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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

ATP Tour

NEWSWEEK CHAMPIONS CUP'96

Indian Wells, CA

March 13, 1996

A. AGASSI/S. Schalken

6-1, 4-6, 6-3

AN INTERVIEW WITH

 

ANDRE AGASSI

Q. Andre, did you have a little trouble closing that match out?

ANDRE AGASSI: It didn't feel too bad, to be quite honest. I think that the long day kind of attributed to a little inconsistency on my part, certainly, and, you know, giving my opponent a chance to kind of regroup and not feel so overwhelmed, I think I came out firing and had taken control of the points and it is difficult once you get on top -- once somebody gets on top of you to come back from that, but the long rain delay helps you to, at least, go out there with a more positive attitude -- take more chances and hope for the best and, you know, it was a slow start not getting the chance to hit any balls before; four hours later we are out there playing. I'd lost early services break; then he held for the rest of the set. I managed to get up in the third and, you know, you get up, and I think he took some chances made some shots, and, you know, he played a couple of good games to break back, you know, but I was always up enough to close him out.

Q. Can you tell us something about your Mountain Dew commercial?

ANDRE AGASSI: What about it?

Q. Well --

ANDRE AGASSI: Mountain Dew tastes good.

Q. How much did you do? Did you actually go jump out of the helicopter?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I did. Why are you laughing at me?

Q. Did you really do it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sure. I do my own stunts. I take that stuff very seriously, more seriously than you are taking it right now. All right? Yeah, that was the easy part. The plane thing got me a little unsettled, but the bungy wasn't much of a problem after the first dozen times and, you know, just it is hard work. It is not easy.

Q. Andre, your racket grip, is there some kind of new racket grip you are using? Is there some other concoction you are using for your grip these days?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I am using under sweaty conditions a product called "fusion." It would be similar, but way different than a saw dust, in the sense that maybe every game changeover, if not a couple of game changeovers, it tends to last a long time versus every point, so -- but no, it is the same.

Q. What did you do during the rain delay?

ANDRE AGASSI: What did I do?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: Just relaxed, really; got my mind a little bit away from it, and had a bite to eat and just basically stayed off your feet and try to not get too far from the match, but not think too much about it.

Q. Andre, you have been outspoken in your feelings that you don't think that Muster is deserving of the No. 1?

ANDRE AGASSI: I never said that one time.

Q. Okay. What are your feelings about him being ranked No. 1?

ANDRE AGASSI: Like I have always said, he has worked hard to get and he deserves to be there. Based on the ranking system, it is an incredible accomplishment - what he has managed to do. All I have stated about it was that long before Muster was No. 1, I have complained about the ranking system. I think it is ridiculous that you can step on the court and have it potentially not count because just because you can go play another event. If you play 25 events your best 14 is not doing -- it is like somebody who claims to be a 10 handicap in golf, I mean, they take 10 of your best 20 scores; you go out play them for 100 bucks; they are not shooting 10 over par, they are shooting closer to 20 over par. So that is why I don't think it counts. Every time you play, it should count. And I have always bitched about the ranking system, and Muster hasn't change that one bit. I feel like what he has managed to do is worthy of a tremendous amount of respect.

Q. Any prospect ever of changing this system, do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: I am getting kind of cynical on changes between the ATP and USTA. Any changes I don't really -- I don't really truly believe it can happen. I mean, there is a lot of legitimate concerns. I mean, it is not like golf where your can just race to the end and start off fresh every year. Because you have to have seeds; you have to play each other, you know. I just think that every time you play, it should count and I think that there should be a certain amount of designations for each surface that everybody has to play. But it is easy to call out what the problems are. It is not so easy to fix it.

