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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1996 GREAT AMERICAN INSURANCE ATP CHAMPIONSHIP
CINCINNATI, OHIO

August 9, 1996

A. AGASSI/Y. Kafelnikov

7-6(1), 3-6, 6-3

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

GREG SHARKO: It is now 2-2, head-to-head with Yevgeny, I think, he was talking about an exhibition event.

ANDRE AGASSI: I know he was talking about an exhibition.

GREG SHARKO: Andre goes into the semifinals for the third appearance in '93, last year defending champ and of course will be playing Thomas Muster who he has beaten the last two times. Last meeting came in the '94 Grand Slam Cup and part of that their hard court meeting at the U.S. Open which Andre won in straight sets. First question, please.

Q. Has this tournament before tougher than you expected or are you just (Inaudible.)

ANDRE AGASSI: I think that you expect it to be tough, but then, when you grind out three, three-setters in a row, you know, that is certainly more than you want to be playing, but I feel like all the guys really played well in those sets and just get through them is the most important. I think I hit another level coming up here now which is what I have been looking for.

Q. Playing the third set did you just play your game or did you attack a particular weakness that you saw in his game or what changed?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know what it is, I just stepped it up. As the match goes on like that and kind of a big match, you know, good tennis, close match, I just raise the level and the stakes get higher as you go and I raised the level. I picked up my footwork; started hitting some big shots off the ground. I think he felt a little bit of the pressure and maybe made a couple of loose errors towards the ends.

Q. What happened in Monte Carlo, Thomas talked about it earlier in his interview about you all have had a conversation about his being No. 1, you said that it was the press that made up some reports that you -- I am not sure what happened.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I think for the most part, the conversation is off the record, but if anything, I just, you know, I think we both had a desire to express really directly how we felt and not to be misperceived through the media. Apparently a lot of crap got started. It was written that he didn't deserve to be No. 1. I would never say that. I think how he got to No. 1 was tougher how he -- than how anyone else had done it. He grinded it out week after week. I never said that. I think this is kind -- that kind of, you know, hit a nerve and I think things got a little carried away.

Q. How did that misconception come about then?

ANDRE AGASSI: You tell me, I mean, I don't know. I don't write. I just answer questions.

Q. What was your specific comment then?

ANDRE AGASSI: That in my opinion I consider Pete more of a No. 1 player than him is how I expressed it. Pete is, you know, just an all-around player who has done well, obviously, on all the surfaces and I think that -- I think in that sense he is considered to be the tougher player to beat, but that doesn't have anything or take anything away from Thomas being No. 1. I didn't win a tournament when I was No. 1 for three, four months and then I had the good round over the summer, so at the time it was the case and obviously still is.

Q. So you basically see it more as a flaw in the ranking system or how they --

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, it is not -- that is how it gets misconstrued, because my attack has nothing to do with Thomas. It has to do with everything with the ranking system, that, I said a long time ago. When Berasategui got to the World Championships, I didn't think that was right by just playing all the clay court tournaments. I think there has to be a way to address that so that guys are forced to play on all the surfaces and I include myself. It is not like I am a clay expert, but I should have to go over and play the clay and I just -- I think that that is something that the ATP needed to address for the last five years and then when I say that, that is where I think it also gets misconstrued that somehow Thomas doesn't deserve to achieve what he did. He worked hard for it. They are two separate things.

Q. It would be better if the computer went from January to September?

ANDRE AGASSI: That would be great in an ideal world, but it is not that easy. It is not like we play against the course. We play against each other. So you got to seed players. It is not easy -- not an easy problem to solve, but certainly one that should be solved and that can be.

Q. What are you going to expect from him tomorrow? Are you looking forward to playing him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it should be a great match. I think he is playing well and I think we will have a lot of, you know, great points. I mean, every time we have played it has been really explosive tennis. You get to see a lot of long points and come to seeing a lot of different aspects of the game.

Q. Do you think it is time for people to quit thinking that he can only play on clay?

ANDRE AGASSI: Depends on how you mean that. I mean, I don't think he is -- I don't think Thomas plays his ranking on hard court. By the same token, you can't expect to have a win over him just by stepping on the court. I mean, he is rough. He is in shape. He plays hard, but there are a lot of guys ranked 50 in the world that their kinds of game can give him problems, but when he plays against me or when he plays against Chang or when he plays against Courier, when he plays against guys that hit with him, he has no problem with the hard courts. But there are guys like a David Wheaton or like a Krajicek who can -- -- who can just play really Eltingh, these guys can get in on him and that is a little bit tough to do on clay.

