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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION

1998 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Flushing Meadows, New York

September 5, 1998

A. AGASSI/D. Sanguinetti

6-2, 6-3, 6-0

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

Q. Pretty darn good groundstroking on a windy day, conditions out there.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. My game blends well to the wind. You have to do a few things well to play good in the wind. Certainly the conditions favored me a little bit.

Q. You went for a lot today, too, didn't you?

ANDRE AGASSI: As far as?

Q. Groundstroking.

ANDRE AGASSI: I certainly wanted to control the points. From one side of the court, you really had to flatten it out and try to hit through the wind. From the other side of the court, you had to make sure you created a certain margin for error. You know, you could easily hit a ball a little up and it gets away, goes eight feet out.

Q. He said watching your shots, it was like magic, they were all in, it was amazing. Were there more in than you anticipated? Were you better today than you thought you might be?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's hard to say. I mean, I definitely did what I needed to do. I mean, I definitely played well, considering the conditions. But when I get real focused on executing a certain game plan or a certain rhythm to the match, you know, I don't really spend much time in admiration, I just really try to move on to the next point. I never like losing a game. Every time I lose a game, no matter what the score is, I get on myself to get more intense. In hindsight, I played well, definitely.

Q. When someone is -- looked like he might be on the verge of retirement, does that throw your rhythm and game plan off?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, in all honesty, the shot I hit that he supposedly hurt himself on, I didn't see him go down. It was kind of strange that he all of a sudden felt something. To be quite honest, in not knowing him as a person or really that well as a player, I just left room for the possibility that he wasn't hurt at all. My game plan was going to be the same regardless. Sure enough, he got taped up. He ran down a hundred more shots. I didn't think he was struggling covering the court out there at all.

Q. In the second set, when he had the breakpoint and he was very distressed when he didn't get the call, was that ball out?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, no, no, no. They even showed it on CBS. It was inside the line. I think more than anything, we had like a 40-ball rally on that point. I got the better end of it as far as who was doing more running. It was an important game for him to break back. So I think he was kind of using that as an opportunity to kind of catch his breath and regroup a little bit. I don't really think he thought the ball was out, because it was inside the line. If you can tell it's inside the line on TV, that's pretty clear.

Q. How important was it for you to win in straight sets today after going five the other night?

ANDRE AGASSI: More important for me on a confidence level than physical. Even though it was five sets the other day, I didn't really feel that bad physically. I didn't feel like it took a lot out of me. Just more than anything, it was nice to go out there and address the concerns that I had for the last match, which is when I get up to kind of squeeze the guy and even make it more difficult on him. So it was nice to address those concerns effectively.

Q. Would you have rather had a longer match to prepare for the next round?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. Can you impart any knowledge you took out of this match to the Davis Cup team?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm sorry, I didn't follow that.

Q. Are you prepared to impart any intelligence or knowledge that you took from this match, with this guy, to the Davis Cup team that might be facing him in Milwaukee?

ANDRE AGASSI: Hope Todd Martin three points or ask Fonzi to play over there in Milwaukee. I took care of it. If I was playing Davis Cup, I would take care of it again. But we're not playing on the west coast. Don't get me started.

Q. Any thoughts on your next match, probably Kucera?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. Looks like he's winning out there. 7-5, 4-3 break. He's a very talented player. Since he's been working with Mecir. He's certainly elevated his game to Top 10 level. I haven't played him since the Olympics, only time I played him. I give his game a lot of respect. He's really a great player to watch play. I've enjoyed watching him. He's had some recent success. I'm going to take him very seriously and I expect a very difficult match.

Q. Were you surprised that your match today went so much smoother than the other night?

ANDRE AGASSI: Different players present different problems, different concerns. Again, Sanguinetti is not an ideal wind player. He hits the ball very flat. You know, his serve tends -- he has a very quick toss. When the wind is moving around, it's tough to sneak the serve in effectively. His second serve is a bit suspect there. With the wind, he gets a little tentative. He hit a lot of double-faults. He hit a lot of easy-cycle serves. He's not an ideal wind player. He couldn't really utilize the wind on his back, he hits it so flat, he really had to kind of worry about controlling it. When the wind was in his face, you know, he didn't quite have the snap on the shots to get me to not control the point. I felt pretty much in control from the start to the finish. But, again, I have to go out there and execute my game well in order for it to be that way.

Q. Were you surprised at how fast you got onto the court today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Both matches combined were like an hour and 15 minutes, phenomenal. I felt rather rushed. I didn't enjoy that at all. They had the half-hour delay, which I appreciated.

