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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1998 NEWSWEEK CHAMPIONS CUP

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

 

March 12, 1998

 

ANDRE AGASSI/P. Rafter

6-3, 3-6, 6-2

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

 

MIKI SINGH: 13 straight for Andre. Next up is either Jan-Michael Gambill or Jim Courier for tomorrow's quarterfinal. First question for Andre.

 

Q. Will you stop picking on the Australians?

ANDRE AGASSI: You have to raise your level against them. There's a lot of good ones, certainly. Good match today.

 

Q. How much better are you playing than when you played him at The Open end of August, September?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's hard to put a percentage on it. But I'd have to say at least a couple hundred percent better.

 

Q. Did you hurt yourself very badly?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm sorry?

 

Q. When you fell, did you hurt yourself bad?

ANDRE AGASSI: (Pointing to small scratch.) . When I went down, my foot went out, I felt a little something in my hip. I'm not a flexible guy; I don't like falling (laughter).

 

Q. What was the deciding factor in the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I think just in the third set, I raised the intensity a little bit, managed to get on him early. I hit some good returns. I was making him volley a lot off his second serve. I rushed pretty well today. It's tough to volley effectively in altitude, too. If I got good wind on the shot, it was tough to control the volley. I managed to get him to miss some volleys, managed to get him to be a little bit too aggressive on the second serve, got a few double-faults. I was moving well, had a few opportunities on second shots to be in a position for a pass or topspin lob.

 

Q. Did you feel the second set was more him picking up his game, or did you have a little of a lull?

ANDRE AGASSI: He played a real good game to break me after I broke him back. But the first break I felt like I kind of donated a little bit. That was the easier side to hold from. A little bit of a breeze at your back, you could work the first serve and take control of the point. With the wind at my back, I got a little tentative with my shots. A couple of them floated long. He snuck a break there. I broke him right back, pretty fortunate for that. One lucky reflex shot. He played a game to break me. Raised his level definitely in the second set. He started hitting some good shots.

 

Q. When you were working to come back, how much emphasis did you put on your serve? It seems a lot better, not that it was bad, than it was even in the past.

ANDRE AGASSI: I guess in a way it does. I haven't really focused on it as something that I need to make a huge part of my game. But needless to say, I know if I get a few points on my serve here and there, it helps out. Really you're just seeing me getting better as I start getting more matches.

 

Q. You may have answered this in Australia or some of the other tournaments. When you were not playing well last year, and I guess most athletes when things go wrong, you sort of get down on yourself, did you not want to go out and play tennis? Has it reversed 180 degrees where you want to go out every day and play?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I did answer that one (laughter). You know what it is, when you're used to a level of play, used to winning, it really boils down to that, and then you stop winning, start losing, and then you respond to that by not working as hard as you should, it kind of snowballs on itself. You get to a point where it seems like you're getting worse every time you play. That kills your desire. You stop enjoying it. It's not like winning one match does anything positive for you. You have to win tournaments, at my level, to feel like you're accomplishing things. So it kind of works on itself in a snowball fashion. You know, the reverse is happening now, which is I'm just excited to play because I know that I'm getting better. Every match, every tournament, I feel things improving. That's inspiring, you know. Then if you happen to lose a match, it's not quite as devastating because you feel like you have an answer to those concerns.

 

Q. It seems that when you want to be in great shape, you are in great shape. So if you can tell me your goal for this year. If you can tell me your goal.

ANDRE AGASSI: I hope to spend this hardcourt season and claycourt season establishing myself as a player who can win a Slam, you know.

 

Q. Describe yourself in three words, please? Describe your game today in three words.

ANDRE AGASSI: Why in three words?

 

Q. What just comes to your mind.

ANDRE AGASSI: Very, very good.

 

Q. Is it more fun to you, the hunt of getting out there, than actually like when you're there, at the top of your game?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've enjoyed both. I'm very familiar with the feeling of having to kind of battle, so that's probably more fun to me than it might be to most guys. But being on the top is always the best.

 

Q. Do you develop certain strategies against every opponent you play with? Do you see a video?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know most of the guys. You know them, you've played them before. Rafter and I have played seven, eight times. It's not like we don't know each other's game.

 

Q. Andre, was revenge a factor in this match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's actually beaten me the last couple. It's not even about revenge. You know, it's about showing that you've made improvements. There's only one way to see it, and that's playing against guys that were beating you. So in one sense you could say it's revenge. It's more revenge on my own game, you know, playing better now, wanting to go out there and measure it all up.

