Is Vince Spadea the Tenth Best Player of All Time?

Name Vince’s doubles’ partner in this photo?

Look at this stat, Spadea is tied for tenth place all time, with Stefan Edberg, Lleyton Hewitt and the king, Roger Federer, for most Grand Slam Appearances with 54.

Think of that, Spadea appeared in 54 Grand Slam main draws! That’s the equivalent of appearing in 13 1/2 years of slams without missing a slam or a year. That means Spadea was top-100 for 14 years, even when he missed an entire year of slams mostly in 2001 when he had his epic losing streak. Spadea’s appeared in more slams than John McEnroe (45), Pete Sampras (52) and Guillermo Vilas (49). He also was one of only 75 players to win more than 300 matches.

You take Gambill, Washington and Gimelstob, who were also good American players, and they all appeared in only 31 slams each. What was behind Spadea’s miraculous Grand Slam Appearance record? “I just liked to battle,” he said.


  • bjk · November 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    “There have been days in my prime when I could have beaten Vince Spadea with a spatula.” Andre Agassi

  • Dan Markowitz · November 24, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Yeah, the problem with that bjk is that Agassi’s blowing smoke up his own ass saying that. Geez, he lost to Spadea twice, in 1998 and 1999 at Cincy and Australian O. You think Agassi wasn’t in his prime then? He was 28 years old, come on! He didn’t like Spadea for whatever reason and he told a lie. Agassi’s been known to do that from time to time. Go read “Open,” a lot of lies in there. Here’s the score line from the Aussie O match, W 6-1, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3. Come on, Spadea dogged him. I asked Spadea about that match once and he said, he took Agassi’s middling serve and cracked running returns and came up to the net and just put away Agassi’s passing shots.

    The fact of the matter is that Spadea played well up until 35. And the only other American player to do that in recent times has been Agassi, himself. It’s not easy to do that. In 2008, when Spadea was turning 34, he played in each slam, and lost in the third round of Aussie O to Ferrer, and then lost in the first round to Benneteau, Tojo and Safin in the first rounds of the other slams, but all in 5 sets!

    Spadea says in order to play tennis well, you have to do simple things over and over again really well. Spadea practiced with Djokovic before the semis and finals at the US Open this year and I asked him, Did you feel overwhelmed? I mean you’re teaching 3.0 players in the Hamptons all summer and then Novak wants you to be his hitting partner. And Spadea said, Hell no. He’s a better athlete than me. Physically, he’s gifted. But he doesn’t hit a better ball than me.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Vince playing doubles with Massu! Vince had a memorable and unique career, I think his legacy will be overcoming that terrible losing streak to regain his status as a world class player and that final push he made in Australia at the end winning those five setters.

  • Harold · November 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Spielberg just called..After Lincoln, his next project is the Vince Spadea story…

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Film rights for Break Point still available though to Variety. Adam Sandler in line for the role of Spadea. Woody Harrelson in line for role or Markowitz.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 24, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Spadea–The Movie! It has a nice ring to it. Maybe if Sandler doesn’t take the role, Jon Lovitz will.

    Actually, been talking to Spadea about writing a book called, The Comeback. It would chronicle how he came back from No. 227 to No. 19 at 28-29 and his new comeback. With no ranking points, he’s trying to get wild cards into Mobile, Ala. and another southern Challenger, and then if he plays well, he’s going to try to get a wild card entry into the Delray Bch qualies and mow down all the competition, beating Del Po in the finals.

    Well, maybe not the last bit, but if he gets into the Challengers, I’m going down to Alabama to chronicle this mini-comeback at 38. Spadea thinks if he can get in shape, he’s a better player now than when he was 25 and No. 18.

    And, nice call, Scoop. That is Massu Vince partnered with in the 2007 US Open. I was at that match and I remember sitting next to Massu’s parents and girlfriend and how neither Vince or Massu played very well, but Massu played worse.

