March 26, 1996
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
GREG SHARKO: This is Vince's first ATP Tour quarterfinal in the super nine tournament. He'll be playing tomorrow against the winner of Sampras/Martin. Questions for Vincent?
Q. Vincent, when did you start feeling comfortable, that you felt you were going to win the match?
VINCE SPADEA: Today?
VINCE SPADEA: After I held the first game. I thought if I got off to a good start and felt comfortable in what I was doing, moving out there, swinging the ball, I knew I was going to pick up a lot of his serves and be able to hold mine for the most part. It's just a matter of getting out and getting used to a different court that you've never played on, a different player. Actually probably the first two games since I saw his serve in the second game, and I had a chance to break. I was up like Love-30 or something. I felt pretty confident what I was doing. I was just trying to maintain a high intensity level and just my game plan intact so that mentally I wouldn't get frustrated or lazy physically.
Q. Vince, are you one of those players when a guy is coming to the net and giving a target to shoot at, your ground stroking gets better or are you not one of those players?
VINCE SPADEA: I don't know if you can go by that. I mean, I think today I countered his attack game well. I was hitting my shots really accurate, I was moving my feet well. If anything, it's harder for a strict or most baseliner to play that type of player because, you know, we have to work for every point, and he's getting free points. It's like on your serve, you're like, "Okay, this guy is whacking balls, and if I get in trouble, I've got to fight hard to break him back." It kind of puts a little bit of pressure on you to maintain a high level of limiting your errors and trying to move the guy around instead of just waiting for things to happen because he's going to make them happen quickly if you don't. I would say with my game now, I mean, I play well against those type of players, but it's hard to say if I match up perfect.
Q. Are you at the point now where you feel this is where you should be at this time in your career? Do you feel like you're behind or ahead?
VINCE SPADEA: Well, to tell you the truth, when I was coming up the first two years, first three years, I felt that I was going at a pretty good speed. I was playing some satellites, made the transition to the challenge level, was successful there. I sort of shop up pretty quick, I felt, for myself. I went from like 300 in one year, finished like 70, then I moved up close to 50 in the next few months right after that. It was a little bit hard for me to deal with in terms of going from satellites, not even 12 months before that, to all of a sudden I'm in every big tournament, Super 9, every main draw tournament. It was a little bit psychologically difficult to adjust. So I got a little bit I don't want to say complacent, but I got -- I was comfortable with my progress. I sort of lost a little bit emotionally when I went out on the court and competed for one reason or another. So I felt I sort of hit a plateau in a way. It happened sort of in this past year, and I've just been trying to get things back to where they were and just to get myself organized. But I don't think saying I feel I'm behind would be accurate at all. I feel like I'm still exactly where I'm comfortable being and going.
Q. You're in the quarters now. Do you expect to go further?
VINCE SPADEA: Well, I'm playing -- I'm real confident in what I'm doing. It's tough when you go and play the top players a few times, and you have learning experiences. You wonder when those learning experiences are going to be in your advantage in the next coming times. This week is sort of showing that a little bit. Who knows how far it could go. I feel like I'm able to compete against anyone out there. I've proved that already, and I look forward to the next match.
Q. You obviously will have a better chance of beating Todd than Pete, but playing Pete would give you a chance to really measure where you're at. Which would you rather do? Who would you rather play?
VINCE SPADEA: They're both great players. They're both established in what they do, what they've done. I've played both of them. I've played Pete a couple times. I played Todd once. I competed well against them. I don't really prefer either. They both have powerful games, and it's just a matter of hopefully doing what I do well, you know, maybe seeing what they can do. But obviously there's no secret on what they're going to be doing or what their capabilities are.
Q. Vince, can we go back to the fifth game of the second set. You had to make a diving backhand return on game point. He popped it up, you had to run to get it. Do you remember that point? It was on game point, you were receiving serve in the ad court.
VINCE SPADEA: What was the score?
Q. It was 30-40 at that point.
VINCE SPADEA: 30-40, and it was the fifth game of the second set?
Q. Yes. It's when you went up 4-1.
VINCE SPADEA: The double break?
VINCE SPADEA: I know.
Q. You had sort of a stretching return there.
VINCE SPADEA: Yes.
Q. He popped it up and you hit a topspin. Could you go over that point in your mind and what an emotional lift it was for you at that point, if at all?
VINCE SPADEA: Well, I was sort of trying to read his serve. I sort of thought he was going to go there. I had a little bit of an advantage to start off with. He kind of kicked it. He didn't hit it as big as he's capable of. I had to really lunge for it. Previously I was successful with the cross court shot, especially in the tiebreaker. I knew I couldn't hit that so I stretched and tried to just get it into play low. I was able to hit a better shot than I expected. That's a tough shot to make just in general, much less make it at his feet. That was definitely a big point because I felt being up two breaks, I was pretty much in control of winning the match. It was just a matter of staying focused on every point instead of worrying about actually winning. You know, against a guy like that, you don't mind going up two breaks. I lost that break in the first set. I think that kind of woke me up saying, "You're not going to get away with just kicking balls here, just reading mediocre first serves." I stepped it up a little bit and went after a lot of my first serves. I might not have been hitting them huge, but I got a lot more percentage in. I got a lot more free points rather than letting him get a lot of balls back in play where I'd have to work a lot on my ground strokes.
Q. One other point I wanted you to go over, last game you're up 15-Love, real low cross court backhand. How low was that when you hit it and how tough is that shot?
