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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1996 THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
Key Biscayne, FL

 

March 29, 1996

 

A. AGASSI \ A. Boetsch

6-4, 6-3

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH

 

ANDRE AGASSI

 

JOE LYNCH: The first person ever to reach four Lipton finals, Andre Agassi. 1:30 on Sunday, opponent to be determined later this evening. First question for Andre.

 

Q. Just how hot was it out there, Andre? It didn't look too comfortable.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it certainly wasn't. It reminded me a lot of last summer, you know, back in Cincinnati, semi-finals in Cincinnati was brutal as well as Washington or the finals against Pete in Montreal, some are between 125 and 130 on court, it felt that way. My shoes started to melt a little bit.

 

Q. Do you do anything for your feet on a day like this?

ANDRE AGASSI: There is not much you can do, you know, you really can't prepare your feet for that kind of intensity because you can't duplicate a day like today very often. It is hard enough to beat yourself up in practice during an event when there is a hot day and it is harder to duplicate that kind of intensity, too, so there is really nothing you can do except hopefully not take your body over the limit.

 

Q. No insoles, or anything, lubricants?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. At the risk of sounding like a commercial here, Nike does a pretty good job with their shoes.

 

Q. Oh, are those Nikes? (Laughter) How do you spell Nike? I thought those were Mountain Dews. When you put that ice towel over your head in changeover, how did that feel?

ANDRE AGASSI: I can't think of many better feelings, to be quite honest.

 

Q. Oh, come on.

ANDRE AGASSI: Not a guy like me, I haven't been around too much. When you, you know, you lose a lot of your body temperature in cold weather through your head, obviously the top of your head is where a lot of your heat needs to escape from, so it is nice in the changeovers to cool yourself, help your body fight the cause, which is maintain your body temperature out there. It is not that easy.

 

Q. That might not have been as effective a few years ago when you were hairier?

ANDRE AGASSI: Certainly not as stimulating. When I touch that towel to my head now, there is a direct response.

 

Q. Assuming you play Sampras in the final, what does your rivalry with him mean to you and how would you compare it rivalries in the past, McEnroe and Borg, Laver and Rosewall?

ANDRE AGASSI: Quite honestly, it's not that easy for me to be that objective about it. I still think those guys are better than me, that is quite honestly the way you -- you grow up watching them, then all of a sudden, you find yourself not only in the top of the sport but having a rivalry that is very understood by the public and that's quite an addition to your career, that no one can ever expect, no matter how great of a player you are. So it's just exciting, you know, it's just -- we get out there on Sunday and the blimp is flying around, Pete is on the other side of the net. It is quite a rush, no question.

 

Q. Andre, on a day like today when you finish up here like you did, do you say to yourself like Pete playing tonight, "All right, Pete, I played my part, I'm into Sunday, get it done and let's do it one more time? "

ANDRE AGASSI: You only hope, you know, I've let Pete down in London, you know, he was there, he was there waiting for me and I had a clear opportunity to get there and -- so it's possible to not quite have that ideal of a situation on Sunday, but he has some tough tennis ahead of him tonight certainly, I think all Pete is thinking about is Goran, that's all he should be thinking about. I think he is probably pretty tired of the talk about us because us doesn't matter if we are not beating everybody else, so one at a time, you know.

 

Q. What will it mean, as far as you're concerned, if Goran is there instead, he's obviously playing well, have you seen him playing the way he is playing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Certainly not, I think he is playing incredibly well. There is no question I would enjoy playing Pete just based on what it represents to me as a professional athlete. I give Pete the most respect on the court, but I think Goran has proved himself to be a tremendous player and a contender for these tournaments this year. I wouldn't mind being on the other end of some of those fire balls and getting a load of it firsthand.

 

Q. Are you impressed with the way he seems to have installed more discipline in his game from the backcourt as well?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it seems that way. I think he is starting to really realize that when you have a weapon like he has, there is no reason to create a disadvantage for yourself in other areas of your game. He is putting a lot of things together. How far he can take it, you know, time will tell, but we will have to, you know, see how he responds to the evening match tonight. Any time you can serve 35 aces in a match, it doesn't matter really how bad you play if you are serving 35 aces in a match, so if his serve is on, I think he has a hell of a chance tonight. And if it's not on, he doesn't have any chance.

