March 26, 2005
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Taylor Dent. We will open the floor for questions.
Q. Good to see somebody else retiring from a match, isn't it?
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I know. I've done that enough in my career already to have some come my way. So like you said, it's nice.
Q. One to ten, how did you volley today?
TAYLOR DENT: Well, first set, I'd say probably -- I don't know, I didn't make too many. The ones I made were floaters, so I'd have to say maybe a two for the one I made (smiling). No, but in the second and third set I volleyed much better. He wasn't returning quite as well and I was hitting my spots a little bit better on my serve, so it made the volleys better. Second or third set I'd have to give myself a six or seven.
Q. How much practice time did you miss because of the virus?
TAYLOR DENT: Oh, yeah, I just started practicing a couple of days ago. Then it wasn't much. I was just out there trying to get my eye back in, hitting up and down the court. I played a practice set two days ago against Ancic, and I was dying. I was so tired out there, just walking around. Practice has definitely suffered from my sickness a couple weeks ago.
Q. There will be long points with Coria.
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, a few points with Coria is going to be tough, but hopefully they'll bless me with another day off tomorrow. You know, I feel like I'm recuperating quickly and, you know, we'll see what happens. If I'm fully recovered then, you know, I'd love to get the challenge, the opportunity to have a good battle with him. We'll see what happens.
Q. What is your take on the Davis Cup match?
TAYLOR DENT: It was disappointing, I think, obviously. Everybody I think in the world believed that we'd assembled the best team with Roddick, Agassi and the Bryan brothers. But, you know, this happens in sport. It's crazy. So crazy things happen. Neither one of the guys played well. Ljubicic played, you know, great, solid tennis and, you know, Andy and Andre were kind of struggling a little bit. That's just what happens. There's just not much difference between the best guys.
Q. How would you have done on that court? Good for your kicker.
TAYLOR DENT: It was slow. It was slow. It would have definitely been a different look coming at them other than Roddick and Agassi. But, you know, that court was made for them. I said before the week to myself and to Patrick, I said, "This is the court that we have the best chance to beat them on." Ljubicic is going to play just as well, if not better, on a faster court. All of a sudden, on a faster court, you're starting to make Ancic a whole lot more comfortable. I think that the decision was right. You can't fault Captain McEnroe for that.
Q. There were a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacks talking about how the court hurt us.
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, but it could have easily -- if Andre was on his game and Andy was on his game, it could have easily been 3-Love, and then you have everybody saying what a genius Captain McEnroe is. It's just the way it worked out. I could be wrong, but I believe he made the right decision. And if he asked me again in the same situation, I'd say "do the exact same thing".
Q. Can you assess Andy's game? Did he get too much too soon?
TAYLOR DENT: Everybody has a little slump every so often. This may be Andy's, this may not be Andy's; I don't know. Obviously, Lleyton had his slump a couple years ago. So, you know, it's nothing to worry about. It's nothing to even, you know, nod your head about. He's still 3 or 4 in the world - I don't know what he is right now - but, gosh, that's darn good. He's always competing for titles. Last week he was in the semis of one of the strongest tournaments in the world. If he's dropped off at all, it's a hair and it will easily come back.
Q. From where you sit (inaudible)?
TAYLOR DENT: I don't know. It's a tough question because the way I look at it is how do you hold serve? In men's tennis, I think that's the biggest thing. How Andy holds serve and 99% of the guys out here, they hit a big first serve or a nice second serve, and they rip a short forehand. You know, either the guy doesn't get it or they're coming in and hooking a volley off like that. That's how Andy is at his best. So I think that he may be an all-around player if he learns to come in more, but I think he'd be a worse player for it.
Q. You know him well. If the worst-case scenario turns out to be true and Federer is just one of those immortals and Andy never again is No. 1 and never again is a guy out there winning more than just an occasional major here and there, is he satisfied with that career?
TAYLOR DENT: I don't -- geez, I never talk to Andy about that. We don't talk about tennis all that much. But I'd have to say no. I don't think anybody's really satisfied with that. I mean, you want to go out there and you want to win every week; that's what we're here playing for. I mean, although it may not happen now, you're always saying, "Okay, let's plan it out, how am I going to get to that point?" So like you say, if Andy is dominated by Federer and a couple other guys, then I'd say, yeah, he'd be a little disappointed.
Q. Because he knows what it's like to be No. 1?
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, he's tasted it. I'm sure if you had him on the couch, he'd say he honestly believes - and everybody else does as well - that he can be and has the potential to be No. 1, winning Slams all the time.
Q. Do you think part of Federer's edge with Andy is how he handles Andy's first ground stroke?
TAYLOR DENT: The matches I've watched those two play is Federer wins an awful lot of baseline points - I mean, an awful lot. Normally when you're playing at this high level, it's like 55/45, 60/40 at worst, but Roger just seems to win a lot. I wouldn't dare to guess a percentage, but it's high.
Q. When you talk about holding serve by hitting that first hard forehand ground stroke...
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, it just seems like a typical point would be Andy hit a bomb first serve, Federer would float it back deep, Andy would rip the first ball, and then Roger would fight off that one, maybe another one, and then the point kind of starts even and then Roger just -- I mean, in my opinion, he's got the best forehand in the game. Once he gets hold of a forehand, he's got Andy on the defensive. When you are on the defensive on your own serve, it's not a good sign.
Q. What about Roger's transition from neutral to offense?
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, from neutral to offense, it's a joke. He can pull the trigger on his forehand better than anybody can, just out of nowhere.
Q. Do you have any memories of Jim Courier when you were coming up?
TAYLOR DENT: The only memory I have of Jim is we were practicing either at the US Open or -- I believe it was the US Open. He was with Higueras, and we were doing some two-on-ones, it was me and Philip King, another junior. I was getting yelled at the whole time because I wasn't hitting my forehands (inaudible) or deep enough for him. That's the only memory I have of him playing.
Q. Let me get this straight. Courier was yelling at you?
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, Courier was yelling at me.
Q. When was that?
TAYLOR DENT: Oh, wow. Well, he was still playing. I was probably 15 or 16 playing the Juniors so...
Q. Jim Courier, with his volleys, was yelling at you about your volleys?
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, he wanted a workout and I was messing it up for him.
Q. The next round you have to play with Guillermo Coria. What do you think about him?
TAYLOR DENT: Well, it's going to be tough. Obviously, he does well here. He got to the finals last year. He returns well. It's going to be a tough match for me. I've had some big wins this year, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. But, you know, I'm not going to worry about it too much yet. I'm going to take my break, get ready for my doubles, and work on my serve-volley so I can get used to digging up all those low volleys I'm going to have to get up.
Q. Were you watching tennis on TV when Jim was winning Frenches? Would you watch the matches?
TAYLOR DENT: Me? I love tennis. I grew up around tennis. So for me it wasn't really -- it wasn't just watching tennis. For me, it was finding out how to win, how the best guys win. So there was a little bit more to it than just watching them hit the ball and run around the court.
Q. Did you watch?
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I remember -- I can't remember how old I was. But, yeah, I was 11, I would have been 10 or 11, it was '91 when he was dominating. I thought, "God, this guy's unbeatable." And he was for those two years.
Q. That was really like your first visual connection with Jim?
TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, for sure.
Q. You could see, as you got to know him, he was a guy that maybe wasn't the most supremely gifted player but outworked everybody?
TAYLOR DENT: I think tennis is one of the most fair sports in that sense. You don't have to be exceptionally talented, you don't have to be exceptionally big and strong. You see everything out here. You see guys that are extremely talented, guys that are tall. It just depends. You can make it happen with what you've got out here.
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