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August 19, 2004

Taylor Dent


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Are you just gaining and gaining confidence as these matches wear on? Are you considerably more confident now than you were two weeks ago? Can you talk about that?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I mean, if you lose confidence as you win matches, there's a problem with you and that's for sure. But, yeah, you hit it on the head. I mean, I'm getting more and more confident with each win. That's kind of the way it goes. If I can keep winning some more, then hopefully I'll be unstoppable.

Q. Tommy Haas had talked about, he went into 2000 not feeling great, terrific about his game. Then he got here and got really caught up in the Olympics, the whole electricity, the spirit. He felt like that helped his game. Of course, he ended up getting a silver. Can you relate to that at all?

TAYLOR DENT: Oh, well, I hope I get a silver, that's for sure. But it's unbelievable, you know. I don't know, you know. I'm sitting in my hotel room, turning around, flicking around the channels. You just see sport after sport after sport. You're getting to see some finalists winning some gold medals, and they're just in tears. You can't help but get motivated to dig just that bit deeper and fight a little harder. It's just, yeah, like you said, it's just an emotional high coming here and seeing everybody have great success. You know, I'm happy to be a part of it, win or lose. When I'm winning, it makes it that much sweeter.

Q. Can you talk about your approach to this game and how you started off facing a guy who just came off of great victories.

TAYLOR DENT: I'm not really too worried about who he's beaten in the past. Every day is a different day. I mean, I've gone out there some days, I've had some good wins in my past. But I've gone out there some days and felt I couldn't beat some juniors that my dad coaches. Every day is a different day. I was just going out there playing each point for what it was worth and, you know, just tried to stay tough. He came out on fire. He was ripping winners left and right. I was thinking to myself, "Geez, if he does that, that's too good. Good job getting to the semis." That's it. But I just kept on my game and eventually got a little head of steam and he kind of gave way a little bit.

Q. You've got this bizarre situation now where if you win, you go to the final; if you lose, you've got another chance. Does that actually alter the mentality going into the match against Massu?

TAYLOR DENT: None, none whatsoever. That's the last thing from my mind. There's a couple times during the match today that it creeped in there saying, "Geez, I could be playing for a medal now if I win this match." Even when I was 15-40 with that double matchpoint, it's a long way away. I'm a whole point away. So I try to get myself back in the moment and play a solid point. If I win it, great. If not, then play another solid point. Kind of that's the way I've been taking each match this week, is I've just been saying, "It would be great if I get to the finals. It's so far away. It's unbelievable. Don't even think about it. Just play each point."

Q. What do you think about your next opponent?

TAYLOR DENT: Well, he's had a great week. He's been playing unbelievable. I've seen a couple of his matches. It's going to be tough. I don't think we've played before. I'm terrible with memorizing that sort of stuff. But I don't believe we've played. So it should be an interesting match. Hopefully we can both go out and play some good tennis.

Q. You said that you sometimes found your mind wandering about whether you're playing for a medal next. When you think that, do you generally find you lose the next point?

TAYLOR DENT: It depends how I respond to those thoughts. If I respond positively and get myself back in the moment, like I said, then it has no effect whatsoever. But if I'm getting up the line to hit a serve and thinking, "Gold medal, gold medal, gold medal," I mean, I've got no chance of winning that point.

Q. Do you guys get to watch the women play at all?

TAYLOR DENT: The women's tennis.

Q. Will you see Martina later on? Do you root for each other on the team?

TAYLOR DENT: Absolutely. I don't know if you saw Andy's match against Haas, but the whole team was out there. I think the only people that weren't out there were either playing matches, I think Vince had lost already. And, you know, but everybody else was out there. So we were all pulling for each other. When we have the chance, we go out and see each other play. Right after this, I'm going to go have a shower, have a stretch, and I'm out there on center pulling for Mardy.

Q. On the subject of Martina, can you talk about how amazing it is she's out there at 47 closing in on a possible medal?

TAYLOR DENT: It's unbelievable. I don't know if there's any other word to describe it. I didn't know her very well before this week, but, you know, she's just a great person all-around. She's funny. She has a great time. You know, she's a competitor out there. I think that's why she's still out there. So it's phenomenal. I mean, if, yeah... It would be absurd for me to even hope to be playing at that age.

Q. How good is a legend being a team player?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, it's a little intimidating. I don't like it so much. No, but it's unbelievable. She's always there. She said if, you know, we wanted any advice or anything like that, I mean, she's been there before. She's just, you know, a class act and she knows what's going on. It's a big advantage.

Q. What's the generation gap like? You're so young, she's 47. Listening to music, talking about TV shows, what's the generation gap like?

TAYLOR DENT: I don't know. We're just pretty much laughing about whatever's going on. We're a pretty laid back team. We poke fun at each other on a regular basis. It goes over well. It's no big deal.

Q. Can you just describe how you're feeling right now.

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I'm feeling great. I played an awesome match out there. He came out on fire in the beginning just, you know, hitting winners. But I hung in there and was able to hold on to my serve throughout the whole match and he kind of gave me a few games there in the second. So I was lucky enough to sneak through.

Q. Seemed, though, in the beginning of the second set that you seemed to get into your groove and the confidence seemed to just come straight out of you. Is that what you were feeling?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I wasn't returning particularly well in the first set. He was serving big and I just kind of didn't like the way his serve was coming at me. It was a little awkward. But then in the second I started to get used to it, started to hit the returns a little firmer. Yeah, so I started to get into my groove. He didn't break me in the first set or in the second. So that was pretty much the same. Yeah, I played much better from the baseline.

