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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1997 DAVIS CUP

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA

 

USA vs. THE NETHERLANDS

(QUARTERFINAL ROUND)

 

April 6, 1997

 

A. AGASSI/J. Siemerink

3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

 

An interview with:

 

ANDRE AGASSI

 

Q Andre, is there any particular point in the game that you can say was the turning point as far as you felt today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I felt like at the time you hope it is a turning point, but when I broke him for the first time in the third set, I felt like I started getting on to his serve a lot better. I mean, once I was sitting there returning serve feeling like I am going to win the point, then it start -- things started really moving positively. He was hurting me with that lefty second serve into the body forehand. And, today the court played a lot quicker. I think the wind died. It was hotter. The ball was shootin off the strings and I didn't quite -- I wasn't quite pulling the trigger on that. And, he was getting away with a lot of second serve points won and as soon as I started making that return, I started feeling very comfortable and then I felt like it was in my favor.

 

Q How conscious were you of Schalken's performance against Courier on Friday, the where the turning point also came into the third?

ANDRE AGASSI: Schalken against Courier.

 

Q Friday performance when Courier --

ANDRE AGASSI: Against Siemerink?

 

Q Yes, sorry.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, Siemerink doesn't give you a lot of looks at finding your rhythm. So what happens against him is like against Schalken, I hit a few balls, my feet pick up; all of a sudden you open up the point; you sprint and you end the point with a short ball. Against Siemerink, you can hit just a normal rally shot and the next thing you know, you are sprinting and having to hit a target of inches. So, what is difficult is if you are not -- if you start off bad, sometimes it can get away from you. And I felt like as soon as we started having more rallies, I started zoning in on my returns and my passing shots a lot better.

 

Q Andre, it is obvious that it was a very emotional victory for you. Could you put into words the satisfaction of doing what you did?

ANDRE AGASSI: Could I do what?

 

Q Put into words the satisfaction of what you did.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I was just very pumped up. I mean, it is not it -- is always a thrill to be a part of Davis Cup. It is a thrill to be in that kind of environment and I just-- I just won. I felt like I should have won the match. I never really felt like it was emotional. I didn't overcome any kind of like where I felt like I was down and really things have to go my way. I felt like it was more very mechanical. I just -- I had to start making some returns. And once I did, I methodically kept the lead. That is all I was looking for. When it was all said and done, then I get excited.

 

Q With his comeback, did you think with his confidence, where his mind might be at that time?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I wasn't really thinking about him too much at all, to be honest. I mean, again, I think that once he felt like I was staying in the batter's box there on my returns and making him play some low volleys, I mean, you know, he was fighting, you know, a tough opponent at that point. It doesn't matter if you are up two sets or not, he had to close me out. I obviously made it tough for him to do. I got up the early break in each of the three sets, so that was a big factor.

 

Q You seemed to be having a little trouble holding your serve early. What was the problem there?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think matchplay has a lot to do with it. I think getting into these situations over and over again, just learning how to relax, and hit effective serves, and not worry about him coming in. He puts a lot of pressure on your second serve. You feel his presence. He goes from the baseline ranked 500 in the world to net, ranked top 3 in the world. You know, so you are playing against a guy who arguably can't really hit effective shot from the ground, and then he hits a good slice and comes in and then he is, you know, he is covering the net every bit as well as Edberg did. So, it is a tough rhythm and so when you feel that pressure on some second serves and, you know, you are going to struggle, he is going to make you feel it. If you can't get through that by hitting good effective first serves, then you are forced to hit a lot of seconds; only bad things can happen and they did early.

 

Q Andre, were you aware of getting this match that he had won newer matches on the ATP this year than you have?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

 

Q He seemed to be a better player than his record?

ANDRE AGASSI: He a veteran. He knows how to play well in Davis Cup especially. His game is a very tough game to beat. He is a player that does well under certain conditions too. Like he is a much better indoor player, very tough to play indoor. Sometimes the element, the wind, the sun, it affects his toss. He is coming in behind a lot of balls and maybe making some mistakes and so, I think his game can vary as far as how good he plays. But, I thought this weekend, he played extraordinarily well.

 

Q In Australia, Chang was asked whether Henman reminded him at all of Edberg. Chang just laughed. You do you see any elements of Edberg in Siemerink?

