you out and about?  Characterize the mood of the city.

MARDY FISH:  It’s different.  There were still a lot of people out, deliveries of water and things like that to hotels and stuff were out of the ordinary.  Places were closed out of the ordinary.  I couldn’t get my Starbucks this morning, which was annoying.

 

Q.  Were you hoarding?

MARDY FISH:  The hotel coffee wasn’t quite as good.

 

Q.  Were you hoarding last night?

MARDY FISH:  Stacey went to shop quite a bit last night, got a bunch of magazines and flashlights.  She’s preparing for Armageddon, I think.

 

Q.  You could kidnap a Starbucks barista.

MARDY FISH:  I know.  That would be a good idea.

 

Q.  Must be a different feeling coming into New York this year than all the years you have been here.  Can you talk about that for a moment.

MARDY FISH:  Yeah, it’s a significant difference for me.  It’s just great.  I mean, look, this is probably one of the biggest events that I’ll ever play, you know, just being in this position right now and coming in playing extremely well.

You know, winning the US Open Series and just coming in on a high and playing great the last two events, as well.  And then also having that week to prepare and rest ‑ I took three days off right after Cincinnati and played golf once and just relaxed.  It was great to get away from everything.

And then got back in here Tuesday and started grinding again.  You know, so, yeah, I’m super excited to start.  You know, it’s one of those where a lot of times you kinda want to work your way into the tournament.  I want to play Monday.  I want to get out there and start, start the whole process of it, because it’s exciting for me.

 

Q.  It’s a question that we’ve asked at several tournaments, but this being the US Open, it must be very different.  What do you feel coming in as the top‑ranked U.S. male and the top ranked U.S. player?

MARDY FISH:  Slight bit more pressure.  Certainly different pressure than I’ve ever felt.  But a good ‑‑ it’s a great feeling.  I mean, it’s just one of those experiences that not everybody can go through.  I can understand just a little bit of what Andy has gone through every single year for the past 12 years, probably, and respect the job that he’s done with it, as well, and how, you know, how well he’s handled the expectations with his play.

You know, for most of his 10, 12 years here he’s done extremely well, and so I can respect that a ton more, you know, and lean on him and James a little bit to ask some questions and, you know, hopefully take away a little bit of the pressure that Andy has had to deal with for the past, like I said, the past few years.

I’m happy to help in that aspect.

 

Q.  What’s the biggest difference in you as a player now than all the other times you’ve been here?

MARDY FISH:  I’ve got a real good grasp on my fitness right now.  Last year I came in, I was extremely fit at the time, but I was almost too ‑‑ I was right around 170 pounds.  You know, I was almost too skinny.

The stamina maybe wasn’t there quite as good.  I sort of ran out of gas at this tournament against Djokovic.  Not that that really would have mattered the way he played that match.

So I’ve got a good grasp on that.  I’ve got a great grasp on how to leave last weeks’ tournaments in last week, you know, leaving Montreal in Montreal and trying to separate myself from that and go to Cincinnati and start over again and hopefully leave Cincinnati there and start over here and sort of forget all the matches I’ve played in, the mental side of it, the mental sort of fatigue you can get from playing quite a few matches to, you know, starting over and trying to get as fresh as possible.

I think I’ve done and am trying more and more, and it’s a good problem to have, obviously, but something that I’m not used to throughout my career.

So I hope that I’m doing a better job of that, as well, just to kind of start over with each week as a new tournament.  Just previous years I would have had one good result and then I would have been pretty content with that result for a while.

So I hope to not do that.

 

Q.  Last summer obviously you had a great run, sort of launched where you are today.  I’m wondering, coming back in in the course of this year if you wonder or had doubts, Do I have it in me again?  Was that in your mind?

MARDY FISH:  No, that certainly entered my mind.  My goal going into the summer was to come into the US Open in the top 10.  That was a huge goal.  To be honest, it was going to be hard to do.  I had all my points backlogged now, you know, and Cincinnati, 600 points for a guy who’s right around 10, 9, 11, 12, something like that, I mean, there is a difference of back to 18 in the world kind of thing.  There is a big difference between 18 and 8, you know.

So the fact that I was able to, you know, do so well in Montreal took a ton of pressure off me for Cincinnati and put me in a great spot to ‑‑ what I didn’t think was possible was to get more ‑‑ you know, to even gain on what I had done last year.  I put myself in a good position in those events because I actually got a bye in those events, as well, which I had never done in the Masters 1000 events.

I was able to get to the final and play the final of Montreal and have that extra day off in Cincinnati, which was huge, as well.

So, yeah, I mean, I pretty candidly can say I didn’t think I was gonna be in this position right now.

 

Q.  Nice up there in first class, huh?

MARDY FISH:  Yeah, it is.  (Smiling).

