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Écrit par Jerome   


Flushing Meadows, New York

August 29, 1997

A. AGASSI/A. Voinea

6-0, 6-2, 6-2

An interview with:


Q. Andre, that was impressive. Could you comment on your peach outfit?

ANDRE AGASSI: Peach? What, are you color blind? That's pink, man, hard pink right there.

Q. Did you get any benefit out of this match today? I mean, it seemed one-sided.

ANDRE AGASSI: What round was I in before today, second round?

Q. Yes. Besides that, is that any kind of preparation for what you're going to face the next round with Woodforde?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's beautiful preparation as far as I'm concerned. I went out there and hit the ball well from start to finish, stayed focused the whole entire time, no real loose points. One game, 1-2 there in the third, I missed three backhand returns, which I was a little bummed about. But that was the only little stretch.

Q. Andre, could you talk about playing Mark Woodforde next, please.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a great match. He certainly has picked up his level of play, is playing some of the best tennis out there now, which he proved today with his win over Kafelnikov. You know, we're 3-2 I guess lifetime. He got me the last two times we played. In Indy, we played in the quarters there. Since then, I feel I've picked up my game. Looking forward to really sizing that one up.

Q. What do you remember about that Indy match that made it tough?

ANDRE AGASSI: It was a real awkward day. Wind was blowing all around. He was like a surgeon out there: Still making low percentage shots, hitting the ball an inch over the net. He has great hands, great feel, great wheels. He's starting to really know how to put it all together. He's a seasoned veteran. You got to go out there and beat him the whole time.

Q. Is he a guy that some players underestimate for singles because he's so successful as a doubles player?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the players have a very strong respect and knowledge of what he's capable of, no question about it. No, I don't think there's any player that has any insight at all into the game out there that doesn't step on the court with Mark Woodforde and know if they're not playing well, he's going to beat you. I mean, he's a good player. But certainly his accomplishments in doubles have far exceeded the singles. But most people know what they're in for when they play him.

Q. Andre, how far do you think you can go in this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, starting to put together my game again. It's starting to feel great to be out there. That's nothing but all good. I got better from the first match to the second match. I'm in familiar waters again, so I know I'll be playing even better in the next match, and so on.

Q. When was the last time it felt this good, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, for any period of time, really a couple years. You know, I had a nice little stretch there from like the middle of the Olympics through the US Open where, you know, I was really on my game, starting to play, feeling like I should win every match. That was the end of that.

Q. What do you think, you play too good or the other guy play too bad?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I did everything I needed to do. I mean, I was certainly -- you should ask him. I don't know what he felt. He was making errors, but I felt like I was forcing him to do more. If he wasn't making the errors, he was giving me a look at some offense and I was taking advantage out of it. I think it's a combination. He certainly missed a lot of first serves. The first set and that killed him, but then he picked it up and I picked it up.

Q. Andre, for an early round match, how does this new stadium compare to the old stadium for atmosphere?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I got to say, I was really interested to see how that would be. Because I kind of felt like with the size of it, you would get a lot of restlessness around there. The sound would funnel down. It would just be noisier. Many people wouldn't have a chance to be in it. But there were a lot of empty seats up top, which I guess is expected in a day match. Even at the night match, it seems to not only, you know, for it not to be noisy, but they actually seemed like they were into the match, which was a nice surprise. Today felt great. It felt better. I've got to say I can't find any negative things to say about it except from the practice court, there's not a score board out there. I don't like that.

Q. They'll work on it. They'll have one for you tomorrow.

ANDRE AGASSI: I appreciate that (laughter). You should be able to see the updates when you're out there getting warmed up.

Q. Andre, in the past you've talked about how crowded the schedule is, yet there was a press conference early today which announced that you and a number of other players are going to go to the Mandela Tribute in South Africa, if I understand, at your own expense. Could you take a moment and say why you're going to travel all the way to South Africa for that event?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, one of the things that I think has changed a lot in my life over the last four years has been my own foundation and the huge difference that it's made with relatively little effort. To see kids' lives change, I've seen it firsthand. We've raised well over I believe $6 million in the last three and a half years, and all that money has been, you know, making a daily difference in many kids lives. When you're able to see that, I think there's a lot more focus on the things you can do to make a difference versus tthe toll it might take on you I think Nelson Mandela, the respect that the world has for him, it speaks for itself. His interest in children's lives is certainly one of which you can only want to do more for because you know every dime that's made is going to make the difference. A lot of times you worry about that when it comes to doing charity events, that it all goes to administration costs. Nothing ever happens except somebody gets a good name out of it. In this case, you know your efforts will be maximized and you'll make a difference. I certainly believe in the cause.

