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Mardy Fish Blogs From Memphis

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Sunday, February 26, 2006   
James and I are obviously pretty disappointed to lose today's final against Haggard and Karlovic after winning the first set 6-0. I guess that's where the new doubles format is a factor. We dominated the first set and then we played a lackadaisical game at 5-5 in the second to get broken and all of a sudden we were in a Match Tie-break, where anything can happen.

Now comes the life of a tennis player - scrambling from one side of the country to the next to get ready to play the following week. We're all playing at The Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas. But tonight's flight will be better than most.

James has a private jet deal so we'll jump on with him and fly straight to Vegas. We've got a few hours now to wait. The jet is still in flight so we can't leave any earlier than the time we had scheduled.

It's not every day that you get to travel by private jet but it's very nice when it happens and it's great of James to let us come on. Well, we're actually forcing our way on. You drive right onto the tarmac and just load your bags straight on. You can save so much time and hassle that way. When I travel I always try to squeeze my gear into two bags to avoid having to pay an extra fee. But I won't have to worry about excess luggage this time!

It'll be a four-hour flight so we'll eat some food and play some cards and probably take a little nap.

We're all pretty excited about going to Vegas. For me it's good enough just to be back on tour playing matches after the wrist injury kept me on the sidelines for so long. My sister works for The Tennis Channel and I don't get to see her much, so it will be nice to spend some time with her.

A lot of people have said they read the blog this week, which is nice. I hope you enjoyed it. And if you're in Memphis don't forget to check out the breakfast menu at the Blue Plate Cafe.


Saturday, February 25, 2006  

Before we went to the Grizzlies game last night we went to play putt-putt. James and I took on Thomas and Scott over 54 holes – three 18-hole rounds. We won the first 18, they won the second 18 and then on the last 18 I made a hole-in-one on the final hole to win it for us by one shot. James gave me a big high five; Thomas threw the ball at me and Scott through the club at me. We had dinner riding on it, so we ate up well.

James and I were very disappointed tonight not to be able to play the men’s doubles semifinal against the Bryan brothers. We went to the basketball game with them last night and I had no idea Bob was hurt. Today we were in the locker room shortly before six o’clock and their coach David Macpherson walked by and said Bob’s shoulder was hurt and that they wouldn’t be able to play. I walked back to the small training room and chatted with Bob and Mike, telling them that I hoped it wasn’t too serious.

Bob said his shoulder was bothering him and he couldn’t really lift it. Unfortunately the injury has come at a bad time for him as he has a wild card into the main draw of singles in Vegas next week. Hopefully it will come right and he can still play.

We’d been looking forward to the match ever since the draw came out. Everywhere we went in Memphis the last couple of days people were saying how they were going to watch the match. It’s great to see that sort of buzz around doubles.

The match was set to follow the women’s singles final. To keep the fans happy James and I played an exhibition mixed doubles with Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur. We were happy to do that because the tournament was very good to give me a wild card into the singles and the doubles.

There’s a high-speed internet connection in the locker room so while we were waiting for the women’s singles final to finish we checked out the Vegas draw on I had Thomas and James standing around me and we scanned the draw from top to bottom pretty quick.

I’ve drawn a qualifier in Vegas. While we all know that qualifiers are dangerous, it’s a much better draw than here in Memphis where I got Andy in the first round!

Still, for now, my mind is on tomorrow’s doubles final against Chris Haggard and Ivo Karlovic. Wish us luck!


Friday, February 24, 2006  

James and I were really pumped to save a couple of match points against Gimelstob and Huss today and win the Match Tie-break. We now play our good buddies the Bryan brothers in the semis and that will be a lot of fun. It's a night match Saturday. We have a lot of respect for how Bob and Mike play and how focused they are on the court. Bob and I have had some great battles in singles and doubles. But I'm very close to both of them and we spend a lot of time together, particularly during Davis Cup weeks.

After losing first round in the singles it's been great to stay alive in the doubles. The new format is interesting. I still have some reservations about no-ad at deuce - that's so cut-throat - but I definitely like the Match Tie-break. It shortens matches and increases excitement for fans. James has taken all the 3-all points so far - and won most of them. When I've been returning they have been playing I-formation. They haven't done it against him. He's also been playing a while and I'm still getting back into it.

