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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION

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

September 7, 1996

M. CHANG/A. Agassi

6-3, 6-2, 6-2

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

Q. Surprisingly flat out there today. Just couldn't get going at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I felt pretty flat. I think we both started off pretty flat. I had a three 15-30 games in a row and I missed a lot of returns, second serve returns in the net. And all of a sudden, he got a break and I think he was as surprised as I was that he was serving for the first set. Then he picked up his service game. I mean, I felt like he really served well after that and I never really found my game. The wind was moving around and I felt like at that stage he was just keeping the ball in play and in a sense, forcing me to press a little bit and had I not pressed then, he would have stepped it up. It looked like he had much more rhythm than I did, so I was always worried to just return it. I wanted to just keep hitting my shots and hoping I would find it, but I wasn't even close.

Q. Were there times when today is almost like a runaway train, nothing is going right and you can't figure out why it is not going right?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that is a good analogy. I mean, the conditions didn't lend itself either to finding your rhythm certainly, and Chang is a hard guy to find that rhythm against as well. I mean, I feel like if I got a few balls in play, then he stepped it up and put meet on the defense, so it was -- it wasn't good.

Q. Were you surprised how well he served?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I was. I could have hurt his second early in the match. That would have had a big impact on his service games, but I don't think he felt the pressure on his second serve, so, you know, he just kept going for his first serve and he found his range and he came with some big serves at crucial times. I could have got up a break in the second; maybe made something happen, it wasn't to be.

Q. How much different or better is he now than three, four, five years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: It is tough to say. I think everybody improves every year, the top players who are on their game are always getting better. I mean, there is arguments to both sides. I have always felt like he is a tough competitor. I think that he has added certain dimensions to his game. I think adding the big serve has also hurt his game in some ways and has helped his game in others ways. But overall, I think he is just a much more experienced player now and older and mature and he is known when to come in and knock off some volleys so that makes him a better player than certainly a lot better than he used to be.

Q. How does the serve hurt?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, if he is serving under 50%, it is tough to really go through a lot of top players. If he plays guys that can hurt his second, he definitely defends his second better than any other player as well, but I still feel like -- I mean, I would like to see his service percentage up in the low 60s as opposed to under 50, I think more on the defense than he needs to be.

Q. You were known for attacking serve, what happened today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Maybe a bit of footwork, the winds moving. A lot of them I just bailed on right there in the net. I mean, I don't usually miss them in the net. Usually I am taking good clean shots at it and making good errors, but I couldn't even make good errors. It felt like on those second serves, it was --

Q. Andre, Michael just said on television that even though he is higher ranked and everything, he felt that he was the underdog in today's match. Did you feel there was a little pressure there?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, there -- I always put the pressure on myself to beat everybody who I am playing. I always feel like I should win this match. There is certainly always a level of pressure on all accounts when you are playing in the semis of a Grand Slam. I mean, maybe going into the match I would agree he was the underdog, but it doesn't seem like that to me a whole lot right now.

Q. Should you have changed when what your started off with wasn't working, to change; come in more or --

ANDRE AGASSI: No, then you are just -- you are waiting to lose. I mean, it is no secret how I belt Michael when I beat him. I find my range and dictate play and make him run until he doesn't feel like doing it anymore.

Q. You kept trying to push that through the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I just kept trying -- I couldn't confidently hit a backhand up the line today. I mean, that is a big element to my game. I couldn't hurt his second knowing, you know, real believing that I was going to make the shot. I missed a lot of those. So, you know, that is not good.

Q. Were you confident going in?

ANDRE AGASSI: I have been hitting the ball well, but today was a really - the wind really was moving around there, you know, today it is important to have good footwork; to be moving really well and maybe not taking as many chances. I was just a little flat. I wasn't sharp. Wasn't picking up the ball and responding with my feet.

Q. Did you feel good this morning when you got up or did you feel out of sorts this morning or just --

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt pretty good. It is tough, you have two days off and, you know, got off to a little, you know, slow start and then when he got on top of me, I just never got out of it.

Q. A match like that, when things are going wrong, you begin to almost think too much and distract yourself from what you are trying to do?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it is hard to get back into it once it gets to a certain point.

