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An Interview With: Mardy Fish (Round 2)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Q. What are the emotions, Mardy? How are you feeling?

MARDY FISH: It's tough to say because I don't feel that great just from the match. So it takes a little bit away, you know, just -- I don't know. I mean, it will probably sink in a little bit later when I start feeling a little bit better.

Q. You got to be proud of the way you fought over five sets considering how many matches you have played over the last few years?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, not many. Yeah, I put myself in a couple of difficult positions and came away pretty well. That was the goal.

Q. Can you describe the emotions that you had when you went up 5-4 in the fourth set? Looked a little bit like disbelief that you might win that one.

MARDY FISH: Oh, not really. I was starting to sort of feel pretty tired and starting to get a couple of twinges in my legs at the end of the fourth set, so I figured that was my opportunity. You know, didn't pick a great time to play the worst game I played all day. You know, I haven't been in that position in a long time, obviously. So things happen.

Q. Lopez said afterwards that when you guys met at the net he told you he felt you deserved to win; you outplayed him. What did that mean to you?

MARDY FISH: I felt the same. (Smiling.) No, we have played a lot of matches. I have had some success against him. I was playing fine. Certainly put myself in an opportunity to win the match.

Q. You were playing so well for a while. Did the thought occur to you somewhere in the third set, Maybe I shouldn't quit? I should keep going?

MARDY FISH: No, no.

Q. No second thoughts?

MARDY FISH: None.

Q. What message would you most want people to take from your career and the way you have handled the challenges before you?

MARDY FISH: I don't know. I mean, I've got a lot of great memories. I have got a lot of great memories; I've got a lot of good wins out here. I have made a lot of really good friendships with almost everyone out here. You know, I'll miss that. I can't answer that. I mean, I'm not sure. Someone else, other people, you guys, have to answer the career part. And then the health stuff, I mean, I'm just trying to help any way I can and share my story. Like I say, if it helps other people, that's great.

Q. What do you consider most important about your story and the health obstacles that you would want people to draw from?

MARDY FISH: Well, just that you can beat it. That you can put yourself back -- it's always going to be part of your life, and you can pull yourself right back in the fire and come through okay. I think I showed that here at this tournament.

Q. You said you felt a couple twinges in your legs in the fourth. Did you pull a hamstring later on? Did you ever think about you would just have to quit?

MARDY FISH: No, I wasn't quitting. I was just cramping. I mean, both sides of both legs, if I moved anywhere close to three or four steps, two or three steps, it would go. So, no, you would have had to carry me off the court. I was definitely not stopping at that point.

Q. You chose this as your last venue. What does this event mean to you? Was there more fight in you than you expected? Some people go through a farewell tour that's kind of routine. There seemed to be quite tremendous amount of spunk and fight in you today.

MARDY FISH: Thank you. Well, I have worked hard to try to get back. Obviously I'm not in as good of shape as I used to be a few years ago. That probably wouldn't have happened a few years ago. I probably would have been fine in the fifth set. I worked as hard as I could. My body is just about done. So I gave it everything I had; that was all I had. 

Q. Can you maybe give us some insight on why you thought it was important to come back?

MARDY FISH: For the three events or just this event?

Q. No, the three events, just to come back and have your good-bye.

MARDY FISH: Yeah, they are my favorite events. They're some of the events where I have had my most success, best fan experience that I have throughout the years: Atlanta and Cincinnati especially, and here. You know, I wanted this to be -- this one specifically to be the last one. I probably would have chosen this one as my last one regardless if I didn't have any issues with my health in the past couple of years just because this is the biggest one and the most fun and the one that you want to go out on. But this one was extra special or extra special meaning for me because of how it happened in 2012.

Q. What's next for you? What are you looking forward to? What are you going to do now?

MARDY FISH: I'm going to try to take an ice bath and try to feel better. (Laughter.)

Q. Not that immediate.

MARDY FISH: I'm going to, I don't know. I'm going to play in my club championship at Bel Air. I haven't played a lot of golf recently. And then I have got some stuff in the works. (Smiling.)

Q. You had a real good career, and then you really turned it up around 2012 with a win over Andy, better ranking. But if someone says, Seems like that kicked off your anxiety, that you were sort of used to playing under the radar and now it's a bit tougher, could you just talk about that process if you don't mind?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, expectations changed and pressure was a lot higher and a lot more on myself and from others. I mean, that's how it all happened. That's how it all came. Expectations changed. There was a lot more pressure on myself to play well at every event, and, you know, every week. That was the position that I wanted to be in, you know, the top American, top 10 in the world, and, you know, sort of a marked man. It was too much for me to handle.

Q. Do you think you put that pressure on yourself also as well as coming from others?

MARDY FISH: Sure. I mean, everyone puts some pressure on themselves to succeed, and I just -- I was maybe a little bit different because I was working so hard and trying so hard to be as good as I could be and I was sacrificing a lot on and off the court. So that's why I always was hard on myself.

Q. You seem somewhat sad. Is it because of the way it ended or the fact that it's ended?

MARDY FISH: Definitely not the way it ended. Just I don't feel great right now. (Smiling.) Obviously with my history of anxiety disorder, I, you know, get a little nervous when I don't feel well. But, no, look, those are the situations you work so hard to be in. You know, just an awesome crowd, and it's a really nice memory to have on my final match. Obviously not the last set, but my final match.