VINCE SPADEA: It's not tough. It's a routine shot. It wasn't that low actually. He hit a slice. That's arguably my best shot. It's my bread and butter. When I'm relaxed and I'm moving my feet, I can hit it at that pace eight out of ten times, I would say. That's just something that I have.
Q. Vince, you're from south Florida. The crowd seemed to be really into the match. Do your friends come out? Do you look up and see some of your friends there?
VINCE SPADEA: Yeah, there were a few people I was sort of keeping an eye on, but not to the point where I was relying on anybody. Just a little supportive look once in a while, a few. Yeah, there were a bunch of friends, people, sometimes yelling your name out. It's good to hear.
Q. Who were those guys over in the corner?
VINCE SPADEA: Which ones?
Q. I don't know. There were a whole mob of them.
VINCE SPADEA: Just close family friends, tennis buddies and stuff, tennis club hangers.
Q. Vince, did you realize you're very, very relaxed? You're playing a player who is higher ranked, yet you look extremely confident. Do you remember any matches that you felt the way you did today?
VINCE SPADEA: I try to keep sort of a reserved mannerism in general. You know, in these types of situations, I've learned if you get too energized, it can affect the way you're playing. I just try to keep it sort of an even-keel mentality where if I lose a big point or win a big point, there's not too much of an extreme on my reaction. That sort of keeps a consistency on my level of play. I'm sort of laid back in general, I mean, off the court. It's important when you're playing a player that's higher ranked and that you feel they have some weapons and so on, that you maintain the confidence in yourself and what you're doing.
Q. What were your expectations coming into the tournament, Vince, and how do you measure that against where you are now?
VINCE SPADEA: Well, I felt that I play some of my best tennis here at Lipton the last three years, since I day I got a wild card when I was 18 and I beat Gomez and had a tough match. Actually I've always been in the second round at least here for the last three or four years. I just feel really confident. The courts suit me well, outdoor hard court in general is just one of my best surfaces. I wasn't going to be seeded obviously, so I was going to have an opportunity to play a non-seed as well. I felt I could work myself into the tournament and hopefully be able to execute the way I have in the past. It's gone to the point where another year has gone by and I've gained a lot more experience. It's enabled me with the right timing to play well and beat consecutive top players like this. It's a big jump for me, especially the fact this winning four matches in a row itself is an obstacle that I haven't accomplished actually.
Q. You came along, your group came along a few years behind Chang, Courier, Agassi, Sampras. They're all top 10. Can you determine what it is that these guys have done? Is it more difficult now for the younger pros to make that kind of breakthrough at the age that they did it?
VINCE SPADEA: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, I think that group of guys is something unique that you're going to be talking about for years and years. That's not something that you can compare to the next generation. I think every person's individual, and coincidentally they happen to all come up at the same time. It's hard to say. I mean, I don't know what the level was like when they were coming up, you know, trying to get into the top of the game. I mean, but they were doing things, winning the French Open, winning the US Open at those ages, that's something that is going to be hard to repeat for any person from this country for a long time, especially with the fact that tennis assumingly gets to a higher and higher level all the time, which is what I think has been happening. You know, for me, I had a successful junior career, I've gone up in the pros steadily, and I don't have any regrets or any sort of looking at them saying, "Gee, what happened?" It's just something that you're actually proud that you have people from the country that are -- that you're able to look up to and learn from and strive for better.
Q. There are eight players left in this tournament after today. You're one of them. This tournament has about 95 percent of the top 100 in the world, something like that. You're one of the final eight. Can you reflect on that for just a minute?
VINCE SPADEA: Yeah, it's very encouraging for me to be in this elite group right now. It gives me confidence that I'm able to go into any tournament and if I adjust to the circumstances and the conditions accordingly that I can go out and I'm capable of beating anyone. It's really a great feeling to be where I'm at right now.
Q. Vince, have you set a timetable on when you might like to be in the top 50, top 20?
VINCE SPADEA: Not specifically, no. I would like to be in the top 50 for sure by the US Open, but that would be something -- that would be a short-term goal. That would be playing it conservatively, I think. In this game, it's hard to say. You can't make any predictions, no matter how good or bad you can play. It's like a week-to-week basis. You see results out there that you wouldn't believe from all different parts of the world. Hopefully I'll be able to go into tournaments and play my best tennis. This is an example of that. I've had some sporadic examples of it, unfortunately, and the rest have been what I'm talking about. It's hard to really say a timetable, it's very difficult.
Q. Where are you going to play next?
VINCE SPADEA: I'm scheduled to play in a challenger next week in Michigan, and then I'm going to play in Bermuda.
Q. Are you going to Rome?
VINCE SPADEA: I enjoyed Rome. It was a great tournament. I wasn't thinking about it, but maybe I'll reconsider. It was a good experience last year. I'll have to brush up on my claycourt game if I'm going to go there.
GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Vince?
Q. Vince, where do you think you would be if your game reaches its potential? I mean, top 20, top 5, top 10?
VINCE SPADEA: It's hard to say. You're constantly working on all parts of your game, but I think a big part of it is mental at this point because I have proven to myself that I can get to a certain point, even being, in my opinion, a slightly less of a player physically. I feel like I've improved a lot of things in my game, and now mentally, emotionally I'm trying to make the next level jump as my game has. I think those kind of go together. I just kind of use a guideline and strive for my goals. It's hard to say what the limit would be. This is the top level, so you can't make it too many predictions, just try your best. I'm on the right track at this point.
GREG SHARKO: Anything else? One other note, Vince will be making his stadium court debut in the quarterfinals as well. Thank you.
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