March 21, 1999
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
GREG SHARKO: Vince moves into the Round of 16. He improves his career record here at the Lipton to 15-6. He plays Spaniard Francisco Clavet. He's 1-2 lifetime against Clavet. First question for Vincent.
Q. Breathing pretty hard at the end of the first set. Sun getting to you?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, he makes you work hard for your points. And the first game lasted longer than I wanted to on my serve. He's the kind of player that makes you work hard, he likes to run. Kind of crazy conditions out there with the wind. It's hard to put balls away and just have your way. He mixes the ball up. He threw the ball up in the air. This game is about running and hitting and just battling. You're not going to be exactly always in a perfect condition.
Q. The South Florida papers follow your career religiously, every move that you make. Do you like the pressure? You're always considered the hometown favorite. Do you enjoy the pressure?
VINCENT SPADEA: I think it's great. I've lived here practically my whole life. I live in Boca Raton, which is about an hour away. It's a great feeling that everyone is interested in how I'm doing, how I'm progressing. I look at it as motivational to just give my best all the time.
Q. The running forehand to break in the second set, was that kind of the turning point for you in the match?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah. Definitely, it got me out of that game, got me a break, and I was on my way if I could hold serve consistently, winning the match decisively. That's what ended up happening. If I didn't get that, I would just keep plugging away. I was looking forward to getting it down the road in the second set sometime. You know, those are the kind of shots I've been working on. They come through at the critical times when you need them. That's what it's all about.
Q. What kind of confidence did you have as you went into the game? Did you think you were going to win?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yes. I'm confident every time I go out. You don't know what to expect. It was a different court. I hadn't played on that court. He was a different player. There was definitely some question as to what the outcome was going to be. I just needed to go out and hit my balls. That's what happened. I just worked myself into a good situation, where it could have gotten a little bit uncomfortable.
Q. Is he like any other player out there?
VINCENT SPADEA: I haven't played a lot of players like him. I mean, there's some guys who like to retrieve, then surprise you with some offense. It's just something that you have to adjust, you know, believe in what you're doing right. I mean, you basically have to play your same game with whoever you're playing and just improve that.
Q. Last game, the lob that you hit into the corner, he goes back, hits a lob back, comes down like an inch inside your baseline. Maybe in another match, you try to just stroke that away for a winner, but you decided to play one safer this time. Is that somewhat the new Vince Spadea?
VINCENT SPADEA: I mean, I don't remember the score. Was that breakpoint or something?
Q. It wasn't.
VINCENT SPADEA: I think it was breakpoint. Well, you don't have to hit a winner on every ball. I was against the wind. Even if I hit it with all my might, I probably didn't have a great chance of hitting it for an outright winner. I decided to put a little spin on it. He was still on the defense, even if I didn't play a perfect shot. I was looking to get a short ball in the next shot. That's the kind of thing that you learn.
Q. Patience showed on that point?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yes. Patience was the name of the game today. You're not going to hit your shots perfect. He makes you feel like you might have a bad day or something. You just have to believe, move your feet, continue doing your thing, see what happens.
Q. You have some great wins, then you plateau. What do you think you have to do to keep improving to a ranking that everybody thinks you should have?
VINCENT SPADEA: I don't know how to answer that. I'm trying to do it every year. Staying healthy is important. There's a lot of elements that come into play. You have to get the right coach, the right support system, the right schedule, the right training. It's like a whole combination of things that has to click. Still, there's no guarantee. I'm just trying to find that formula, like everyone else who hasn't done the job. I'm finding better ways of doing that. It just doesn't happen in one month or one day. You just have to do it as like a process. I had a good start to the year in Australia. I happened to get injured, so that kind of put me in a tough situation. It's nice, fortunate, to be back in the driver's seat doing well.
Q. You're a young man. This has to be a nice way to make a living. Obviously there's a lot of training and practice from your youth up to now. If you weren't playing tennis, what would be your second choice?
VINCENT SPADEA: On the lighter side of things.
Q. Would you be a doctor, a lawyer, postman?
VINCENT SPADEA: Let's see there now. I've been asked this question many times in the past. I've got to think of a good one. Honestly, I don't know. I'm a pretty innocent, honest guy who works hard. Eventually I think I would have gone into something.
Q. A lawyer?
VINCENT SPADEA: No, my sisters are into that. That's like my dad's side of the family.
Q. Opera singer, perhaps?
VINCENT SPADEA: No. Let me see here.
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, baseball, something that doesn't focus on a lot of writing.
Q. What about a career as a sports writer?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah. We'd be switching positions. No, something with people. I'm good with people.
Q. PR guy?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah. I'm good with people. I'd be working at the mall.
Q. Let me bring you back to tennis. You definitely have the game, you're a tough player. You have these moments where you're playing tennis, it's a tough situation, you come through. You did it at the Australian, you did it here with Kafelnikov. What kind of mind set do you practice in having when you are playing to keep your level of playing where it's at? What decisions are you making?
VINCENT SPADEA: It's basically like a practice session out there. I mean, all the work's been done already. You're just out there to reveal what you can do on that day. Some days you do it better than others, but generally you get a good idea where you're at. You have to keep plugging away that way. Your mind set is more at ease instead of like, "Oh, I have to do it on this one shot, this one point." That's what helps me to beat good players, is that I know I've done more work off the court, I have the weapons and the shots in the big points, and I'm not hoping for things. I'm more like knowing what I can do. If it doesn't happen then, you know, you have to continue working. That's what it tells you. A lot of it is a physical game, I'm telling you. I mean, everyone talks about mental. You have to be stable, be very unwilling to quit, all the stuff that people talk about. Also a lot of it's like working on your game. That's what happens when I beat these players. You just have to make it more consistent.
Q. You just said you believe in yourself.
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, you have to believe in yourself. All the cliches, everything. You also have to do the work off the court. That's what gets you these results consistently. You might have a week of your life because you're in your hometown or something, and this happens to be my hometown. But I've proven to play well in the past year and other places. It's just a matter of doing it at the high level all the time.
Q. (Inaudible) Davis Cup?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I don't know. I mean, Davis Cup is always a difficult decision, especially for the United States right now. There's a lot of different elements that have come into play in the last six months to a year. I happen to be playing good tennis. There's certain things you have to take into consideration. They're playing in certain conditions, so on. There's little factors that they even go into, even if there's three guys playing equally well, four guys, whatever it is. Obviously I think my name would come into contention, into consideration, so on. I just have to do my best as a tennis player, and those kinds of opportunities come and go, you know.
Q. Did you burn many bridges with Gully last year at the US Open?
VINCENT SPADEA: How?
Q. You were a little upset.
VINCENT SPADEA: I didn't express a lot of dissatisfaction, that I know of. I usually have a good relationship with Tom Gullikson. I don't see us as having any kind of reservations or problems.
Q. Right now you're considered in the prime of your life. As far as your ability on the tennis court, you're still improving. Boris Becker losing yesterday, he had come out of retirement. John McEnroe has heard that he wants to shake up the tennis world and come back out of retirement. What do you feel about playing those players again, getting into the limelight once again for a lost glory?
VINCENT SPADEA: I don't know what it feels like to be their age at this point, so I don't know. I don't know what they can do. Obviously they've shown what they can do in the past. Other sports have proven that you can stay fit and stay at the top of the game at old ages, I guess, for the sport, but young ages for life. Even Connors, whatever, I don't really know about that stuff, McEnroe.
GREG SHARKO: Thank you.
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