Q. Are you aware that Mark McGwire hit his 60th homer? Have you been able to follow with a sense of appreciation for the home run chase?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, absolutely. It's phenomenal. I don't think there's anybody on this planet who isn't following it. It's the greatest record in sports. I mean, it's the hardest thing in sports to do, hit a home run, in my opinion.

Q. What's your sense of appreciation for what McGwire has accomplished and is about to accomplish?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's the greatest record in sports, it's the most difficult thing in the world to hit a home run. What else can I say?

Q. Have you played much baseball, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. Ten months ago, you were playing Vegas, you've come such a long way. If you would, looking forward, if you get through and Pete gets through, when you go out on the stadium Wednesday night for a real heavyweight battle, will you give yourself the luxury of any sense of accomplishment of what you've done and the turnaround in these months?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. There will be enough time for that after this tournament. I've given myself plenty of props and respect for what I've accomplished because I certainly don't take it for granted. It hasn't been easy. It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice. After each tournament, I reflect for a second, if I don't have to play the next day, and have a Margarita or a glass of wine.

Q. If you were back home, would you bet on yourself to win this?

ANDRE AGASSI: Why not? Absolutely. Why not? I'm here, I'm playing well. You know, there's 16 guys left now, not yet, but I'm certainly going to be one of the 16. I believe from the quarters on, anybody can win it.

Q. With your hard work, has that taken away from Andre Agassi the businessman, the All-Star Cafe, for example? Has this taken away from those activities?

ANDRE AGASSI: What's affecting my business more than my tennis is the stock market right now.

Q. Just about the All Star Cafe.

ANDRE AGASSI: That's exactly what I'm referring to.

Q. Are you concerned about the competition, ESPN is getting into it, the All Star Cafe was the Mecca of sports teams restaurants, everybody is trying to jump on the bandwagon.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. It's a lot like New York. If you can't do it better than the people next to you, get lost. I have no problem with competition. It's nice.

Q. When Seles opened the market, it dived 513 points. Do you think Monica should be banned from the market?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, you know, I can't blame her for it. If you have any superstitions at all, in your approach to the day, I wouldn't even have her look at downtown over there, Wally Street. Put a roadblock up (laughter).

Q. Now, we're into the second week of the tournament, the heavy hitters are going to be out there, Krajicek, Sampras. When you won this tournament, really kind of neutralized Michael Stich's big serve in the final, these courts being faster, would it be a bigger accomplishment for you to win on this particular surface than it was before?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I wouldn't say it was slow before. It's definitely quicker now, but it was quick then. Things have to go right for anybody to win this tournament. I mean, as many times as Pete has won it here, the better you are, the luckier you get, no question. But things just have to go right. You have to play well at the right time. If Pete plays like the way he did in his last match where he lost a set, I mean, he wasn't playing great tennis. He has to step it up at the right time, just like I do, just like everybody else who's left in the tournament will have to. I'm definitely more intelligent of a player now than I was. I definitely have more experience and my serve's a lot better now, I think, than it was in '94, that year when I won it. I think there's some elements that definitely negate each other. I think what makes it tougher than anything at this point is just where I've come from. That's what's made it tough to be in a position to win this, and to win it. It's time to step up to the plate and play my best tennis in the big event. That's yet to be seen, because it happened. But I'm ready for it.

Q. Can a difference in the tournament be the special player that has the service return?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I can win it again. I don't know what you're getting at. I can win it again. I think big servers are always favored on quicker courts. I certainly have never worried about playing them.

Q. Patrick Rafter was in here a little bit earlier talking about his buddy, Goran Ivanisevic, saying the reason why they're friends is because Goran is kind of a crazy guy. Would you describe Goran in that way? Is there one story that illustrates Goran's personality?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I haven't had the luxury of going out with Goran or spending time away from the courts. One of the things that I've always admired about him is just what a gentleman and what a sweet person he is every single day. He's up-and-down on the court, you've seen throughout his career. But one of the things that amazes me more than anything, than the personalities on the court, how they are off the court. Lendl would sit around the locker room completely naked with just his shoes on telling jokes all day in the locker room. Couldn't figure out why he'd want to do that. But that's how he liked to spend his time in there. McEnroe, on the other hand, you could never piss him off off the court, it was impossible. Goran, who is up-and-down throughout his career on the court, is one of the most consistent human beings I've seen, just always nice, always pleasant, always smiling, always saying hello.

Q. What was Boris like in the locker room?

ANDRE AGASSI: Boris tended to clear a little space. I mean, if he went to one side of the room, it was just him and his guys, very quiet. He cleared space. He didn't seem to have much interaction in the locker room at all.

