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Another win :) This time 2x 7-6 over Kendrick.

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Chat with Taylor Dent

Dent has three top-10 finishes this season.

Welcome to The Show!

On Thursday, professional tennis player Taylor Dent will stop by to chat about his next tournament appearance - the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.
Dent is continuing his remarkable comeback from a back injury. He missed nearly three years on the ATP World Tour dealing with the injury. He reached the fourth round of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami after qualifying into the event. Dent, who has played Davis Cup for the United States and was a semifinalist at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, owns four titles in seven career finals and reached a career-high ranking of No. 21 in 2005.

The 27-year-old Dent will look to continue his comeback next week in Houston where he's accepted a wild card into the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship. The tournament begins Monday, April 6, at River Oaks Country Club.

Send in your questions now, then join Dent at 3 p.m. ET Thursday!

Buzzmaster: Taylor will be here at 3 p.m. ET. Send in those questions!

Buzzmaster: Taylor's here!

Libby (Kentucky): Why are there no serve and volleyers anymore on tour? Are the courts too slow and the players too quick?

Taylor Dent: There is a combination of factors. One is the court speed has slowed down. The last time I played Wimbledon, the court speed was slower. Another factor is the strings that they have on the racquets have a lot of spin. The balls are a little heavier. They go slower and it gives guys more time to get on your volley and makes it easier to hit a passing shot.

Renee (Sacramento, CA): Hi, Taylor: Glad to see you back. Did you ever think you could get back to the point where you are now?

Taylor Dent: I didn't look at it that way. There was a time that I would get exhausted out on the court after hitting for two minutes. If you asked me then, I would have said there was no way. I re-thought the process. I didn't even think about it after a while. I took each step one at a time. I have some more steps to go to hopefully compete with Federer and Nadal better and hopefully get some wins on them in the future.

Michael (Indianapiolis, IN): Heard today on the local news that you will be playing Indianapolis this year. For the first time since 2005. My question is injuries are a part of sport but it seems like you have had more than you fair share. How frustrating is it knowing that when you are healthy and if you could stay healthy that you would probably be a consistent Top 30 player?

Taylor Dent: Yeah, injuries are an absolute part of the sport you play. Some tend to get injured more than others. I have in the past had some injuries. But I'm going about my career in a different way now. Hopefully my professionalism now will limit the injuries I get. I feel like if I can stay healthy and stay focused on the process, I will be at least a top 30 player consistently. I'm aiming higher. But you have to cover all your bases, that's being in the weight room, staying on top of the aches. I've learned my lessons and I'm smarter for it now.

Evan (Portland, OR): Hi Taylor, nice to see you on the tour again! I was wondering what your expectations are for this upcoming clay court tournament. Are you just looking to get match experience or do you think your serve and volley game could take you deep into the draw?

Taylor Dent: I've altered my serve and volley game a little. Before I served and volleyed on both first and second serves. On clay that was a death wish. Now I'm staying back more on my second serve. I always go to tournaments to win the matches set in front of me. There is some realism in there as well. I haven't won an ATP match on clay yet. I'd be thrilled if I could win in Houston.

Ashok (Berkeley, CA): Hi Taylor, I remember first seeing you play at the 2001 Wimbledon. I was 11 years old at the time, and thought your match against Lleyton Hewitt was incredible. I can't tell you enough how much I respect you for coming back to pro tennis after your injury. Best of luck for the rest of the season! I'll be rooting for you!

Oli (Katy, Texas): I know you're coming to Texas to play on clay, but what's your favorite surface? I would guess grass. And with that said, how much has Wimbledon's court speed changed since you first played there?

Taylor Dent: Exactly, we hit on this a little bit earlier. When I first started playing, without a doubt my favorite would be grass. But they've slowed down the surface at Wimbledon. I like the fastest courts. Right now, the fastest courts are at the US Open.

Dan (Richmond, VA): Hi Mr. Dent: Who is going to win tonight between Venus and Serena?

Taylor Dent: The match between Venus and's so tough to call. They're both unbelieveable players. I'd have to lean toward Serena a little bit. She's playing well right now. She's had a better career the last couple of years more so than Venus. I might be able to watch some tennis tonight. I might be out at dinner with some friends, I like to see them when I'm in town. But if I'm at home, I will be watching, without a doubt.

