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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1996 GREAT AMERICAN INSURANCE ATP CHAMPIONSHIP
CINCINNATI, OHIO

August 11, 1996

A. AGASSI/M. Chang

7-4, 6-4

An interview with

ANDRE AGASSI

GREG SHARKO: (Inaudible.) Andre is joining his coach, Brad Gilbert, who did it here. Also it's the first time he's done it since the 1990 ATP World Championship in Frankfurt. And also to be playing in the RCA Championships in Indianapolis starting tomorrow. First question.

Q. Andre, when Michael had you down Love-40, what did you have to do to say or do to get yourself going again?

ANDRE AGASSI: Now, you know, when I match up with Michael, it seems like there's a lot of moments where momentum swings quickly and for short spurts. I went on -- I got up a couple games, and then he went back even, and it looked like he was going to run and I managed to stop that one. Like in the breaker I got up two points, he went up 4-2, I went up 7-4. It seems like that's a pretty strong pattern that we have. And, you know, because I think what we do we both do so well, that when we feel that little bit of extra desire or intensity, it gets the job done. And I just felt like I needed to stop him there. I just felt like I needed to survive a hole and made some good first serves at the right time.

Q. Was that the pivotal point of the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I mean, it was definitely a pivotal one. But it wasn't THE. I mean, there was a few other moments in the tiebreaker that it could have gone his way. You know, I could have -- I could have possibly have finished out the second a little quicker. There are a couple of times where if it had gone in one favor or another, it might have changed it.

Q. Have you ever beaten him when he's won first set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Gosh, I played him so many times. Uhmm, I know there's only between twice that the person who had actually won the first set, and I think both those times I had won the first set and lost. Am I right?

Q. That's right. So, no?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. He's won the first set, you haven't been able to. Is there something about him that makes that true and would cause that to be the way it is?

ANDRE AGASSI: I just think he's a very, you know, intense player. He's tough to put away, and he's tough to come back on, you know. I mean, all the way around, you've got to figure with today's power in the game, to be Michael's size and to be competing with the best in the world and be fighting for the best in the world is quite an accomplishment. There has to be an asset. And his speed and his tenacity and his competitiveness and his mental strength is strong. He's a strong competitor. And any strong competitor is going to put you away or not let you out of it. And he does both of those well.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your tenacity to sort of hold it together and why that's happened, and how it was different?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I feel like with the question the way it's turned around, you want me to say I had this dream and when I woke up I was inspired again. It's been a long road. And I've worked so hard at it. And I've gotten through some tough matches over the last three weeks that I could have easily have lost. And so it takes a lot of hard work and it takes a little bit of luck for it to turn around. But it has to turn around at some point if you stay dedicated to it.

Q. What's working now is the product of something that started four months ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes. I've been working on it since Wimbledon, at least. I got back on the hard courts, which is a nice plays. I knew it would be a perfect opportunity to get my game together there. It's easier than me trying to get my game together on the grass or clay.

Q. Andre, do you feel your game is at the level you want it to be with the Open right around the corner?

ANDRE AGASSI: Absolutely.

Q. When you take an early break, like you did in that first game (inaudible.)?

ANDRE AGASSI: It doesn't mean anything.

Q. He's pretty able to come back?

ANDRE AGASSI: I know that when we play at two set match, there's going to be three or four breaker serves. If we played a three set match, there might be six or eight breaks at serve. So it's not like either one of us goes out there and expects to hold serve the whole time and gets discouraged if we get broken. Every game you have a shot of breaking Michael and every game he has a shot at breaking me. I just can't overpower him with the serve and volley. So we're going to have a lot of duels from the back court. And in a lot of ways it's like women's tennis, you know, you're up a hole.

Q. This time last year it seemed like you and Pete were the dominating players. Is the -- are the rest maybe the top three and next three, five, eight, are they catching up to you too?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think Chang and Kafelnikov have definitely made some incredible strides forward this year. And I think both those guys are going to need to be reckoned with in every major championship, and both those guys in my opinion should be in the last part of the tournament. In my opinion, those are the best players right there. And depending what surface you're on, obviously there's Boris can play well on the grass and occasionally at the Open.

Q. Winning back-to-back here, what does that mean to you in just being in some elite company?

ANDRE AGASSI: We haven't thought much about that. I kind of saved those little touches of your place in history. I hold them very dear, certainly. But by the same token, I think this has meant a lot more to me than just winning a second title here. It's a great way to keep my momentum and to show -- prove to myself that I am back, that I can win the big one, the big matches. And obviously I could prove it to the other guys on the other side of the net. It makes your life a lot easier when you know that you're going to do that to him. And I think accomplishing that here is in perfect time for the Open.

Q. There was never any doubt in your mind that you could get back to the top?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Just a question of when.

