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September 30, 1998

A. AGASSI/C. Pioline
6-0, 6-0

An interview with:



Q. More than a question. First of all, it's thanks from the Italian team for you not show up, to not show in Milwaukee. Any reaction about the Davis Cup match and the United States losing?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I watched it. Needless to say, it was very disappointing. I felt very bad for the guys over there. It was difficult circumstances. The court was very slow. It was very, very much the wrong call of the surface. You know, we gave Italy the best chance possible. They took advantage out of it.

Q. Did you see the match on TV?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, sure I did. I watched it.

Q. Because Gully was a little bit annoyed that he didn't receive any calls from you or Sampras to say good luck. He said the only ones that called were Richey Reneberg and Lindsay Davenport.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, he's disappointed I didn't call. He could have felt a lot better if he played on the west coast. I would have done better than call, I would have been there, I would have played. I'd rather play than to call to wish luck.

Q. Last question on Davis Cup. Do you have any thought about Courier not playing? Courier was very annoyed, too, because he wasn't chosen, wasn't selected?

ANDRE AGASSI: Is that right? I don't know. I don't know how Jim was feeling over there. I know he didn't play for about a month, and he didn't do very well this summer. I didn't know if he even felt ready to play. But above anything, I feel like if Jim wanted to play, you know, you got to give him his due props. He's played very well for the United States, many times, and deserves to play. So, I mean, if Jim felt ready to play on that court, I would have let Jim play.

Q. Gullikson has been reconfirmed as captain of the USA team. What do you think about it, you were critical against him.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. Listen, I think Tom Gullikson is a great guy. I like Tom a lot. He's made some decisions that have been difficult for me to understand. The guy that's good that's getting out of there is Harry Marmion. He was pathetic. I mean, you have to be pretty pathetic to take the best United States Davis Cup player and absolutely make him never want to play again. That's Harry Marmion, M-a-r-m-i-o-n.

Q. He says the world doesn't turn around Andre Agassi.

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm sorry?

Q. Harry Marmion told us the world doesn't turn around Andre Agassi, so we pick the city that we want, is what he answered.

ANDRE AGASSI: I know. He won't pick what the players need, what's best for the team. It's what's best for him. It's not right. It's about the team, what's best for the team. I could have played out on the west coast, no problem. Not to mention he was the only one to give me a veto here on the wildcard. Out of everybody, he's the only one that didn't want me to play here. So I wish he saw that match out there today.

Q. While we're on that theme, Gullikson seems to have lost your goodwill, and Pete's goodwill or cooperation, whatever. As you say, he made a very bad call on the surface. Probably going to be more calls for McEnroe to take over. Would you still be a supporter if McEnroe was asked to take over?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I don't hold any relationship I have at the moment against the future. I mean, once Harry Marmion is out, I'll try to start new again with the next president. But that doesn't mean there isn't damage done. There's been plenty of damage done. Tom Gullikson has made some difficult choices. But to be quite honest, it's his position that is the problem, it's not the way he handles it. I mean, he doesn't have the say-so. He can't ask the team, "What do you want to do," then go get it done. That comes from higher up. The talk should be about Marmion, it shouldn't be about Gullikson. He's doing the best he can. He thought he was going to have Courier on the team; that court would have been a great surface for Courier. If I was playing, that court would have been a great surface for me. I think Tom has made a couple decisions that have been tough through the years, but he's also done pretty well. I mean, I think the players enjoy playing for him. But, you know, Harry Marmion's legacy is literally leaving behind the best Davis Cup record for the United States and making that person never want to play again. That's his legacy. So thank God his term is done.

Q. One question about the match today. Was it that you were so strong or Pioline so weak?

ANDRE AGASSI: I played pretty well today. I played really well. I mean, to win a match like that you have to play extremely well, and then you have to get a little lucky, too. It was all kind of going my way today. You know, Pioline did everything he could. He tried hard. He was actually hitting the ball pretty decent. But, you know, I was just -- it was kind of stupid the way I played, to be quite honest (laughter). Doesn't happen like that.

Q. When you were going for those returns, have you ever gone for so many big returns before in a match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, but I haven't made them too often. But, you know, to me, when I get to the indoor season, all of a sudden you're dealing with no elements. You're dealing with a very clean look at the ball, the court is -- it's a great court for me out there, really slow bouncing, travels quickly through the air, but it sits up good once it bounces. I can take a clean swing at the ball. Anytime I can do that, if I play aggressively, I'm actually making my shots, then I can actually press on each shot. I mean, every time I got at the ball, I was actually planning on trying to do more about with it. Every time I stepped it up more, I didn't miss, you know. A lot of times you get stepping it up, eventually you miss, you have to pull back a little bit, that's when the match can turn around, that's when the guy can get the match. I stepped it up, kept stepping it up, kept making shots. It makes it very difficult for them.

Q. Are you saying "Harry" every time you hit the ball?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I would hit some real big shots if that was the case.