Sara, Germany: Hi Taylor. Do you have sympathy for Maria Sharapova, who can't seem to get over her shoulder injury? Will she ever be the same?

Taylor Dent: I definitely have sympathy for Maria. Especially since she's at the academy where I'm working. I see her there and see how hard she's working. It's hard to see injuries halt a player's career. But if there's a player that can overcome it, it's Maria, she works as hard as anybody.

Misty (Boston): Taylor, what would you say to those who have undergone extreme surgeries and seemingly can't return to their vintage form?

Taylor Dent: I'd say, just speaking from my personal experience, draw out a map. A road map. Set your goals and then work your way backward. Focus on the next step you have to accomplish. If the goal is realistic, then you should be able to work your way to those goals. Theorietically, you should be able to get there. Right now, I'm on about step 6 or 7 out of 10.

Rajesh (Atlanta, Ga): If you had a dream doubles match, who would the three other players be?

Taylor Dent: I'm getting into politics right now. I'd get some boos, but Bill O'Reilly. I like to get both sides of the story, so I'd get Michael Moore on the other side. Let's get a pro in there, so my good buddy, Tommy Haas. That would be a very fun and interesting doubles match.

Greg (Coral Gables) [via mobile]: Taylor, do you think that the top four men (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray) have seperated themselves from everyone else?

Taylor Dent: I think so. I think there will be one more name in there. I think Roddick, just the way he's playing. I think he's int he best shape I've ever seen him in. I think you'll see a separation with them. They seem to be putting up very consistent results.

Bung (Tucson, Arizona: Taylor, Why do so many people give you a hard time about your fitness, when you have 4 titles in your pocket already?

Taylor Dent: I think as far as fitness goes, everybody sees, especially before my surgery, how Hewitt and others play at the baseline and then how I play. That was in stark contrast to my game, with the chip and charge. I can say with certainty now with the change in style in my game, has put more emphasis on fitness than before. The goal is to become as fit as Roddick, Federer, Murray.

James (Louisville): Did you ever want to give up during this very difficult time?

Taylor Dent: I didn't want to give up, but at times I thought there was no point. When I first started, I didn't set up a plan. I thought this was impossible. There's no way this could happen. THat was for the first month that I was hitting and didn't see any progress. Then I took a more business plan to it and took the steps.

Amy (MA): Taylor, you're an incredibly handsome man. Have you thought about modeling if tennis doesn't work out?

Taylor Dent: Well, Amy, that's very flattering. I don't think I have the looks for that. I'll leave that to my body Jan Michael.

Dan (Charlotte): I've seen mentions of your training/rehab at IMG Academies... what's the facility like?

Taylor Dent: As far as I'm concerned, I think the IMG facilities, for a tennis player, are the best in the United States. There's really no better place. That just speaks for itself. I could go into a whole list of amenities, but there's no better place to be for a tennis player. That's the whole reason that my wife and I moved down to Bradenton.

Taylor Dent: Thanks very much. It's a privilege to speak to you again. I can't wait to see you all at the tournaments. I hope you cheer loud for me!

Source: http://*****

Can't be bothered anymore
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At 28, A New Beginning For Taylor

by Alison Kim


Taylor Dent (centre) with Agnes Szavay, Anna Chakvetadze, Caroline Wozniacki, Andreas Seppi and Marin Cilic at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

After being told his career was over, Taylor Dent is making every day count as he continues a remarkable comeback.

The performance room at the IMG Academy seats about 120 athletes, and on this particular Tuesday evening, it is filled to capacity. The match on the big screen – though it featured Roger Federer – is to most observers a routine third-round contest at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. But the fact that American Taylor Dent is standing across the net from the Swiss maestro gives the match great significance.

"The room was slammed with all the up-and-coming kids cheering for him at the academy, male and female," said Trevor Moawad, the IMG Performance Institute Director. "Everyone was just so excited to watch Taylor play. Genuine happiness for him."

Though Dent would end up losing in straight sets to Federer, his third-round showing at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament was a victory in its own right, setting into motion a remarkable comeback season that saw the 28 year old surge more than 800 positions to No. 76 in the year-end South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings.

