March 15, 2003
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
MODERATOR: With his semifinal performance here, Vince will improve from 42nd to around 11th in the ATP Champions Race next week. Questions for Vince.
Q. Just too tough to come back from a double-fault on the tiebreaker situation, too tough mentally to recover from that?
VINCE SPADEA: It didn't weigh on my mind too heavily. I just ran out of gas a little bit. He upped his level slightly. My serve kind of deserted me today. I think that hurt me a lot because it put pressure on me to play long rallies. It's difficult to beat him every point doing that, especially when he's getting free points on his serve.
Q. Have you heard a crowd chant your name before?
VINCE SPADEA: I wasn't sure what they were saying, but I was hoping that's what they were meaning.
Q. "Vince, Vince, Vince."
VINCE SPADEA: Is that what it was? Last week in Delray it happened a bit, but that was kind of understandable. This week, today, it was nice, a nice change, something different.
Q. Is he the type of player who just wears you down mentally and physically?
VINCE SPADEA: He exploits every part of your game, and he's trying to wear you down and trying to beat you. He plays great defense. If you give him a short ball, he plays efficient offense. He serves well enough to where he can, you know, consistently hold serve, put pressure on you. He returns really well, and that's what's difficult because he makes you hit that extra shot. Once you do feel like you've won the point, you're at net, understand he's scrambling to pass you, which is one of his weapons, as well. He's got a lot of weapons that aren't so obvious, as well as the ones that are obvious.
Q. Had you won the tiebreak, do you think it might have been a different match?
VINCE SPADEA: I think so. I think this week I had the edge in that kind of respect at almost every match. I had a few three-setters, but I always won the first set. I felt like I was in command. I didn't play a great tiebreaker. I played a little too defensively. He had like one or two aces. I had none. Most of my matches I had about eight. I averaged probably seven to nine aces. Today I maybe had one. That can mean a lot in a match that the first set is that close. If I was able to win that first set, I mean, I thought, you know, I would have had a chance at least in two or three. I mean, I wasn't exactly feeling incredibly fresh. That might have been a problem.
Q. What does a Masters semifinal from a qualifying spot do for your confidence?
VINCE SPADEA: It's something I've never done before. It's the furthest I've gone, period, in a Tennis Masters Series. To qualify, that's an extra bonus in my mentality when I'm playing next week and throughout this year. I'm striving for things that I haven't done before, and these are the kind of moments that are rewarding based on what I've been trying to focus on.
Q. Can you comment at all about the younger American players that obviously did fairly well here? Do you practice with them in Florida at all? Are you close to any of those guys?
VINCE SPADEA: I don't know them too well. I didn't grow up with them. I get along with all of them. I mean, Roddick lives five minutes from me. We practice occasionally when we have our schedules, when we're both in Boca. As far as the other guys, you know, they travel and they practice outside of my area. But there's a great pack of young guys playing well. I feel like a guy like Roddick is maybe leading the way to help others believe they can achieve greater things than what expectations could be previously.
Q. Should Lleyton play Guga, could you preview what you could see out of that match, why one might win and why another might lose?
VINCE SPADEA: It's difficult to say. I don't know what their record is, what their match-up styles would be like. I don't know how much they've played. It would be an interesting match, of course. You can never count Hewitt out. I mean, sometimes he has vulnerability in terms of a player who hits big shots. Guga has that ability. Depending on the surface and how they're both feeling. I mean, I know, Lleyton's played Scottsdale, he played five matches here, and now he's going into his sixth match. That's probably a good challenge for him. He's obviously been in many finals - they both have - in Tennis Masters Series. You know, it would probably be a three-set battle. Who knows what's going to happen at the end. Whoever is a little bit more fit or tough in the head, probably both.
Q. In arresting your fall and coming back to the land of the living and so on, have you looked it over and tried to figure out what made you go down so far so that you won't have that happen again?
VINCE SPADEA: Not necessarily. It happened really fast, so it was hard for me to pinpoint exactly what happened. I don't know how to answer that. I just want to make sure that I appreciate the second time around, that I'm starting to move up in the rankings, whether I'm ranked 30 or 20 or 50 or 10, that I know that I have a great life and I know that I have a great opportunity every week to maximize my tennis abilities. Sometimes when you're younger and you expect that to happen, you don't really appreciate it as much. I think this time around, you know, I have visions and memories of me playing the challengers a year and a half ago and what I had to go through in those matches that I think will encourage me and help me not let down at this point. I mean, at some point, you know, in 10 years, you know, it's got to come down to another close. But I'll fight most optimistically, as much as I can, to extend this run that I'm going to start hopefully.
Q. When you have those memories, are they scary?
VINCE SPADEA: They're a little scary. They're scary because I was playing matches just like today. Obviously, I wasn't playing players of that caliber. But the matches were just as -- seemed just as tough. Maybe I wasn't playing quite as well, because I probably improved in a year. I definitely have. But in that circumstance, they were ever so mentally challenging. If anything, they were more so because it's not difficult to get up for a match where there's 10,000 people screaming your name, there's ball kids everywhere. It's more difficult to be in a tiebreaker with a guy that you're supposed to beat 2-2, and you're in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with maybe one or two people watching, and they're really talking loud because they don't care what's happening in the tiebreaker. If anything, those are scary moments because you have to buckle down mentally even more so because if you don't win that, that's really draining.
Q. How important would a place on the Davis Cup be? Have you talked to Patrick McEnroe this week at all about that?
VINCE SPADEA: I've talked to him at sporadic times. After my matches, he's congratulated me, encouraged me to keep going. He's excited that he sees me playing good tennis again. Of course, it would be a great opportunity and dream again if I was to be on the team. I was on the official team one time in 2000, and I didn't play a live rubber match, I played a dead rubber match. But it was a great experience. It was with John McEnroe, actually. I never played for Patrick. I think they're playing in September. It depends on the surface and who is playing well at the time. It's a long ways from now, and I have a lot of work to do. Hopefully I'll still be standing strong to be considered.
Q. How much are you working with Fisher again?
VINCE SPADEA: How much?
VINCE SPADEA: As much as I can. I do play 25 to 30 tournaments a year. The other weeks I do try to spend in LA or in Florida because I do reside in Florida still. But I work with him as much as I can. I was planning on coming out there this week before the Nasdaq, but I don't think I'll have enough time. I didn't expect really to be playing today. You know, I just get out there whenever I can. I went out there in December a few times. So I work with him as much as I can. It's an incredible experience to work with a person of that much knowledge. And I'm an eager student. I think it's helping. The combination is working well.
Q. Are you able to easily put aside why he spent time in jail? Have you talked to him about that? Does it not bother you at all?
VINCE SPADEA: I don't talk to him about those kinds -- we only spend an hour a day working specifically on technique and strategy and tennis-oriented subjects. He's a great historian of tennis. He's an incredible technician. He has so many aspects of him that you can look up to and fill a lot of time with. There's no reason to pry or ask questions about things that aren't relevant.
Q. I'm not saying pry. But were you aware of why he spent time in jail? If you're able to look up to him in that aspect of being a great teacher, does that not bother you?
VINCE SPADEA: Obviously, it doesn't. Obviously, he's not in jail now. He's free to work, to live as a citizen. You know, that's just the course that he's taken. You know, his availability is open to whenever I can work out with him. I get the best out of what he has in terms of tennis.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.