April 16, 2003
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. After James Blake has gone out, you're the last representative of the United States.
VINCENT SPADEA: Uh-hmm.
Q. How do you feel about that?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I'm glad, you know, I'm still alive and showing that American players are still capable of competing and playing well on clay. This is a very difficult tournament, and no matter the surface, it could have been like this. Or, you know, James had a tough match today. There were other guys that were capable of being here, too, but I happen to be playing pretty solid this week and I got the breaks so far.
Q. It was four years since you played on center court?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, in '99.
Q. Do you remember who you played then?
VINCENT SPADEA: I lost to Kuerten in the quarterfinal match.
Q. What are your ambitions, realistic ambitions, for this year's tournament? How far do you think you can go?
VINCENT SPADEA: It's hard to say. You know, expectations are probably a little too optimistic, but goals are important. So I do have goals to make sure that my game is getting better. I am comfortable on European clay. I'm getting more and more comfortable all the time. I know that I've beaten a lot of players in the past, and that gives me confidence to go further in these kinds of tournaments. So I wouldn't say I'd place a certain round or certain position on my final outcome goal, but I definitely feel like I'm capable of winning, you know, if I'm playing on, you know, I'm competing, in any match and winning it.
Q. Today's match against Clement, obviously, he's got a lot of local support from the crowd. Does that affect your concentration, or were you able to block that out?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, the atmosphere is, you know, naturally it's intimidating. It's a big center court, there's a lot of people not really rooting extensively for you. But I had experience last year in France, I played Pioline and Grosjean in Roland Garros the same tournament. So that was a more overwhelming experience. So I think I was able to handle this pretty comfortably. Even when I was losing, it's just not fun to lose, so the crowd -- they can't make it that much worse, just because you're more disappointed in the outcome that's going on rather than worrying about their celebrations. You know, I had a short amount of time to figure out what to do out there.
Q. Do you feel nearly as comfortable on clay as you are on hard courts?
VINCENT SPADEA: I'm close to as comfortable, yeah. I don't know if I'm better or a little worse, but my ground stroke game, I think I'm improving my fitness. I think it helps in this kind of surface. And knowing how this surface plays and how the players play, over the years, it's been an advantage. So, I mean, I was in the third round of the French last year and lost a close match. So I've had opportunities to go deeper into tournaments, and that's one of my goals this week.
Q. The main aspects that you feel are better in your game now compared to last year's French is the confidence, considering you won a lot of matches in the last couple months, or is it physically that you're stronger?
VINCENT SPADEA: I feel like I'm just getting better in general and my game applies well to clay. So I think that combination between my confidence and winning more matches all the time and the fact that I have a style that plays comfortably on this surface with playing ground strokes and moving, I think that combination is helping me do well this week and hopefully in Roland Garros and other tournaments.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.