A return to the tennis court, let alone the Top 100, seemed unlikely for the former World No. 21 after a fractured vertebra and two resulting surgeries left him bed-ridden in a full body cast for nearly a year. Doctors had warned him to not undergo spinal fusion surgery, explaining it would essentially end his professional tennis career, but Dent was left with no other choice. "I had that surgery just for quality of life," said Dent, who fatigued easily from even menial housework.

He had accepted that his career was over but then received surprising news from the doctors in 2008. After seeing how well he had healed following his second surgery, they suggested Dent get back on the court and try playing again.

"How many people get second chances to pursue something they love, and something they're relatively good at? I jumped on," said Dent. "That was kind of the best day and the toughest day for me because I got back out on the court, and I saw how far I had come – backwards – with my year in bed, and the years away from tennis."

Graeme Lauriston, a therapist at IMG, said, "When I first saw him I was sceptical on how far we were actually going to get him, or how high a level we were going to get him on the court, but we kind of took it one day at a time and little step by little step."

They worked on manual therapy – hands-on soft tissue work, stretching and mobilisation – and on functional rehab, going through certain exercises that would wear out Dent. During the first month, Dent could handle no more than 10 minutes on the court. He endured frustrating spells when he felt he was making improvement, only to be set back by pain in his knees and arms, in addition to other niggling injuries caused by his long injury layoff. "Everything would need to be retrained and re-hardened to tolerate the abuse again," said Dent.

But armed with his characteristic optimism and determination, Dent began making steady progress, with time regaining the strength in his muscles and his endurance. When he graduated to practice matches on consecutive days, it proved a milestone. "I think that's when Taylor realised that his body could actually handle this," said Lauriston.

Dent tested his form in a handful of tournaments in 2008 before making his full comeback the following season. He got the year off on the right foot, winning his first tour-level match since 2006 at the circuit opener in Brisbane. But the two performances signaling his return came on home soil, at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami and the US Open. He strung together five straight wins in Miami – qualifying into the main draw, and then upsetting Top 20 players Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo before falling to Federer. Six months later, that effort would be eclipsed by his pulsating second-round match against Spaniard Ivan Navarro at Flushing Meadows.

For Dent, his performance at the US Open proved the highlight of the year. "It was almost a five-hour match, and I'd been working really hard on my fitness and it showed. I was hopping around to the bitter end on the court. I think it also highlighted my new-found mental toughness out on the court. I had chances to win that match in straight sets... But down two sets to one, and I was able to hang in there. That match brought about a lot of positives. It was something for me to build on for the rest of the year when I did well in the Challengers, and for next year in 2010."

The following week, the inspired Dent won the Challenger title in Tulsa without the loss of a set. He used further successes on the Challenger circuit to continue his rankings climb in the final month of the season, re-entering the Top 100 after winning in Knoxville and following that up with a runner-up effort in Champaign.

Reflecting on his season, Dent said: "It was filled with some ups and downs, but overall looking back at it, it was phenomenal. I'm out here competing with the best players in the world, and I still feel like I've barely tapped into my potential. I feel like it's just the beginning for me and I'm as motivated as I ever have been and I'm working as hard as I ever have… I think my consistency isn't quite there yet, but on my better days now I'm a much more well-rounded player than I was when I was [ranked] 21 in the world.”

Dent is intent on ranking inside the Top 50 as soon as possible to guarantee himself a spot in the main draws of ATP World Tour events, and has set goals within his own game to help him achieve that end, including improving the accuracy of his serve and his attacking forehand shots.

But above all, he has prioritised what he calls his "perspective and mental goals" for 2010. "My biggest goal is to keep looking at my game as a work in progress and make sure that the weakest parts of my game are improving, and I keep the strength up there," he said. "I feel like in the past, I've gotten in trouble with not improving because I've gotten too emotional with my game and made a couple excuses of why it didn't work that day. I really want to avoid that and stay as fact based as possible in this next year."

One factor sure to play in Dent's favour in 2010 is the belief in himself. While others may not have predicted his rapid ascent in the course of a season, Dent asserted, "I didn't think it was out of the realm of possibility at all. I knew exactly what needed to be done, and I was very disciplined in my training and my eating. It's always vindicating to see your plan pan out."