ANDRE AGASSI: Maybe if he doesn't tip very well after his dinner, I don't know. No, I think Henman is an all-around player. I mean, I felt like Eddy had to avoid a weakness with his forehand and it was incredible what he managed to do with that forehand. You give that forehand to anybody else, that has been No. 1 and they are -- you can't -- he really hid that weakness well. I don't feel like Henman necessarily has a weakness. He just does all parts of the game extraordinarily well. Moves gracefully and backhand, forehand, volley, serve.

 

Q Are you going to be available for the next round the semifinals or is it too early to say?

ANDRE AGASSI: We haven't discussed anything. If I get picked, I am sure that I will be there.

 

Q Do you have a preference where that Tie would be played in September?

ANDRE AGASSI: I am a little partial to Vegas (laughter).

 

Q Talk about the atmosphere out there today. I thought the crowd was a little bit jacked up today than say when you played on Friday. Obviously, today, was the pivotal day. I thought maybe you got a little bit more involved; played with the crowd a little bit more today. Would you agree with that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not really. It wasn't calculated from that part.

 

Q I think the crowd might have seen they were --

ANDRE AGASSI: I think when we were up 2 nothing and what happens in the Tie, and really, first 1 to 3 and it is the easy thought to think, okay, now we are going to win it. Then all of a sudden, the doubles doesn't go our way and the crowd from Holland really gets under the American's skin that day. It always happens. They start doing there cheering. They are wearing pumpkin looking things and they get under their skin. The next day, the Americans come a little bit more ready for work.

 

Q You say you are not an early morning player. Did the time element; plus we had to set the clocks ahead, did that have anything to do with the slow start today?

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't feel like it did. I was up my standard four hours before I played. I was up before 7 this morning. So, you -- usually that is what -- that is what I refer to is just being able to be awake and alert. Probably had some effect too. The sun was in a different spot too. We weren't used to playing with the sun over -- that had a little bit of an effect on my serve early. But, more than anything, I just needed to just find my groove and I didn't find it as quickly as I probably should have. When was the mental shift. In the third. When I broke him, I felt like, okay, now I am starting to fire on all cylinders. I mean, I still had a long match ahead of me. At least I felt like I could bring my game to the match and make him feel my presence out there.

 

Q After the fourth, no stopping you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I was just -- I mean, I broke him twice in the third; once in the fourth; twice in the fifth. I was in good form.

 

Q Did you ever feel like you were playing his game?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I never -- I would never just hit the ball and come sprinting forward.

 

Q What is your record against lefthanded players?

ANDRE AGASSI: Through the course of my career, it has been outstanding. I always played well against lefties. But, this year, I have lost to two lefties Rusedski in San Jose and I lost to Draper in Key Biscayne. When you haven't had the matches and all of a sudden you got the different spin coming at you, it is a little -- you have to be better, much better with your footwork, I think, against a lefty than a righty.

 

Q Andre, was there a way of quantifying what Davis Cup means to a match like this? I mean, outside of this, if this was Key Biscayne or something, is that a match that you would likely to have lost?

ANDRE AGASSI: I was down two sets today. If I didn't get it together, I would have lost today.

 

Q The fact that it is Davis Cup --

ANDRE AGASSI: The fact that it is Davis Cup brings out a certain intensity, I think, from all the players, a certain amount of nerves from all the players. But, no, with that kind of focus, I mean, I was just trying to keep my concentration; not lose focus and turn things around and I could have turned that match around anywhere if I just started returning well and hitting some shots. But, there is no question that Davis Cup helps.

 

Q Last year you said winning the Olympics was the one thing, the key thing and you pulled that off tremendously. This year, at year's end, what would it be that you would say you would have a successful year having accomplished in 1997?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, to me, winning the Slams, you know, winning the Slams. I want to win the Slams. I want to win any of them, all of them. I want to win any time I have a chance and getting myself into position to effectively be able to raise your game at the right time and to win a tournament like that requires a lot of work. And, this is a good step in that direction.

 

Q Before the French, will you do anymore tournaments in Europe or prepare here on clay?

ANDRE AGASSI: I have Barcelona and Hamburg, Atlanta, and then an exhibition before Paris. If that is not enough, then, you know, I mean, God help me. I got to just get out there and work the point on the clay and, you know, pay the price physically and try to break the guys down and that is my game. That is what I have to go through.

