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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION

1999 U.S. OPEN
Flushing Meadows, New York City

September 11, 1999

A. AGASSI/Y. Kafelnikov

1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

USTA: Questions for Andre.

Q. Talk about the difference after the first set to the next one.

ANDRE AGASSI: The start of a match is always a precarious thing. I mean, you never know how your opponent's going to be playing, what he's going to be doing. I just felt like I struggled with the balance between executing my shots, but not taking too big of a risk. You know, you want to get into the rhythm of the match. Sometimes you can find yourself being too careful or you can find yourself overhitting. When you have respect for what somebody can do with the ball, they force you to make quick decisions early. I just felt like I hadn't found my rhythm. I missed a lot of first serves. I was forcing my serve. Getting up the break early in the second allowed me to kind of get in the match. I didn't feel like I was playing all that well really to be up a break in the second, but I found myself there and managed to then start playing pretty well.

Q. This tournament, in general, would you say this is the best tennis of your life, not necessarily this match, but the whole tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, this time of my life, it's the best I've ever played. I think you can only be asked to do so much in each situation. I felt good about the way I played today. I didn't make many unforced errors after the first set. I always hope for it to get better. I don't know if it's the best this tournament, but I like the way I'm playing.

Q. You give off sort of an aura of being very businesslike. Is that a fair description of how you've gone about playing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it is work out there, you know. It's a lot of work. I just don't really believe that I have the energy to do much more than focus everything on winning the next point. Guys just seem to be too good these days to lose concentration even for a second. So I would say I'm very businesslike.

Q. Is there any luster taken off this final, considering you're not playing Pete?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, you know. I said earlier, before the tournament started, that if I was in the finals, I would like to be playing Pete, assuming that he's the best player on the other side of the draw. But when he pulled out, I want to play the best player on the other side of the draw, and it's Todd Martin. He's done some incredible things to get here. It's been great watching it.

Q. Todd said one reason he preferred that you would be in a final with him is because a lot more people would be watching. Any response at all, other than a chuckle?

ANDRE AGASSI: Maybe not in Russia. Maybe they'd be watching more in Russia if I was playing Yevgeny.

Q. Kafelnikov just talked about how great you have achieved yourself in the last ten months, a great amount of inspiration to the world of tennis. What went through your mind in the end of '98 or the middle of '98 to make '99 such a big year for yourself?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, '98 was a big year for me. '98 was a year of really getting back to a great work ethic, off the court as well as on the court. I fought through a lot of tough matches and played some great tennis throughout the year, but just didn't quite do it in the Slams. But I put myself back in position to have a year like this, so last year was an important year for me in this process. It's been a couple years in the making. You know, it's not like it just happens. But this year I think I just started playing my best tennis in the biggest of situations. That's always what you hope for.

Q. Three Grand Slam finals in a row. What an achievement.

ANDRE AGASSI: Thank you.

Q. Could you comment on that? It's not something that happens every year.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, it's not. It's been a great year for me. I'm hoping to make it a little bit better tomorrow.

Q. Todd Martin hasn't beaten you on hard court since '93. Why do you match up so well against him on this surface?

ANDRE AGASSI: There's a good chance if you're playing hard court, you're playing outdoors, you're playing with some elements: the heat, the wind. I grew up on the hard courts. I like the hard courts. I can count on the bounce. Not too fast; not too slow. I mean, it's a good pace. There's a few things that help me there in the match-up. But he can play great tennis really on any surface because he has the ability to play aggressively and to hit through any court, even clay. I mean, if he's really on his game, he can take returns early and hit them hard, deep and low, get behind it. He's six-foot-six. Hard to get the ball behind him.

Q. Is there a certain element of predictability in his game that shows up when you're playing him on hard court?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. I mean, he's on the court and he's out there to do what he knows how to do, which is to bring aggressiveness. Tomorrow he's going to need to serve well. Tomorrow he's going to need to return well. I'm expecting him to do both those things. As far as that goes, that's predictable: he's going to be playing good tennis.

Q. You told CBS, "What turns me on is making a difference in people's lives." Could you take a moment and explain?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I mean that on a few different levels. The question was in the context of what inspires me to continue playing and what's gotten me to come back. In that particular answer, I was referring to just the joy I get out of 20,000 people, you know, giving something back to a game that's been great to me, giving something to people's days, to people's weekends. You know, there's something very special about it. We all can make a difference with what it is we do. Not all of us can make a difference to thousands. That's a wonderful opportunity. It's always been something that's been fulfilling to me, probably in a lot of cases more so than winning.