With the same fire that took him from a bed-ridden state a mere two years ago back to the Top 100 on the ATP World Tour, Dent's opponents can expect the 28-year-old American to be a dangerous force in the years to come.

"There's nobody he's competing against or very few people that have been to the places he's had to go through personally to come back from this injury," said Moawad. "I think that that's something that's going to bode well for him... What he's gone through and the structure he has in place right now, in my mind, makes him very tough to beat."


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Biofile with Taylor Dent

Published by Scoop Malinowski on January 13, 2010

Status: Currently ranked #81 in ATP rankings. Has won four ATP singles titles. Won 2006 Hopman Cup in Perth Australia for America with partner Lisa Raymond.

Ht: 6-1 1/2 Wt: 200

DOB: Aprill 24, 1981 In: Newport Beach, CA

First Tennis Memory: “In tears after losing my first set in the final of a tournament. I was ten. (Against who?) Curtis Elmore. I won the first set 6-2, lost the second set 6-3 and, that age, you get a ten-minute break in between sets and I was in tears. It was the final set. I lost.”

Tennis Inspiration: “Actually what started me was probably Chang. When my dad was coaching Chang, Michael Chang.”

Last Book Read: “Last book I read was The Secret Of The Slight Edge by Bob Mowatt.”

Current Car: “Is a Scion XB (white). I almost killed myself in a Porsche Turbo and I realized that cars and speed and me don’t mix. So I go for the most efficient, cheapest car I can find.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “It’s tough to beat winning titles. I’d say winning Newport (2002) holds the biggest place in my heart because it’s my first.”

Most Painful Moment: “Any time you lose is painful. But there’s one I played Andy Roddick in the second round of the Australian Open. And I just couldn’t hit a ball in the court. I’d played on big stages many, many times. I wasn’t nervous or tight. It was just one of those days. Unfortunately, I have those days where I couldn’t serve in the court, couldn’t hit a ball in the court. And he beat me like 2-0-1 or something like that. That was painful.”

Which Match Do You Feel You Were At Your Best: “Probably Andy Roddick. Beat him 1 and 4 in the final of Memphis. I returned unbelievable.”

Closest Tennis Friends: “You know, I’m pretty solitary but I hand with whoever’s around. I’m pretty easy to get along with. Dave Martin is a doubles player, we’re pretty good buddies. Alex Bogomolov. Any of the American guys really.”

Funniest Players Encountered: “Fish is kind of funny, he’s more annoying than funny [smiles]. James (Blake) is pretty funny. Everybody’s got to have a sense of humor out here. So everybody can have a laugh.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “I was playing a doubles match against Ginepri and Merklein and my partner was Alex Bogomolov. We were playing I-formation. Alex just hit a bunny of a serve in. And I popped up and Ginepri just tried to take my head off. Just kind of smiling as he’s doing it. I had some gas that day, so I reflexed the volley. And I grunted and as I grunted, a big fart came out. The point continued and everybody on the court’s laughing. Everybody in the stands is laughing. And after we lost the point – What are you guy’s laughing at? But it was obvious. (Where was it?) That was the Houston tournament when it was Mattress Mac’s place.”

Toughest Competitors: “I mean, the list goes on. Andy Roddick won’t give you anything. Lleyton Hewitt doesn’t give you anything. I think the times I played with Nalbandian it’s been rough. Agassi obviously. You can’t not be a competitor and be good.”

Favorite Players To Watch: “Can’t help but to love to watch Federer. I actually really enjoy watching Nalbandian play. (Why him?) Nalbandian just seems like he just doesn’t miss much, can move the ball around the court where ever he wants to. When he’s playing well he just makes the other players run so much. So it’s pretty fun to watch. Davydenko can be fun sometimes too.”

Favorite Tournament: “Outside of the grand slams, because they’re obviously the big deals, it’s a very unique atmosphere in Newport. The fans get to be very close to the players, so this is fun. I’m an American guy so I love the American swing, every single one of them is nice to play at. ”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Integrity. A pet peeve of mine is when people are inconsiderate and thoughtless.”

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