 

Q. You had some stretches today, like at the end of the first set into the second set where you were hitting so well it was almost like the best Agassi we saw last year, and then suddenly you go into a streak of bad points in a row a couple of times. Were you also a little disappointed you thought you finally had it all put together, then you go through these minor bad patches?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you never think you have it put together. I mean, even at my strongest run last year throughout the summer, I mean, I'm up a set and I'd break the guy first game of the second set and I am not switching sides thinking the game is in the bag. I am saying, I need to prove to beat this guy in the next game, next game, next match, it's literally a point at a time, that is when you hit that zone where you are, you know, close to unbeatable at times. Today I got up -- the match could have been a lot easier on myself, I got up 6-4, break 1-0, 40-Love serving. I had the wind on my back, that was a side I don't think I lost my serve once the whole match. It is, all of a sudden, you know, I missed a couple of shots, took for granted a couple of things. It is easy to do in this kind of heat, kind of intensity if I hold serve there. He played a couple long points on his service game the next game and that he ended up coming on the winning end of -- had I been up 2-0, he would have been a little more discouraged it could have easily been 30 leading to 40. You are talking about a domination versus a close match that I ended up getting the best of him at the end. Few points can do that. You can always look back on a few points and that's why you have to maintain that focus. It is not easy to do all the time, especially conditions like that.

 

Q. Do you feel you could win playing the way you played today or you are going to have to go to a different level in the final?

ANDRE AGASSI: I always feel like I need to go to a different level against Pete. Against Goran, it is a little more unpredictable of a match. I think against Goran, if I am returning really well, you know, that's going to be the biggest part. But with Pete, I have to return well and I feel like I have to do a lot of other things extremely well and it naturally brings out a higher level, just because you can't afford, you know, when I got up 40-Love against Pete, I get pretty excited to get the game over with, you don't lose focus quite easily. In some ways, it is more difficult. In some ways, it is more difficult --

 

Q. If Pete elicits a rush from you, if it is Goran, what kind of thing, emotional, response will he elicit from you?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, Goran, I think we played, what, five times. He beat me the first two, then I got him the next two, then he beat me in a tiebreaker in the third in Stockholm where I had match point, so we have always had some pretty, you know, versatile match. You get to see a lot of aspects of the game, you know, the big server against the returner, you though, it is not -- it is a little bit more one dimension against one dimension. I am returning and trying to take control on the ground and he is trying to hold serve and get his one break a set kind of thing, so I feel like there is less dimensions to the match, but certainly exciting tennis. It is hard for it not to be when you got as much talent as Goran does.

 

Q. Andre, professionally, have you benefited from having Pete around as he made you a better player just by having someone of that stature that you say, you know, lists your game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, he has definitely made me a better player and he has made me realize my potential in a lot of ways. He also has taken two Grand Slams from me, so, you know, either way it's like cost benefit, but I wouldn't give up anything for the rivalry of having somebody that can really push you to another level.

 

Q. You mentioned during the ESPN interview, the history of three in a row and what that would mean to you, how important is the Lipton final to you and being in it with Pete?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it is nice just to be in the finals, you know, playing -- it is nice to be playing my tennis again. I really feel like I am hitting the ball clean. I'm going for my shots with a lot of confidence, a lot more than I've had certainly this year, so it is nice to be feeling that again. To win the Lipton, I've done it a couple of times, Pete' does it a couple of times. I don't think that is as important to us as really beating the other one, or feeling like you are the last one standing in the field as deep as this.

 

Q. How would you compare playing Sampras to playing McEnroe and Lendl?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it is a little different. I never got to play really Lendl or McEnroe at my peak. I never felt like -- I always felt like Lendl was physically stronger than me the years, he beat me the first six times we played and he just really had just too much maturity and too much strength in his game for me and, you know, when I started -- when I beat McEnroe for the first time, it was kind of like he wasn't at his best, so I kind of caught Lendl at his best with me not being at my mine, I cut McEnroe where he wasn't really playing the kind of tennis he was used to, I never got to experience their prime. I'm living in Pete's prime, so it is really a whole different set of rules out there. It is just -- it drives us to, you know, it is a rivalry that has added to my career, you know, it is different for McEnroe and Lendl.

 

Q. Not to suggest that anyone can control either Pete's or Goran's serve when they are on, when you are playing those two, you get a buried on one or the other's serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I think that Goran has a bigger serve than Pete unquestionably, but I think Pete has a better hold game, so if I can figure that one out then you know something about tennis.

