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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

XXVI OLYMPIC GAMES
ATLANTA, GEORGIA

July 23, 1996

A. AGASSI/J. Bjorkman

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH

ANDRE AGASSI

Q. Andre, the long sleeve shirt, is that designed to be cooler or --

ANDRE AGASSI: Believe it or not, it is much more appropriate for this weather.

Q. Explain that.

ANDRE AGASSI: It is very light, very, very breathable material that on top of protecting your skin from the impact of sun, it gets cool all the way down your arms when you sweat. You know, that little breeze is a nice cooling down feeling. I mean, that is why we sweat. Our sweat is kind of our body's cooling system. And if you can keep something wet on you, that breeze helps out a lot. It is not a smart idea to actually change shirts frequently out there because, you know, then that sun just kind of beats on you, and you are dry, and it is just hot. But that shirt kind of breathes well, and takes in all the water; allows that breeze to really cool me down. It is really a great shirt to have in this weather.

Q. Whose idea was it, yours or Nike's?

ANDRE AGASSI: Actually, believe it or not, it was mine. I mean, I certainly don't know enough of the technicalities to know what material to use, but I talked about what, biking material, longer sleeve that can protect you from the sun but stay pretty cool, and a year later it is done.

Q. Where did you get the (inaudible) --

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it is from Nike as well. A little swoosh on the side.

Q. They made a big deal about the computerized draw. What was your reaction when you saw the draw and --

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I mean, really, I think any athlete feels like you want to beat anybody to win this tournament. And if you get a bad draw, good draw, you don't feel good about it one way or another unless you go out there and win the match. So to me, it is -- winning the match is most important here. But I do feel like, you know, they have taken extra care to make sure that no Americans are playing each other in the quarterfinals or none of the same countries, as far as the seeds go. They made some adjustments there in the draw, which I think is appropriate. It is kind of tough to play a medal match with a guy from your own country - if you lose, you don't get one. So I have no problem with it. I mean, it's tough first rounds, certainly, against Jonas today.

Q. Some of the top guys haven't made it. What would it mean to you to win this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, that is why I am here. The Olympics is something I think we all -- every athlete dreams about. It is nice to see tennis get more respect than it has in the past. It is nice to see a real sport out there in the Olympics. And to be a part of making it grow in interest as well as getting a chance to win a medal would be an all-time accomplishment in my career if I could manage that.

Q. Would it be more special if the field was stronger; more of the top guys were there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Quite honestly, you want to feel like you earn it, no question. But you still have to earn it. You still have to, and I have beaten all the guys random weeks, here and there, so beating them isn't going to make me feel anymore special or any less special. I mean, it is not an easy tournament by any means. And especially with what is on the line. So I would -- I still feel really good about it, whether it is a strong field or not. It is winning the big matches and winning big matches against the best players is ideal, but I will take a gold medal any way I can get it.

Q. Anything in particular going through your mind at 0-3 in the first set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Calm down. Really. I was trying get myself to relax a little bit. I just felt I had energy of being out there and just made some errors, wind was swirling around there pretty good. And if you weren't really moving your feet or feeling confident, you know, or a little tight or nervous, you know, it was showing in making some errors. I just wanted to get the match to where it was competitive that I could -- kind of physical my way through the nerves; really start getting into it. And managed to get the break back in the middle of the set, which definitely helped me.

Q. Would you say this is one of your better matches in the last three, four months?

ANDRE AGASSI: In the sense that it was definitely difficult, I was -- you know, stayed entirely competitive throughout. That, to me, is the most important. I didn't get discouraged on myself or disappointed. I managed to keep fighting to try to get it right, and, you know, it is not great yet by any means. But it is okay, I will get there.

Q. Have you had a chance to attend any other events or do you plan to?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I haven't yet. I just wanted to kind of work myself into the tournament and not lose sight of why I am here. And, you know, obviously, it would be nice to enjoy some events, but, you know, I am one of the ones that is supposed to make this enjoyable for other people to be at, and I am not one of the fortunate fans or tourists to get to just sit around and watch, so I have got to prepare myself and make sure you are ready for the conditions. And as it gets into this tournament, I will have a better feel for where I am, and what I can afford to go do or not do.