Q. But you've seen all the other history of this game and your age, to fall down just a little bit and I can't get up.

ANDRE AGASSI: Okay, I won a gold medal and I just won a tournament, you're talking as if I'm the best player in the world again. It's like if I lose next week, and lose first round in the Open, all of a sudden I've lost what I have and I'll never make it. Either way I don't go there, see? I never went as far as it was taken well, what's the matter, what's the matter with me. And I'm certainly not going to act like I can't go out there and lose again tomorrow. I have the desire, I have -- like I said all year long, I have a desire to play the game. I love the game, but I'm struggling to the point where it's not easy when you've played a certain level of tennis to be out there struggling. You know, when I know that I can break somebody three times a match minimum, and I go out there and I can't convert break points, it's like I've hit a level that you've got to be somewhere near it to be inspired on a motivational level sometimes when you're in the grid of a match. And I've been very discouraged with the way I've been playing. And it's not something I've been used to. But, you know, I'll spend the rest of my career proving to people that I can be a champion and that I'm able to win. I mean, that's something that is a reflection of a person's character and what it is they're trying to accomplish. And I'll be the first one to admit it when I've had enough, when I've said you know what, that's it for me. But this year has been a struggle, but that's all it's been.

Q. Do you feel you really have enough?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm the one just fending off these questions, so you tell me. I mean, from what I -- I don't feel I need to prove it for myself. But it just makes my life off court a lot easier when you do go out and there and do what other people expect you to do. And if you're not, it's -- it's a grind because, you know, it's just a constant well, could this be a slump? You're only as good your last win or loss, and I think that -- I just think that that's not respectful to a lot of -- to a lot of athletes.

Q. When you say "other people," do you mean the media, the fans or other players?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, just -- more the media than anything. I don't want to get personal with you and all, but...

Q. What about an advertising. They only go with the top guys. As soon as you fall off, they're going to go with the next guy. Could they be in that category also?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I don't really feel the pressure of sponsorships. You know, I think when you've been in the public eye for, you know, ten years, you've already proven yourself. And a company like Pepsi doesn't put their hopes on somebody who might just blow down, you know, their whole reputation by falling off the face of the planet. After a while companies learn to understand what it is they're getting. And I think Nike has done that a long time ago. And that's the kind of support that I've appreciated from them. And there are certainly others that would be affected. But you could only carry so much weight when you're out there trying to play a game.

Q. But you don't see anymore Bo Jackson commercials.

ANDRE AGASSI: Right.

Q. But they don't put any pressure on you at all to win?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I mean, I'm sure they enjoy when I win, I would hope so. I'm sure they don't like it when I lose. I would hope that as well.

Q. Isn't that sponsorship somewhat superfluous? I mean, you've probably got all the money you need.

ANDRE AGASSI: It is a factor in the sense that I have responsibilities. I mean, these are relationships that I value. And I try to -- I try to address my life with a high level of integrity. Which means okay, I might not need you as you need me. Or there might be times where you might not need me as much as I need you, but let's hope that we're all beyond this and striving for the same thing. And I don't need more publicity. I don't need more money, certainly. I feel like I have ten times what I ever would need. I mean, I've never dreamt of having accomplishing the things I have. And so from here on in it's just a question of taking pride in yourself. And you do that in every aspect of life. And it's just the one that's on the court is in front of a whole lot of people and whole lot of attention and criticism, and you just try to -- you just try to keep your clear vision. It's not easy sometimes.

Q. Michael Chang was just suggesting that there's no clear-cut favorite going into the Open, there's group of favorites. Would you agree with that or would you, considering what you've done in the last couple of weeks, put yourself just a little bit ahead of the pack?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I go into the Open believing that I can win it, certainly. You know, Kafelnikov has proven that he has what it takes to win a big event, and he's playing well enough. I think he's more susceptible to some losses possibly on the hard court. But I say Pete and myself, Chang and Kafelnikov, in my opinion, would be -- would be leading that -- that race to win it as far as who's playing what at this stage. But, you know, that's why we play the game. We have to go out there and see. I would say there is a group, certainly. I would say there's another group. It's all right there -- I wouldn't say it's open, because I've seen more open tournaments in the past. But it's -- there's no hands down favorite I would imagine.

Q. So in that second group could be the Krajiceks, et cetera?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I wouldn't put Krajicek there, I would put Boris there because he knows what it takes to raise his level of play. I don't know. It would be surprising if he'd come back after a layoff and do it. You can always put someone like Goran there. If he serves 210 aces in one tournament, I don't care if you're playing on cow dunk, you know. You've got to put -- I have to go through this. But there's a few groups of guys that are strong. I mean, hardcourts, I think, take a toll on Krajicek.

Q. When Stefan Edberg was walking off, they announced him the greatest player in this tournament. Do you consider yourself a benefactor to that title?

ANDRE AGASSI: Do I consider myself what?

Q. They announced him as the greatest player in the history of this tournament. Now with two wins in a row, do you consider yourself the heir for that title?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. There's a lot of great players that have played here. Chang has won it twice as well, right?

Q. Right. Talk about the differences between you and Chang both as players and individuals.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think as players he's slightly more, I would say, versatile on his ability to change a strategy to somehow find a way to win. You know, if somebody's -- if somebody's game is beating my game, that's a lot more discouraging to me than if somebody's game was beating Chang. I think he has the tenacity and variety to all of a sudden go from playing counterpunch to playing offense to actually serving well occasionally to -- so I think, you know, he tends to want to keep people guessing as what it is he does out there. And I tend to step up to the baseline and say if you can stop what I have to bring, then congratulations. And as individuals, I mean, I wouldn't really know where to start with that. I mean...

Q. Is he more conservative than you are?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think so.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Andre?

Q. Is Brooke here today?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

GREG SHARKO: Thanks everyone.

Q. Thank you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Thank you.

 
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