Q. Every player I have ever heard has said exactly what you have just said. Why don't you change it? If players think it is wrong, Andre, why isn't it changed?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, not all players do think it is wrong. I mean, I think that, you know, it is like the presidential elections. You are going to say what most voters are going to vote for. There is a lot of guys out there who appreciate the fact that the ranking system is going to help there cause. You know, I mean, if you got 100 guys in the top 100 and you only got 15 guys in the top or maximum who are playing, you know, let us make it count every time, not everybody thinks that way. A lot of guys are playing 25, 30 events a year and if you count every time they play, you know, just playing that much on its own is going to mean a lot of bad results and it is going to mean a worse ranking and it is going to mean less money.

Q. The next Major, of course, at the French you are going to go up against guys who have spent -- are going to spend a large amount of time on clay; whereas you are going to go through the hard court season, et cetera. The ranking system feeds into that a little bit. How do you think you could stop the juggernaut that Thomas and Sergi dominating that French Open, do you think that you are at a little bit of an advantage if you are playing all the Grand Slams and all the events leading up to it as opposed to the guys that are just playing on clay all year?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the bottom line is that me as an American, as most Americans, we are not raised on clay and no matter how much we play on it, it is not second nature to us. It is not, you know, we don't do things naturally. And when I say that, I am speaking specifically about the movement. The movement is key. It is everything on clay. I mean, you can hit a shot on clay and be close to the doubles alley and when you finish your swing, be outside the doubles alley. That is -- you got to learn how to play and you got to learn how to move and without movement, doesn't matter how well you hit the ball. So it is never going to be a situation where I feel like it is equal terms. I mean, a guy like Muster or Sergi has a definite advantage just based on the years of playing on it and just like I think, you know, the Americans would have on hard courts over the Europeans. It -- but that is a great thing about our game. You get to play on all surfaces and at the end of the year, assuming you play on all surfaces, you get to size up how you rate overall; that is what I think it is about.

Q. Do you think there has been any change since two years you were dominant at the French Open and got to the finals the last few years where it has been a lot more of a struggle or you -- have the players changed; have the opponents gotten tougher?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I hit the ball strong off the ground and I think back then, the guys weren't quite as big; quite as strong and I can dictate play pretty much at will back then, even on clay. And if I am dictating play, I don't have to move real well. The problem is now, is if I am playing well, I am only dictating play 70% of the time and so, you know, guys are bigger and stronger and they are making you -- they have elevated the game to the level where you got to play good defense as well as good offense and that is something that has made winning at Roland Garros a lot tougher for the Americans.

Q. Being that the case and like the Americans dominate hard courts, Europeans at French, any idea why British can't win on grass? .

ANDRE AGASSI: Without getting too political about it, I will say that one of the difficulties about being from England growing up in the game it is not really -- you don't get the court time that you might get, say, growing up in Southern California. In Southern California, every park has tennis courts. All you need to do is have your equipment and somebody else to play with. Over there, it is raining three-quarters of the time and indoor courts are very hard to come by and I think just think that the players don't get the same quality of the opportunities that we may get in other parts of the world. I guess it will be similar to living in Seattle with only one indoor center. It is not an easy obstacle to overcome. You have got to get out there and you got to get on the court. I don't care where you are from - if you don't get out on the tennis court and play, you are going to fall behind.

Q. Andre, you would be glad to know that the England Lawn and Tennis Association is looking for a knew chief executive officer and with that answer, I think you might qualify. More seriously, when you had lost a couple of weeks ago, people were beginning to say is he is going to be able to maintain the intensity that you had last year. When you have had a great year; when you have had reached the very top, No. 1, is it tough to repeat; to continue at that very high level?