 

Q.  What’s impressed you most about the way Djokovic has had, the season he’s had, and what are your thoughts in general about it?

MARDY FISH:  I mean, incredible.  Just the fact ‑‑ like I said, just the fact that to win back‑to‑back Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami, it’s just incredible.  And, you know, not to take away from a Grand Slam title in the beginning of the year.

It’s conceivable that, you know, a guy that good can, you know, can win the first two ‑‑ I think maybe he had won maybe two events only before Indian Wells.  Then, you know, you go to Indian Wells and Miami and you win both of those and beat Nadal in both of those, and you’re thinking, Man, this is a pretty incredible run.

But maybe someone has done that before or maybe, you know, Roger, you know, in kind of ’04, ’05, ’06 era was able to play like that.  And then to win Madrid and Rome back to back, it was just incredible to beat Nadal both of those finals.

I think that really ‑‑ you know, I think he won Belgrade in there, too, but that’s his home event and so we expect him to win those.

But then kind of opened everyone’s eyes to, Man, this is a historic run.  You know, who’s gonna beat this guy kind of thing?  Took the greatest player that we’ve seen to do it, you know.

 

Q.  Serve and volley is an important part of your game.  Do you feel that’s a feature that’s coming back into the men’s game a bit more, especially on hard courts?

MARDY FISH:  I don’t think it’s coming back in.  I don’t see much of it from anyone.  They’ve even slowed down ‑‑ they’ve even slowed down this surface, which is frustrating, because this is one of the ‑‑ this was definitely the fastest slam surface‑wise that we’ve had.

Now with it being, you know, much slower out here this year, it’s sort of fit right in with Australia.  There’s really not ‑‑ there is a lot of really slow Grand Slams now surface‑wise.  Cincinnati and Montreal were extremely fast; Montreal was an extremely fast surface.

I would prefer to play on that surface every single tournament, but it’s not how it works out here.  So, you know, that type of court can warrant some serving and volleying and coming forward.  You can’t serve and volley all the time.  Guys return too good, so you’ve got to keep them off balance and off guard.

I will certainly come to the net here, I have to, but maybe a little bit less than there.

 

Q.  What is your sense of how your belief in your game and your ability, how it compares with Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic right now?

MARDY FISH:  On this surface?  Right now I think it’s up there.  Ask me in two weeks, you know.  I mean, hopefully we’re still sitting here and I can have a conversation with you about it because I’ve never done that.  So it’s hard to say, you know, I expect to see myself in the second Saturday of the US Open because I’ve never done that before.

I’ve been close once, but I’d like to get there now.  I’d really like to get there now, because I really feel like I can belong there.  I can get there.  I can get to a really big spot in a Grand Slam.  And if I were to pick a tournament, a Grand Slam that I could do that in, it would be this one.

 

Q.  You mentioned the surface being slower here.

MARDY FISH:  Uh‑huh.

 

Q.  Is that something this year in particular or over the years?

MARDY FISH:  No, it was pretty fast last year.  It’s definitely different.  But it’s also playing a lot different out there just because of the conditions.  It’s kind of a strange ‑‑ I mean, it’s almost like it’s just raining out of the sky with no rain.  It’s just so humid.  The balls just get extremely big like that with the humidity.

But it’s playing very strange right now.  Hopefully when Monday comes around and the heat comes back a little bit and you get the humidity out of there just a little bit, maybe it will play a little bit differently.

 

Q.  Who would it favor, the slowness of the surface, out of all the top guys?

MARDY FISH:  I think it will favor Djokovic quite a bit.  I think it will play a lot like Australia, to be honest.

I think at night it will play much slower than during the day.  You know, days when it’s pretty humid it will play much slower.

You know, but Rafa likes those conditions, as well, so it’s hard to ‑‑ I mean, Djokovic is, you know, the No. 1 player in the world, so it’s hard not to say that he’s the favorite.  But certainly some guys that can beat him.  I would say he is.

Maria Sharapova Transcript

Q.  How do you feel going into this tournament winning in Cincinnati?  Must have given you a lot of confidence.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I came into Cincinnati, you know, asking to play a lot of matches for myself, as many as I could at that tournament.

It was great to win the tournament.  I beat some really good opponents, played some good matches.  You know, the final was a little whacky, but I just managed to win that one.

Yeah, it’s great.  Obviously coming into the Open it’s great to have a title under your belt.

 

Q.  How different are you this year compared to last year at the same time for the US Open?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I’m seeded higher.  I’ve won two titles this year.  You know, I feel like my tennis is at a much better level than it was last year.  Yeah, I’m a better player, definitely.

 

Q.  How do you expect to deal with the expected hurricane in the next 24 hours?  What are your plans and what are your thoughts about being here for this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I’m a Florida girl so I’m used to this stuff.  (Laughter.)

