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March 15, 2005

Taylor Dent


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Taylor.

Q. Biggest ever?


Q. Biggest win ever for you?

TAYLOR DENT: Up there. It's definitely up there. You know, beating Ferrero in the final when he was ranked like 2 in the world was big. Andy in the final of Memphis was big. Hewitt's a big win for me. There's a few of them, but he's up there.

Q. Nice to win close to home, though, huh?

TAYLOR DENT: Absolutely. You know, I've got a lot of friends and family out there in the crowd watching. The longer I can stay in the tournament, the longer they can cheer for me, so it's good.

Q. Did you think when you had those five breakpoints and then two more, did you think it was just slipping away from you?

TAYLOR DENT: Not really because he's under all the pressure. I'm getting in his serve. He's not really getting into mine. It was a little bit disappointing to not break those two games in a row, being up Love-40 and then 15-40. But, you know, that's tennis. You know, I played some bad shots and he played some good shots, and that's just what happens. So I just, you know, do what you always do, you stick your head down and keep plugging away.

Q. Can you recall playing a match in which you only lost one point the entire match when you got your first serve in?

TAYLOR DENT: No, I can't recall, but I can remember serving a lot more first serves in a match.

Q. You go out there against a guy who you know, you played him at the US Open '99.

TAYLOR DENT: It was one of my first Opens.

Q. When he was a little more mentally and physically mature than you were at that time. Talk about the process of going from there all the way to here where you're not looking like the guy who is getting drilled, you look like you're much in control of the situation.

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I mean, there's not much I can say. I can't really compare my career to Safin's yet. You know, he's had an unbelievable career. I think 99% of the players out here would take two Slams and all the titles he's won. So I can't compare on that level. I'm working hard. My game is taking a little longer to develop than his is. It's a bit of a shame, but that's just the way it goes for me. I've just learned along the way. Maybe part of that has do with like you said, me not being mentally mature enough in the past. But I've learned how to compete a little bit better, learned how to hold myself together. If I get angry like I did today, I can't remember what point it was, 30-All point or 30-15 point, whatever it was, where I hit that double-fault, things don't go my way, I can pull it back together and regain my composure.

Q. When guys don't put up the big wins like a Safin does, it very easy to accept your lot in life, your slot between 20 and 35.

TAYLOR DENT: No. No. I don't know. I wouldn't be playing the game if this is as good as I was going to be. I'm not meaning to say that everybody ranked, you know, between 30, 50, 100 in the world, aren't good players. I just have higher aspirations. This may be as highly ranked as I ever be. It may be. I don't know that. But my aspirations are to climb the rankings and competing for some of the biggest tournaments in the world.

Q. Is it difficult to keep that faith going?

TAYLOR DENT: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think it's easier at some times than others. If you have a good couple good wins or couple good results, you think, "Maybe it's coming around, maybe it's coming my way." If you get on a bad streak, you can't really see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think Vince Spadea is a perfect story. He set the record for most first-round losses on the tour, with like 20 -- high 20s, something like that. I don't know what it was. He just persevered, got back in the Top 20 and, you know, might get higher. He's a perfect example. You just keep plugging away and good things happen.

Q. You've had big wins like you mentioned, but how do you keep it going?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I just have to stay mentally tough. You know, a lot has to do with the mental side. You know, my game is not as consistent as I'd like it to be. My serve, you saw tonight, is not as consistent as it needs to be to be, you know, consistently competing in these tournaments, for the tournaments. You know, a combination of a couple of things. So if I get those down, then I'll be tough to beat every match.

Q. Is a night like tonight validation for sticking with the serve and volley? So few guys have the guts to do that.

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I guess it is because the test of being a serve-and-volleyer is the second serve. I didn't feel like I was getting any first serves in for the longest time. I was holding my serve with my second serve alone, serving and volleying. So, you know, today it worked. Tomorrow it might not. Who knows what happens. But it can be done. It's just a little bit tougher these days because guys return so well and they pass so well. But it can be done. You just have to execute very well.

Q. How do you feel facing Canas tomorrow? Tough opponent.

TAYLOR DENT: Absolutely. All these guys are very tough. Canas is going to be no different. He's very fast. He's going to be running down a lot of my volleys. He's going to return well. You know, for the key to me winning the match is I'm going to have to really hit the spots on my serve or hit them pretty big so he's not getting good rips at the ball and really sticking my volleys hard so, you know, I'm in a more offensive position coming to the net. If I start floating them, then he's in the offensive position passing me.

Q. You were pretty crisp on your backhand.

TAYLOR DENT: No, I was hitting the volleys, you know, for the most part very firm tonight, very firm. Can't complain too much.

Q. You talk about maturing. What has gotten you to this point?

TAYLOR DENT: School of Hard Knocks, I'm afraid. School of Hard Knocks. You just take so many shots on the chin, you beat your head against the wall so many times, you figure out what doesn't work. I was watching a movie the other day. There was a great quote. I think the movie was National Treasurer. Nicholas Cage said Benjamin Franklin, I think it was something like, you know, tried 2000 times to make the light bulb. He made it like on the 2001st time. Somebody asked him, How does it feel failing 2000 times? He goes, I don't look at it that way. I look at it, I learned 2000 ways not to make a light bulb. Tennis is no different. You kind of figure out what works and what doesn't work through trial and error.

Q. Have you graduated from that school?

TAYLOR DENT: Of Hard Knocks? Definitely not (smiling). I'll graduate when I retire.

End of FastScripts….

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