March 22, 1998
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. What was the difference in each set, do you think?
VINCENT SPADEA: I thought it was the worst serving match of my career.
Q. Your second was coming in the 60s. He said it was coming in so slow it was throwing him off. He was having trouble getting his feet, sort of a backhanded compliment, I guess.
VINCENT SPADEA: Ditto.
Q. Did you feel like you competed well physically today?
VINCENT SPADEA: I think I did. I mean, after the point was started I think I gave my best, and I was pretty comfortable in what was going on. But he served -- you know, he outserved me and, you know, that is how the points start in every game.
Q. You didn't seem to have a let-down after -- usually when you have a big win you have a let-down. You didn't seem to have one. But yet there seemed to be something that wasn't quite there.
VINCENT SPADEA: Break in the first, and I just played a sloppy game, probably got zero first serves in. And, you know, he puts pressure on you. You have to hit the first ball hard and deep to be able to win the rally. So what was missing was 42% first serves. I don't think I have had that since I was 18. It is actually extremely disappointing in that. I mean, this whole year I have kept track of it. It has been -- at least the lowest it has been is like 58, 59. But generally it has been like 60 or above. It wasn't like I was serving 130 and going for aces on every ball. I was just trying to make -- you know, trying to do what he was doing, just hit a powerful enough serve to either get a free point or set up the next shot.
Q. Agassi made a comment that when you play with better players, you improve your standard. And, yet, sometimes when you play with players that you are supposed to beat, you don't play your best.
VINCENT SPADEA: Right. Well, that -- I mean, in the past that -- I guess that is what has happened. But I am trying to play my game where I can play equal standard to every player I am playing. And, you know -- I mean, I am capable of hitting big shots. I think that is what helps me against big players. I am able to hold my own against players I should beat, you know -- there is the margin -- the margin is very small among all the players. So I think I have beaten a lot of players I should beat this year, and there has been a few bad losses. But it is, you know, improving that kind of characteristic in my game.
Q. You went back to serve at 5-5. What was your state of mind before you began serving that -- what turned out to be a Love game, game 11, second set.
VINCENT SPADEA: I got broken at Love? No, I didn't.
Q. No. 5-5 in the second set. You are serving. And what is your state of mind to try to hold to go 6-5?
VINCENT SPADEA: I mean, just you know, keep playing, hopefully get some first serves and win the game, move him around. Wasn't it deuce?
Q. Yes. When he teed off on that second serve and --
VINCENT SPADEA: You are giving a guy 58% of the time a chance to hit a second serve. With his return, he likes to attack the serve. So, I mean, you are not going to -- I don't care who you are, you are not going to win many matches with that kind of service game today, no matter who I was playing.
Q. Any reason for the serve today?
VINCENT SPADEA: No. I haven't put my finger on it. Maybe I was rushing a little bit. Could have been a couple of things. But it was just one of those things that happens.
Q. After beating Rafter, do you consider this tournament a success or where does it stand?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I mean, yeah, that is a big win for me. I mean, my first round was against a player that I hadn't -- that was ranked higher than I am. And, you know, I went two rounds here, so I am moving on, moving forward and, you know, I am happy with the way things are going. Just need to keep moving forward.
Q. I think you might get into the low 50s.
GREG SHARKO: That is about it.
Q. Will that effect your scheduling now for the next couple of months?
VINCENT SPADEA: No. I just -- I was planning on going to Europe and trying to play the Italian Open, so I think that this tournament helped me to do that. I might have a good chance to get in there and go to Europe after I play Orlando and Atlanta, and I am looking forward to a positive clay court season. I am going actually to Hong Kong first. That is Hong Kong, Tokyo. I am going to need to work on some things and play a good aggressive game there.
Q. Is Coral Springs definitely out of the picture?
VINCENT SPADEA: I don't know. Tell you the truth, I think it is the same week as the German Open, and I just have to see how much time I want to spend in Europe and how much time I want here. And, I mean, you know, that is a tournament I have played before and I have skipped before, so I am not going to take it -- I will just take it when the time comes to decide.
Q. Besides being disappointed for losing the match, are you actually frustrated because you felt when you went in that you could really win?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yes. You are always frustrated when you think you have good momentum and you are beating players that you didn't beat before. I never beat Rafter in five tries or four tries. And Agassi I lost to twice before. So I think I had the best chance to beat him today. So, yeah, it is frustrating. But, I was almost, like, kind of a fluke that I that kind of service game today. I mean, I don't expect to play too many more matches where I play that badly on my service games. But, I mean, he is also a good returner, and he has accomplished what he has accomplished because he does those kind of things to you in the match. So, I might have just been the player he was playing or something.
Q. You are so positive right now. Does Jim Pierce give you this kind of push?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah. I feel like I am a good player, no matter if I win or lose. And, I am competing a lot better. And he has helped me become a much fitter player, a much more improved in my game. I mean, it is like, to me it is a significant amount. It might not be showing, you know, day in, day out, but, you know, there is a lot of things going on, in my training and what I am trying to do this year. And I am in good positions; best position of my career right now and I need to -- there is going to be one week where I win this match and the next one and the one after that. So, that is the kind of game I am building right now.