ANDRE AGASSI: There is no question, you know, it is tougher to stay there than it is to get there. By the same token, I will say, though, that I made a commitment to myself after last summer, 26 and 0 going into the U.S. Open final and I would have given up all 26 of those matches to have my legs for the finals of that one match, and I won every tournament over the summer and got to the finals of every hard court tournament and my conclusion is, it doesn't mean anything if you don't win the Grand Slams. So to be quite honest, I won't do that to myself again, make it so important for me to beat everybody every time. I am a going to work on my game at times. I am going to use matches to improve certain things and not to -- not just to win, because I think there is a huge cost not having an off-season. I think it is way too much tennis. It is just way too hard to win a lot of tournaments and expect to be prepared and I got news for you, this year is going to be a lot rougher with the Olympics. French Open, two weeks off; Wimbledon, two weeks off; Olympics, two more weeks and then the U.S. Open. It is hard to really think much about Memphis when you got something like that ahead of you.

Q. Follow-up to that - Muster going to the top over you - 85% of his points were on clay and 85% of your points were on hard court. Don't you think it is a little unfair to the fact that you played, well, perhaps better than anyone else on the circuit at all four Grand Slams and participated at all four surfaces --

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, my -- I don't have an issue with Thomas Muster. I just think that everybody should play every surface. I don't care if you get your ass kicked and you get to No. 1 in the world on one surface, you got to play. I went a year from the U.S. Open to the U.S. Open losing three times in the quarterfinals; never doing any worse than that. And two of those were on clay. Clay is not a strong surface for me. Certainly not my strongest. But I am going to play. I don't think it is right that Thomas didn't play Wimbledon. I think there is -- everybody needs to play all the surfaces. That is all I ever said about it. I didn't say it is unfair that he can kick most peoples' butts on clay. I think it is incredible effort to be able to do what he did on clay. I just think that the Tour should have certain regulations that players should play on all surfaces. This isn't based on Thomas Muster. This is based on what I have always said for the past, you know, six years, five and a half years since the ATP started.

Q. Andre, if there had been a rule in place a few years ago when you were skipping Wimbledon, how would you have felt about the rule then?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would have bitched about it. I would have, you know, -- I know what it is like to skip tournaments and I did it. I did it when I was young and I look back with a lot of regret over it, real simple. I don't think I should have been able to get away with it without stiffer penalties.

Q. Andre, last year there was all the talk about the rivalry between yourself and Pete. With Muster now in the equation, does that change your thinking at all about the extra challenge there? Is it a three-way rivalry or is Pete still your priority as far as rival goes?

ANDRE AGASSI: As far as finishing the year No. 1 in the world, Thomas is unquestionably somebody to be dealt with and reckoned with because he is ranked No. 1 today. But when you ask me who I feel is going to interfere with me winning three of the four Grand Slams, it is going to be Pete; not Thomas.

Q. What do you have to do to beat Muster on clay?

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't see anybody really pull it off. I think you have to definitely serve big and hit big off both sides and not make too many errors and hit a lot of winners and get in on his backhand, you know, get to net. He is -- I think Thomas is more capable of losing to a Rafter or an Eltingh on clay than he is to a Chang, you know, just because of the styles of play. But he has beaten everybody on clay and, you know, it is going to be a tough act to repeat, but I am sure he is up for the challenge and it is going to be an interesting year all the way around.

Q. With the Olympics every four years, can you lump those in with the Olympics in with Wimbledon, the French, or U.S. Open coming up?

ANDRE AGASSI: I can honestly say that in my particular situation seeing that the French Open is the only Grand Slam I haven't won that that would probably take the lead in importance to me. If I could have one title, it would be that, just based on the fact that in my sport it is the ultimate accomplishment to win all the Grand Slams. But the Olympics is right there, I think, ahead of all of other ones for me.

Q. Quickly, Andre, your thoughts on how this tournament is working with the men and women together; what do you think of the combination?

ANDRE AGASSI: I really haven't even noticed the difference. I think it is nice. I mean, I mean, obviously the weather is presenting a lot of problems, extra matches might ends up creating a little stress, but it is nice. I am sure it is nice for the public, a little change of pace.

Q. Davis Cup, will you be available after this next Tie?

ANDRE AGASSI: Based on convenience only, really, I mean, it is going to be a long year, and it is not a top priority this year.
 
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