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June 20, 2005

Taylor Dent


Q. Can you talk about the flow of the whole match, the streakiness of it. What happened? Why did it swing back to you at the end? Did you get a sense of any reason?

TAYLOR DENT: Well, just start from the beginning, you know, first two sets, kind of self-explanatory. I mean, it was just kind of basic grass tennis. He's serving big. I feel like I'm returning okay, I'm not returning great. But he -- every time I played a decent game on his serve, he's coming up with shots. His drop shots were ridiculous. So that led to a breaker. I just happened to play a bit more solid in the breaker. Then I played, you know, a loose game in the third set, and he continued to, you know, dominate on serve. He was just -- so I couldn't touch him. Same pretty much in the fourth set. The fourth set was a little bit different. We both had some chances to win and I had a couple matchpoints. And, you know, just taped that topspin volley I tried to get by him. I was just telling Charlie, you know, the volley wouldn't have been that difficult if he was at the baseline. I probably would have just stuck it pretty hard back crosscourt or a little push up the line. But because he was at the net and covering a lot of court, I had to try and get it by him. He made the shot more difficult, and I happened to miss it. Then, you know, I missed that easy high backhand volley wide, which is a bit of a shame. But had to regroup. And then, you know, got a gift in the fifth set. For whatever the reason, he came out there and just was playing loose tennis all of a sudden. And I can't explain it. I don't know what happened. But, you know, thankful it happened that way.

Q. Who's coaching you here?

TAYLOR DENT: Who's coaching, well, you know, I pretty much -- even when Francisco was around, I was kind of doing my own thing. And, you know, I felt awkward kind of taking his time when he could be helping somebody else because I was just doing my own thing and he was just, you know, helping me out here and there. So, you know, I feel like over the last, you know, year, year and a half, I've kind of been, you know -- I've got my mind set on what needs to happen. So, you know, I'm seeing if that works. And I still believe I know what's happening, what should be happening out there. So, you know, that's where I'm at right now.

Q. So you're coachless?

TAYLOR DENT: I'm coachless at the moment. Well, I've got my buddy here, my buddy Tom Lloyd, he's traveling with me. He hits with me when I need to work on and do drills and all that stuff. But, you know, he's more of a buddy than anything else.

Q. Did you feel also splitting time with Robby was not --

TAYLOR DENT: Oh, no, no. That was great. But I just felt bad because Francisco could be doing so much more for somebody else. I was kind of there and Francisco, you know, he was helping me out, but he was more along the lines of a friend out there more than anything else. So that's kind of how that turned out.

Q. What does "do your own thing" mean, Taylor?

TAYLOR DENT: Well, you know, everybody has their own opinions out there and everybody's very strong when it comes to them because they wouldn't -- you know, they wouldn't say it unless they really believed in it. Now sometimes, sometimes there's a bigger picture to look at than some of the opinions that I've heard and have taken. I feel like I'm so clear on what needs to happen for me to be a successful tennis player that when I hear other opinions and I disagree with them, it's just kind of like, well, I talk about it and I just can't get to see their side so it's just practices aren't as efficient as they should be, you know, somebody wants to work on this, I want to work on that. It's just I'd rather do it one way all the way than kind of have one foot in, one foot out sort of thing.

Q. Most people like to have like a second ear or a second opinion. Obviously, you don't. Do you worry that maybe you're too stubborn in the end?

TAYLOR DENT: I feel like I'm very stubborn when I believe something. But for me to get to that point, I'm very open. Like I'll always ask somebody's opinion, but if somebody can't really make me see their point of view, then I'm not, you know, I'm not going to believe them. If they're going to say, "Oh, jump off the Empire State Building, you'll be fine," I'll say, "But, you know, gravity is going to happen and it's a hard floor down there, what about that?" And they say, "No, no, you'll be fine," you know, forgive me if I don't jump. That sort of thing.

Q. Presumably, nobody's asking you to jump, though.

TAYLOR DENT: No, exactly, but I'm comparing that to people's opinions on tennis. People do have strong opinions. They may be right; they may be wrong. If I feel they're wrong, I think it would be foolish of me to listen.