Q. Is this a home situation or is it going to come --
VINCENT SPADEA: No, it is probably just a home situation. We will just have to see. It is not like -- it is not like it is a huge, you know, there is a big secret that he has to tell me or something. It is just general consistent work and just being able to commit to work hard.
Q. What exactly is his role? He is out there everyday?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I have a very heavy schedule which is another thing I am trying to improve. I have a lot of tournaments on board right now because I was injured last year and I had some problems getting my ranking up so, that is one thing. So when I am home, he comes out, but I am only home maybe a week at the most. So, you know, it is not like I see him every day of the year. But, sometimes I talk to him on the phone or something. It is the kind of thing that a lot of players have that kind of situation where they travel with maybe a trainer or a hitter or they will have their coach. But, also, I am playing so many weeks that it is impossible to have a coach there every week.
Q. What is it about Jim that contributes to your improvement?
VINCENT SPADEA: He is just -- just a very difficult thing to go in and commit to everyday just at the intensity that I am practicing and the kind of workouts that we accomplish and the comments that he makes about my game and about what I should be doing. Everything is just top-notch, whereas before you are kind of just -- you are not -- I wasn't too sure which way to go and what my goals were and so on. And things -- I think I am -- I have been happy that I have improved at a small amount of time. Whereas if you work with a coach for, say, a year or two it is tough to improve because you are just kind of working through the tournaments and doing this and that and there is like a lot more personal commitment between the whole thing. And, I feel like I got a lot accomplished from November 'til this point.
Q. What kind of things does he say?
VINCENT SPADEA: He is just very -- like, you know, he is very adamant about what he can -- he knows he is capable and what I am capable or whoever he is working with is capable of and there is just a regime there that is just like -- you just go out and you got to run for every shot and it is something that is -- it is a big change for me.
Q. Is it a drill sergeant approach; he is like breaking you down, psychologically toughened you up?
VINCENT SPADEA: It is not so much psychological. It is more physical and some mental. But, it is just being there and doing it every day and just, I mean, you just feel much better when you are on the court. You are competing much better naturally. Whereas, before, you know, sometimes matches would slip away.
Q. When you see a draw like you had here are you thinking (A) "Oh, crap, I have got to play Rafter and Agassi if they get past the first round," or are you thinking "This is a great opportunity to score some bonus points?"
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, exactly. That is the way I looked at it. I didn't actually see what the draw was. I was only taking one match at a time. I hardly knew that I was going to play Rafter if I won my first round and so on and so on after I played Rafter. But yeah, if you are going to play 32 seeds, it is better to have an opportunity at a top seed right away. Last week I had a chance to beat Rusedski, same kind of situation, was up a set and a break and I lost. This week I was happy to go a step further than I did last week.
Q. From your tone, it seems like you feel like you have lost today more than Agassi won?
VINCENT SPADEA: No, I wouldn't say that. I just felt that if I had hit 60% of my first serves in and I was -- I don't think he would hit winners off them. And I would just like to have seen myself -- because I am basically a groundstroke player from, you know, and I'd like to see myself at least get an equal opportunity to play from the back and see if I could have held my serve a little better. I mean, being up a break - I did break him and I was -- I mean, that game was unacceptable. But obviously he is Agassi all the time. He has got his great shots and he makes you work a lot harder than most baseliners and just because he is playing up so -- on the baseline, the ball is coming much quicker, you know, I mean, he -- I just felt -- from my perspective I felt that I didn't say I lost the match because obviously he still has to hit, you know, outplay me off the second serve too. But, I mean, whatever. It is not like I live on my serve to win matches either.
Q. Agassi called you a classic journeyman. Does that kind of description bother you at all?
VINCENT SPADEA: That is just vocabulary he likes to use, I think. I mean, I have been out four years and my highest ranking is 52, so or 50 whatever it is. It is not even inside 50, so, he is used to playing - beating the type of players being ranked between 50 and 100 to win tournaments, so that is all going to change.
Q. How long have you known Jim?
VINCENT SPADEA: Since we were like young. My sister played, I think, Mary one time when they were both like eight or nine.
Q. Do you think you can move up to the Top-20?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yes.
Q. Do you think you can do that within the next year or so?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yes.
Q. What is your goal then for this that year?
VINCENT SPADEA: That is my goal, yeah. I have to think I am capable of it and erasing the comments like "Classic journeyman" and so on because I am capable of playing a high level of tennis. And, I mean, already this year I have beaten like probably at least four, five players inside the top 30 including Philippoussis and Rafter. I mean, I beat Kiefer. I beat Rosset. It has only been not only three months and I haven't played a final or semis even, but I have made a number of semis in the past. And, we will see. Time will tell. I don't have any points -- I just defended points here actually. I don't know how many there were. But probably 30 or something. But after this, it is like close to nil until about July and I didn't burn up the circuit in July either. So, if I stay healthy, I looking at a big year-big time.
Q. Do you think the fact that your father has known Jim for so long makes that relationship --
VINCENT SPADEA: It is definitely -- they get a long way. He is a good man. He has got a good heart and good intentions, so, things, you know, things have been going in a good way.
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