  • Steve · November 24, 2012 at 11:09 am

    There’s worse jobs than teaching tennis to wealthy 3.0s but a comeback would be interesting. can sponsor his entry fees and travel costs.

    Gotta be nice to hit with Djoker. You’d think he would just get some Div. 1 college guys to hit with.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Come on, he has Dusan Vemic to hit with, but there’s a big difference as Vince says between a D 1 college player or a guy who was maybe 200 in the world and Spadea. As Vince points out, I’m a machine. You want the ball two feet inside baseline for a hundred shots in a row, I’m your man.

    I played college tennis, D 3, but I didn’t see too many No. 1 singles guys who can even come close to that kind of production. And I’ve seen Djoko practice up close in Toronto, he was making faces and even showed Vemic how he was hitting the ball wrong when Vemic made mistakes. This guy wants perfection or close to it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Djokovic is a smart man and knows how vaulable a hitting partner Spadea is. Just another reflection of the intelligene and good judgement of the #1 player on the planet two years running, and most likely several more.

  • Steve · November 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    There are D1 players who are machines. So many players, injured in high school had to settle for D1 and never get to go pro.

    Maybe Spadea will face a Bradley Klahn-level player in his comeback.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    There’s a big difference between a Div I player and a top 50 player. Even after Vince retired, he played the No. 1 player at Harvard and beat him pretty soundly.

    Klahn is a nice player, Steve. He had at least one win at the Open this year that was impressive. But the guy is lucky if he has a Jesse Levine career. Klahn is 22 and is ranked No. 250. In comparison, Spadea at the end of the 1996 season, when he was exactly the same age as Klahn, one month older, was ranked No. 54. Enough said. It may be a different generation, but generally if you’re not Top 100 by 22, you’re not having much of a career.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Brian Baker. Younes El Aynoaui. Alex Bogomolov. Anything is possible.

  • Dan markowitz · November 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Throw in Stepanek and you have maybe a dozen guys in last 20 years who have built a decent career after starting off slow. And look at Bogey, he had one breakthrough year and then what he reverted back to lackluster form last year.

    Odesnik asked Vince to coach him, but he didn’t want to do it for a few reasons.

  • Steve · November 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Well, when you go to college you’re on a dif. career path.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    What career path is that, Steve? I was shocked to hear/read recently that 50% of college graduates in 2011 were unemployed? Pretty harsh statistics. I think what Vince said in BP about the oddity of becoming a pro tennis player, or trying to, was very apt.

    It’s a highly unusual profession to become good enough at tennis so that people will pay to watch you play. It’s not like the pro tour recruits players to play on their circuit. You invest a huge amount of time and energy to become a pro player.

    Vince also says that almost every pro player you’ve seen play, didn’t make a lot of money playing pro tennis. He says he made $7 million in prize money and maybe half as much in endorsements over his career, but if you counter in how much he spent, he didn’t really make a lot of money at all.

    Now some would say he has a trade where he can still get paid handsomely ($200 an hour for a lesson, Gilad Bloom, Vince told me, told him he makes $350 an hour for a lesson and he has 30 students per week), and that may be true. But I think becoming a teaching pro after a pro career is the equivalent, in many of these players’s eyes, of a world-renowned economist going back to teach high school math.

  • Steve · November 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    No, I wasn’t referring to the job prospects of your average graduate. The horrible dowward trend of the US economy is very old news.

    I was referring to tennis pro hopefuls coming from Div. 1 programs. The start of their pro tennis career is delayed so you’re theories don’t apply to them.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    My Biofile with Hector Camacho, if anyone’s interested…

    Macho was a great boxer, very smooth, athletic and lefty, he had athleticism that would have transferred to the tennis court. RIP Champ.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Hey Dan, maybe we should do a Vince Spadea will answer readers questions feature. Readers send in questions for Vince and then have him answer? Could be interesting. I bet we’d get a lot of questions.



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