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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

1998 GREAT AMERICAN INSURANCE ATP CHAMPIONSHIP
CINCINNATI, OHIO

August 11, 1998

ANDRE AGASSI/Nicolas Kiefer

4-6, 7-6(3), 6-2

An Interview with

ANDRE AGASSI

ATP TOUR REP: Andre is our winner over Kiefer. Questions?

Q. You ran that one pretty close.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he played real well. I mean, give him his credit for coming up with some big shots. He served big and served a high percentage. It was tough for me to get a look at a serve . When I was at the break in the first, I gave one back and then he played pretty good to break for the set. And in the second one at the beginning, he made a few big shots, too. So I just had to hang in there and get through it, not being at my complete best.

Q. Because you've been playing so much?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think you really show up to any tournament and play your best tennis in the first round. Sometimes you need to. You've just got to get through the days when you're not feeling the greatest. You've just got to get through those days and that's when you can start doing some good damage in tournaments. Things like this used to be a quick exit for me.

Q. One of the players mentioned something about the balls were a little tough. Can you --

ANDRE AGASSI: These are the ATP balls. And last week, week before, we were playing with U.S. Open balls. They are two different balls. I don't know why we have two different balls.

Q. They feel slower?

ANDRE AGASSI: They are definitely slower. We'll have to ask ATP about that. (laughter).

Q. His does play a game remarkably similar to your game; does he not?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's hard for me to be real objective. On this side of the court, I didn't feel that way at all. I feel he has a game a lot closer to a Jonas Bjorkman, someone who can take the ball pretty early, return well, move pretty well, come in make some about good volleys; plays flashier than I do. I'm a bit more calculated and strategic with my shots.

Q. Someone made a comment that he almost walks like you do, just like you do. So I think that's what they probably think, that he plays very much like you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Okay. (laughter).

Q. Does it feel at all weird to play with a guy who has quite obviously patterned himself by you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I notice it more when I watch him when I'm not playing. I guess when I was playing I wasn't really thinking about that a whole. One thing he did do that I don't do is give a good stare-down to the opponent on every shot that you hit. I don't do that one. I think that's more -- that's more learned from the German players, popular over there. (laughter). But you know he has a lot of talent. I think he's a better player than Haas. I think he has good potential. The guy can hit big off both sides. He moves really well. He can take offense, plays decent defense. He certainly has a good hold game, if he keep that is level of serving up. I'm not sure if this was just a great serving day for him. I'm surprised at how well he serves.

Q. You say you think he plays better than Haas. What do you think is missing in Haas's game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Haas is very solid player. I think ultimately Haas is a bit more stronger, mentally-focused, more good shot selection. But Haas hasn't shown me that he can really step in and hit shots, win points against players who are going to control the point against him. That's the difference. If you give Haas time, he hits the ball really. And if you're playing big you've got to be able to stop the that level of play. And the best players in the world, they are going to make you step up to the ball and make you take big shots. I haven't seen that yet. It's possible, he likes to have big swings. He likes to have a little bit more time. Kiefer's a little bit tighter in his swings and can generate the same kind of pace. Just my opinion.

Q. What did you think about the moving camera on the baseline?

ANDRE AGASSI: Didn't like it at all from a playing standpoint. I don't know what it does on the TV. I guess I'd have to see cost versus benefit after seeing it on TV. But it drives me nuts to see anything moving. It moves, I don't know it moves like -- just bothers me that it's moving. I noticed it moving certainly between these points, that's for sure. And you know, you're just thinking about it you don't want the ball to travel over the flight of the camera. It's in your mind. I don't even like the ball boys being out of position out there.

Q. Do you think it's something you could get used to?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't -- I don't -- I mean, again, it would only be something I would want to try to get used to if I felt like it offered that much on the television screen. I'm not sure what that camera does that the other cameras can't do. I would have to see that. But, you know, maybe there would be a way to just keep it from moving, that doesn't make sense. Our sport isn't one like basketball where people can cheer. The ball that we're trying to hit is moving, you know, so it's different than if you're shooting a basket to a hoop. The basket's not going anywhere. It's just about staying focused. But when the ball is moving, something else is moving, it's always a bit more distracting. It's not etiquette. It's literally more difficult thing to do.

Q. The tinkering with the cameras and the let's try this with the game. Do you kind of say: Why don't they just leave it alone? If the player has the personality then the personality (inaudible). Do you kind of wish they had just leave it be?

ANDRE AGASSI: Who is that?

Q. Anyone, it could be ESPN, all the people that are trying to change the rules or add something to it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think there are certain things to consider. I think change is good if it's done very strategically and just minorly; you don't have to make huge changes. But I think that the introduction to a little coaching out there is a good step, for example. I think it, you know, keeps certain players from mentally tapping out of a match. We've seen a lot of results like that. I think also if the public could hear what the coaches are saying, to understand that it's a lot of thought going on out there. I mean, I don't know whether the changes they are trying to make. I don't like the moving cameras so far. I don't mind people trying to improve something but I think it's important to focus on the right thing though because you don't want to waste energy or do more harm than good, certainly.

