March 20, 1998
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
VINCENT SPADEA: Huge win. I am excited. I played -- I had a good performance out there. I was happy to keep my composure and just stay tough every point. Just focused on my service games and my return was on tonight. So, that is what was going on. It's a big night, you know.
Q. Take a breath or two.
VINCENT SPADEA: I know. I just got off the court. You guys are on deadline, I am trying to compromise.
Q. Describe your feeling right at matchpoint?
VINCENT SPADEA: (Laughter) well, I was anticipating that ball to go in. So when it did, you know, it was a lot of excitement, a lot of enjoyment to just go out and put a top guy like that away in straight sets and not fumble my game up to much. It was amazing. It is great to be in this arena, in this -- Miami, this is where I have grown up since I was six. I have a lot of feeling for this area and all the people and the crowd, and I had a lot of friends and family, so it made it more special when I hit that winner.
Q. Did you think you were going to get to that final shot?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, I actually -- I mean, of course -- I mean, it is never over 'til it is over. But I felt like I was in that position last year, in the same kind of match, and I was like, you know, I thought my experience in last year's match and in all the other matches I have played helped me to close that out.
Q. I mean, his final ball that he touched down the backhand side that you had to run to get to, did you know what you were going to do with it when you got there?
VINCENT SPADEA: No. I was just running hard. I improved my speed and my instincts and the alertness to the ball. And, you know, maybe two years ago I wouldn't have made that shot. I would have let it go another couple of deuces and maybe I might have gotten broken. But, you know, I am proving as a player and I am glad to be able to put it into big match play.
Q. Did you tee off on his returns the first four times you have played him and lost?
VINCENT SPADEA: No. I told myself I am playing the No. 4 player in the world I have to give my best, whatever is in my body and my mind and not hold back on anything or else I am just going to run like a chicken and probably not -- come out on the wrong end. So I said I knew I was capable of hitting big shots, and I have been practicing like a maniac. So I knew I was pure and grooved for every shot.
Q. Do you think your returns might have influenced the number of doublefaults he hit tonight?
VINCENT SPADEA: It is possible. There's always a little swirly wind as well, and -- but I was putting a lot of pressure on his second serve. And whenever I could get on to his first serve, I was just winging it, really. I basically just winged it the whole match and didn't let, you know, tried to do things to him.
Q. Your parents in the audience?
VINCENT SPADEA: I don't know. I wasn't -- I was focused on the match. But after a matchpoint I was checking things out, saying hi to my fans. It was a big point, big day, big night.
Q. Two aces in a row.
VINCENT SPADEA: Yeah, you know, a lot of work on that serve. You have faith that it is going to come through. I mean, you have got to keep like you are on the practice court out there, focus on the toss and what you have been doing on the practice court. It will happen, you know. It is not coincidence that I got a couple of key serves when I needed them. Before they weren't there. They were there tonight, big time.
Q. You got a lot of the breaks tonight. He gives you a blown forehand volley on breakpoint, first set and two let cord doublefaults.
VINCENT SPADEA: Right. That is what happens when you are putting a lot of returns in the court and making the guy either play or worry about what you are going to do and sooner or later you will get some mistakes even from the players who you think are almost perfect.
Q. What does this victory tell you about your tennis?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, I mean, it is another step in the right direction. I have to take it and -- you know, with a positive, you know, attitude and just -- keep continuing this play. I have beaten players in the Top-10. This is even a higher ranked player, and I need to take it and become, you know, a top player myself, just grow from it.
Q. You said you are getting to balls a lot quicker than you did say a couple years ago. Are you doing anything different in your training?
VINCENT SPADEA: My training is extremely serious, you know. And before it was somewhat -- you know, now it is full blown, like there is no looking back, and there is a lot of intensity and a lot of pain and work. Something that -- you know, something that it is more on a consistent basis, you know, it is paying off.
Q. That one return you hit in the first set in the game that you did not win, the one you crushed, second serve --
VINCENT SPADEA: On the forehand?
Q. Yeah. We all want to hit that shot. I just wondered what it felt like.
VINCENT SPADEA: You've got to hit 600 a day everyday, like really take it on the rise. Because, really, it is like an illusion when the ball comes. It seems like it is hard off his racket. But when it actually comes a point where it almost stops, that is when you have to hit it, so it is like literally hitting a ball, like a tee ball, just sitting there for you.