Q. How often have you worked with somebody that you followed their advice and they've been wrong and then they've been right?

TAYLOR DENT: Oh, no, it's definitely 50/50. Nobody's ever wrong and nobody's -- you know, nobody's always wrong and nobody's always right. It's always 50/50. But I feel like, you know, you kind of have to do what you think is best. If I'm going to be doing something that I don't have my heart into and that I don't feel is the best thing for me, then it's a waste of both of our times.

Q. You were playing Guillermo Coria in Key Biscayne, you're playing great tennis, then the ankle happens. Is there going to be an end to all this?

TAYLOR DENT: (Laughing). Charlie, I hope so. I really hope so. It feels like sometimes in my career, you know, I get like a head of steam going. I really start to play well and things are clicking for me, and then I have an injury - I have a back problem, a knee problem, you know, this time an ankle problem. And, unfortunately, they've been out of my control. If they were in my control, I'd say, you know, then it's my responsibility. But I feel like I've kind of gotten the short end so far. But there's nothing I can do about it. I just got to keep going out there, keep working with trainers and, you know, taking as good a care of my body as I can. Hopefully, you know, it will end sooner or later.

Q. Are you injury-prone?

TAYLOR DENT: I'd have to say yes. I'd have to say yes.

Q. What's your fitness level like now? How much training have you been able to do?

TAYLOR DENT: Zero. For those two months I was off, I did nothing. I couldn't put any pressure on my foot. They had no idea what was going on with my ankle for a month and, you know, three weeks.

Q. Eventual diagnosis was?

TAYLOR DENT: Eventual diagnosis was I had two things happen when I hurt it originally. One was that -- I'm going to pronounce it wrong, but the perennial (sic) tendons going down, they originally thought that was the problem, which it was. I strained it. But the bigger thing was there's a tendon that crosses over there and that pulled a piece of bone off my ankle and there's a chip floating around in there. That happens all the time with athletes. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they don't. So this one happened to hurt, and there was a whole bunch of fluid around the chip. Finally, on my sixth doctor, he picked it up. Got a Cortisone injection in there, and it seems to be fine so far.

Q. How did you feel in the fifth set today?

TAYLOR DENT: Oh, I'm struggling in the third set. My fitness right now is not where it was when I left, that's for sure. But, hopefully, I can overcome that with some mental toughness out there. I mean, that's the only thing I have going for me right now.

Q. Can you give us the sort of annual "Wimbledon State of American Tennis" address here. What are your thoughts on that?

TAYLOR DENT: I mean, I don't know. I kind of give the same answer every year and I'm probably boring you guys, but I feel like the level of American tennis is high. It maybe waned a little bit right now because Ginepri is having a little bit of a bad run, Blake has been unlucky himself over the past, you know, year or so, Mardy Fish is injured. But tennis is tough. I mean, everybody out here is so good and it's such a fine line between being 30 in the world and 40 in the world, where most of the Americans normally are, and, you know, Top 10. It's just a tiny, tiny bit. So I think the world of the American players.

Q. But you're coming from a country that doesn't accept 30 in the word.

TAYLOR DENT: No, they don't accept, and I understand that. I totally understand that. But the reality is, is that it is ridiculously hard out here. Each one of us is working our butts off to be No. 1 and to be the best but, unfortunately, not everybody can be. So, you know, it's pretty much straight there. I think we've got a whole bunch of unbelievable players. No, they're not No. 1s, but they certainly have the potential to be up there and play for it.

Q. What do you think about the depth of the U.S. men? You see all these other countries, France, Germany, that have more players.

TAYLOR DENT: Kind of goes in cycles. It seems like it goes in cycles. I'm as much of a spectator of it as you guys are. So right now Argentina is definitely dominating. But, yeah, it just goes in cycles.

Q. Think there's been a power shift away from the U.S. and Australia maybe?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, I mean, U.S. and Australia dominated tennis for years. Maybe it was time that somebody else came. And it's good. I think that's a good thing. It makes the Americans and everybody else try that much harder to get back on top.

