Chat with Taylor Dent
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 (2:39 PM)
Taylor will be here at 3 p.m. ET. Send in those questions!
Buzzmaster (2:57 PM)
Why are there no serve and volleyers anymore on tour? Are the courts too slow and the players too quick?
Taylor Dent (2:59 PM)
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 (3:00 PM)
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 (3:02 PM)
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 (3:03 PM)
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 (3:04 PM)
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 (3:06 PM)
The match between Venus and Serena....it'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.
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 (3:07 PM)
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.
Taylor, what would you say to those who have undergone extreme surgeries and seemingly can't return to their vintage form?
Taylor Dent (3:08 PM)
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 (3:09 PM)
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 (3:10 PM)
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 (3:12 PM)
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.
Did you ever want to give up during this very difficult time?
Taylor Dent (3:13 PM)
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.
Taylor, you're an incredibly handsome man. Have you thought about modeling if tennis doesn't work out?
Taylor Dent (3:14 PM)
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.
I've seen mentions of your training/rehab at IMG Academies... what's the facility like?
Taylor Dent (3:15 PM)
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 (3:16 PM)
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!