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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION

1996 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Flushing Meadows, New York

September 2, 1996

A. AGASSI/D. WHEATON

4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

Q. Andre, can you compare your game now with the way you were playing when you won this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's tough to say. I mean, I think everything's getting better year by year. This summer's been, you know, a nice turnaround for me, so I feel pretty confident. I have to say a few percentage better, but it's tough to say, I think everybody is.

Q. What helped turn it around this summer, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, just a lot of perseverance really. It was not one thing in particular. I spent the first part of the year really trying to get my game together. I felt like I did at Key Biscayne. Then I got through a few rough matches there, 7-6 in the third. Then I had to go over to the clay. I just didn't have the confidence to sustain any kind of level of play. Had short runs, you know. I never got my rhythm. I lost early in the French. Wasn't enough tennis before Wimbledon. I had a rough loss at Wimbledon, didn't get through that. You get through some of those tough matches, things could turn around sooner, but I didn't. After France, I just committed to working hard. Then I was back on the hardcourts, which was nice for my confidence level. Took another hard loss in Washington and then my game came together after a few, you know, close matches that I got through.

Q. As you get older and you've kind of been around the game as long as you have, how tough is it to keep tennis as your top priority when you know there's kind of like lots of other things you could be involved in in the world, whatever they are?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think that's so much it, that there's other things I'd rather be involved in or I had my mind on other things. I think it's just very tough year after year, week after week. There is no off-season. Not like you ever feel like you ever get rewarded for performing well. You feel like you perform well, now you have to go out there, live up to that standard, do it again. Now the stakes are higher, a bigger price tag on your head for the guys that meet you. It's never ending. I just wish there were some kind of off-season, then it would be a lot easier to commit yourself for a period of time.

Q. Technically you can make your own off-season if you choose not to play at certain times. How difficult is that, knowing maybe some other guys are playing where you have points at that particular time of the year to defend?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean you can't really do it. If other guys are playing and you're not, they're making steps and you're not. It's not easy that way. Plus if you take time off and you want to practice, you know, guys are playing, it's tough to find the guys to play with, practice with.

Q. Who would be the big rival for you today out of Sampras and Philippoussis, which one you would pick?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the match itself is going to be close and difficult, but Philippoussis is young, so if he happens to beat Sampras, I think it would be tougher for him to reach the finals than if Pete beat him, because Pete's done it so many times. It's tough to say. It's hard to pick. I think they both have split in the Grand Slams this year. A year ago it was a close four sets. Philippoussis is a year older now, more experienced. It's still tough. I have to give the ever-so-slightly edge to Pete. You never know. Guys that hit the ball that big, if they're on that day, it's going to be tough.

Q. Talk a little bit about Thomas. You beat him easily this summer, but that was two out of three as opposed to three out of five. What do you expect from that match?

ANDRE AGASSI: One thing to say the score was easy, but I didn't feel it was an easy match. He hits the ball rough off both sides. I have to work hard to beat him. You know, it's going to be a good match. We've always had good matches. It's going to be, you know, big tennis. I hope that I can come out on top again.

Q. Back in 1994 when you played Muster at the French Open, then here, I had the feeling that you only shared mutual respect for each other. What has changed since then?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think really a lot's changed outside the fact when he accomplish what he did to get to No. 1 in the world, I think there were some misinterpretations from the media in reference to my appreciation for that achievement. I've always stated that he deserves it for working so hard and accomplishing it, because it's not easy. But they always would follow it up with what I think of the ranking system. My comment was, I've always complained about the ranking system. I think they took that and somehow I was saying Thomas doesn't deserve it because of the ranking system. That's difficult. The guy worked hard for something he finally accomplished, and he probably felt like I was dissin' him on it, and I wasn't. I think that had a very negative effect.

Q. Do you think he'll look at this as some sort of grudge match, considering all the seeding stuff that went on before the Open, anything else between you two?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think if anyone makes this more than a tennis match, it's their own issue. Come on, we're in the quarterfinals of the US Open. We both have won big events before. We both want to do it again. That's what we're both going out there and trying to do. To make it anything more than that is a waste of time.

Q. He is the type of guy, though, personality-wise that can kind of get fueled by the fact that he's going to prove them wrong, "I'm going to fight here." Do you agree with that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Do I agree with you?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he punches in the clock every time he steps on the court. I mean, every time he gets out there, he busts his ass to win. I don't expect him to do anything less.

Q. Andre, before you turned things around, did you know what was wrong or what wasn't working for you, and that sooner or later that was going to turnaround, or were you sort of mystified by it? Did you know the reasons is what I'm saying?

ANDRE AGASSI: I wasn't confused by it really. I mean, I just knew it would take some work and some time on the court and some matches. There's all those intangibles that makes somebody able to pull out a match. I can hit the ball great in practice, but just get your ass kicked left and right. There's intangibles that separate this game. You need to have them. It requires matches. It requires getting through the close ones so you can start getting the confidence for when to step it up and how to step it up, how to believe in your shots at the right time.

Q. Okay, Andre, we heard that at the Olympics Chelsea Clinton asked if she could meet with you for a little while. Then we decided it would be a great idea to have a contest to guess what Andre and Chelsea actually said when they met. Now we have to figure out what you two actually said. Could you help us out?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I think out of respect for Chelsea and really the nature of both our lives.

Q. Just a little hint.

ANDRE AGASSI: We were very nice to each other.

Q. You say it's going to be big tennis, you and Muster. Can you explain "big tennis"? Is it going to be the excitement, or the hitting of the ball out there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Big tennis when you get two guys trying to establish their will out there on the court. We both are going to be beating the ball pretty good from the baseline. You'll hear explosions off the racquet four, five, six times a point. That's big tennis.

Q. What about today's match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Thank you for that question. I felt like really it got started -- I got started off well. I had a Love-40 game where I didn't convert, missed a forehand long, Love-40, then a big ace up the middle. He had a good serve, got it low. He made a good forehand volley, cross-court pass that he got his racquet on. He held the game there, doubled at Love-30. Then he cold cocked a winner to break me. All of a sudden he got the break. I felt like he played a pretty good game to break me. I just didn't break his serve, that was all there was to it. Then I just kind of stayed on it. He got a bad call there, potentially. He thought it was. It was close, a huge serve up the middle, deuce point second game of the second set. They called it wide. He double-faulted, double-faulted for the game. That kind of turned things around a little bit there.

Q. How did you feel overall?

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt like I served well. I felt like I moved pretty well, worked the point. I did what I needed to do. Some players, you can't just come at them. David Wheaton is the kind of guy if you give him the pace constantly, he can hurt you. I mix it up well. Pleased with the way I played.

 
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