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Écrit par Jerome   



March 29, 2000

A. AGASSI/T. Henman

7-5, 1-6, 7-6

An interview with:


GREG SHARKO: Andre moves into his sixth career semifinal at the Ericsson and will take on the winner of tonight's Kuerten-Ferreira match.

Q. What do we know about the leg, is it okay?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's okay. It's okay. Tough out there physically. It was quite hot and humid. I think it was just more a little wear and tear than anything. It was a good one for me to get through.

Q. Looked like you were in firm control during the first set. What happened?

ANDRE AGASSI: I wouldn't say I was in firm control. I definitely felt like I was establishing myself. He played a real good game to break back to 4-All in the first. Played two good games back-to-back for 5-All. I played a real good game to break him, a solid game to serve it out. I felt like I was definitely picking it up. Then I had I believe a long deuce game the first game of the second set where I had opportunities to break, and didn't. You know, he played one good game to break me, then I had 15-40, then I had a couple more opportunities. But when they slide by, and instead of being down being down 2-1 and a break, you're up 3-0, it's a big swing. I think he just started serving better. He really played well for a stretch. I had to try to slow him down. The same theme continued in the third. I had opportunities, 15-40 a couple times. I had a sitter forehand one time, ripped it cross-court. It just caught a little wind and missed it. It always seems like when you have a couple opportunities to break and you don't, it's the most difficult time to hold. I played one careless point, but he played pretty solid. All of a sudden he's up a break. It wasn't an easy match. It was a fight for both of us.

Q. Was it a second wind or a third wind or a fourth wind at the eighth game of the third set? You seemed gone. He aced you and you didn't even move.

ANDRE AGASSI: I never felt like I got a second wind. I felt like, you know, I certainly lost some energy out there, no question. There's a lot to be said for just being a little discouraged, too - having your opportunities, being down a break in the third. So my goal at that point was just to make him serve it out, "Make him beat you here, make him play well to finish the match." He missed a few crucial first serves which kind of gave me a look at the basket. I converted. But I was fortunate to get back into that one and win it, no question.

Q. Is the primary emotion at the moment relief?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, not relief. To win a match like that, you feel kind of proud. You just hang in there and fight, fight off some good tennis, into the semifinals. I know from the outside it seems like being in the semifinals, not much of a big deal. I've got news for you. I mean, you come into these tournaments, you're truly taking it one match at a time. I have the opportunity to get better here. Playing in the semis, I'm feeling not relieved - pretty excited.

Q. How close do you feel you're playing to your top level?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not yet, you know, not yet. Conditions out there are pretty thick, and I believe my strength in a thick court is to really set up the point effectively with no indecision at all, hit the ball with real conviction. I feel like I have a lot of those shots in the match where I hit the ball real well. But I'm not squeezing guys yet, you know, I'm not putting matches away. I'm stepping it up as I go along. That comes from getting these matches in. It will only get better. I'm in position to play my best tennis. I don't feel like it's happened yet.

Q. I'm a hacker. A guy has a match point on me at 9-8, he serves a double-fault, I practically jump up and down. Is there some relief or elation when you see that ball go into the net?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, there is. I mean, you all of a sudden get a little life because you feel like, again, you're dealing with the circumstance. I'm thinking to myself, "If he makes the first serve, make him play a volley, just find a way to get this ball in play." If he misses a first serve, "Don't poke this ball, take a good cut at it, stay aggressive, give yourself margin for error and execute." When he misses a second, you just kind of are a little relieved. You are a little relieved, you know, but then you've got work to do real quickly. It's not comfortable serving 8-9 either. If he wins the next point, it's 8-9. It's never enough out there; you want this point, the next point, then you want the point after that.

Q. Can you give us an assessment of Tim's game today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I thought he played really well. I thought he fought hard and kept the match real competitive when I thought it could have got away from him - believe it or not - early in the second, and the third, as well. You know, he played real well on some big points when he was down, and then didn't quite play as well when he had the big points to put the match away. It's tough. It's difficult to do both. Being down, finding a way to get back into it, then finding your opportunity and converting. It would be a heck of a match if he did that. You know, I think sometimes he rushes his decision making out there. When he's up and on the verge of winning, I felt like he kind of maybe forced things a little too much. He's good enough really to wait for his opportunity. He didn't quite play his best at the last stages, you know, when he had the opportunity to win. But that's a lot to ask, because he certainly played well to get himself into that position.

Q. On the final point of the match, backhand rally with him, were you surprised to look up and see him approaching on the final ball, fairly easy pass?

ANDRE AGASSI: It was. But, you know, there's a lot of pressure out there when you get to that stage of the match. He's thinking to himself, "I need to get in. I want to get in. I want to put pressure on him." I'm thinking to myself, "I want to keep him back." My goal was to make him come in on something that wasn't quite as easy to come in on, if he was going to come in. But he was probably a little quick to want to get into his kind of favored position there at net. I had the opportunity there to take a good crack at the passing shot. But he probably could have waited a little bit. Who knows if he was getting tired, too. It's not easy to make five, six shots in a row at that stage of the match.

