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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1997 DAVIS CUP

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA

 

USA vs. THE NETHERLANDS

(QUARTERFINAL ROUND)

 

April 4, 1997

 

A. AGASSI/S. Schalken

7-6(6), 6-4, 7-6(2)

 

An interview with:

 

ANDRE AGASSI

 

Q How does it feel, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, that was great today. Just went right according to plan. Just -- the conditions were tough and it was weird because it wasn't a match, even starting, that it was a question of how well you have to play to win this one. It is how well you have to compete; how quick you have to be moving your feet and how few unforced errors to hit. Eventually it turned into a match of pretty good shots. So it was to actually get that kind of competitive tennis in those variables, we were both playing real well.

 

Q Yesterday you said you had to be more of a warrior than a tennis player. Was that the case today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. It is shocking how little there is to do with tennis when you are just thinking about nothing except, you know, winning every point. I mean, they just -- you just do your best to deal with the circumstances and you just hope that you have stored up enough practice hours to hit the right shots at the right time; try to get it done.

 

Q Can you elaborate on the very difficult conditions; tell me exactly how the horrible windows affected everything.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it was blowing a good 20 miles an hour out there, I am guessing. And, it was a pretty one-sided wind, but yet it had a certain swirl to it. So the side that I won the match on, that side had the advantage. It was a lot easier to hold serve from that side. You didn't have the sun and you had the wind on your back. And, I think this weather -- a lot of break of serves out there. You have two guys who are returning pretty well. It was tough to hit an effective first serve. Then if you are hitting a second serve, you are worried about, you know, hitting a doublefault or you are worried about hitting two conservative of a serve, for your opponent to get the first whack of the point. It was definitely a bit of cat and mouse out there, a little bit on the service games. I almost felt like it was a women's match with the break of serves happening. But, I think it was more to the returner's credit than it was each of us not really serving particularly well.

 

Q When you got off to a 4-0 start, did you feel like you were off; it is going to be a fairly easy match?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I mean, you can never count on it being easy in Davis Cup. I mean, I broke his serve. He made some errors early. I knew he was going to pull down -- throttle down and start making a lot of shots. He came out a little inexperienced. He was trying to establish the course of the match by dictating the player. With those kind of windy conditions -- and I just knew I just had to make a lot of balls early, let him know that I was there to win the match and I got a lot of errors from him. I knew he would throttle down and start making a lot more shots and try to find his groove. So, I did think I was going to run away with the first set, though, I thought it could be a 6-2 set and now we are going to play a tough tennis match.

 

Q How nervous were you at the start?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I really wasn't too nervous. I was just excited to play. The whole week I have been a little edgy to play and I just had to just get out there and play, really. There was nothing to do except to start the match. So, I was ready to play. I wasn't too nervous. I was pretty excited.

 

Q Did you give any advice to Mr. Courier about the wind and about the conditions before they went out and came back in?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, Jim -- I mean, he is a veteran. He will size it up quickly. He has been playing out there in the wind everyday. He knows exactly what to expect out there today. So, there was nothing really for me to say. I mean, there was nothing different today than the way it has been all week.

 

Q What stands out in your mind about the first tiebreaker; especially that very long point?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think that point was the point of the match really. It was 6-All in the tiebreaker. I had the wind in my face. So, every shot I was hitting I was using every ounce of energy. And, I don't remember exactly, but I am thinking it was like a 30- or 40-ball rally. I mean, that was two guys just trying to not make errors and ultimately playing a great, great play. I mean, again, I can't emphasize enough about -- a lot of times you see tennis get very conservative in conditions like that. And we both got conservative. We both made a lot of shots and both started picking it up. Next thing you know, we were actually playing real good tennis in tough conditions. So, it was a good match all the way around.

 

Q Andre, do you think that you played well in bad conditions today or that you played well?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would have played a lot better had the conditions not been so tough. But, I think I played real well in spite of the conditions, considering the conditions, played extremely well.