Q. How big mentally was it for you to break his serve in the first set?

TAYLOR DENT: In the first set, well, yeah, it was good to break it a second time (smiling). No, I mean, it was good. Any time you can break a guy that's playing that well, it's a big bonus and, you know, makes the set much easier. Whenever you go into a tiebreaker, it's kind of a crap-shoot whether you win or lose. It's good to win that 6-4.

Q. How much of a positive or negative was it coming out today, knowing what happened yesterday with Andy, Venus, Chanda, Lisa, the Bryans all losing?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I was disappointed for sure. I thought Andy had an unbelievable chance to win a medal here now that -- I mean, regardless who's in the draw, he's got an unbelievable chance to win a medal. Obviously Venus won it last time. So it was disappointing to see part of the team go out. But that really is a different part of my tennis. I mean, that has nothing to do with my tennis. So I go out there and I try and control the things that I can control. And, you know, so it didn't really play that big a factor. I was just concentrating on my stuff. I wish they were all here. Andy is still hanging around, cheering us on, so that's good. I'm sure he'll play in the next one.

Q. Anything you feel you need to improve before you head into the next match?

TAYLOR DENT: I'd like to -- you know, like I said in the first set, I wasn't really returning that well. I hope in my next match I can come out, start returning well and put the pressure on from the first game. And I'm holding serve pretty comfortably. Just, you know, like to hit an ace on every serve, hit a winner on every groundy. That would be about right.

Q. You're not overlooked but you are overshadowed by some of the other Americans. Can you just talk about what it means that you'll be, you know, it's either going to be one American left or two after tonight in this draw.

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, it's great. I mean, you know, hopefully there's two. You know, that means more chances for us to get a medal. But as far as being overshadowed, I mean, it's inevitable. Andy and Andre, and even Mardy, they've all had great success. You know, Mardy has gotten to the finals of a Super 9, which is a big deal. Andy obviously has all his accolades - and the same with Andre. It's to be expected. I'm less proven than they are. So that's kind of motivating for me, in a sense. It's just, you know, I see Andy practice and I see him play matches, I'm like, "God, I can't wait till I can play like that on a consistent basis." I've proven I can do it here and there, but just not consistently. I think I'm getting there.

Q. Do you feel this is your week to step out of that?

TAYLOR DENT: No. It's going to take more than one week to do that. It's going to take consistency, you know, playing tournament after tournament, going deep like Andy has. He's always in the semis or the finals or winning tournaments 90% of the time. That's what it's going to take for me to class myself as an elite player.

Q. Open last year you were playing great tennis. Disappointment against Andre. You continued to do well in the fall. This season has been up and down. Where is your level today?

TAYLOR DENT: My level was good. I'd say that I've been playing, you know, extremely close, if not better than I have -- than I was last year at this time. You know, I had a couple injuries last year, and that always kind of sets you back a little bit. But I think my improvement has been on the mental front. I think that I've really got it together again mentally and I'm out there, you know, fighting for each point, which is tough to do. So, you know, my game has kind of always been there, it's just I've been in and out mentally a little bit. If I can just keep it together, then, you know, hopefully I'm good to go.

Q. There are so many televised tennis tournaments. This is the Olympics. It's your first Olympics. Would a win here mean more to you than any other event?

TAYLOR DENT: That's a tough call. I mean, like you said, the Olympics is so unique. This comes once every four years. The whole world's watching. So it's a big deal. But it's kind of a unique thing for tennis players where we grow up and, you know, we hear, "Pete Sampras won Wimbledon seven times, won the US Open." So when you're growing up, I think maybe actually it's because maybe the tennis wasn't in the Olympics for a while. Maybe that will start to change and the Olympics will be a bigger deal for the kids that are now 16, 17. But I'd have to say this would be the fifth biggest tournament I'd want to win. Just the Slams when I was growing up were such a big deal, that it would really be nice to win one of those. This would be unbelievable, too. It would be unbelievable (smiling).

Q. Is there anything from Misty's success that you can apply to your tennis? Has she ever been able to give you a piece of advice that transcends the sports?

TAYLOR DENT: We don't really talk too much about sports. We just talk about family and who's doing what. I think she has what I lack: she has that mental just toughness. You know, I've seen her play a lot of volleyball games. She is just like Pete Sampras out there. You just can't get anything out of her. She's just looking ahead, tunnel vision. So if I could have her mental tenacity out on the court, then I'd do well.

Q. So ruthlessness is it?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah. I think it's just composure. I don't know -- she doesn't really get fired up but she just keeps about doing her thing. It's really impressive.

Q. So the mental, what you talk about, maybe you lose your focus, she does not have that?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah. I mean, this week I haven't lost my focus once, which has been great because I've faced some adversity with a few situations. But, yeah, in the past I'd be worried about my serve in between points. I'd be worried about my volleys, "God, I missed that volley." But this week, if I miss a terrible volley, which I've done a few times this week, I just blow it off, you know, and, you know, come back the next point.

Q. How much of a role does your father play today in your tennis?

TAYLOR DENT: You know, he plays an average size role. We talk every day about my game and what's going on. If I have a question, you know, he's there, ready for an answer. He knows my game second best of anybody in the world - second to me. So, you know, he's always there for support. But, you know, I'm working with Francisco Montana now. He's with the USTA. Hopefully we're making some great strides with my game.

End of FastScripts….

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