 

Q. Andre, there's a lot of players with the big serve. You hear people all the time say, "I want to work on my serve, get more free points." You come in and say, "I want to use the serve to set the point up," which seems just diametrically opposed. Would it take a total change in your game to emphasize the serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, there's certain limitations I have. First of all, it's not like I have an incredible trajectory. I mean, I can hit a serve 130 miles an hour; I just can't get them in (laughter). Then if I do get them in, I can't get them in on four corners. I mean, if I wanted to regroup, just develop a big serve, I'd have to start from scratch. First of all, my racquet isn't oversize. You don't get a lot of racquet speed. I string it very tight, with very dense string, because I like to crack the ball. That's another problem. I mean, there's nobody in the world that's going to serve 140 with my racquet. But then if I go to a livelier racquet with a smaller head, I start serving better, I'm going to start shanking returns, missing shots, not picking up from the baseline. I'll be one of these fellows that come out there, back a few serves, lose a break, a set. It's a lot more complicated than just wanting to hit a big serve. You have to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, work around them the best you can.

 

Q. Andre, how much do you draw from a crowd, especially now that you've come back in your game, on top of your game right now some of the fans are wanting to see you win, cheering you on. How much do you draw from that, if anything?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, you draw a lot from that. In all honesty, if it wasn't there, I would still be committed. It's about the work, what I'm doing out there in between the lines. There's no question it's just an awesome feeling. It's a feeling that I wish for every athlete to have one time in their career where they can feel that kind of support. You know, I love it. I look forward to getting out there.

 

Q. You've always been a crowd favorite, especially here. Especially now, do you feel maybe even more from the crowd? I know locally everybody really, really wants to see you win. Are you feeling more at this tournament maybe than ever before?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've been feeling quite a bit of support the whole year. It's been nice. I think when the fans see me step on the court, they see me play the first game, they realize that there's a little snap in my legs, something's going on here, it's going to be a fun day of tennis. So I've felt that support. But beyond anything, I enjoy the challenges that are ahead of me, and I'm taking them on, and I've had a lot of them. I think that the fans have known me for so long. In a sense, you know, they're pulling for me in a way that people want to believe if you work hard, you can do things. And you can.

 

Q. What is your favorite place to play a tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: New York.

 

Q. Would you rather have a Grand Slam coming up right now?

ANDRE AGASSI: I wish every tournament was a Grand Slam, you know. It's just there's nothing quite like that intensity.

 

Q. But since you're really confident right now.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. I'll be more confident when the Grand Slams come around. It's only getting better.

 

Q. There have always been discussions about rule changes and things like that in the past. It seems to be over right now. Would you credit this with anything?

ANDRE AGASSI: What's that?

 

Q. There have always been discussion about rule changes because the game seems to have gotten boring, whatever, all kinds of criticisms. Now nobody talks about this. In your opinion, what has changed to calm that aspect of the game?

ANDRE AGASSI: I just think to really discuss about changing the rules of a game that's been around for so long, I think it just loses -- you lose a little energy after a while. I think a lot of people would want to see different kinds of tennis, you know. As long as there's a mixture of it, at least a little hint of it. Before my match today, you had Rios and Kiefer. That was an enjoyable match, a lot of tennis. Then mine. Then Courier/Gambill is a good one. There's a lot of guys I think that are mixing in, the big servers. That's not necessarily enjoyable, but it is definitely part of the game. As long as there's a mixture of kinds of players, I don't think rule changes need to be addressed. I think the younger players now are starting to do a lot of things well, started to hit the ball pretty well. It's not just the serve. Some players it is, but-- .

 

Q. Is Brooke coming here this weekend?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I'll make sure you're the first -- you'll be the second one that knows (laughter). She'll tell me and I'll tell you.

 

Q. Thank you.

 

Q. Andre, in April are you going to be playing Davis Cup? What does it mean to you to play Davis Cup?

ANDRE AGASSI: Davis Cup, it's been such a great part of my career. I've always loved it. It's given me so much. I've given a lot to it. It's something that has -- it has a piece of me. When I show up there, it's go time. I look forward to it. It's a format and a feeling that is created nowhere else. It's nice to be part of a team. It's nice to have that kind of energy. It's beautiful.

MIKI SINGH: One more question for Andre.

 

Q. Andre, during your recovery, now your coming back time, what was your physical, not condition so much, but your physical routine? How much tennis did you practice a day, running?

ANDRE AGASSI: It would change according to how close I was getting. But kind of during the meat of my training, I was spending an hour and a half only on the court, just enough to keep my shots and work on my shots. I was spending about a solid two hours in the gym, as well as up to an hour of cardio work, away from the gym and away from the court. I was going on a good four hours a day of training. Especially in the beginning, the most important part was my fitness. As long as my shots were getting a little bit better every week, I knew that I had time on that end. But I didn't have time to not make big improvements quickly on my fitness.

 

Q. Was Brad with you the whole time?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, absolutely.

 

Q. What's your favorite workout?

ANDRE AGASSI: On the tennis court.

MIKI SINGH: Thank you.

ANDRE AGASSI: You always get a front row seat, huh?

 
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