Q. Could you give us some sense of how difficult -- we hear the stories about Arnold Palmer, Nicklaus, business activities interfering with their golf, maybe they can't play as well, in terms of endorsements. How much of a deterrent is that in terms of you getting ready mentally and physically? What kind of a struggle is it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've done it for so many years now. I'm very well aware of what I can and can't handle. My manager has been my best friend since I was 11, knows me inside and out, knows when it's time to focus on work and when it's time to not even think about it. I've gotten it down really to a science. I'm smart enough to put people around me who are much smarter than I am. That's what I've been lucky to do.

Q. Given coming so far to get here, you say you won't allow yourself to appreciate what you've accomplished till it's over, but if you get to Pete, will there be butterflies? Is this the kind of thing that you'll be so excited about that you have the opportunity to do something?

ANDRE AGASSI: No question. I mean, I think that it would be impossible not to feel nervous and excited about the opportunity of playing in the quarterfinals of the US Open, let alone playing Pete. I would be very excited about that. I've got a lot of tennis to play. I think you underestimate how well Kucera has been playing, how every match has its pressures and its nerves, as well. It will be just a different form of it. It's time to bring your A game and to lay it on out there. I mean, that's nothing but exciting.

Q. Now that you're a married man, do you find the entertainment media is less intrusive in your personal life?

ANDRE AGASSI: The media?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. They're still a pain in the butt to me. Still every bit the same.

Q. What's on your schedule after The Open? Nothing?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. It's pretty loaded. I just don't know offhand.

Q. Tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: A lot of tennis.

Q. Will Brooke be here for the whole tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. She has to work next week. Hopefully if all goes well, be back for the end of the tournament.

Q. The other day you said that New York has a lot of big memories for you. What was your first big memory here? Was it the Connors match or something else?

ANDRE AGASSI: On the court here?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: I'd have to say my first real significant memory of New York was the first time I played when I was playing out in the back courts, where I lost to Jeremy Bates in four sets. I mean, it was my first experience with New York, the crowds, the energy of it. Then I'd say the next one was playing Michael Chang in the Round of 16's 1988, who I've grown up with him, we had a great match, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2. I played real well. Then I followed that up with Jimmy Connors. Every match since then has been quite a memory, but some stand out more than others.

Q. If you had to choose between a big match here at The Open, either a second week match or a final versus the pomp of centre court Wimbledon final, which would you choose?

ANDRE AGASSI: Playing the finals of Wimbledon or in the finals of the US Open?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: The US Open. The US Open. To win this tournament is so difficult, you know, playing the semis on Saturday, to come back in the finals. I mean, when you stand being the winner at the end of it all, there's just -- there's an energy here that is so dear to me because it's my country, it's where I'm from.

Q. Andre, you played in the Tournament of Champions I think in Forest Hills. Now the members are voting on perhaps tearing down the stadium. Do you have any feelings about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: If you turn down your head phones, you won't talk so loud.

Q. I'm sorry.

ANDRE AGASSI: That's okay. What are you listening to?

Q. Nothing. The stadium in Forest Hills, the members are --

ANDRE AGASSI: My only experience with Forest Hills has been the Tournament of Champions. I played there once and I won it. I loved it dearly. Had a lot of age, certainly some history to it that would be sad to see it go on any level certainly.

Q. If you were president of the USTA, what would you do to try and recruit in the Davis Cup situation? Do you have some comments about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: First of all, I would change how decisions get made. I wouldn't have anybody who wears a tie make a decision.

Q. Players?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'd let the players make the decision.

Q. All?

ANDRE AGASSI: The team, yeah. I would take all the players who are playing, who are potentials, I would have them vote for their captain, choose their captain. From that point on, I would make it the captain's responsibility to communicate with the players and to 100% decide everything.

Q. How would you pick the team?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I would start with our best players. I would just, you know, start with our best players, try to get them to play somehow. I don't know what Pete's reasons have been as of this year. And I don't know what Michael's reasons are. But I would start from the top and I would work my way down and try to address the reasons as to why guys don't play. I have my reasons why I'm not going to play. I could easily accommodate that. So I would imagine it would be the same with Pete and Michael, you know.

Q. Earlier you talked about how people maybe underestimate Kucera. What scares you about him?

ANDRE AGASSI: He's a good player. I mean, what I respect about his game, I don't know if "scare" is the right word, he's very -- he moves very well, hits the ball well off both sides, can sneak some good first serves, returns well, really good counter-puncher, he's rock solid throughout the match from start to finish. He makes you beat him. I've just enjoyed watching him. I'm going to look forward to the match.

Q. How much does Brad Gilbert have to do with your comeback?

ANDRE AGASSI: Less than I do. I mean, he's been my coach and he's helped me from day one, but where I am right now has been calling on many things he's taught me. But the biggest difference has been my focus. I mean, he's always known a lot about the game, and he's always given me a lot to work with. I've chosen to use it at times and not at others, you know.

 
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