 

Q. Do either of them have tendencies that you can read one better than the other?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've played Pete a lot more, so I have a definite better feel for the whole tone of the match with Pete. There is a good side to that, which is positive to that which is just being able to have a good feel for the situation. By the same token, with Pete there is a lot of times you know early when you are going to get your ass kicked or what you have to do to not get your ass kicked. With Goran it's different, you know, things can happen in spans of four games, you know, there can be four game momentum changes, unlike with Pete, so it's like I'm a little bit more familiar with the tone of the match when I am playing Pete and to know when I got him beat and to know when he has the upper hand. There is a much better feel for how things are going to go there.

 

Q. Finally, the fact that Goran is going to hit more flat serves than Pete does that work to your benefit, or not?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't necessarily agree with that. I mean, I think, you know, Goran is starting to pick his corners well. I mean, it might look flat, but he's hitting out wide serve on the outside a buck 17, that you would think that's flat just from the miles per hour, but that ball is breaking, too, you know, he doesn't -- he's mixing it up well. His second serve is anything but flat, so I don't think just because he can serve 130 or consistently 125 that he's always bringing the heat. The boy can bring some pace, so when he brings a flat one he's in the mid-130's, you know, Pete's wide one is more like a buck 07, you know, on the deuce side. They're both breaking them, just Goran has a bigger serve.

 

Q. There was a time when we all thought that the French Open would have been your easiest Grand Slam to win, but time has obviously proven that maybe to be false. On your list of to does, how important is the French Open title as compared to maybe another Wimbledon or U.S. Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: It was it would certainly take a higher importance, you know. You want to win all of them and really after the French is over with you forget about it and I'm going to try to win Wimbledon or the U.S., both of those are going to feel incredible to me. There is no question to win every slam would be the ultimate accomplishment next to doing it all in one year, but very close second to that French Open, I think is a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

Q. Is it correct to assume that return a serve is more challenging under these lights and if so, who will favor this evening?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, the lights are really good here, so the light is not the factors. At night it is slower tennis than in the day when the sun is beating down on the court and the balls -- everything is playing quicker, so I think that in the day it would favor Goran just a touch more because he is not quite as versatile in other aspects of the game as Pete. At night it slows down a little bit and if Pete gets a look at just getting his racket on it and can just get some of the serves back in play then I think you will see the night conditions leaning towards Pete, but, you know, those guys are so good, they can hit through any disadvantage, I mean, if Goran is on fuego, then forget about it. You are going to see a lot of tiebreakers tonight.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Andre?

 

Q. Andre, did you find your opponent today more -- I mean the conditions out there today more threatening than your opponent, which was more of a challenge for you today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it is all one in the same really. I don't accept operate the heat from the opponent. They usually fit in together. Sometimes the heat is my friend if I am playing the right guy, so it is a question of just, you know, sizing up all the variables and seeing what, you know, what the game plan is and he's a very fit player and he hits very big off both sides and has a wide margin of wheelhouse, you know, so what happens is that you want to be able to take control of the points, but it is not easy to do, so now all of a sudden you have to work yourself because heat is more of a factors it is more all around a bigger pain in the as, but I felt like today, you know, I was taking the ball early and I was controlling most of the points and he ended up working harder than me. I would be interested seeing his first serves, certainly under 50 percent.

 

Q. 48.

ANDRE AGASSI: Where he made some first serves, there was a stage there where I don't think he made one out of ten first serves for a few service games.

JOE LYNCH: 17 early on. It was like 17 early on.

ANDRE AGASSI: 0 for 17?

JOE LYNCH: 17 percent late in the first set.

ANDRE AGASSI: What is that? That's more than one out of ten, but he was struggling a little bit with his first serve which allowed me to dictate the play. When I was dictating play the heat was feeling pretty good, you gotta do it in order to be your friend, you gotta control the points.

 

Q. Especially missing those first serves on the second serve, then you could get a better handle on what he was doing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, if he misses his first serve then I am starting clearly the point in my favor, I am going to hit a big enough return, not for a winner, but just to get the point in my favor, if I do that it is an uphill battle the rest of the point for my opponent. You do that over the course of an hour or two it becomes very disheartening.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Andre? Thank you, see you back here Sunday.

 
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