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19-09-2006

1996 THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
Key Biscayne, FL

 

March 31, 1996

 

A. Agassi \ G. Ivanisevic

3-0 (retired)

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH

 

ANDRE AGASSI

 

GREG SHARKO: With the title today, Andre, is the first man to win the Lipton Championships three questions for Andre.

 

Q. Cliff just told us the first thing you said when you heard was deja vu?

ANDRE AGASSI: The first thing what I heard was deja vu, yeah, I knew what they were talking about, somehow some way I figured deja vu meant.

 

Q. Did you say that or they said that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I was about ready to walk on the court, so I am trying to recall exactly how it happened.

 

Q. The fact is you were willing to delay as long as it took as you were two years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I look at it the same way. I'm not here to somehow end up with the trophy. I am out here to beat the guys who are beating the guys and, you know, everybody is here for the match, including me, so -- it is just tough, you know, the toughest part is not whether you are going to delay the play, it is just the frustration of the whole -- not only the preparation being off a half hour, hour, depending how long you're waiting, but also just the variable in your mind. I mean, it could be a handicap for Goran, which it turned out it was, or it could be a handicap for me if he starts feeling better, I am thinking about other things, either way I just -- I think it really just takes away from the day, you know, it is just disappointing on that level.

 

Q. How early did you know, Andre, what the problem -- that there was a problem and what was your initial reaction, not again, or what?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, it was -- actually I said deja vu. They said, you know, we got a problem, you know, same as last year kind of thing, I was like, would you, or two years ago. My reaction, again, is just extreme disappointment because now it really -- everything has to go perfectly for there truly to be a winner today because there is, you know, either he's not going to be feeling well or I'm going to be distracted, you know, it just felt all the way around that things have to go down perfect for the end of the day to say yeah, it worked out pretty well.

 

Q. Were you distracted the first couple of games, you didn't seem --

ANDRE AGASSI: When he stepped up to the line and hit a 97 mile an hour first serve.

 

Q. 80.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I thought, okay, well maybe he is going to see if his neck warms up. I certainly wanted to get the break while he was just throwing in the first serve, but it turns out that, you know, he couldn't have played through it anyhow.

 

Q. When were you told?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm sorry?

 

Q. When were you told?

ANDRE AGASSI: By 11:29. I mean, 1:29 right before we were going to go out.

 

Q. What did you do in between 1:30 and 2:00?

ANDRE AGASSI: I just tried --

 

Q. Stayed upstairs?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I was in the locker room, you know, stay on my toes, keep moving around, try to remind myself what are the right things to focus on today, what are the things to for get about.

 

Q. How do you think your game stands after all of this?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I gotta say, I like my chances against Goran if he is hitting '92 miles an hour first serves. Today was a big day for me. I really wanted to play top level tennis and not just size up where my game is, but hopefully, you know, feel great about where my game is. That was important to me, you know, to play a guy who has been playing as well as Goran, so it's disappointing because there is -- it just wasn't a match. There was no pose. I beat five guys to win this tournament and that's all there is to it.

 

Q. How do you feel about your game at this point?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I feel great in how I was starting to pick up my level, I think against Joyce, against Boetsch, I really played strong tennis. I think there is slight room for improvement, but I am very happy with my game.

 

Q. Do you think they should have told the crowd that -- before the match that there was a problem, any sort of problem, all they said is there is a delay, they didn't say there is a delay because Goran is receiving treatment? Did you feel they should tell the crowd?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, you got 15,000 people who are just going to be, you know, it's just -- sometimes it is better that you don't inform 15,000 people of the facts because the facts might not even be the facts, you know, so it's better to wait that one out. I mean, if Goran goes out there and two years ago Pete was sick, if they had told the crowd Pete was sick --

 

Q. They did?

ANDRE AGASSI: They did? Well, he kicked my ass three and three in the third set, it wasn't that necessary was my point. Today it could have worked out well, but it didn't, I mean, the crowd knows that an athlete only goes through that a few times in his career and certainly on the finals of a tournament is not beneficial to anybody, especially Goran.

 

Q. There has been some discussion about if there is any practical way you can overcome a situation like this, can you think of any way, all the ones we've talked about seem to have almost impossible snags, like bringing in a losing semi-finalist, is that fair to the other one, is that something we just have to live with?

ANDRE AGASSI: To actually make it a competitive match, to make it a match that counts?

 

Q. Yes. We can't, I just wondered if you could.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, no, maybe play Monday finals that's as close as I would get. Give them another day, but that's not very practical, is it? It's not. It is just not the way it goes, you know, there is no substitutions in this game.