Q. Is there anything that you can do that you haven't done to deal with the injury situation?

TAYLOR DENT: I don't know. If I could think of it clearly, I'd probably be doing it. I've tried yoga, I've tried Pilates, you know, all the stretching stuff.

Q. What's that?

TAYLOR DENT: Well, you know yoga. Yoga is like the stretching. Pilates is kind of similar but more strengthening. Then I've lifted weights. I've done, you know, track work. Maybe I need to do everything, once every different day (smiling). Maybe that's the trick.

Q. Do you think you have the body type that is just never going to be flexible enough?

TAYLOR DENT: Maybe. I can't answer that. Maybe I'll struggle with injuries all my career; I hope that's not the case. But, you know, like I said, that's kind of out of my hands. The injuries I've had, I've been a little bit unlucky with. I just have to, you know, keep trying to take care of all the little things that I can.

Q. Are you at the point in terms of coaching that you've pretty much decided that having a coach is never going to work for you, or you think down the line you might try that again?

TAYLOR DENT: I'm totally -- I mean, see, this is the point where I feel like I'm open. If I talk to somebody and they made total sense and they opened my eyes to a different side of the game, I'm like, "Wow, that's interesting," then I could totally see that happening. But, you know, I've been around a while, you know. I've been around tennis for a while, since I was born, and, you know, I'm pretty astute with the game. I watch tennis a lot. So I feel like, you know - same thing like I said before - my opinions are very strong on how people win and how people lose. And if I don't see eye-to-eye with somebody, there's no sense in butting heads.

Q. Can you give us an idea of something that some coaches have told you to do that you've disagreed with? I assume there might be one prevailing thing.

TAYLOR DENT: There's kind of an underlying theme. I mean, before I got injured I was Top 10 in the world. I was -- at one stage I was as high as 5 in the world - there's an ATP website that shows this - for breaking people, breaking serve. I was breaking like 32% of the time. That's very, very high. I don't believe Sampras ever did that. Agassi wasn't on there. I was one of the best at breaking serve. This has kind of been not my problem for, you know, a few years now, is breaking serve. I've always been very good at it. But for some reason, people have the perception that I don't break serve. So I end up spending most of my time on ground strokes and baseline games when in reality what I need to be doing is holding serve. And today I got broken once, which is -- in five sets, which is awesome for me. That's great. I feel like when I win matches, I'm either not getting broken or I'm getting broken once a match. And you'll find that true with all the best players in the world. Roger Federer right now is holding serve I think 92% of the time. Andy Roddick is up there. Ivo Karlovic is up there after last week. All the guys that do well are holding serve 90% of the time. For my game, holding serve has absolutely zero to do with hitting a backhand groundstroke or a forehand groundstroke because I'm coming to the net.

Q. When you sit down with Brad and you talk about that and he says, "I think we ought to concentrate on service returns," and you say, "No, I want to do something else," I mean, isn't there some give-and-take there where he can say, "Let's go in your direction"?

TAYLOR DENT: Yeah, there is, there definitely is and should be some give-and-take. But, unfortunately, like I said in the beginning, people's opinions are strong in what has to happen. So then you get to that thing where you've got one foot in, one foot out, you know. You're kind of doing one thing a little bit and the other thing a little bit, when you've got to look at it like a pie, Why are you losing a match? For me, hitting accurate serves is probably the biggest piece of the pie. As boring as it is to go out there - I hate it, I hate hitting serves - but that is the most important thing for my success, is being accurate with the serve. When you kind of dilly-dally and are not quite into it, then it's not effective at all.

Q. You hate hitting serves?

TAYLOR DENT: I hate it. I absolutely hate it. It is the most boring part of tennis.

Q. What's your favorite part of the game?

TAYLOR DENT: Playing baseline games, believe it or not (laughing). No, I actually enjoy just getting a ball and playing baseline games. I think it's fun. I think it's the most fun part of tennis. But, like I said, that's not how I win matches, so it would be wasting my time going out there and doing that. I'll play baseline points until you're blue in the face (smiling)...

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