We don't talk as much as other teams. We just tell each other where we'll serve and if we'll stay or go. But 'conferencing' between points is an interesting issue. Some fans may think it's a little melodramatic to cover your mouth with your hands or the ball when talking to your partner, but there are times when you can make out enough of what an opponent is saying to get an important clue. You're not deliberately looking at an opponent to try to read their lips but in the past I have glanced and caught a player starting to say 'wide' - your eyes catch them saying the 'w'. You see a lot of football coaches with the playbook over their mouths when they talk.

Breakfast today was the normal eggs, pancakes and sausage at the Blue Plate Cafe. We had a quick hit on site and then watched a little of the Olympic hockey between Sweden and the Czech Republic in the locker room before we went out to play. There is a large screen TV and a couple of very comfortable couches. Sweden won that and Soderling was pretty fired up. He didn't even know that it was on. I was the one who turned on the TV and Sweden was leading 5-3 and then they scored right at the end of the second period. He was saying something in Swedish - I had no clue - but he seemed pretty fired up about it all.

Tonight we'll go the Memphis Grizzlies game. It's the first time I'll have seen them play in their new stadium.


Thursday, February 23, 2006  

We went to the Memphis Tigers game last night, which was good fun. We laid pretty low at the game.

I slept in again and practiced with Scott at 12. James and I then practiced some more and then he and I played Thomas and Scott in a set. I'd like to state for the record that we took them down in a tie-break, but they were very competitive. Scott was playing out of his mind. He likes to show that he's still got it going on.

Later on we walked around the Wolf Chase Mall. I got a pair of jeans, which is pretty typically. I have so many jeans it's ridiculous. I probably have around 75 pairs. James and Thomas both got a shirt. Scott got nothing. He usually keeps his wallet in his pocket when we go to the mall.

No joy for me in the Accenture Match Play today. They guy I picked to win - Adam Scott - lost, so I'm pretty much gone. James and I have our doubles tomorrow against Gimelstob and Huss, so we'll take it pretty easy tonight. Maybe catch a movie.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006  
We got a table okay at Houston's last night and we basically had the restaurant to ourselves, which was kind of nice. A bunch of the guys met up afterwards at a place across the street to play some pool. I slept in this morning and then tried to take advantage of my time with Todd. Normally after a match like I had with Andy I would take the day off, particularly when I'm playing doubles. But I'm taking every opportunity I've got with Todd so we went out and hit for a couple of hours. I did an autograph session later in the day and tonight we're going to the Memphis Tigers game.

There's a golf tournament going on right now, the Accenture Match Play. Unlike a normal golf event they play in brackets, sort of like the NCAA. Scott, Todd, James, Thomas and I all filled out a bracket Tuesday. The tournament started today, so we were looking at the scores throughout the day. I think a lot of us had Jim Furyk going to the semis or finals and he lost in the first round - all of us except for James. But James knows nothing about golf so we're not afraid of him. My friends and I are looking forward to the start of the ATP Fantasy Tennis season - we have a lot of fun with that, too. But obviously I'm not eligible to win any prizes!

It's tough when a whole group of us lose - James, Robby and I all went out on Tuesday. When that happens we tend to congregate and hang out that night together and then the following day focus on moving forward. And I'm pleased to still be in the doubles draw with James. I haven't played very many matches and James lost in the first round in San Jose and here, so he also wants to get in as many matches as he can. I love playing doubles.

One thing I'm missing at the moment is watching '24' with Kiefer Sutherland on Monday nights. I could have watched Monday night here in Memphis but it's one of those shows that you can't miss a week and then pick it up. So I have the Ti-Vo set at home. I've missed three in a row beginning with the Monday of the Davis Cup week, so I definitely need to catch up when I eventually get home. Mike Bryan is into American Idol but that's not for me.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006  
I had another battle with Andy tonight and he came away with a win in a third-set tie-break. It was very encouraging to see my wrist hold up. I tape the wrist as a precaution and I had it re-taped during the match because it got a little tight, but that wasn't a big deal. If the wrist can hold up against Andy's serve you've got to think it will hold up against anyone.

Before the match Andy and I kept to our own areas in the locker room. Andy has his own little thing happening back there with a nicer shower. But I stole a shower while he was warming up. The first he'll know about that is when he reads this blog. I was also going to steal his racquets but decided not to.

