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April 1, 2004

Vincent Spadea


THE MODERATOR: Vince advances to his third career ATP Masters Series semifinal. He's now won 11 of his last 12 matches going back to Scottsdale at the beginning of March. Questions for Vince, please.

Q. You made that look easy today. Can you just talk about why he was not able to stay in there with you.

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I mean, the first set was pivotal. I went down a break. But the wind was kicking up again and I just had to remind myself from the first day I played here that, you know, it's not so much how well you're hitting the ball, it's just how smart and how you can adjust to the wind. At the same time, I have to deal with his big shots. So I beat him the last time I played him. I used a couple of the tactics that I learned from that match because I had lost to him in the past. It was nice to have a victory against him, somewhat recently, and to know what he can do and sometimes what his weaknesses can be. I just combined that. Between that and the wind, just kept my composure and tried to win within myself. I think that was the winning combination today.

Q. How do you account for the sudden turnaround in your game?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I don't know how sudden it is. I have consistent results. This happens to be, you know, more of a highlight. The idea being I've been working hard the last really two years, but most importantly the last six months, and just trying to build and win matches every week. I think when you do that, you start to get closer victories, and then those victories turn into, you know, kind of double and, you know, you end up in the later rounds of tournaments. I think that's kind of what happened in Scottsdale. Starting to happen here but I feel like my game's coming -- is always improving. I just look to fight hard so I can let it evolve.

Q. When you went through that long losing streak, what kept you going?


Q. When you went through that long, tough stretch where you lost a lot of matches, what kept you going?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I didn't really get going for about six months to a year after that. So I don't know if I kept going. But I kind of had a bit of a sabbatical without the pay. I just kind of - I don't know - I was just kind of looking at myself and what I wanted out of tennis and what I wanted to really pursue in this game or outside of the game. I decided that this was something I did want to recapture and go back and, you know, reestablish myself, you know, being a former Top 20 player and all the great rewards that came with it. So I decided to reconnect that, and I just, you know, I worked with some new people that helped me, you know, sort of refocus and kind of reinstigate my love and my direction. I went from 2001 till now, that's kind of what got me to turn it around from the losses.

Q. What were some of the other options you were possibly contemplating if it wasn't tennis?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, at 27 years old, I didn't think it was realistic that I was going to completely stop, even if I couldn't -- you know, even if I really wasn't enjoying it. You always start to linger around the challenger circuit. I didn't have any significant injuries that were debilitating enough to make it, you know, kind of impossible for me to keep playing. So, you know, that was an option, was to just sort of keep in that stagnation of, you know, journeymen-type, country-to-country challenger kind of world. Or, you know, I mean, I wasn't really getting into the real world or the educational part of my life at that point. But the same time, I wasn't so heavily demoralized that I was, you know, worried about things in my life in general. It was just a tennis/business problem basically, a disruptive change.

Q. You won a challenger in Houston. Did that have any kind of significance in getting things right?

VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, that was one of the big turnarounds for me, I think, winning a challenger in Houston. That was kind of a time where I really started to see the light in terms of my intensity and my level of play and the fact that I thought maybe I could come back to this level that I'm at - or the level that I was. So, you know, I beat Blake and Fish and, you know, a couple of really good players. It was kind of really tough. It was kind of like the way it should be. I just felt like after that I was on the right track.

Q. Your family is kind of education-oriented.


Q. Your sisters have gone to law school. Do you ever see a day you might go for a college degree?

VINCENT SPADEA: It's possible, yeah, it's very possible. There's not a pressure surrounding me in my family to do that. But if I were to choose it, I haven't premeditated or kind of thought about it yet, but it's definitely something that I would think about and see how the course of training would be and see if it's worth it.

Q. Can you talk about playing Andy tomorrow. Does it matter at all that you guys had that match in Scottsdale so recently?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I mean, I just think that we're going to reflect on that match and kind of learn what we did well, what we didn't. Obviously, you know, it's kind of a rematch, just a couple weeks later. So, you know, it's just a good opportunity for me and for him to get into the final in a tournament that's basically home for both of us. So, you know, I'm looking at it as a good challenge, like I did in Scottsdale. Obviously, he's a great player. So I'm not -- I don't take anything for granted or come in with too much confidence. But at the same time, I know that I'm capable of winning.

Q. Some might think that tennis players peak at a younger age than you're at now. Are you perhaps just going with that notion that perhaps you're peaking now?

VINCENT SPADEA: It's hard to say. I mean, I was Top 20. I beat like probably 10 or 15 Top 10 players. There was a time when I was 25 years old that you could arguably say I was peaking. But I think in the last two years, this is my third semifinal here in a big tournament. It's possible that I am peaking. But I think it's just more because mentally I'm -- the people I'm working with have helped me to be in that direction. I think if I was 19, I might still be doing it, or, for that matter, if I was 32. Younes El Aynaoui and Agassi, these guys just keep going. It's just the mindset. So, I mean, in terms of result-wise, it seems like I'm peaking because I'm probably having some of my best results. But I just think I found a winning formula for my level at this point.

Q. What made you decide that besides, obviously, training or whatever, that you needed to have some mental training, seeking out a sports psychologist?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I was having -- I wasn't really enjoying, like, the whole, like, lifestyle and the tennis, you know, just the training and going -- just the whole ordeal, really. It's a job. It's really a challenge to go out and exert yourself every day. It's just a 24-hour job; even your rest periods are planned out. So, you know, using a sports psychologist helped me just kind of, you know, clear my mind, learn some new concepts, you know, remotivate my level of just the way I wanted to train, the way I wanted to pursue my scheduling and my training. So it was like a meeting, I had a meeting all the time with my sports psychologist to get ready to seek out the next adventure, the next goal. So that was good for me because it was more organized rather than just kind of being a little bit here, a little bit there. I was just kind of doing things 50 percent, and 50 percent is not good enough in the challenger circuit - or even 80 percent. So I needed to go 100. The psychologist helped me, and some tennis people helped me with my tennis game, and I went from there. I got in good shape.

