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Fish spurred on by American Davis Cup win

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Mardy Fish believes the United States’s Davis Cup triumph last month will give him the inspiration he needs to perform well at next week’s Australian Open.

Mardy Fish of the U.S. plays a forehand shot during his mixed doubles match with Serena Williams (not pictured) against Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic of Serbia during the final of the Hopman Cup mixed team tennis tournament in Perth January 4, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

Fish did not feature in the Portland final but has shown that the team’s Davis Cup success has already rubbed off on him as he joined forces with Serena Williams to lead the U.S. to victory in the Hopman Cup last week.

“It’s definitely a big motivation for me,” Fish told Reuters in an interview.

“My game is, in my opinion, much better now than it was last year. Every year you just get more experienced. Last year was the first time I’d really gone into a year having already been match fit, match ready. That was the major key. I was extremely confident and even more so this year.”

Having missed most of 2005 through a wrist injury, after which he sunk as low as 341 in the rankings, Fish fought his way back into the world’s top 50 by the end of 2006.

Twelve months ago he stormed into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, his best grand-slam effort to date.

That run came after Fish and his then coach, Todd Martin, reconstructed the American’s forehand, the wing that had always been a weakness compared to his strong backhand.

BIGGER IMPACT

One year on, and with his ranking up to 39, Fish said he had taken other measures to help him to make a bigger impact.

“I travel with a trainer now full time and that I think helps a lot. Instead of sticking around and trying to find a massage or trying to find a trainer, when I go back to the hotel I can have a massage there.

“We travel with ultra-sound, electric scanner, to keep my body healthy, and an injury-free 2008 would be awesome.”

Fish has a host of ranking points to defend after his run to the last eight at Melbourne Park, but the 26-year-old said he was trying to enjoy his tennis and let the ranking take care of itself.

“There is pressure, you know what the ranking situation is, but you can’t really treat it like that,” he said.

“It was Jim Courier, actually, who told me that it’s not about matching what you did last year... it’s about the whole year and you see where you are.

“I know that if I don’t win a match (in Melbourne) I could be 80 or something like that, but that’s the worst-case scenario, so you know that and it’s okay.”

Having endured a couple of interrupted seasons through injuries, Fish said he felt younger than his 26 years in tennis terms.

“Mentally you only get more and more experienced,” he said. “Todd Martin told me he reached his highest ranking when he was 29 and that’s usually not the case. But he said you get better over time and that stuck with me.

“I have no expectations whatsoever, ranking-wise, or tournament-wise, I just want to be healthy and I think it’ll take its course.”

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