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August 31, 1996

Vincent Spadea


Q. What happened from the point that you served for the match until you lost that fourth set?

VINCE SPADEA: He raised his level and I didn't get too many serves in, didn't attack, didn't hit my shots the way I had been to get to that point. He moved me around, you know, hit corner to corner, didn't miss too much. He was moving well and I was a little bit tight.

Q. You had been driving your shots deep all day. You seemed to stop doing that toward the end of that fourth set.

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah. I just started thinking about different things, instead of executing my shots the way I had. Not too uncommon.

Q. Do you think you got a little conservative about 4-2 in the fourth set, Vince?

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah, a little bit. Actually, I did.

Q. Then got it back maybe at 5-4? Came to the net after your first serve at 5-4. Was that like an effort to get yourself to be more aggressive?

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah, yeah. To tell you the truth, I was coming in and making a lot of volley winners. One time in the fourth set I came in and dug out this really low volley. I kind of had like this twitch in my leg, you know, in my hamstring. I sort of felt like, "Gee, I better keep in control of that." That kind of backed me off the net a little bit, just because he was hitting precise shots and I needed to really get down low.

Q. When was that, Vince?

VINCE SPADEA: I don't know. Might have been around that time, 4-2 or so, 3-2, something.

Q. Which leg?

VINCE SPADEA: I don't know. It was my left leg. I wasn't cramping out there or anything. It was just like a very -- like the very beginning of something like that. I mean, I was fine. I mean, I was obviously getting a little bit fatigued out there. I mean, I think he might have been, too. Looked like it anyway.

Q. You said you started thinking about different things at the end of that fourth set. Were you thinking, "I'm going to beat him," all that stuff or other stuff?

VINCE SPADEA: A little bit. I was just trying to focus on serving the match out. That's not easy to do if you're playing out in Central Park with no one watching, against that type of player. I mean, the conditions and circumstances had something to do with it. It wasn't like I was totally in shock. Last year I served out of match against Kafelnikov. I served out pretty handily. Same type situation. Just didn't make out, didn't even come close in those games anyway.

Q. What kind of player is Chang to put him away?

VINCE SPADEA: He's going to make you work for every ball. He's going to make you hit the shots at 6-All and 5-All that you hit at 1-Love when you're feeling a little bit different emotionally.

Q. What did you take out as an experience from the match?

VINCE SPADEA: Well, I mean, it's something where I have to improve my game whether I won this match or not. There are a lot of things I can still improve. That was encouraging, but at the same time it was discouraging to be out there that way. I needed a few more points off my serve. I needed to be able to just continue the way I was going without having to second guess myself and all. It's just disappointing. It's happened to me before, it's just this was a much bigger opportunity. It will happen to me again. It's something that's hard to deal with.

Q. Tomorrow morning when the emotion calms down a little bit, are you going to feel, do you think, "Gee, I did a pretty good job taking Chang all the way to the fifth set," or are you going to be angry that you lost or a little bit of both?

VINCE SPADEA: I mean, I was in control of the match. It's hard to say -- it's not like I just kept it close and it just happened to go five sets. It was my match to win. Whether he was playing well or not, I was the better player for most of the third and fourth sets. That's why it's three out of five, it's not two sets that you've got to play. You know, I did a good job getting myself back in the match, because I was struggling at first a little bit. I mean, I felt fairly confident the whole time. I was feeling good about what I was doing. I've played him before, so I wasn't that overwhelmed by how the match was going to go or unsure. You know, that game is going to go through my head over and over just because there's so many different ways of approaching it. Obviously I didn't do it the right way.

Q. Vince, obviously no match is over until you serve it out and it's over. When you take on Michael Chang and his reputation of being a tough customer, are you even more aware of, "This thing definitely isn't over"? Are you more aware of that?

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah. You're aware of it and have to deal with it, just relax and do what you've been doing. Easier said than done, obviously. It actually just happened to me in doubles two days ago. We were playing the Woodies. That was another good opportunity for my partner and I. We served for the match as a doubles team at 5-4 in the third. Just like the champions they were, they fought back and pulled it out. We were sitting thinking about what I'm doing right now.

Q. Was this the biggest crowd you've ever played in front of, Vince?

VINCE SPADEA: I didn't really take a look really.

Q. It was pretty full.

VINCE SPADEA: Apparently.

Q. Could you maybe take us point by point on that service game in the match? What were you thinking when you made your first serve, how you were thinking things changed?

VINCE SPADEA: What's that?

Q. When you were serving for the match, what were you thinking when you stepped up to serve to begin with, and how did your thinking change, if it did?

VINCE SPADEA: Well, I just said that I wanted to go out and do what I'd been doing to get to that point. I was coming in, hitting some good volleys. I was playing solid from the back, taking my chances, playing steady, defensive on other points. I needed to combine all that. That's basically what you do from the first point. I served and volleyed the first point. He had a good low return. I missed the volley. It was something where I wanted to start out aggressive, but maybe I overdid it. Maybe I should have waited for a different point to do that. Then that kind of set me back, saying, "You're jumping the gun here, not going with the game plan that got you here." I went to the other extreme and just stayed back and let him dictate play. He was accurate, and I wasn't as fluid as I can be.