I think everyone’s a bit overreacting about everything, but of course you have to take precaution and all that.  But, I mean, where are we gonna go?  All hundreds of us?

So I just hope that our hotel is nice and tough and sturdy, you know.  That’s all we can do, right?

 

Q.  What do you know about Heather Watson?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Not too much.  I’ve never played her before.  I saw a little bit of her matches in the past I think at Wimbledon her first rounds.  Yeah, she’s someone that’s up and coming, and those are sometimes dangerous because they’re quite fearless when they go on the court, don’t have much to lose.

It’s not too often that you play an opponent you haven’t played against before, so, yeah, it’s not an easy first round.

 

Q.  You had experience of that obviously at Wimbledon against another British youngster in Laura Robson.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Uh‑huh.

 

Q.  Sort of a similar situation?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I guess, but they’re two different players.

 

Q.  In the (Head) advertising you were on the court with Djokovic or it’s…

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah.  I was there watching it happen.

 

Q.  You always say you enjoy the process, but now that the process is paying off, where is your level of enjoyment in competing right now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re winning more matches, that’s for sure.

Actually it’s a lot easier to go out on the practice court.  I mean, even when you take a few losses it’s a little bit easier to shrug them off because you know you have that level.  You just need maybe sometimes a little time or just a few things to click to get it back.

Whereas when you haven’t had it for a while, you kind of are trying to find it, trying to find it.  You play one good match, and then, Do I have it now?  Do I feel it?  It’s definitely different.

 

Q.  Coming to a tournament now, fourth seed, obviously people think you’re one of the favorites here.  Do you feed off that?  Does it give you confidence coming into a tournament like this?  Do you feel a bit more pressure now that you’ve got more of an X on your back?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I mean, to be honest, I have been seeded a lot lower and I’ve still been one of the favorites, so it’s not anything new for me that people expect me to do well.

 

Q.  How do you look back now on your run to the final at Wimbledon?  What do you come out of that tournament with?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I mean, my opponent played a really unbelievable match.  You know, I had my chances, and it’s quite important in tennis to take them.  She was able to find an answer, you know, in things that I kind of challenged her with.

It was a really great match for her at a big stage.  That’s the only way you can really look at it.

 

Q.  She hasn’t had a great summer since then.  Is that pretty normal when you come off a great breakthrough win like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, it’s not easy, that’s for sure, especially after your first one, definitely.

Yeah, I think she’s a good enough player to find her form back here.

 

Q.  In all the time since your shoulder problems, how would you compare how you feel now with the process which was discussed earlier?  Getting over that, the surgery, everything till now, what is your feeling now compared to all the times since then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it’s just great to still be a tennis player.  I’ve said this many times.  I’m very fortunate to do what I do, obviously, to do it at a high level and to win tournaments and to win big matches obviously.

It gives you tremendous amount of confidence and delight that the work you’ve put in, you know, is paying off.  It’s the time that you spend away from the courts, the time that people don’t see what you put into the sport of trying to get back there.  Just to play a match, and then do it over and over again, not many people experience that feeling, see it.

So to be able to prove to yourself that you’ve put in that work and there you are at that stage again, giving yourself these opportunities to win Grand Slams again, it’s a good feeling.

 

Q.  But your level of play now and your level of confidence, how would you compare it with all the time since your shoulder problem?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I just feel like this year I’ve improved.  Last year I felt like I would play a couple good matches and then I’d play a bad match.  I didn’t have that sense of consistency, and that’s something I felt like something that has changed this year.

 

Q.  Do you have any memories of working out with Freddy Adu at IMG?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No.

 

Q.  Somebody was doing something on him and said you guys might have crossed paths for a couple weeks.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we worked out at the same facility in Florida, but I don’t think I’ve ever ‑‑ I mean, I sure hope I wasn’t doing a soccer workout.

 

Q.  Just one of those questions we needed to ask.  Were you in the city at all this morning?  Could you characterize the mood here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  This morning?

 

Q.  Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I left pretty early.  I left at 8:00 a.m., so I’m not really sure if everyone was sleeping in New York on a Saturday morning or if it’s the hurricane effect.  But it was pretty quiet.

 

Q.  You were talking about your chances and things like that.  When you see the news that somebody like a Kim Clijsters is not playing, what goes through your mind?  Do you feel like it opens up another alley?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I can’t really think like that.  I don’t think that’s a mindset of a winner, to be honest.  You’ve got to be ready to face anyone at any given moment.  It’s obviously unfortunate that she can’t come back as a defending champion.

But on the other hand, you know, she is the one that has the memory of holding up that trophy last year.  It’s I have been in that position before.  It’s definitely tough, there is no doubt about it, to not be able to defend such a big title.  It’s sometimes the adversity that we’re faced with.