 

Q This weekend, do you feel you have found your form now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think ---I have given myself now a chance to really see improvements, to start capitalizing on breakpoints; to start, you know, holding serve. I mean, like 1995, Australian Open, I lost my serve three or four times the whole tournament. That is when my game is tight. When I am really bearing down at the right -- on the right shots and executing my shots well.

 

Q You and Jim have now come back in this Tie from being down two sets to Love. Where do you guys find it? I mean, to a normal person, that sounds like the most difficult thing to do to be on the ropes like that and come back and win it. ? How do you do it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it is difficult. It is difficult because you got down two sets because the guy was kicking your ass, so now you have got to do something different and then make it work. It is not easy to do. I mean, for me, I don't -- I mean, I don't know if you mean on a mental level or what, but I am just focused on every point. And, if I am up two sets, down two sets, you got to be thinking: Make the guy work; make the guy beat you; make him hit the right shots; don't have him hit the points off shots that shouldn't win the point. If he can beat you then, that is fine. But, I felt like today, when I really started making my returns and started moving hitting shots more effectively, it didn't matter I was down two sets. My goal was to win every point. I won every point. And, so, next thing you know, an hour later, it is two sets all and we are in a battle.

 

Q These two great wins this weekend, after your rough patch, your slump, do you think this is a turnaround; do you think the monkey is off your back in some way?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think it can only help, certainly. I would be beat two guys this weekend Schalken and Siemerink. I want to do that every time I play those guys. I want to do it every time I play a match. So, it is just get out there and making it happen now. I mean, I can guess all I want, but go to work and next time I think it will be easier. I think this makes it a lot easier now. I have gotten those wins under my belt, and, you know, I think I will start even playing a lot better real soon.

 

Q What was Gully's advice to you when you were down two sets?

ANDRE AGASSI: He kept on, you know, reassuring me that it is just a question of me getting that break and getting ahead of him and starting to hit my shots. I mean, that is -- I got up the early break in the third and that is -- I think when we started our march, I mean, it was very clear that we are going to try to win this match. I mean, we can do it. He was in there all the way.

 

Q Did he suggest that you use the lob a little more?

ANDRE AGASSI: He was suggesting a lob on every changeover. I used it a couple of times, very crucial. Ball the break in the fourth set and 15-30, I hit a running forehand toppy lob that won the point, so, I mean, if I had to look at the ball then I feel good about making the shot whether I was lobbing or not. But, he gets real close to the net. So that is -- it is a good shot to establish early.

 

Q Andre, on behalf of myself and my associates, I'd like to congratulate late you on winning the Brooke Shields Cup at the engagement party at Malibu about 60 days ago, 30 days ago.

ANDRE AGASSI: Winning what?

 

Q They announced you had an engagement party in Malibu.

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh. All right then. Don't believe everything you read.

 

Q How much communication is there with eye contact between you and Tom while you are on the court? I noticed you were looking at each other a lot as the match went on. Is there sort of -?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think, if anything, you are trying to get the crowd going; you are trying to get everybody -- you are trying to create the momentum. I mean, there is -- how do you explain momentum. You have just got to keep going and hope it stays with you, you know, I think that is an effective way to do it to keep the focus. Whatever you need to do to keep focus on what you need to do out there. To me, it was key, I had the first serve, my return, and moving my feet explosively to the first ball because a lot of times that first ball is forced; you have to hit a good shot. Those were the three things I kept focusing on. Anything you have to do to get yourself to focus on that. You can think about -- you can be thinking about dinner as long as the time comes you are going to get back to thinking about the right thing and I think in this case, with Davis Cup, I enjoy the, you know, the fellowship out there and I get into it. That keeps me focused on what I am supposed to be doing.

 

Q Is this a thrill comparable to winning a Grand Slam?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Winning the Davis -- to win the whole thing is, you know, it is different. I mean, we are a team and to win a Grand Slam, you have all the best players in the world there. You have to be the one standing at the end. I think it is tougher to win a Grand Slam. But, there are some Davis Cup matches that force you to dig deeper than any Grand Slam match could ever ask you to do.

 

Q Andre, you talk about focus. Is that what you think has been lacking for you of late is the ability to focus?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think focus is a combination of discipline and belief. I mean, for me, that is the connection. There have been times when my work ethic has been great this year. I mean, I have been working hard. A couple of times I have second guessed myself. Then there are times when, you know-- when, okay, you are feeling confident or something like that, but if you are not putting in the work, it is tough to keep that intensity. So, it is about building both. And, for me, it is starting to happen.

 
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