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June 22, 2005

Taylor Dent


Q. What were your strong points today? What pleased you most?

TAYLOR DENT: I don't know. I guess what pleased me most was when I got in the point on the baseline games, I wasn't really making too many loose errors. I made a few here and there, but I was really making him come up with some great shots to hold serve. That was probably my favorite part of my game today. The serve was strange 'cause it got me into trouble, but it also got me out of trouble, so I don't know whether it was a positive or a negative, so...

Q. Do you feel the courts are playing a bit slower?

TAYLOR DENT: Absolutely. The courts have been getting slower each year since I've been coming here. You know, but I think it's more fun for the spectators that way. I may not like it that way, but, you know, I think it makes longer points.

Q. Are you making a concerted effort during practice to do more baseline rallies?

TAYLOR DENT: Not really. I don't really worry too much about the baseline, because I play pretty simple from the baseline. I just make a lot of balls and try to keep it low. What I'm really trying to work on is the accuracy on serve. On slower courts, being a serve and volleyer, accuracy is everything. So that's where the big effort is.

Q. With the injuries, what's been happening the last couple months? Is there any major expectation of coming in here and working your way into the second week and doing major damage?

TAYLOR DENT: I mean, strange things happen. You know, it never ceases to amaze me what happens. But, you know, I can't expect too much. I haven't played a lot of tennis. I haven't been able to work on my fitness. Surprisingly, I came back today and wasn't tired at all after my five-set match with Norman on the first day. But, you know, the bottom line is if I can somehow manage to solidify my serving games, then good things might happen. But, you know, I'm not good enough to think that far ahead. I just have to try to take it one step at a time.

Q. What sort of things don't cease to amaze you?

TAYLOR DENT: You always hear of some guy losing in the last round quallies, then he wins the tournament. Some guy's down match points early, you know, like Henman at the French. He was down match points in the first round and I think in like the third round, then he goes to the semis. Strange things always happen with sports. You know, when I played the US Open, I had my best US Open loss to Agassi. Before that, I didn't do anything because I had hurt my wrist. And then I go out there, I'm playing very solid tennis. I do well there. Then I go out the next two weeks and win two tournaments. So, you know, it's never surprising.

Q. How strange would it be if Taylor Dent won this tournament?

TAYLOR DENT: That would be awesome, wouldn't it? I don't know. I'd like to say -- I'd say awesome, great, fantastic. But, you know, who knows what I'd do. I mean, it would be a dream come true.

Q. But would it be strange?

TAYLOR DENT: You know, that's what we all work for here. You ask every one of these guys, I don't care whether there's clay court players or not, that's what they play for. They play to win titles, and the big ones. This is probably the biggest title. So, you know, no player would say it was strange because that's what we're all striving for.

Q. You practiced with Berdych the other day. He was impressive today in beating Burgsmuller. What did you learn practicing against him and what do you expect in the next round?

TAYLOR DENT: Berdych's game is I don't want to say simple, but it's very straightforward. He hits, you know, the ball very, very hard, big serves, and he just lines up and rips on the -- from the baseline. That's going to, you know, be good for him on the grass. You know, he's going to take the offensive straightaway. What I have to do is try and make him play as many balls as possible and hopefully he'll give me some free points on his serve. And on my serve, you know, accurate serving, solid volleys from the net, not giving him too many free points, and, you know, it's looking good for me.

Q. Do you think he's looking better than when you last played him in Athens last summer?

TAYLOR DENT: I don't know. I haven't seen him hit a ball -- I obviously practiced with him, but I haven't seen him play a match. But he came fresh off beating Federer, which is no small task. So I honestly can't answer that. But, you know, we'll just have to see in a couple days.

Q. What did you do when you beat him in Athens?

TAYLOR DENT: More along the same lines. I was volleying very well in Athens. He didn't break me. I was just tracking down a lot of balls from the baseline. I was making him play. And eventually that kind of got to him and he was making a ton of errors in the second set.

Q. What have been your struggles in slams?

TAYLOR DENT: The biggest struggle for me, apart from injuries, I'll leave that aside, is, you know, I've had some rough draws in slams. I can't remember, last year here I lost to Roddick I think it was. Earlier this year in the Australian Open, I lost to Agassi. I mean, those are tough guys to beat. Those are some of the greatest players of this day. Rough draws are a part of it. But to get over that hump and to be considered a competitor for these titles, you have to beat those guys. So I'd say, you know, my lack of consistency's probably been my biggest thing.