A lot of times after playing a night match we'll find ourselves scrambling to get something to eat before the restaurants close for the night. That's the case again tonight so Todd cut away a few minutes ago to grab a table at Houston's to beat the 10 o'clock deadline and Scott and I are on our way up there to join him.

It's great to have both my coaches here this week - Todd Martin and Scott Humphries - and they're both quite different in style.

Todd is a little more hands on; he wants to talk about everything. He likes to write everything down in this little book during a match and analyze... and sometimes overanalyze things! Todd's got a lot of knowledge and we play very similar games, so I knew we would be a good fit. I've never seen the book, so I don't know what he's jotting down during a match. He likes to talk a lot during practice and I get a little agitated with him at times. He'll want to work on one thing and I'll do it wrong and he'll want to talk about it. I'll be like 'Just let me get back there and let's do it again.' So we get into little arguments. When Todd's not here Scott takes over the role and we'll talk about things I need to accomplish in a match.

I have a day off tomorrow but have an autograph session at 5.30. James and I will play our second-round doubles match Thursday or Friday.


Monday, February 20, 2006   
I missed out on breakfast at the Blue Plate Café today. I actually slept till 11.30. Everybody else went but they didn’t wake me.

I’m usually an early riser so I got a shock when I woke up to see it was so late. I was pretty disappointed to have missed breakfast but we had a court at 12.30 so that didn’t leave much time. I grabbed a Balance bar and then had something to eat quickly after practice and then went right out to play.

James and I beat Ashley Fisher and Tripp Phillips in a match tie-break. I haven’t played doubles in a long while. That was my first win since Indianapolis last year. Even in doubles it’s nice to get a win.

If James and I strategize before a match it’s usually right as we’re walking out to the court. We never talk strategy during the changeovers; we always talk about something else.

The weather has ‘warmed up’ to around 35 today, but it’s still pretty chilly and it’s supposed to get cold again tonight. It’s way too cold for my liking!

We were going to go bowling tonight but my bicep is a little sore. I’ll need my arm in good shape tomorrow against Andy, so I may have to pass on that.

I saw Andy for the first time today. We said ‘hi’ and then we said, “Okay, don’t talk to me anymore.”


Sunday, February 19, 2006   
Greetings from a very, very cold Memphis, Tennessee. It hasn't been above freezing here the past two days and there is ice everywhere. It's a challenge just to stay on your feet when you're walking outside. The storm that came here was unbelievable. It is freezing cold. I was born in Minnesota but I haven't been in this kind of weather for a long time.

Last night I went out to dinner at Houston's with my coach Scott Humphries and James and Thomas Blake. The restaurant is right next to the hotel - less than a five minute walk away, but it was far from an easy walk. We had to walk really slow and slide our feet across the ice. But Thomas fell - on the speed bump, which was hilarious. James of course had on the beanie he always wears out. He needed that. We also went to the Fox and Hound, which is right on the doorstep of the hotel, for a drink.

In weather like this there's not a lot you can do. We've been playing a lot of hearts, which is a card game, and a lot of poker online. We're all staying on the same floor of the hotel so we just migrate into the one room. We bring in our computers and just play poker on line... and watch each other lose!

This morning we went to the Blue Plate Cafe, which is an unbelievable local breakfast place. We all went: Scott, Thomas, James and Todd Martin, my other coach, who came in today. I had scrambled eggs and bacon and some pancakes. James usually has the French toast. Scott gets the oatmeal. We'll go every morning that we're here.

I was drawn to play Andy in the first round, which obviously is tough. But it will show me where I am at. It's just nice to be back. I've only played the two matches this year in Delray Beach and San Jose. I was a little rusty but I am pleased to be competing again. Last year was a long year that hopefully I can put in the back of my mind and forget about.

We hit at 1 o'clock and it's great to have Todd here this week. Whenever he's with us we try to get as much out of him as we can. I'll also hit later at about 8.30 tonight. I'm going to be playing late against Andy so it's good to practice late.

A number of the guys did a pro-am that started at six. The fans have a lot of fun and we take it seriously because we know they are taking it seriously. My guy came up to me and said 'We need to win as many games as we can in 10 minutes.' That puts a bit of pressure on. But we took care of business. We got up 7-0.

Tomorrow I have a first-round doubles with James. I'll post again after that.


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