Q. You got to this round pretty swiftly. Did you feel any of the pressure, when Pete and Pat did go out, that "This is Andre's tournament to win," did you feel any of that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not really. I didn't feel that at all. You know, it's the same story, you know, in every Grand Slam: there's always a few people in the draw that are expected to win that Grand Slam. Then everybody seems surprised when it doesn't happen and act like it was just a formality if they do win, just to go out there and play. I think when you're out there as many years as I've been, you realize that neither one is the case. I mean, I can't expect to win. I can't ever think that good things can't happen if I just work hard enough. I've kept it in perspective the whole time. It's pretty clear to me that if I don't do what I need to do in every case, I won't win, regardless of who is on the other side of the net.

Q. With the exception of Todd, he played great today, he has a lot more miles in the matches he's had to go through to get to this point. Do you see that perhaps as an advantage or is it a clean slate?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. He had a day off, then played an hour and 30 minutes today. He's going to be fine tomorrow.

Q. Yevgeny seems to think that this may have been his last chance to win a Grand Slam at the ripe old age of 25. You're 29. How do you feel about your own mortality within this sport?

ANDRE AGASSI: He said that? Wow. Your question was what?

Q. How do you feel about your own road ahead now that you're almost 30 years old? He seems to think that that age, 25, you're over the hill.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, guys are younger now, no question. They're younger because they're bigger and stronger earlier. Doesn't mean you can't present your problems older. It all depends how healthy you are, how you take care of your body, obviously your motivation and focus. For me, my motivation and focus is there. I'm in the best shape of my life. As long as those pieces are there, I'm in plenty of position to win, regardless how young they start or who I'm playing. You know, I have the game to do it. If I'm in great shape and I'm moving as good as I've ever moved, and I have the desire to go out there and do it, that's going to create a lot of good things for me.

Q. In the last three Grand Slams, you've won big matches coming from way behind. What was the kind of stuff that went through you to those big matches?

ANDRE AGASSI: A lot of questions, a lot of fear, you know, a lot of discipline, just one at a time. No other way to look at it. You've just got to try your best and hope that when it all comes down, you'll get your share of victories.

Q. What would it mean to you to end the year at No. 1?

ANDRE AGASSI: It would be great. I mean, I've never done it. It would be great. It would mean more to me to win tomorrow, I think. You know, the US Open is what I want. To win tomorrow would certainly put me in good position for that. It's definitely a goal that I have.

Q. It's not just a number?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it's not just a number. It's a big accomplish.

Q. Can you describe what is your state of mind today compared to the two previous finals you played this year? I assume something changed because Paris was most unexpected to see you in the final. Now it's much different.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, really if you're doing your job well, you're only focused on the person you're playing, and you're not focused on the situation or anything else. Medvedev to Pete was a big adjustment. It's a little easier going to sleep thinking about Medvedev. It's easier going to sleep thinking about Todd Martin than Pete, you know. You still have a job to do, and the job can be brutally difficult if you don't take care of the things that you need to execute. My state of mind is very much business at hand.

Q. In London you spend the night awake apparently, you didn't sleep at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: What?

Q. You haven't sleep a lot in London, I'm saying.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, I slept well. I always sleep well.

Q. Kafelnikov said that you beat him physically. He said you chased down every ball, put him in a situation where he was always a step behind. Could you be at all specific about just what you've done to get yourself in this kind of shape? Is it treadmill, free weights?

ANDRE AGASSI: I do a lot of free weights, a lot of sprints, a lot of incline sprints, back pedals, shuffles, sprints.

Q. While you're playing a tournament, you're not doing this?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, no. Sometimes the best preparation is rest. You've got to know your body and you've got to know what it is you're trying to accomplish. You don't want to leave your legs in the gym. You don't want to leave them on the practice court. You want to make good decisions for yourself. With everybody that varies. The reason why I don't get very specific about what it is I do is because it really doesn't make a difference. You've got to work hard and you've got to find what works for you.

Q. You enjoyed such an emotional high out there on the court after the match today. How do you regain the edge for tomorrow?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm in the US Open final. All I have to do is turn on the TV tonight.

 
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