Q. How much juice was on that final ball he hit you?

ANDRE AGASSI: He kind of floated that just to get in tight and really give me a small margin to make my passing shot. The approach he came in on sat up, but I still had to execute it. You know, he hit it slow enough where he could really get himself in position at net, but he approached cross-court. That was to my best pass.

Q. Do you look at this as just a win or just a win and I've got to improve the way I'm playing right now?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm always trying to improve. I think once you're still in the event, you still have the opportunity to play better, you know. There's always that extra chance. I want to definitely play better. It has gotten better quickly. I have no doubt that it will even feel -- feel like I'm taking another step forward. But getting through these is also good from a psychological and confidence standpoint, I mean, teaching yourself to just keep executing your shots and to keep hitting and not worry if things don't go quite as you planned. That's one thing I felt like I did well today. I don't feel like I got rattled with the standard of my play or with, you know, opportunities that passed me by. I felt like I immediately started concentrating on the next point, and that's important to my game.

Q. Go over the first match point you faced.


Q. Tiebreak, first match point.

ANDRE AGASSI: He came in pretty quickly. I hit the backhand up the line. Again, I just think a couple of those opportunities he rushed a little bit. I mean, he could have been a hero for doing that, because if I missed the shot, you put a lot of pressure on me. He definitely did. I felt like I definitely had the opportunity to hit that shot, executed it well. That's what he does so well. He makes you feel his presence out there. He hit a lot of great approaches the whole match. When he didn't hit a good approach, he was always able to get in behind it and stretch and make you feel like you had to do something with your pass. When you're down match point, you're just thinking, "No regrets here; don't miss this on the short side."

Q. In the Davis Cup, what kind of coaching did McEnroe give you? Was it strategy or more emotional support?

ANDRE AGASSI: Fortunately with the way the two matches went, he just kind of for the most part, you know, got my water (laughter).

Q. Would you expect in a closer match that it would be more?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's not exactly true. I was kind of giving him a hard time there. At one stage it got difficult against Byron Black. I was feeling pretty sick in the middle of the third set. We were switching sides. He told me, "You're not using your legs anymore on your serve. You're not staying turned and disciplined on your shots." I looked at him and said, "It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I feel like crap right now." I think that kind of surprised him a little bit because I think he was kind of expecting me to be strong for three-out-of-five the whole time, because that's what he'd seen over the last few weeks. Then he just told me, "If that's the case, let's put in ten hard minutes here. Let's not stay out here and play another fourth set. Ask yourself for ten great minutes." He was always kind of keeping me focused on the finish line.

Q. Including Davis Cup, there's a lot of tennis this year. Do you feel like you can stay on the top the whole year on a consistent basis?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, that would be a great accomplishment to do it because it's not easy to do with all these players. But I feel like I want to play my best at the biggest times. I think this is a real big tournament. I'd love to play well here. It would put me in position to have a lot of confidence on the clay, and the Grand Slams and the Davis Cup. Those are the areas you want to play your best. If you win the big ones, you know, you're certainly on top of the pack. To do it week after week is not easy to do.

Q. Where does the Olympics rank in your personal season planning?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I consider the Olympics a great honor to play, to be part of it. I rank it right up there. You know, I think there's five big events this year, real big - six, excuse me, Davis Cup. I would consider the Davis Cup huge for us, too. Four Slams, Davis Cup and Olympics. It's a lot of tennis, but as far as I'm concerned, it's six opportunities to create a few more dreams come true. I hope I can do it at least a few times.

Q. McEnroe once said if he played you in his prime, he would have tried coming in off your first serve. Do you think he would have been able to cause any trouble?

ANDRE AGASSI: Would that be a change of plans for John, coming in on somebody's first serve?

Q. No, but doing it with you with your pass. Obviously it's hypothetical.

ANDRE AGASSI: John has the greatest hands in the game. The guy can take advantage out of a nub return. I mean, he can hit a miss-hit return and turn it into an offensive shot just with his ability to anticipate move and volley. I got a hunch, you know, he would have caused me a lot of problems in a lot of ways. He would have served my forehand hip with that lefty 104 mile-an-hour bomb that he has. He just would have used it to get in tight and create a lot of problems. My goal would be to try to create a few for him, but, yeah, I would have had a lot to deal with.

Q. How much water do you drink in a match like this?

ANDRE AGASSI: During the match?

Q. Like today.

ANDRE AGASSI: A lot of times it depends how you're feeling. A lot of time the water is building up, you don't drink as much. If you're doing it well, I mean, you're going through maybe, I don't know, a bottle every two changeovers, those bottles that we drink.

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