 

Q. Andre, given that you've had an excellent week here, looking back at the Australian Open when we saw you there, you seem to be very mentally in and out and you are not quite having your mind on the job. Has this tournament been about getting your motivation in focus back more than anything?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I don't think it is motivation. I think, you know, when I was younger, I used to struggle with motivation. That isn't it anymore. I've learned to pay the price and to do what I need to do. I was out of the game, you know, for September, October, November, December and most of January without one competitive tennis match. Four months in this day and age of the game it sets you back. Then to step into the year knowing that I'm defending a Grand Slam championship is rough. So, it's been an uphill climb for me ever since my injury in Davis Cup and, you know, I just -- I've just learned the hard way how to preserver the best way possible. This has just been a question of persevering, not being motivated. I won my first round here 7-6 in the third. I could have been home a day later and everybody talking about what's the matter with my game, you know, so it is just a question of staying at it, never knowing when things are going to quite turnaround, then when you will hit that level and get your confidence back, even the way I played those few games against Courier, I played like a guy who just won a tournament. I wanted to maybe not in the ideal way, but still the confidence is a big part of it.

 

Q. When you grabbed the microphone away from Butch, what was your --

ANDRE AGASSI: I was just, you know, there are 50 thousand people there and they thought all they were getting was, you know, this is bad for us, so sorry, you know, but I just wanted them to know two things. First of all, that, you know, being an athlete it is not easy to step out there in front of that many people and when you are nowhere near your physical best and not only feeling so horrible, but also to risk yourself to further injury, you know, is always career threatening. That runs through every athlete's mind it is not fair to ask any athlete to leave that decision up to anybody. Secondly, I also wanted to express, you know, they were going to get some tennis today and it's the best we could do for what was the curve ball that was thrown at us.

 

Q. Andre, what was your reaction when the match was going on and the crowd was booing, thinking they were getting just half an effort from Goran?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I felt bad for Goran because, I mean, it seems like me as well as a few other people really knew what was going on. Again, it is not easy. It's just not easy. I've been on the other end of that maybe twice, you know, so it's tough. You got everybody's expectations on you and nobody knows what Goran is feeling except Goran. This guy has been in eight finals out of ten tournaments this year, I believe. He's playing incredible and, you know, I think his days of mentally, you know, checking out are behind him. I think now he might have certain mental weaknesses, but not on the level where he is going to walk out onto the court and give half an effort. So to see him go through that was tough for me. I know he wasn't enjoying that anymore than anyone else was.

 

Q. Do you feel when you play against Kafelnikov in the Davis Cup when you were injured, the crowd did not know you were hurt, did you feel perhaps they thought you weren't giving your best effort then because you weren't able to play as well as you could?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that's always the down side, you know. That injury was pretty significant one and I was definitely had no movement, at least relatively speaking, and if you take away a little bit of movement, I could lose to somebody who I could possibly beat, I could lose to them very badly, so I did feel like -- it's tough. You can't give any more, yet people think you are not giving anything. It's just a tough scenario. You just got to suck it up, really.

 

Q. Is that possibly that match on your mind when you took the microphone and tried to defend Goran?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, it's just -- certainly, that match as well as, you know, in Dallas I played John McEnroe I believe back in 1988 or '89, March like of '89 and it was a highly anticipated match. I had to actually end up defaulting. I got booed off the court there. I remember that very vividly because in the Davis Cup my injury was detaching a rib from the cartilage. I remember people writing for two months that I faked that one. I know what it's like. It is not a good feeling.

 

Q. How does the rest of the year look for you; do you think you can go on a good role after this?

ANDRE AGASSI: I feel good. Now we are coming into the clay season, which is a whole different tennis in and of itself, so I need to, you know, get my feet on the clay and get into the best shape possible and get back to really grinding my opponents down and knowing if I'm working hard, there is a heck of a chance my opponents are working ten times as hard. That is my strength on clay. I gotta get there. I haven't felt like I've been there in a few years, so that's where I want to be going into the French Open. I want to be in shape to go five hard sets to where I can really use my game to break down my opponents.

 

Q. Can you remember going into this phase of the season in your career when it looks so open, there is like maybe six guys jostling for No. 1 plus all the clay specialists?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes.

 

Q. It just seems to be pretty frantic, it seems to be way out ahead at the moment?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, it is, that's the way it goes. I think Pete has finished the past three years No. 1, he has always had that considerable lead to where he cannot be there for a few events and still keep it, but really the gap has been closed tremendously by a few different players. I think it is great for the game. It is nice to have all these guys competing for the best. It is going to come down to the Grand Slams this year, I believe. That's really what it's about because those are the tournaments.

 

Q. What's your schedule to Paris?

ANDRE AGASSI: Barcelona, Monte Carlo and then Hamburg.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Andre?

 

Q. Are you going to be playing in the Olympics?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes.

 

Q. How do you feel about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's going to be, in my opinion, you know, next to the French the most important one for me, personally. To win the French, obviously, to win all the four Slams would be ultimate accomplishment, but I think the Olympics, the medal in the Olympics will be probably just as rewarding as winning any Slam.

 

Q. Can you be prepared two weeks after Wimbledon for Olympics?

ANDRE AGASSI: Probably not. Ideally, no. Especially if you get to the semis or finals, or obviously win the tournament, you know, the difference between going from the red clay to grass is quite significant. And then you gotta turn around and go from grass to hardcourt. I think going from grass to hardcourt is going to be a lot easier than going from French to Wimbledon and we have to do that every year.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: Thanks.

 
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