Q. What do you think about the changes of the computer that are going to come about in 2000?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't seem to know a lot about it at the moment. Just every Super 9 or Grand Slam is going to count whether you play it or not. Is that right?

Q. That's right.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think that's good. Now, they have to make sure now that the tournament's hard on hard, on clay, there's a fair number of them for all the different court players.

Q. Will that make a more true No. 1, do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, really in the public's mind I think No. 1 is the guy who is going to be the guy who wins the most Slams in one year. You can't get away from that.

Q. But that's the not the case this year, at least, not the moment?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it's not the case. I think Rios has been playing the best tennis of the year. But still you've got to win the Slam. It's just something that goes along with it. I mean, if he keeps playing the best, he will. But that ultimately is what people think of when they think of the No. 1 player.

Q. What do you think about the coaching experiment, do you like it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, very much. I was just saying that it keeps certain players from tapping out of the match. If they are about to go south mentally and they are getting frustrated, I think it helps the quality of tennis in that respect. And I think if people could hear what the coaches are saying, they will realize there's a lot more to this game than hitting the ball.

Q. Do you think it's going to stick?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I haven't been pleased over the years of the things that ATP has done and not done. So I just kind of try to focus on my game and get the most out of these years.

Q. Do you think that -- former No. 1, that Marcelo has the ability to stay up there?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think ultimately that's a question that needs to be answered by time. I don't think in this case can really say it. He certainly has a lot of talent but I also know it's not easy to be No. 1 and 5'9, it's not easy. You've got to work hard. It's not like Pete, you know can just had easy holds. So he's going to have to work harder than most guys, he's going to have to work like me or work like Chang. So that in itself will probably make it more difficult. Yeah I think he's talented enough to certainly be up there.

Q. What do you think about Lipton? That was probably a tough as much ever against you in the final. Were you surprised about how you kind of stood up to the plate at that time that match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I haven't felt his game before, so anything that would have happened out there would have been a surprise to some degree. I was impressed with the way he played no question. I wish I had played a little bit stronger myself. I wasn't quite at a place in my game where I had the confidence and execution in my shots and, you know, let him take control of the points. I'm not a good defensive player. So certain things need to happen in my game for me to get a true assessment of how he plays. But that day, he certainly played a heckuva lot better than I did.

Q. Can you get to No. 1 again?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think so.

Q. How have you been able to do that to be up there, fall down, come back?

ANDRE AGASSI: I haven't come back yet. (laughter) I'm close, I'm getting closer but I haven't done it.

Q. But not many people have fallen out of the Top 10 like you did and come back twice. I don't think anyone.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah but I think the guys that are capable of doing it. They stay up there, they would just assume stay up there. (laughter).

Q. What happened in your -- to you that allowed you to fall down so much and why -- why did you decide that you wanted to be back up there again?

ANDRE AGASSI: My whole life has always been a question of one line switch on to another one off. I feel like there are times in my life meant for certain things. When I first fell out it was because of a wrist injury that plagued me the whole year that ended in surgery at the end of the year and that was career threatening. So kind of scared me into a -- a strong work ethic to try to see what I can accomplish in the game. And then I accomplished a lot of things through the next couple of years, finding myself at a wonderful time in my personal life and just wanted to experience that. It's not to say that I ever thought loess of the game but just where my mind was. And when I don't do something intensely I'm a completely different person. I don't even know myself out there it if I'm not going it with everything. So it was easy to slip. And then it was, you know, frustrating. But then I got to a point where I had to answer: What do I want to do, because I can't continue like this. You've either got to commit to it or you've got to forget about it. And I still feel like there's more tennis. It was a very kind of honest conversation with myself. It was nothing spectacular. There's no inspiration to it. It's just if I want to continue playing, if I am, how many I going to go about this.

Q. But there were times, I think you mentioned it before, that in past years you would have lost this match today. You would have gotten down today and just said, that's it.

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think necessarily "that's it" but I just wouldn't have believed in my ability to win the match. I've spent a lot of my career at having great confidence and having no confidence. And there are times when justify wasn't playing well, if I was practicing really well, and I come up there and I'm not playing that well I get really frustrated by it, and I'm wondering why I'm not beating these guys bad because I know what it feels like to play well and beat guys bad. I used to do it. And these are the matches you've got to work through and all of the sudden you start playing those great matches where you have solid wins. But winning the tough ones when you're not playing that well is what any athlete will tell you what is the key to success just getting the W when you're not your best.

Q. As tough as it is to stay in the top, is it more amazing what Pete has been able to do?

ANDRE AGASSI: Phenomenal what Pete's been able to do. You know, if I didn't feel like I had a shot at going for it myself, I'd pull for him to do it again.