Q. That's not really an issue in this tournament, though. Your draw is looking pretty good.

TAYLOR DENT: Don't jinx me. Don't jinx me (smiling). The problem is, all these guys are so good. I say it every day, you know, there's no good draw in the men's game. So, yeah, Berdych is not Roddick and he's no Agassi, but he is still very capable of going out there and kicking my butt all over the court. So I have to go out there and really focus and, you know, do my job.

Q. Where do you work out in Southern California? Who do you work out with? Who is here with you in London?

TAYLOR DENT: Well, where I work out in Southern Cal when I'm healthy is just actually Orange Coast College. I have a physical trainer, his name is Eric Moreno. We get on a rubber track, so it's nice and easy on my body. He just runs me to death. He makes me do it early, too. 7 in the morning. It's rough. So that's off-court stuff. Then on-court, I just kind of do my own thing with the guy who is here with me. His name is Tom Lloyd. He's just kind of a buddy, somebody to pass the time with. We've known each other since we were like eight years old, so he's like my brother.

Q. Where do you hit on court?

TAYLOR DENT: We hit at his dad's court. It's called Costa Mesa Tennis Center. Those courts are a bit fast. We don't play on anything that fast. We sneak over to my brother's court. He just had one resurfaced. It's pretty slow. That's just in Costa Mesa, as well.

Q. If your conditioning isn't where you want it to be, does that affect charging the net a lot? Do you find yourself too slow, hitting too many low volleys, or are you getting up as fast as you want to?

TAYLOR DENT: I think going up maybe isn't a problem, going up. It's the springiness to react to the next volley where I feel a big difference. When I feel like I'm moving well, I feel like I'm extremely tough to pass on that second shot because I'm just lunging and diving and throwing my body around very well. That's where I feel it the most.

Q. What is your weight at?

TAYLOR DENT: I don't know. I'm too scared to look.

Q. I imagine you spend all of your energies on your own game. I'm wondering if you pay any attention or have any awareness of Juniors coming up in the US? If so, could you comment on the depth or strength of young Americans compared to when you were coming up. Is it any stronger or less?

TAYLOR DENT: Uhm, I don't really know the Juniors that are 16 years old and younger. I don't have any contact with that. But the ones that are just starting to play on tour I've hit with. And I think there's some great players. Like Alex Kuznetsov. I've hit with him a lot. I think he's very rough around the edges, but he's got the makings of a great player. He has a very nice serve and a great forehand. He misses a ton of balls. But he's going for his shots. I think it's just a matter of time. Donald Young is extremely talented. I'd compare him to someone like Rios. Again, all these guys have such a long way to go. You never know. You never know what's going to happen. Hewitt, when he made his surge in professional tennis, I don't think he was Top 10 in the Juniors in the world. You know, he just came out of nowhere. It's tough to really look at a 16-year-old kid, unless they're already doing well in the pros, and just say, "Oh, boom, he's not going to do it or he is going to do it."

Q. Is it harder on the men's side to extrapolate from being 16 and how you'll do on the pro tour?

TAYLOR DENT: I mean probably. I mean, again, I'm no expert on women's tennis or anything like that, but it seems like if you're not good by the time you're 18 or 19, then the odds are against you. I'm not going to say you're not going to be an unbelievable player, but the odds are kind of stacked against you.

Q. Is your dad working with any hidden gems down in Orange County?

TAYLOR DENT: Hidden gems? Actually, believe it or not, he has told me that he has some 10- or 11-year-old girl that is phenomenal. He says he doesn't know what is going to happen, but he says he has never seen a girl at this age be this good. I don't know her name. He's trying to keep it kind of hidden. But apparently she's going to be very, very good.

Q. Is she Russian?

TAYLOR DENT: Gosh, she is not fully American. I think she's eastern European, maybe Czech or something like that.

Q. Have you actually hit with her?

TAYLOR DENT: I haven't even seen her. He just told me one day, he sounded all excited. He is like, "Oh, my God, Taylor, I've got my hands on this girl. She is just unbelievable. She does everything. She has a one-handed backhand, looks unbelievable." There's a long time to go. Hopefully she can keep her focus there and hopefully things go her way. You have to get a lot of luck, too.

Q. Today's match, was it as straightforward as it looked or did you have any sort of difficulty at any point sort of mentally? It seemed quite straightforward.

TAYLOR DENT: Uhm, you know, matches are never as straightforward as they look - not for at least me anyway. But, you know, the biggest thing is, like I said, my serve was a little hot and cold today. I'd get myself into trouble, but then surprisingly I'd serve my way out of trouble. So that was kind of the underlying theme today of what happened. If I was going to go out and work on something this afternoon, that's what it would be.

End of FastScripts….

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