Q. Andre, a few years back, you, an unseeded player, won the tournament. This year you're unseeded. Something about the New York atmosphere?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think I'm in two different places. '94, I was coming off wrist surgery at the start of the year. I played the whole year. I was working up and building momentum, suffering the losses. Then started coming together after winning the Canadian Open. Then my game was there for the US Open. So I felt like I just stepped out there and persevered to a place where now I'm starting to play well. This year has been more up-and-down, less consistent of a groove. Over the last few weeks it's starting to come together. That's a great sign. It's a great sign for the US Open and it's also a great sign beyond this to start getting myself back to where I'm playing this way all the time. So the US Open brings out the intensity for every player. It just happens to be a place that I love playing.

Q. Andre, how do you explain a year like this to yourself? Is it a question of motivation, because of physical problems, life-style changes that leads to a bumpy year like this? Obviously you can play well when you want to at times, other times not getting what you want.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I wouldn't say it's as easy as I play well when I want to. I mean, I think that's really not giving other players and the sport its due respect. You've got to work hard at this game. Something I've started to do this summer with the luxury of not having to worry about my wrist. But I size up the year by doing my best to forget about the tennis side of it, get pumped about the fact that I got married and I've had a lot of great things to feel good about this year. You know, professionally I'm making strides again. I can certainly get a little something out of the rest of the year. It would be a grand slam to all of a sudden win this thing. No pun intended. It would literally -- that obviously could turn everything around. But beyond that, just feeling good out there again, starting to beat some of these guys like this, it feels nice.

Q. Did you feel at times you didn't want to play tennis during this year?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, there were times where just the bottom line, struggle of wanting to play, but being a little out of sync, out of rhythm, my court feet not there, finding guys controlling points against you, that's not fun, when you've experienced the top level. I mean, there are times where I may not have wanted to, based on that alone, not really considering retirement or something like that, which I've heard talk about for the whole year.

Q. What is your hunger level now, would you say?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm like down two gallons now.

Q. Andre, do you still feel like a relatively young player or do you feel like you're sort of in the twilight of your career?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I think based on age alone, you'd have to base it on that and also on how I feel. Age alone, it's not fair to say twilight yet, in my opinion, although guys are younger and younger now. It gives you a feeling when you're 24 years old, you're a veteran. When you're 27, you're in the twilight. I believe physically you can withstand the demands of the Tour well into your 30s, if you can maintain the same desire and commitment. When I do play well out there, when I am getting it all together, what I do comes easy to me still, really easy.

Q. Do you think it's unfair when you're not at a tournament this year that everything is written about how you should be, tennis needs you, your responsibility to be there, people are always like sort of pounding on you when you're not there? Do you listen to any of that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I get pounded on when I am there, too. You get kind of used to it. You try to make the best decisions possible. You just accept the fact that no matter what decision you make, ultimately you're going to make mistakes.

Q. Pound for pound, do you think you're the most mistreated player in the game today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Mistreated, by who?

Q. By us guys.

ANDRE AGASSI: By the media? I don't know. I stopped reading like three or four years ago (laughter). I mean, I've got to say, I don't have an accurate perception of it. I certainly don't feel that when I'm in here, unless you guys are just playing me the position to just, you know, tear me up when you start writing. But I feel good. I mean, I don't have any sort of animosity or resentment. But then again, you know, I've stopped reading.

Q. Andre, does it bother you even a little bit as a player that it might be Pete and not you who breaks Emerson's record?

ANDRE AGASSI: You can't look at anything that Pete's done and do anything but marvel at it. I mean, what can I say to that? It's phenomenal. Son of a bitch has won how many Grand Slams (laughter)? Sometimes I get a little pissed at him. Beyond anything, I got to say in so many Grand Slams that I've seen him in, too, he hasn't even had easy draws. It's not like you can even point to like, "Gosh, this one he won because of this." I mean, he's grinded through to win Grand Slams. He's dominated to win Grand Slams. He deserves the credit he gets. I mean, the only thing I'm shooting for is the most I can get out of what it is I'm doing out there. When I get out there today, there's a lot out there for me. Even beyond what happens the rest the tournament, I enjoyed that today. There's a lot there. I think it offers a lot to the game to have people out there who can just leave it on the court. I mean, I'm fine with all that.

Q. Pete talked this year about how much he misses the rivalry you had going a couple years ago. How much do you miss that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I miss so much about being up top, I mean, being at the best, I miss so much about it. Certainly that's one of them. If I was still up there and Pete had kind of fallen off the face of the earth, I would say that's the only thing I'm missing. The fact that I'm the one that's kind of disappeared for a while, that's kind of at the end of a long list of things that I miss. You can't start talking about a rivalry with somebody who has accomplished as much as Pete has until you've proven you're in position to challenge it. I haven't been there. My heart, my desire, my will is pushing me forward again. I'll just do the best I can with that. I believe it's enough to get back.

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