Q. After poor results in Paris and Wimbledon, how do you feel about the state of your game now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it is nice to be back on the hard courts. That is always a nice place for me to get my game back to where it should be. But it is not there yet. There is no question in my mind that I've still got some more room to go before I feel like I am playing my best tennis. But I will do it. I think I can really do it this summer. And, you know, hopefully end the year strong and start off next year and maybe keep it going for three years, four years. So I am just -- I am trying to get it back. It is not easy after missing most of the fall last year and just when I was playing well, Key Biscayne, moving to the clay, moving to the grass, it was just -- I really haven't found my rhythm in my game or my confidence yet, and that has been kind of disappointing.

Q. Did you notice anything different or distinctive about the crowd or the atmosphere today?

ANDRE AGASSI: A lot of supporters for me today. Felt good.

Q. USA chants, anything like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I heard that too.

Q. Andre, with Sampras, Chang, Courier not here and you being elevated up to the No. 1 seeding position, did that put any extra pressure on to you considering that these games are also in the United States?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, there is extra pressure in the sense that we have other players worthy of this team that aren't here, and that ups our chances for a medal. However, being seeded 1 or not, I think like you have seen over the years, it really makes no difference at all. I don't think when I stepped on the court against Bjorkman, if I am seeded 1 or 2, he still knows he has to play real well to beat me. And he still wants to beat me every bit as bad, no more; no less. So it is just a question of what you can force yourself to do every time you are on the court, regardless, you know, what is there. And I just think disappointing part about it is the United States would really have a hell of a shot at a medal if we had Sampras, Courier, Chang here as well. But, you know, but we got a team, I think, that competes hard, and I think Richey has been playing well this year. Mal certainly been playing well this year. They are both really disciplined good heat players. They play well in the heat. And I think they can do well. I think we have a good shot at walking away with a couple of medals.

Q. How did your Olympic experience feel different from, say, a Wimbledon experience since you are not able to get to other venues? I assume you have not gotten to the athletes village. Does it feel like a regular Grand Slam tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, not at all. I mean, I am in front of that TV most of the day getting in all the events.

Q. So you are watching them on TV?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. It is hard not to feel like you are a part of a great thing here.

Q. Did you consider to stay in the Olympic Village?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, certainly, in preparing for the tournament you have to make those decisions. And being a tennis player, travelling your whole life as an individual and doing things the way I wanted, I felt my main duty was to give myself the best shot to win. And I didn't want to stick myself in an arena that I may end up not being used to or comfortable with, so I chose not to. I chose to prepare myself the way I do all the events all year round, 52 weeks a year for the last ten years.

Q. Do you have a hard time understanding why some Americans choose to pass on event like this?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I have a hard time understanding why anybody would pass on the Olympics. American or not, it is, to me, it is disappointing. I think they are missing out on something. I mean, I think Courier, Chang, and Pete have had the privilege of playing in '92, so maybe that maybe -- Pete -- excuse me, Jim and Michael find that that was satisfying enough for them, but it is a tough schedule. It is a grind. And if you have your hopes on No. 1 or hopes on winning the U.S. Open, this isn't the most appropriate preparation to stick in two weeks of this kind of competitive tennis in the middle of already a busy summer. So it just really depends on where your priorities are, and this, to me, is the top priority. And it is hard for me to understand why it wouldn't be for anybody else.

Q. Andre, when you were growing up, when you were a boy, your father was an Iranian fighter. How conscious were you, how much was the Olympic ethic sort of part of family talk?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, my dad became a tennis nut really, so he never -- he left boxing and never won -- didn't even consider it for his kids, and so all those years growing up, tennis wasn't even a part of the Olympics. So it was really never something specifically that we talked about in hopes of some kind of dream, because it just wasn't possible until, you know, '84. We didn't even know how it was going to respond; if it was going to be an event in '88. But certainly after it was an event in the Olympics, it became something that, I think, he is probably the most proud of for me, and certainly something that I feel proud of as well.

