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March 13, 2004

Taylor Dent


THE MODERATOR: Taylor advances into the third round here for the first time. It's also the third time in his career he's reached a third round in an ATP Masters Series tournament. Questions for Taylor.

Q. Serve working a little better today?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, it definitely is working a little better today. It's still got room for improvement. I served a lot of bad patches. But I'm very excited with the progress I made from yesterday to today. The 7:30 serving session last night and this morning paid off a little bit, I guess.

Q. How big of a win is that for you?

TAYLOR DENT: It's pretty big. I'd say it's huge in the fact that you look at what he's done here and in his career. You know, I got through today not playing my best tennis. So that's a big confidence booster. Hopefully I can keep getting my tennis better and better as the tournament goes on.

Q. So what was the key then, to the victory? Just kind of fighting point by point?

TAYLOR DENT: Well, I served pretty clutch. I wouldn't say over all the match I served unbelievable, but I served very good at some big stages. He had some break points in the first set, and I seemed to come up with big first serves or second serves where they were either aces or unreturnables. I was returning and playing great from the baseline. I think we were probably like 50/50 from the points from the baseline. I broke him three times in just the second set. You know, all around it was pretty good. My volleys were a little shaky in the first two games the second, but other than that they were good.

Q. Not often your groundstrokes bail you out in points.

TAYLOR DENT: Well, I don't expect them to. I think I've proven that I can play from the baseline with anybody. But I don't really put that much pressure on my groundies. If I'm breaking guys two or three times in a set, I'm ecstatic. But I'm not really counting on that.

Q. Talk about the last point. How calculated was the chip and charge?

TAYLOR DENT: I actually didn't want to have to make a decision when he hit the serve, whether the serve was good and I had to stay back or stay forward. So after he missed the serve, I said, "I'm coming in here cross-court no matter where he serves it." Just because it's a big point, and I didn't want to second guess myself or anything, so I just said it, and I'm going to cover the line. Because he passed me, I think, 30 times up the line with that backhand. So I said, "No way it's going to be 31." So, it just happened to work out.

Q. Is this a great place to serve?

TAYLOR DENT: It is definitely. The air is thinner here, the ball goes through the court fast. If you are hitting your spots, it's tough to get them back. He proved that, too. He served great down some big points and I couldn't get them back. It is a good server's court.

Q. You stood still for a few seconds after you hit that volley on match point. Were you surprised that it worked?

TAYLOR DENT: No, no. I was pumped. I gave it a little fist pump. I've had a rough four months and I've been working really hard. Hopefully some buildinging blocks I can move forward on. I'm happy I strung two matches together - even more importantly, that I felt like I played better today than I did yesterday. So hopefully I can keep progressing.

Q. Are you going to do another serving session?

TAYLOR DENT: Oh, absolutely (smiling).

Q. Tonight and tomorrow?

TAYLOR DENT: Yes. Two tomorrow maybe, if my arm can take it.

Q. Why the rough four months after arguably the best two months of your career?

TAYLOR DENT: You know, these things happen. It's sports. There's no explanation sometimes for some things. I felt like I played my best tennis from the US Open to Moscow because I understood my game better than I ever have before. That time I was injured with the wrist over the summer, I missed the whole summer circuit in the US. I just sat down, thinking about my game, I had tapes of Sampras, Becker, Rafter, Edberg, trying to figure out what they did, and say, "Gosh, how can I do that?" Nothing changed from Moscow to the other things; it's just I couldn't execute what I was executing before. It was nothing unbelievable. I was playing my best tennis playing solid, high-percentage stuff. Nice solid serve to the spot, hitting a nice solid volley. I'm not expecting aces all the time or unbelievable volleys. It just happens.

Q. So unlike the other couple months, the guys are passing you when you're hitting your solid volleys?

TAYLOR DENT: No. I'm just giving them a better opportunity to hit returns. Instead of me hitting the spots, I'm hitting them right in the honey hole. Now I'm playing tougher volleys, they're in position better. It's just a hundred times easier for these guys to pass me in those circumstances, as where I hit a good serve wide, they're stretched, and even if they hit it down at my feet, they're going to have to hit a running backhand pass on a dead run. I know what position I'd rather be in passing a guy, that's for sure.

Q. Where does this rank? You beat Juan Carlos Ferrero. Where does this rank in your beating the big guys?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, you know, as far as individual wins go, it's nice. I'm not going to lie. He beat me here three years ago. But like I said before, it's more of a win to build confidence on, as far as trying to turn the corner a little bit with my play. It's a nice win, but there's a bigger picture.

End of FastScripts….

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