Q. What are the parallels between your victories in Australia and here?

ANDRE AGASSI: The same-similar kind of day. Very windy and kind of humid and the match never really had the intensity. I feel like if there is a lot of intensity when we play, then he becomes the underdog based on the fact that maybe I have some more weapons off the ground, but he is always forcing you to do that and he does that well, better than anybody, but when -- if we are both flat or we are both not quite have that intensity out there, I think all of a sudden, it favors his style of play.

Q. You mentioned beforehand about Chang having nine different strategies. How much can you vary it from game to game to game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think he came out with an intention to hit good aggressive shots and he quickly went towards just not making errors. When he - all of a sudden when he was second for the first set, I think he felt like if I just make a lot of balls here maybe I can, you know, go onto run - go on a run and get a good lead working, because it was apparent that I wasn't making my shots.

Q. It's the end of the Grand Slam season now for you. You did win the Olympic Gold which I know was a goal for you. Could you assess your year?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not a great year. But you know, Olympic Gold has added to my career. I mean, I can't feel bad about this year based on that alone. That doesn't mean that I don't feel I should have had a better year. I wanted to do much better in the Slams.

Q. Do you remember when he had the kind of serve that you could just climb all over and crack returns off of?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I think he is a little smarter with mixing around his second a little bit. But I think you can still hurt his second. He is more experienced at defending his second. I don't think his serve his second serve has improved that much. It is still a very hittable second serve.

Q. Is there a lot more speed on the first?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, but I mean, speed doesn't mean anything if you get your racket on it or if he doesn't get it in.

Q. Pete said in the past that he felt like last year's final might have taken something out of you coming into this year. Do you think there is anything to that or?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I mean, that is long gone. The way the season ended for me was very difficult, you know, ending such a great year with an injury that put me out for those months wasn't a great way to finish one year, was terrible way to start the next.

Q. Will you continue to work with Brad Gilbert?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah.

Q. What do you think about his chances for tomorrow with either one?

ANDRE AGASSI: It is tough to say not seeing the match out here now. I don't know how Pete is feeling. I am not quite sure if Pete will be the underdog at this point physically if it has taken a toll on him. I think, certainly, if Pete was fresh and healthy, I would make him the solid favorite here, but if he plays Goran in the finals, it is a tough call. I think Chang has the mental edge. I think he can make things happen out there, but also Goran's serving heat, it could be 1, 2, 3 and out. You never know. I kind of sound like Nick when I predict a match there. (audience laughter).

Q. Nobody can sound like Nick.

ANDRE AGASSI: It is tough to say.

Q. How bad were the planes out there? How did you deal with that kind of noise?

ANDRE AGASSI: That was weird. I haven't seen a plane really that close to the stadium in a long time. I mean, it has been a few years. You just try to block it out as best you can, really nothing you can do.

Q. Has Nick sent you an autographed copy of his book yet?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I am sure he has given autographed copies to his entire family.

Q. If you think back two years, really the top part of your career started here when he went unseeded; then he went the Australian had that great rivalry with Pete through last years, you mentioned a moment ago (Inaudible.). Have you found it difficult this year to be as intense as you were on and off the match court?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it is a combination of a lot of factors. I mean, you have to be confident. You have to be match tough. I mean, there is a lot of things that go into playing intense tennis and I didn't quite ever get my rhythm this year until this summer, and this summer I felt like I played pretty intense tennis. But the intensity is something that comes along a process of a lot of hard work and a lot of finding your game and feeling like you are getting better and stepping out on the court with that kind of confidence and that is what I have been doing this summer, which has been nice considering how most of the year has gone.

Q. Did you lose today or did Michael win?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it was a strong combination of both. I can't -- I mean, you can't take any credit away from him because had it been another player, I might have found my rhythm and might have won the match, so you have got to give him a lot of credit, set, game, match, Chang, got to give it to his credit. By the same token, I felt like I was 40% the player that I have been.

Q. Did you speak to Pete after the match on Thursday or sometime?

ANDRE AGASSI: Pete?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. Was the second game of the second set, that long one, the most decisive game?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think that was an opportunity for me to get up a break there; had a couple of breakpoints and then once I am up a break, you never know if I get through the second set it is a set a piece, find my rhythm, is becomes more of a physical match, good things can happen, but it never quite got there, I mean, when I had had the overhead for game point and just the wind was moving it around and I hit it clean, it just flew long. It was just just wasn't falling at all.

 
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