Q. You speak of expectations and the pressure creating some anxiety and some nervousness in you. Were you feeling that at all when you were serving for it at 5-4?

MARDY FISH: No, not specifically at that part. I certainly felt like that was, you know, my opportunity, big-time opportunity to really capitalize. But, you know, once that had sort of came and gone, I knew I was sort of in trouble because of, you know, the way my legs felt. I tried as hard as I could to hydrate as best I could. I did everything I could. My body gave out, and that's why I'm stopping.

Q. Can you describe what you were saying to yourself when your legs were really starting to hurt and cramp up? If this wasn't US Open and your last match, would you have quit, retired if it were somewhere else?

MARDY FISH: No, I mean, I would have tried. I haven't cramped very much in my career at all. In the beginning of my career I never played long matches like that to cramp, and the end of my -- sort of 2010 through 2012 I was so fit that I never needed to worry about it. So it was kind of the perfect storm of, you know, doing everything I could, but, you know, a little bit -- you know, not enough left in the tank. That's the way it goes.

Q. What were you saying to yourself when it was happening as it was happening?

MARDY FISH: I'm in trouble. (Smiling.) No, I wasn't really thinking. Then it starts --you know, look, we were 3-All, 3-4 serving. I was somehow figuring out a way to hit winners and hold serve. I had two 15-40s because it's hard to play a guy that's, you know, sort of wounded and you can -- I have been there. I understand that. I haven't actually been in my position very often at all. It's very hard to play someone like that when you know that, you know, their body is sort of giving out. So I actually had, you know, more chances than he had in the fifth before the eighth game. Way more chances. I was sort of, you know, wondering if I could actually get through it, but obviously I knew I was in a bit of trouble.

Q. In the months and years ahead, what do you think will give you the most satisfaction about what you have accomplished both as a player and as a person, given what you have had to deal with?

MARDY FISH: That's a good question. I mean, I put my head on my pillow every night -- I'm very comfortable knowing how hard I have worked in the later stages of my career. Very comfortable with how this summer has gone. Just at peace personally. You know, I'm bummed that obviously my career didn't end the past few years, you know, the way I had imagined. But it is what it is, and you try to make the best of your situation obviously. You know, it's tough. I mean, it's tough. It sort of, you know, starts kind of kicking in every once in a while in my head as I answer these questions that this is probably the last time I will do this.

Q. How does that make you feel?

MARDY FISH: It doesn't make me feel sad or happy or anything. It's just I have done a lot of these. (Smiling.) You know, it's an interesting lifestyle. It's a different lifestyle to live as a tennis player and as a professional athlete. You know, to be up here and answering questions from you guys is different than most. So I will probably never do it again. It's different. (Smiling.)

Q. Besides playing golf, there are new opportunities for tennis players with maybe less pressure, like the International Premier Tennis League. Is that something you might be interested in doing one day?

MARDY FISH: Yes. I'm sure tennis will always be a part of my life. I'll always be around it. Yeah, so I'm not going to go too far. I'm going to try to help out with the USTA as much as I can, some of the younger Americans. I have a lot of experience over the last 15, 16 years. I have been playing tennis tournaments since I was six years old, so it's a long 27 years of playing tournaments that matter, and now it's over.

Q. I'm sure you spoke to James and Andy about how it feels to close it up and to close here. I'm wondering how you have experienced the last few days and also the last hour or two?

MARDY FISH: Like I said, I don't feel great, so it's not that part. That part is tough and different. Those guys both announced here that they were stopping, so it's a little different feeling. I have known for a little while. I knew with Andy, knowing him personally, he didn't know his -- he didn't know he was going to stop until relatively recent when he announced it. And James may have known or may not have known. He didn't tell us too much. I forgot the first part of your question.

Q. Has it matched your expectations kind of on what they told you or what you expected?

MARDY FISH: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah. I mean, I'm not looking for everyone to bow down when I leave the room and carry my racquets out today. I mean, that's not what it's -- it's uncomfortable and that's not what I'm looking for. I accomplished everything that I set out to this summer, and I'm happy about that.

Q. You talk about this being your last time you do this and that it's an odd feeling. I'm sure that it is. I just read your first-person piece you wrote about your experiences. I was struck by the fact you said you didn't want yourself to be defined by sports terms like winning and choking, and that this wasn't a sports story so much as it was a life story.

MARDY FISH: Uh-huh.

Q. Being a life story, what aspects of that, you know, what verbs would you use for your life story? What part would you want us to think about your life as opposed to your tennis necessarily?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I mean, just that I was -- just that I was helpful to other people, that I was open and honest about a topic that is supposed to be masculine, or not supposed to be masculine. We are trained as tennis players from a very young age to not show weakness. I was very good at that throughout my career. I would not complain very much if I didn't feel well or, you know, fake it on the court if I didn't feel well, and, you know, not show that side of it. So I'm sort of out front with that part of my life because it helps me a lot when I talk about it. Makes me feel better when I talk about it. I want to help people that have gone through it and try to be a role model for people that are deep into some bad times, that they can get out of it, because I was there. They can conquer it.

(Applause.)

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