 

Q Andre, how is it that you are able to be so successful in Davis Cup and you won six first rounders; you come out and snap your string here in Davis Cup; how is that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, it is not about -- I have won enough matches to know what it is like to win and certainly lost enough to know what it is like to lose. It is just getting out there and working hard. I mean, it could have gone against me, possibly. But, you just got to persevere and keep coming back for more and, you know, expecting it to turn around. And, you know, so it was definitely a step in the right direction.

 

Q After your rough patch, do you view this match possibly as a breakthrough? Do you feel you could get some momentum into the Grand Slam season with this one?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, it is -- more than anything, it is -- it shows me exactly how tough I am to beat if I just set my mind to it at every point of the match. And, that requires a certain amount of discipline and a certain amount of belief in yourself. And I think my discipline has been such that I have been working really hard this year and a match like this can definitely get me excited about converting breakpoints and putting matches away. And, it could very easily be a breakthrough match for me.

 

Q Are you implying that your mind might not quite have been there during these past matches or --

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I think it is a combination. When the discipline is there and you are working hard, but you don't convert at Love-40, you know, then you start second guessing your shots selection; you start second guessing your instinct to put away a match. All of a sudden your mind, you know, my mind gets the best of me like that. I start questioning shots; then -- I am an instinctive player. So, it is really not about wanting to do it. It is -- but, you know, the pieces have to come together. You have to hit fairways and putt well to win a golf tournament. It is the same thing. You have got to have the work behind you and you have got to have the belief in the victory. You can't get the belief unless you get the wins. And, so it is a momentum thing that happens with me. And, that is why when my train starts moving, it really moves.

 

Q Was he more he resilient than you thought he might be?

ANDRE AGASSI: He told a friend of mine in Key Biscayne that he wanted a piece of me in Key Biscayne so, you know, I gave him a shot of me here and he missed it.

 

Q What did you feel about him?

ANDRE AGASSI: I knew he could come in strong. He is a young kid in a great position to get a lot of experience out of this Davis Cup. So, he played really -- I was impressed the way he handled himself and the way he competed.

 

Q Andre, after not having played a whole lot of matches recently, did you think it was important for you to close this guy out in straight sets?

ANDRE AGASSI: I had felt physically pretty strong. I mean, I felt like I was doing a bit more of the donating to get to the tiebreaker in the second set. I felt like I earned my breaks and then kind of missed some first serves, couple doublefaults at 30-All. So, I mean, I felt like I could have pulled away from him in the fourth or in the fifth, but in Davis Cup you just want the victory. You want the W. 1-nothing, that is it, match over, let us talk about the next one. That is the mindset.

 

Q Tennis officials are talking about changing the Davis Cup from 4 to 3 rounds each year and to include Davis Cup results in the rankings. Could you comment on those two issues?

ANDRE AGASSI: I haven't thought -- never considered Davis Cup actually being considered in the rankings. I mean, I would like to see Davis Cup go every other year, ideally. It is just -- there would be so much more focus on it; especially here in America. And I think countries would get their best players to play. We have the luxury of having a lot of top guys at the moment, so, it is a nice problem to have when you don't have guys that want to play, I mean, in a certain sense. By the same token, I think that we should do something to make Davis Cup a bit more of a necessity because I mean, it is a big part of the game. I mean, there is no question that Davis Cup has held a piece of tennis that really you don't get anywhere. You don't get it in the Grand Slams. You don't get it anywhere. I think it should be respected by the players. I am just not sure that making it necessarily affect your rankings is the way to do it. I would like to see it go to every other year. And I like -- man, I'd like to see the guys play, that is it. It is disappointing not to have guys come in. Guys like Jim Courier and Todd Martin are just off the charts in how -- the quality of people that they are to make the decision too tough out Davis Cup. It is not easy.

 

Q Did Tom say anything to you during the course of the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, we were talking at all the changeovers. He is keeping me focused on the right things. Not letting me get too discouraged by losing my serve and giving me insight as to why I was missing some of my serves and talking a lot. I mean, he had a lot to say out there. Tom is right there in the game.

 

Q Andre, how much disappointment is it for you not having rest of the top U.S. Players on the team here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it is disappointing, certainly. I think more than for me, for the country. I mean, we should have the best guys playing. I know Pete is injured right now, but I think Michael should be here. I don't know why he is not here. I mean, he has proven himself for the last, how many years, how good he is. And he should be giving more to Davis Cup.