Q. Do you also think that maybe the fact that he is coming up again, the Agassi's, the Courier's, the Sampras's and that a player moves up another notch and they have got to play someone like --

ANDRE AGASSI: There is no question that is the case, especially a champion somebody who has won a Grand Slam tournament knows what it takes to beat the top players and, you know, his level of play on hard court is reflective of when he plays the top players a whole different story than if he played hard court day-in/day-out because there is a lot of floaters. Just like if I went to Paris, I mean, I'd much rather play Pete in the semis than play a Spaniard in the semis like Sergi or Alberto Costa because it is just how games match up to games and tomorrow you are going to see two guys ranked in the tops in the world and it is going to be that kind of tennis.

Q. Compare yourself, if you could, at Wimbledon, the way you are playing at Wimbledon and French Open before that to now following the gold medal?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would have lost 2 and 2 today with the way I played.

Q. Your game, do you feel like it has been a roller-coaster kind of year for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Hopefully it is only has one kind of up and down to this year. I have had a down and now it is time to go back up again and hopefully I will continue to do it. But I feel really good about my game and where I have managed to get it and where I feel like it is going. I am back to the place where everyday I feel like I am getting better. The subtleties of the game, I feel like I am tuning into now, are making a huge difference in crucial stages of these matches.

Q. You feel like you are in better condition?

ANDRE AGASSI: Absolutely. You can train all you want, but there is nothing like getting out there and having the matches and certainly I am starting to get those matches now.

Q. What about subtleties?

ANDRE AGASSI: The subtleties of knowing -- having the confidence of going second serve down the middle at breakpoint, the subtleties of taking their slice and stepping a foot inside the baseline to make the contact to go for it up the line. The subtleties that really require an approach to a shot that allows the opponent to constantly feel your pressure and I think that when you don't play these matches and you pick the wrong shot at the right time, you pick the wrong shot, even though you make it, you don't really hurt your opponent because they want to see you do it again; then you are not believing in it because you hit an incredible shot; took a huge risk and you were lucky that it paid off. So those are the subtleties that end up separating making the difference, knowing when to take a second serve and crack it and when to make sure you just get it in play. When you do make your errors, good errors, not just donations, but quality shots that, if you do miss, then the guy felt it.

Q. Can you kind of accept the difference between a Berasategui who plays the computer and stays on the clay because; he doesn't either have an interest or he is afraid of hard court or maybe a Thomas who has problems with his legs and couldn't take (inaudible)--

ANDRE AGASSI: Don't get me wrong. Congratulations to Berasategui too for accomplishing that. My point is I just think tennis is a sport that has a lot of surfaces to it. And regardless of what the reason is, I have sympathy for the fact that Thomas's legs struggle more on hard court. I wish that wasn't the case. If I could snap my fingers, I would make his legs perfect. I think that tennis -- I am talking about tennis, not Berasategui or Muster or anything, tennis should be a question of how you perform at a year-round, to have just a run in one stage of the year is similar to what I did last year, except I did it to start the year and the year before I did it in the fall and so I have had moments in my -- throughout my career where I have played extremely well on all the surfaces and I think that is a part of the beauty of this game. If everything was one way, then you would see a lot of different people, you know, at the top of the game. It is important, I think that everybody has to play a designated amount on all the surfaces. I don't think that is unreasonable.

Q. How did you leave it the last time you talked to Thomas, are you friendly or --

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, there is no problem. We see each other everyday. We are in the same tournament.

Q. He doesn't just brush you off say I am going to get you or --

ANDRE AGASSI: He leaves a really horrible message on my machine (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

Q. Don't you think -- I mean, two years since you guys have played each other, that means a lot for two top players to go that long without playing each other. Can you just comment on that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, we are both ranked high and when I go to the clay and don't get to the semis or finals, I am not going to play him and when he comes to the hard courts and he doesn't get to the semis and finals, he is not going to play me. So you got two guys ranked in the top of the world who are strong on two different surfaces, so whenever they are in the same tournament, one of them is against the odds a little bit more than the other and you have to get through three or four matches to meet each other. See what I am saying?

Q. Right. I get it.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Andre? Thanks everyone.

 
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