Q. When you are hitting the ball like that and it's coming off so often, is this sort of a further incentive for you to get back to the very, very top?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think one thing it does, you know, shows that I'm capable of playing some great tennis. But to do it back-to-back and to do it at the big moments is what it's all about. I have to establish my game this fall, to play with the top guys. When I got into the big tournaments this year, you know, I didn't respond. I just didn't respond. That's understandable to a degree. It's been a long road for me to try to come back, and I've been away for a while, not to mention when I injured my shoulder in Paris, I wasn't ready for Wimbledon, so two of the Slams were just gone. But more importantly, I need to step up and play big tennis in big situations, and it's certainly a great start to be here at this tournament. I think this is a wonderful tournament. I think it has high competition, high level of intensity out there. To start off hitting the ball this well, you know, I just need to keep pressing it up. I need to keep doing it. If I can get to the point where I can play tennis like that in a big match against big players, then I know in Australia I'll be going down there with the goal of winning it. Until that happens, you know, I have to keep working. I have to keep believing that I still have a lot longer to go.

Q. Is the next few weeks as big a time in your career since you started to come back?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I think this is the most part of the year for me. I mean, the big tournaments are over, and certainly I could have done some great things this year if I had done well in the big tournaments. But now that they're behind me, the importance of this fall is significant to me, very significant.

Q. The amount of people in this room sort of shows what impact you have coming to a tournament like this. Do you have any sympathy with I think it's Byron Black who would have been playing had you not been given the wildcard, might well have welcomed the cash a little bit more than you probably do?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I mean, I do. I definitely do. I didn't really -- it wasn't me to make the decision for one wildcard. I think the tournament holds that to secure themselves of any mishaps like, for example, a few of the players who would be not playing this year. So, you know, I think where there's that bit of disappointment, you know, because I certainly feel for him, I think he's worked hard enough. Those who deserve to be here should be. By the same token, you know, all I can do is request a wildcard and hope that I get the support. And I did get the support from three of the four. But I do have sympathy. I do.

Q. Having got the wildcard, do you feel for an extra incentive to do really well here, to sort of try to almost justify it? Is that extra weight on your shoulders that you feel at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: Really, the most I can do is the best I can. I mean, go out there, work hard, and do my best to play well. Come here prepared, you know. I've done that. I've come here very prepared. I'm using this to prepare even further. But, you know, you can't really do more than that. But I definitely will feel more satisfied about doing well because of the fact that it was a wildcard. You know, I just -- just think how I felt when I was getting wildcard in tournaments.

Q. We read in the papers that you had a successful evening in Las Vegas for your charity event. How many people were there? How much did you raise? We read in the papers but we'd like to know from you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it was completely sold out. Because we have all the tables at the bottom of the floor, we lose a lot of the seats because we move the seats and put tables there. It was sold out with about 7500 people. We raised $3.3 million.

Q. Who was there?

ANDRE AGASSI: We had Robin Williams, we had Dennis Miller, Lionel Richey, Amy Grant, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and Mark Cohen, and David Foster produced it. 66-piece orchestra. Some phenomenal auction items that raised a lot of money.

Q. Such as what?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, we had, for example, the golf package, which is all the Grand Slams of golf. We had four tickets for every major golfing event, plus four nights in a Four Seasons hotel, plus four first class round trip tickets. That was one package. Another package was a round of golf with Arnold Palmer and Mark O'Meara. Another package was the artwork that was sold at Alexandria Nikita (phonetic), the 13 year old Romanian who has been talked about in the likes of Picasso. I mean, she's phenomenal. She painted this canvas that's beautiful. The title of it is Hearts Aren't Meant to be Broken. We auctioned that off. Sold for a lot of money. Robin Williams sold a dinner for 10 with himself at his home restaurant in San Francisco. Some guy paid 110 grand to go to dinner with him in San Francisco. The guy was doing everything but taking his clothes off up there.

Q. Any package to see Agassi playing Davis Cup next year?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. You've got to make sure you can deliver when you give an auction item. I wouldn't be able to deliver on that one.

Q. It must have been quite awhile since you played in front of so many empty seats. How did you feel about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: There were more people here than this Milwaukee (laughter). Regardless of those who aren't here, I mean, it's still a great tournament. It's still great competition. I think the most disappointing part of it is the fact that Germany is so used to such great players being here representing the country. Between Boris and Stich, Steffi Graf, now they have some younger ones who are starting to do well, but if they're not in this event, that probably hurts the enthusiasm here a lot. Germany has been very spoiled over the years.

Q. I have two questions. First, for your opinion, who are the best five players of all time till now? The second, in which direction do you think the game will proceed in the near future, in the technical strategy or maybe in improvement physically?

ANDRE AGASSI: Best five players, I'd have to say Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras. I mean, that's a tough call. It's not like there's time. It's not like there's a measuring stick. It's not like it's a race. It's not like it's a high jump. Guys can't play against guys, so opinions are only that. I mean, I thought there was no chance Mohamed Ali would beat Tyson in Tyson's prime, Holyfield goes and does it a couple times. You never know how guys are going to match up, you never know anything. So you can believe things are ridiculous until you see it. The game, I believe every sport always gets better. I believe in ten years, the best player in the world would beat me pretty bad. So, you know, I think you can just go back with the rankings and pretty much determine the last five No. 1's for a period of time are probably the best in the world ever. I think the game is going to develop bigger, stronger, more powerful. It's very simple. There's going to be probably a little less strategy to it, a lot more execution and shot making, big serves. I think a guy like Philippoussis is probably a lot closer to the game of the future than a younger player who really stays at the baseline and tries to work the ball.

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