Q. Have you had any feedback from the USTA about your decision not to play in the next round?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it wasn't my decision not to play. I was very clear. I told Gully and everybody else I'll play if we play out in southern California or Las Vegas, I can play. And then I read that we're going to Milwaukee. I don't know why. I don't know how. At this point I don't care.

Q. Do you find that you're appreciating things more on the second go-around of the come back and do you find that you can sort of enjoy, you know, the way you've come become a little bit more this time?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's not so much not enjoying the success. That always is nice, the rewards to effort and the hard work. But I think more than anything I'm enjoying the whole process. Just playing, I am enjoying it. Whether I'm winning or not I'm out there trying to get better and enjoying the game. It's nice to feel competitive again. And so much of it is fulfilling besides the, you know, the certain amount of success that I've been able to achieve so far. But that's what feels different. It doesn't feel contingent upon the win. It just feel like I'm going to keep doing this hard.

Q. Do you think you were snubbed -- you had made it clear where you would play. And choosing Milwaukee do you feel they were saying we don't want you --

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't take it like that. It could be a cross between a certain agenda or just basic stupidity. (laughter). There's no other way. Just maybe somebody has an agenda there maybe they want to play somewhere for some reason. But I don't see why they just don't talk to the players: Where do you want to play? Okay, now we bring in the promoter to try to get it done over there. But, you know, they get the promoter first and ask the promoter where he thinks we should play and they go out and do the bidding then they tell us where we are playing. That's not right. That's not the way it should be and I don't play under those conditions.

Q. (Inaudible).

ANDRE AGASSI: It's not inconvenient. I need it best for what it is we're trying to can an accomplish. It's not that I need it convenient. I need it where we're going to get the best results. And yeah, if we play where the team decides we'll have the best results then I'll be happy to be a part of it. But that's one hundred percent -- you know, that's one hundred percent up to them. And it being a final, I guess that makes it a little easier because there's going to be a lot of places that would value the tie but it's not those rounds that are most important. We played the whole year at home. We played in Stone Mountain, Indianapolis and Milwaukee. (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible) took exception to you when he said he was going to try to get the top 20 and dedicate himself. Do you think he took that the wrong way?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he definitely took it the wrong way. I've always given him nothing but respect toward his tennis game. I think he's a real good player. I think he would be a heckuva lot better player without his dad. I that a journeyman is a very definable word. If you spend five, six years on the Tour and you haven't broken the Top 50 you're a journeyman. It doesn't mean I think it. It means you are. And that's all I was saying and he should be -- he should be ranked a lot higher than he is.

Q. Were you impressed with what he's done the last couple months?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. He should do more. It doesn't impress me yet. He's done some great things in spite of some tough living circumstances. But he's a good player. He does a lot of the parts of the game really well. I think he should easily be playing around 20 in the world. I couldn't feel stronger about that.

Q. Andre, in today's second set, you're already down in the first set, you're down 5-6 in serving Love-30 you're two points away from-- what happened that when the confidence kicked in. What happened at that point that allowed you to --

ANDRE AGASSI: Just kept executing. You know, that's when -- it's kind of like in the 100-meter race. The guy's taking off and accelerating and you get to halfway through the race and you just kind of maintain and you don't really go faster. You just try not to slow down. And I think when confidence kicks in and you get to the tough parts of the match and you don't slow down. You just keep it coming. Just keep the execution where it needs to be the keep the shot selection where it needs to be. Give yourself the best shot at the basket. That's what I did. Just stayed solid.

Q. On the Davis Cup, do you think the fact that you're not going to be there should give a little bit of what, motivation for your -- do you think it doesn't matter who plays?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's going to be difficult whether I was playing or not. Davis Cup -- and anything happens in Davis Cup. The best players available aren't playing it makes it more difficult. And I'm playing pretty well and I certainly, you know, have certainly earned a place on the team. So in that sense it will be tougher but I believe we'll still get the job done and I believe that with me we could have lost it, so it's just about going out there and doing the work.

Q. There are a couple doubles teams that would be available for the U.S. Team (inaudible)?

ANDRE AGASSI: You only get four people on the team. And I am I'm much more comfortable having two guys who at least one of them can be there for the singles, God forbid something happens. If you could have a five-man team, I couldn't agree more. But no, I believe you need somebody who can play a little bit of singles, just even to a decent level like when we had Seguso and Flach. Seguso played decent singles. When we had Leach and Pugh, Pugh played decent singles for us, for a little time. And I think that's very important to the, you know, to the weight of the team.

ATP TOUR REP: One last question for Andre?

Q. How important is it for you to have a good showing here and then next week in Indianapolis?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think every match at this point is very important. You know, the better I do the better I'm going to feel and the better prepared I'm going to be for the open. I have gotten a lot of matches in so far, which is a great sign. I feel like I've covered myself to where I feel it's impossible to go into the open not feeling confident on my game. But the more I win from here, certainly the better I'm going to feel about it. Thanks.

 
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