Q. Ever crush a service return that hard?
VINCENT SPADEA: Oh, I have done that before, you know, I just-- I was able to back it up this time with a lot of consistent returns. And even if I couldn't get a hold of one, I always got it in play and made him hit an extra volley, you know, that combination. You know, it rattled him definitely.
Q. The previous matches did he change into the red shirt second set?
VINCENT SPADEA: I noticed that, yeah. I was like -- actually, my eyes lit up even more. I was even more ready for the return. No, I mean, the lights out there actually weren't bright compared to what he was showing me. The second set, you know, it pumped me up to get that break back, because I played that one loose game. I got unsettled, so...
Q. Did he say anything after the match?
VINCENT SPADEA: He said well played, good luck. He is always a good sport. Good-fought match.
Q. How far do you think your game can go?
VINCENT SPADEA: You know, I am definitely at another level; whether I am -- I don't know what that can take me to. But, I mean, I had a big run here two years ago and made it to the quarterfinals. I beat two Top-20 guys, one Top-10 and, you know, I feel like I am better right now. I am definitely better, win, lose or draw, whatever is going on. I am looking for new heights, honestly. And I have been working for new heights.
Q. Are you working with Jim Pierce?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, he is a good friend of my family and myself. He helps me with my tennis and, you know, he lives near me, so, you know, he is -- definitely helps my tennis, yeah.
VINCENT SPADEA: You know, I mean, I don't think -- you know -- Jim, Jim Pierce.
Q. You are playing Orlando?
VINCENT SPADEA: Smart guy.
Q. You are playing Orlando?
VINCENT SPADEA: Yes, I am playing Orlando.
Q. What about Atlanta and Coral Springs?
VINCENT SPADEA: I am playing Atlanta. I don't know about Coral Springs yet. My ranking is moving up, you know, this year. Last year I was hurt. I don't have points to defend. I keep moving forward. I can get into -- make a schedule, maybe start playing in Europe at some point. I don't know if it is going to be before or after Coral Springs, but Orlando, Atlanta right now -- for right now. I am looking forward to that season.
Q. Do you still live in the local area?
VINCENT SPADEA: I live in Boca Raton. Big time. That is where I go home to all the time. Every time -- I mean, I travel a lot, but, you know, Boca, flying into Miami, you know, fly over the stadium, start visualizing for the next Lipton.
Q. I asked the same question to Venus before. She also said it, for her, it is a good feeling to play somewhere in your backyard.
VINCENT SPADEA: Oh, yeah.
Q. Different than going to Australia or to Europe?
VINCENT SPADEA: Of course. It is like the tables just turn your way. You just feel like everyone is here and you are just comfortable constantly. It is like, you know, playing since you are a kid. You know the wind, the sun, the rain, the courts, the peoples, the balls.
Q. You can even go home.
VINCENT SPADEA: I am going home, hitting the mall, maybe. Aventura first; then hit the Cheesecake Factory (laughs).
Q. Where do you work out at home?
VINCENT SPADEA: I work at the Evert Academy. They provide me with the needs to get -- to be a good player, better player, definitely better player.
Q. So you said this was the biggest one of your career obviously thus far. Did you wake up this morning expecting that, yeah, I am going to beat No. 4, Rafter today?
VINCENT SPADEA: Well, you always have these feelings like, yeah, I am going to win and what if I don't and it is like all the time. And even during the match until -- even until matchpoint or even -- so it is like every time you are thinking one thing, you have to make sure that you are doing, not thinking and times it can turnaround either good or bad, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. But, you know, today I was thinking I could win, but I wasn't -- there are a lot of matches I thought I was going to win and didn't. So you can't take that and let everything just flow. You have to just go out and do it; go out and take a hold of your mind out there and make yourself do things.
Q. Did you surprise yourself at all or did you know that you can do this?
VINCENT SPADEA: I was happy with the way I played aggressive. I went, like, for shots aggressive. I was going for shots constantly. If you are going to beat a top player in the world, guys got weapons, you have to counter him with weapons. You can't wait for him to lose the match, because it is not going to happen. I went out there and I made things happen. I made shots. That is what you have to do. I was happy with the way I just went out and hit hard and deep and didn't let up, for the most part.
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