Q. How conscious were you of what he had done in being an old competitor?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I was very aware of it. I mean, obviously he is a very athletic father who I grew up with. He picked up a racket late in his age and picked up the game pretty easily, and needless to say, his gift as a boxer was something that not any person could accomplish. And so I was well aware of his accomplishment as an athlete, and kind of leading up to the Olympics.

Q. Do you feel you are missing anything not being in the village?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think there is a part of it that you don't get to experience that would be probably quite enjoyable, you know, but I don't know, I feel my biggest responsibilities here is to do everything I can to win a medal. And you got to make decisions that, unfortunately, at times are uneducated, and I don't know what it is like. I don't know how I would respond to being far away from the venue. I am a lot closer out here, and it is really, really just the choice that I made.

Q. In your mind, how close a call was this for you today, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: The mosquitoes in Atlanta are brutal (LAUGHTER). It was close. I mean, certainly a close call. But any time you win two tiebreakers, you got to feel pretty fortunate that you are -- you know, worst case scenario, not out or -- still out there playing a third set. He served for the second set. I served for the first, so, you know, it was kind of -- you know, really, if all had been fair out there, we would be still be playing the third set out there. So I feel pretty good about getting through that one.

Q. How did you feel about your groundstrokes during the second set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Felt great about my backhand. Forehand, I felt like I was struggling between the wind and kind of the nerves of getting out there and playing. That was pulling off my forehand a little bit. Didn't quite feel the shot that I count on; ended up kind of feeling like an -- I was hesitant on it, so that was a bit surprising, and disappointing, but we have a little bit altitude up here as well, which I don't know if most people are aware of and the ball moves through the air pretty quickly. Court is not horribly quick, but the ball moves through the air quick so it is kind of a strange feeling out there having a ball shoot at you so quick and sort of bounce high; it can get away from you if you miss-time it a bit. And if you are not very confident, it is easy for it to take a set-and-a-half to find your range.

Q. What was going on when you were at 6-All when you were at five sets -- late in the second set you looked like you had momentum going in, going back to 5-All; then that final game when he took you to the tiebreak (inaudible)....

ANDRE AGASSI: When I served for the first set?

Q. Second set. When he was up 6 -- (Inaudible.)

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I broke. He served for the set at 5-4 then I --

Q. You broke --

ANDRE AGASSI: I broke him 5-All. Then I held serve 6-5, had one matchpoint in that game. 30-Love, he was serving second serve, I really hit a huge forehand return crosscourt. He kind of just shoveled it up the line and I went to move around it thinking it was going to be pretty short. It kind of carried deeper. I kind of wedgied myself inside my forehand, my right shoulder and I shoveled the shot. That was to go triple matchpoint, that was just a bad error on my part. And then 30-15, he hit -- he played a pretty good point, I mean, backhand return; hit it up the line. I shanked a forehand. It was pretty windy out there. Got to matchpoint and just didn't get aggressive enough. There is always that line between how aggressive you can play, versus, taking unnecessary risk, when the guy's behind the 8 ball, so it was kind of -- it would have been nice to break him there, but that would have been asking for a lot seeing that we really didn't break each other a whole lot just twice in the first, once in the second, I feel good about being in a breaker after breaking back to 5-All.

Q. Did you ever consider not coming to Atlanta?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. Did you ever have some pressure from somebody to be here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Pressure for me to be here to play?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. Did you feel any kind of gulf between yourself and other competitors given the majority of competitors in the Olympics make very little, if any, money and your sport being able to make a substantial -- does that in any way separate you from them? How do you feel about other competitors?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I think how much money you make in what you do is very individual, and you will find that in a lot of cases it is very irrelevant and in some cases, unfortunately, it is very relevant. All depends on what your reasons are for what it is you do. I think there is unfortunately a lot of great athletes in great sports who don't have the opportunity to make a living out of it when maybe they deserve so.... But, you know, by the same token, just because you do make a lot of money in the sport doesn't mean you don't play the sport because you love it. So, really the bond that you create among fellow athletes is just one out of respect for what it is you do and how it is you do it.

Q. Are you missing Thomas Muster here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I am.

Q. Because that is always a nice little war of words between you and him.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, there is no war of words between us. That is all behind us. He is not here and I feel bad that he has missed it.

 
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