Q. On the game before, you served for the match, you were serving for 5-3 and you failed to hold your serve. Do you think you might have had that in the back of your mind when you served for the match?

VINCE SPADEA: No. If anything you're like, "Okay, can't happen to me twice in a row. I'm going to do better, learn from what happened." Obviously didn't work out.

Q. The game plan, Gavin come up with it?


Q. Do you think you executed it fairly well?

VINCE SPADEA: I mean, you know, it's hard -- it's hard to say. I guess I did some things well and I needed to improve some other things. I did the best I could, to tell you the truth.

Q. How much of a factor was Chang's experience versus yours?

VINCE SPADEA: Obviously a big factor. I can't tell you. I mean, I'm just the player I am. If you notice the game where he served out the match and the game where I was trying to serve out the match, the person receiving, it was not the same type of attitude and play in that game. I had a few easy shots that I sort of focused in on what occurred prior to that, whereas he just stuck with that point at hand. I mean, I had an easy forehand at 5-3 there the last game, had that easy overhead. I won one or two of the points. If I'm winning all those points, it's 30-40, 15-40 instead of 40-15. That's basically what happens. That's what separates.

Q. Vince, do you think you're on the right track with your serve?

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah, to some extent. I mean, I feel pretty good on it. I've had some arm problems, hard to practice it and get it to where I needed to. For the circumstances and the whole situation, the service, I don't serve like Pete Sampras. It's pretty simple. I don't think it's a liability either. Somewhere in between I need to keep going and try to make it more of a weapon.

Q. You don't think you need to tinker with the mechanics of it?

VINCE SPADEA: I haven't looked at it. I need to video it and so forth. It feels fairly natural and so forth.

Q. Do we make more of his -- of Chang's ability to stay in a match, and his fighting in there here in this room than out on the court? Does he have other things? Is that really what has evaluated his game and made him 2 or 3 in the world, whatever?

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah, apparently that's the case. Winning close matches, those are the types of things you have to do. That particular match, he kind of was -- his back was against the wall. I don't think that happens that often. For him to be that high, he pretty much, you know, is in more control, just wins the tight points. That's where he was four points from being out of the tournament. I mean, he's a tough player to play when it's zero-zero in a practice match. It's tough to get balls by him then, much less if there's four points on the line and it's over. He's going to be at optimum level in every department.

Q. Is it difficult from a mental standpoint after the fourth set to get yourself composed and ready immediately for set five? Is there a tendency to look back as opposed to looking ahead at that point?

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah. It's hard. It's hard because now you've got to go out and do it again. You've got to go out and break him, go out and hold. If the time is there, you have to go out and hold, serve for the match again. I came so close. I wasn't like, "Oh, gosh, I'm going to lose." It was like, "Okay, let's do it again." I got sort of a second wind.

Q. Where did the Kafelnikov match last year, where did you play that last year?


Q. Stadium court?

VINCE SPADEA: Yes. At night, a little bit more intimidating.

Q. The first point of the tenth game when you were serving for the match, looked like you hesitated coming in. Did you think that first serve was out?


Q. Yes.

VINCE SPADEA: When I hit it wide?

Q. Your first serve, when you came to the net. You seemed like a beat behind coming in.

VINCE SPADEA: Yeah. Well, no. Yeah, I'm just not used to serving and volleying when I'm hitting a serve out wide, I don't think. That makes it an unintelligent move right there, just because you go with your bread and butter when it's crunch time.

Q. Vince, the missed overhead in the final game, did that ball drift on you or did you flat out miss it?

VINCE SPADEA: I didn't move my feet on it. I sort of just took it for granted. The whole court was open and I didn't even snap or go after it. At that point I was just disappointed that I was losing my serve the way I was doing, yet I was breaking him, too. I guess I just ran out of time.

Q. Did you think Michael was cramping or having any physical difficulties?

VINCE SPADEA: Personally I thought so, but I don't know if that's what he was trying to get me to think or if that was really the case.

Q. Did that affect the way you played? Did you try to slow points down?

VINCE SPADEA: No no, not really.

Q. Should you have?

VINCE SPADEA: Actually I did for like maybe two or three points. I was like, "This is not what I need to do." I needed to stay aggressive, whether the points were long or short. He's the guy who is supposed to be running and in great shape. I'm the guy that needs to be, you know, hitting out and going for it.

Q. Is he known for doing that, for almost faking cramps?

VINCE SPADEA: I don't know. I don't want to start saying anything. It could have looked a little bit shaky there, I don't know. I mean, on the other hand, why would he want me to think that he's tired so I get all psyched up and say, "I'm going to win for sure." On the other hand, he's like dying out there. Fifth set, he got a short ball, he's there in a second just ripping. He didn't show any signs. If you look at some of his past matches, that's definitely maybe something that he tinkers with he's always fooling around with the balls. You know, that's what makes him mentally strong. You try to get every edge you can. That's the adversity you need to overcome if you're going to be a top player.

Q. Are you going home right away?

VINCE SPADEA: I assume so. I have nothing else to do.

Q. Where do you go next?

VINCE SPADEA: Who knows.

End of FastScripts....

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