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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1998 NEWSWEEK CHAMPIONS CUP

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

 

March 13, 1998

 

JAN-MICHAEL GAMBILL/A. Agassi

7-6(6), 3-6, 6-3

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

 

MIKI SINGH: First question for Andre.

 

Q. Andre, what was the difference tonight between this match and the previous two you just played against him?

ANDRE AGASSI: I had some opportunities there in the first set. I had three breakpoints. Two of them I failed to make the backhand return. Clipped the tape twice. Once you get to a tiebreaker, anything happens. Stayed with it in the second set. Felt like I was breaking him down, 2-1, up a break in the third. I had two double-faults. My racquet felt weird, felt like something was wrong with it, kept on doing this (indicating). Finally, one second serve, as I made contact, the throat cracked, racquet flew out of my hand. That just rattled me. Two double-faults and a couple loose errors, up a break. Went to a new racquet. I don't quite like doing that. I got a little unsettled. I lost my serve. Then he closed it out.

 

Q. Andre, was it a surprise for you, Gambill?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I played him twice in a row, two weeks in a row now. I know how he plays.

 

Q. How do you regard him as one of the up-and-coming? Is he the best young player around in the United States?

ANDRE AGASSI: United States, absolutely. No question about it. That particular -- he's much better than just saying that. He's a good player.

 

Q. Had you even heard of him before you played him the first time?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I mean, he was in the Challengers with me over the fall. Saw him play there.

 

Q. It's always hard to judge. You just said real good. Is he an elite level, Top 10-er?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think right now he's playing anywhere from, you know, 8 to 12 tennis right now, somewhere right around 10. He's playing well. You know, -- but he's been playing that well, I think, for a few weeks. Certainly every time I've played him, he's played that well.

 

Q. Did you feel you were playing your best tennis tonight?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, definitely not. My best tennis is when I start hurting somebody, I kind of put the squeeze on them. I felt like I let some opportunities go by.

 

Q. There's always players who break out and have a few great weeks or whatever; then there are those that are able to break out and sustain it. Do you have any perception on whether he'll be able to do that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, he has a good game. It really -- his only weakness is his speed. If the ball's not in his strike zone, his forehand goes from a great shot to not-so-good-of-a shot. You know, but if he's dictating the play, he plays well.

 

Q. What did you say to him at the end, when you were shaking hands? You seemed to spend a couple of minutes at the net talking to him.

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I just said, "Well done, it was a great match." That's literally all I said.

 

Q. Do you feel his forehand is the weaker side?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, no. His forehand is the bigger shot, for sure. But when you get him stretched with one hand, it's not so good.

 

Q. So his backhand is more consistent?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, his forehand is, his forehand is. It's not easy to get him using the one hand.

 

Q. Andre, you played well so far this year. What are your goals the next couple months?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, just Grand Slams are what it's about. I just want to get myself in a position where I'm winning these big tournaments, that's what I want to do. Hopefully, by the time the French Open comes around, I'm a contender.

 

Q. Despite the loss tonight, are you pretty encouraged? You're having a good season thus far.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah. I was disappointed to lose tonight. But, you know, I'm hitting the ball pretty well. You can't win them all, so I have to kind of take the good from it.

 

Q. Andre, you didn't have to play here Monday, but you chose to. Do you think that now was the proper decision?

ANDRE AGASSI: Definitely.

 

Q. Andre, you have had a lot of ups and downs in your career. Does it keep it interesting for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think, you know, it's not why I have ups and downs, but it is interesting (laughter).

 

Q. Andre, you had some chances in the first set. You had some chances, up a break in the third. It just seemed to slip away, you let him back in.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I had to help him win this a little bit tonight. I didn't close out my opportunities. That was a problem. Again, that 2-1 game in the third set just rattled me pretty good there. I hit two double-faults with new balls. Something felt a little strange in my racquet. Sure enough, made contact the next serve, it just cracked, pressure, flew out of my hand. I didn't shake it off.

 

Q. Has anything like that ever happened to you before?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've actually had it before, yeah, when I've hit a shot, it's cracked. But my serve's never quite done it.

 

Q. The other day you said now that your game is more an on upswing, you're feeling more confident, when a loss did come along, you'd be able to handle it a little bit more in stride. Do you think that's the case?

ANDRE AGASSI: I definitely think that's the case. I'll look forward to playing him the next time. You know, there was a lot of things I could have done better tonight. Seizing my opportunities is one of them. It's not to take credit away from him. I think he did pretty much everything real well, which he had to. I definitely take it more in stride. It's a lot clearer now. It's easy to see where things fit, the reason for why things happened out there, versus kind of being a little confused as to why you're not playing well, not knowing what you're going to do next.

 

Q. Pete said yesterday he's having, these last years, a tough time controlling the balls here. Do you feel the same?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. Definitely a little altitude, plus the balls are taking off. The court's jumping pretty good. When you combine the altitude with the ball bouncing off the court, the balls playing quick, it's tough to control it, definitely.

 

Q. Tougher at night?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. It's actually slower at night. It is a little tougher to pick up with the lights. It's not ideal. But night tends to slow it down a little bit.

 

Q. You're wearing a Foothills College T-shirt, are you going to give a speech for Chivington?

ANDRE AGASSI: Just his supporter. Chiv's supporter.

 

Q. Do you do anything spectacular to keep your weight, vegetarian diet or anything?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Just quantities, watch the quantities.

 

Q. Can you tell me a benediction, Rios or Gambill tomorrow?

ANDRE AGASSI: He's spent here pretty good tonight. They come back in the day tomorrow? When is the match?

 

Q. Second on, second semifinal.

ANDRE AGASSI: So they're back-to-back, not day and night?

 

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I think the little lefty slider and Rios has a good first shot. I mean, if Gambill plays well and controls the match, I can easily see him winning. Kind of giving you a Nick Bollettieri prediction there (laughter). I think Gambill should win, but he's probably pretty spent. I don't think he's going to be as sharp. I'm going to say Rios.

 

Q. What is a Nick Bollettieri prediction?

ANDRE AGASSI: He likes hedging both sides and then telling you, "See." I know.

 

Q. I kind of noticed that once in a while you like to diss Nick Bollettieri. Is this going to be like a lifetime program? Is there a Statute of Limitations?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know what it is? It's really not motivated from a point of wanting to diss him. I think he's just a very extreme character who is kind of easy to pick on, I guess. probably should stop here pretty soon. It just comes into my mind, I can't help it.

 

Q. Too much fun?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's what I say behind closed doors, too. I think the little man will win it tomorrow. Not to say anything about the way Gambill is playing. He's playing real well.

 

Q. Well enough to get a place on the Davis Cup team?

ANDRE AGASSI: I told Gully before this week started he should be the second player.

 

Q. Think he'll listen to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: In that position, you've got to be willing to make calls on the field and not worry about the upstairs. I don't know. I don't know. I'll leave it in his hands. I think it would be a mistake not to play him. He's young. He's the best hopeful as we look down the next few years. Give him a look now. I think he can surprise. He's cocky enough out there to play well in a Davis Cup situation.

 

Q. Andre, how close do you feel is your game compared to the times where you were really on the very top?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, winning tournaments is about getting through matches when you're not at your best. Tonight was one of those matches I had to get through. All of a sudden I could play well at the right time. For the most part over the last few weeks, I feel as good if not better.

 
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