 

Q He said he had commercial requirements in Hong Kong that is the reason he gave.

ANDRE AGASSI: Commercial requirements?

 

Q Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, film your commercial here, but play Davis Cup. I mean, you got to -- if you are asked to play, you have got to play. I mean, you can't just decline it. I could see -- I have gone through stages where I have played for a few years. I said, this year, it is more about this, for me. I mean, that is understandable. But, what is not understandable is continually not show the support. I think that, you know, I think people should get on people who don't commit to playing. I think it is too hard to do what Jim does, what he did down in Brazil; what Todd Martin has done over and over again; what I have done over and over again. I mean, it is too hard to do that to not get on those that don't. It is too commendable.

 

Q Can you compare this to the Ryder Cup in a sense where those guys obviously it means a lot to all of them, it is every other year, is that a valid comparison to make?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it is. I think the line that I draw, kind of the parallel that I draw is, you know, golf and tennis are individual sports. And, very few times a year does tennis become more than just about, you know, mono, mono. Now all of a sudden we are a part of a team and this team works together. This team lives together. This team tries to accomplish a common goal. There is nothing greater than at the end of the weekend everybody getting the point. And, I think that they probably feel the same way in golf. To come together as a team and to really pull for those that you grew with, is a phenomenal feeling. It is one that you don't get to experience in our game too often.

 

Q The crowd wasn't all that vocal today. Did you expect more support from the crowd?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I don't really step out on the court and thinking about the crowd. I am hoping they are thinking about their job and I am just kind of trying to win the match. I always like to see Americans get more into it, but, you know, I have played it long enough to know that, you know, they are excited about their day of tennis as opposed to beating the Netherlands. The Netherlands wants to beat USA. So sometimes you have got to -- it is good and bad there. Sometimes we can be -- we tend to be a little spoiled with how many sports and how many sport heroes we have. So you don't see the same intensity as you do when you go overseas. But I thought they were right there every step of the way. And, I think they stepped it up at the right time.

 

Q Have you played here at Palisades before in your junior career?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, never played here.

 

Q Newport Beach, have you played as a kid?

ANDRE AGASSI: Never played in Newport, no.

 

Q What are your thoughts on Newport Beach?

ANDRE AGASSI: The hotel and the tennis courts and the airport are quality, I like it.

 

Q How about the people?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I haven't experienced many. The team has been wonderful to me. It has been very singleminded this week unfortunately.

PAGE CROSLAND: Any other questions.

 

Q Were you surprised to be playing No. 1 singles?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I think they go by ranking as of a certain date.

 

Q Do you know why they chose that particular --

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know the protocol. It is the rules. There is a certain protocol. They take rankings, but it doesn't matter. You have got to win two matches. You have got to win as much as you can, and, you know, I have no problem playing one or two.

 

Q You are now closing on a record for consecutive victories in Davis Cup held by Bill Tilden. Does it means anything to you to have that record?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it means a lot to me to contribute every time I play. I want to get the victory for the United States. Honestly, if we are up 3-0, you know, I am not caring as much as that win to be honest on Sunday, just for the record sake. Because I don't think it is reflective. I think needs to be live Davis Cup matches and that the match has to count. It has to have everything on the line; then you want the victory, but if we are up 3 nothing, then you are talking about an exhibition.

 

Q Do you have any thoughts as to how the Davis Cup maybe restructured to make Sunday meaningful?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think it needs to be meaningful. That is like saying how could we make every World Series go to 7 games. I mean, it is either -- it is going to or it is not. I think you cannot sell 3-day tickets, so that you can give people the choice, you know, to just buy for that day and if we are up 3 nothing, then we are not obligated to play and it is over. We won. Why do you want to come out and see something that is already over? Do we want to play it just see what the score could have been? It is not -- there is nothing about it that makes sense. I think it only risks tennis players to injury and only adds more matches to somebody who has committed to giving a lot to Davis Cup; make them play more. I don't like it at all.

PAGE CROSLAND: Andre, thank you very much.

ANDRE AGASSI: Thank you.

 
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