Q. How is the new coaching relationship going?

VINCENT SPADEA: Obviously, it's been really well. You can't knock about a winning percentage. So, you know, I get along really well with my new traveling coach. He's a really nice guy, smart guy. He has a lot of experience. He's worked with other players. He, you know, he really -- I mean, I've known him in the past, too, so he kind of knows me a little bit. It's not totally, like, cold-blooded concepts, you know, going back and forth.

Q. Is it fair to say the difference during this run and maybe before is that you're pulling out a lot of matches when you're not firing on all cylinders? Is that accurate or...?

VINCENT SPADEA: I think it's possible that that's accurate. But it's also saying that my game has gotten better, because I can hold serve, I can hit winners when I need it and at crunch time. Whereas before, I would either win easy or kind of wither away. If things were going well, no matter what your cylinders are made up of, you're going to be successful for that moment. But if things aren't... So I think that it states that mentally I'm there, but also physically I've worked on shots where, you know, things aren't gonna break down. My technique has gotten better, I think. I feel like some of my volleys and transition shots have been key. Even if I've improved them five percent, I think that's been showing in these kind of matches. Because when you're winning tiebreakers and, you know, there's a couple matches where I only lost serve maybe once, you know, I don't know if there's any that I didn't lose serve at all, but I haven't really won any matches easily. That's shown that I think my game's improved.

Q. This is your first match under two hours.

VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, I like to put in the core work so that... (laughter)... I can shine after that.

Q. It would seem that you may be very close to playing yourself out of the River Oaks event in Houston next week. Is that the case?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I'm committed to that event. I've won it once, yeah. It's a very fun event. It's good.

Q. Is there a point where you say if you get to the final...

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I mean, it doesn't start for me until Wednesday. Even if I play on Sunday, I'm going to have a couple days to fly over there and kind of relax. It's kind of a relaxing tournament. It's not as intense as this one, I don't think. But it's still a good competition.

Q. Playing the clay courts after?

VINCENT SPADEA: I'm scheduled to, yeah.

Q. As of now you're playing both?

VINCENT SPADEA: Right, I mean, Houston is not too far away.

Q. Would you play there as opposed to being the fifth guy on the Davis Cup?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, that hasn't really been discussed, hasn't really been proposed. There's been maybe some very small speculation of it, but I'd have to decide if it was going to be a serious proposal and then kind of go from there and just weigh my options. But I am, you know, committed to an event that I've been for months. So, you know, we'll see what happens...

Q. You stay at somebody's home?

VINCENT SPADEA: No, I stay at a hotel there.

Q. You do it like a real tournament.


Q. Can you reflect on what makes that event special from a player's standpoint.

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, it's a great club. It's a great center court. It's like an intimate feeling with the, you know, the crowd there. Everyone's really positive and fun type of environment. So, you know, it's a great -- there's a lot of history there. They have a great setup for, you know, the -- they have some extracurricular events that make it overall a great -- it's a nice city.

Q. Do you worry that now that you're playing deeper into tournaments you'll have to reassess your schedule?

VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, that's one thing I'll have to look at. That's another part of the job. The longer I play in the tournaments, the less, you know, I can play every single week. I want to give my best shot and do my best. But, yeah, I haven't foreseen my schedule too far after the French Open, so I'll just have to focus on that. That's my priority coming out. After this tournament, there's the clay.

Q. Can you give us a couple words about how you neutralized his power in this match.

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, you know, I think the wind helped neutralize it, number one. It's hard to slash away in the wind successfully. So the wind was definitely my friend. At first it was my enemy. I had to decide whether I wanted to change that. So I turned that around, and I actually helped it to kind of keep his shots a little more wild than they normally are. That's the first thing. The second thing is I stepped back a couple feet and gave him a little bit more pressure. When you see more depth, you feel like you're going to overhit because you don't feel like you can actually hit winners rather than like against Agassi, he's right on the baseline. If you hit a big shot, it makes you feel like it's a little easier. I beat him the last time we played, and his serve is actually deceptively good. He gets a lot of free points on his serve. I was able to get a lot of first serve returns back. I don't think he likes that. He expects either a service winner or a really, really short ball where he could just look flashy. I also served well, you know. I put shots kind of out of his strike zone for the most part. I didn't allow him to hit many backhand down-the-line winners, which he seems to really like. I just tried to keep the ball out of his strike zone.

Q. Did you ever have any fear that he would come to the net? He really doesn't like to play behind the service line too much.

VINCENT SPADEA: No, he's not a serve-and-volleyer. He's not known for being a total net player. But at the same time, he usually has -- sets up the point where he can volley to the open court. I didn't give him enough opportunities to do that. I was trying to keep the ball deep, because then that would force him to overhit and maybe the conditions got to him as well.

Q. Is the ice a preventive measure?

VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah. This is preventive.

Q. Night time match with Andy tomorrow?

VINCENT SPADEA: I don't know.



Q. Is that good?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, last time we played, it was at night. So, I mean, I can't see it as being bad. But, you know, every match is different. I'll just go out and...

Q. Had only six aces the last time you played. Do you just see his ball well?

VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah. I didn't really remember that stat. Yeah, he's got a big serve and, you know, my return happens to be one of my better shots so that creates a good matchup. The idea of, you know, like I said today even, when the guy likes to hit service winners, you want to try to keep it in play. At the same time, he's known for serving well so I've got to be on my toes again.

End of FastScripts….

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