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Écrit par Jerome   



April 9, 2000

A. AGASSI/ J. Novak

6-3, 6-3, 6-1

An interview with:


USTA: Questions for Andre.

Q. Andre, you came up big once again. What is this about you and Davis Cup magic? That was terrific.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it was good tennis out there. I mean, you just -- you go out there, you work hard, you try to give it everything you have and, you know, some things you can't control. But I got to say that I like the way not only I felt today but the way the ball was bouncing.

Q. It seemed your strategy from the very beginning was run the baseline the whole game. Is that accurate?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's accurate to say that's normally my strategy against anybody, yeah. (Laughter.) Today, the matchup was going to really boil down to who was going to control the points and make the fewest mistakes. You know, it's a fine balance, because if you're concerned about making errors and you want to just kind of make sure that you're solid, you know, you could leave a few balls hanging and he could all of a sudden hit one good shot and win the point and get some incredible confidence. By the same token, if you don't want him to control any of the points so you press a little bit early, you know, he's a good counterpuncher and you could find yourself never finding your rhythm with your shots. So both of us were kind of, you know, anxious to find that place where we could just execute and be solid. And I think I managed to just have a bit more on my rally shots and I controlled the points a little bit more.

Q. When did you start sensing he was wearing down?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, you know, it was tough all the way through till the third. I mean, the third, he really kind of got a little lackadaisical there early in the third and allowed me to get up a quick break without doing anything special. But that's a result of being a little discouraged and being worn down. I don't know how much of it was physical or mental, but I felt like that was kind of the only weakness that he showed as far as breaking down. But it was good tennis. You know, up until then.

Q. Andre, how did John handle the preparation for the match, and did he say -- can you recall one thing that was particularly central in his preparation with you?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, we're all pretty experienced at how things are -- need to go out there, and we were very matter-of-fact about it. We're just going to talk about taking it one step at a time, breaking it down to Xs and Os and establishing dominance and control. I mean, you know, he was very -- he was very technical about my approach to this match, which is really all that you need to do because the enthusiasm will bring out the intensity.

Q. Do you sense some of that Davis Cup buzz?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, there's definitely a buzz. I mean, reading the papers, you wouldn't know that, but there's definitely a buzz out there. I mean it's a great, great crowd. We're, you know, having some good times out there and these are great memories.

Q. John was pretty critical yesterday with the US Team's efforts up until today. How do you feel about what John said, and did he give you any specific motivational ideas or anything like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, you have to know John is going to speak his mind. Just because he speaks his mind doesn't mean he's being critical. He understands as well as anybody how off days can happen, and he's as guilty as us stepping out here and finding ourselves in a difficult situation. You know, all we can do is our best out there, and Jiri played the match of his life against Pete. And Rikl played an incredible doubles match, as well as Jiri. They earned those victories. So the only people that really think that, you know, whoever thinks that we should just go out there and dominate really doesn't know a lot about tennis, and I don't think any of the players felt that way either.

Q. Speaking about that, I know you always come up big in the Davis Cup, so maybe this is a weird question. But did you feel extra pressure because of the bad situation you found yourself going into today?

ANDRE AGASSI: You can't say extra pressure, because, you know, the pressure is for itself; it speaks for itself. Every point is so vital out there, you know, unless it's 3-0. So I didn't, no, I didn't feel extra pressure. I felt like there was a clear job that needs to be done and whether I'm up 2-1 or not, my goal is to go out there and establish that they're not going to get that point. I mean, you know, I mean if anything, I had added motivation. The thought of Jiri Novak coming in here and winning in our backyard, three points against me and Pete and the doubles is -- is just -- I just didn't want that to happen. I mean it's not anything more than me knowing what job I had to do to get us in position to hopefully win this thing.

Q. Andre, you're one of the hardest workers in all of sports on the court and off. But John did come in here yesterday and he said that American players were spoiled. Can you comment on that, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, because I really -- I really don't know what he would mean by that. I would actually prefer to hear it straight from his mouth and to get him to elaborate on that. You know, I'm very clear about myself and my work ethic and my focus, and Pete's accomplishments speak for themselves. So at the risk of sounding like I'm criticizing John, I have no idea what he could possibly mean with that.

Q. John has been somewhat critical of himself in terms of his ability to find just maybe where his role is as Davis Cup captain and that it's a learning curve he hasn't quite mastered yet. How do you, as a player, feel about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean if there's anything John hasn't mastered yet, it's realizing that when things don't go well that he's not physically tired because he's not out there playing. So there's a lot of emotional frustration with it. You know, if I go out there and get shell-shocked by somebody, I mean, they're handing my ass to me. I come off the court and I feel like they deserve it. But if I'm sitting on the sidelines and watching any performance that isn't up to the desired expectation, you know, you're not only shell-shocked, you're also really, really thrown about it. And, you know, that's part of it. That's part of, unfortunately, not being able to make more of a difference than giving us a platform to do well by preparation and by coaching and all those things that go into it.

Q. What's the main difference you feel with him on the chair as compared to other captains you've played with before?

ANDRE AGASSI: That he knows what he's talking about.

Q. You mean the others didn't?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's not that, you know, it's not that Gully didn't know what he was talking about. Gully knows the game, he's played the game. And the same with Gorman, the only two I've played for. But the game is different psychologically on the level that we're playing it at. I mean, you know, when John says something, it's straight into your kitchen, because he -- I mean he targets exactly the meat and potatoes of the match and what exactly is going on out there. You have that assurance that he's right there every step of the way with you because he's been out there, and that confidence allows you to actually have somebody make a difference, you know. Under normal circumstances, you're feeling like, "Listen, I've done this my whole life, I don't have coaches sitting on the court with me, so I don't want to hear anything." But it can be an asset as long as the responsibility the coach has is -- as long as he lives up to the responsibility that goes with that opportunity to interfere with your mindset, and John will never detour you from your path. He'll only say things that keep you focused on the things that that particular person needs. At least with me that's what he does.

Q. At times in your career when you were struggling more on the Tour, did playing Davis Cup and succeeding in this environment help you retain some optimism about the future?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've always enjoyed the game more when I was prepared and when I went out there and worked hard and left everything on the court. I've always enjoyed the game more. There were times in my career where I haven't been as prepared, for the fact that I wasn't really as focused on my tennis. Then I would get to Davis Cup and while I still might not be as prepared, the inspiration would just push me to just leaving it all out there. It was always a clear reminder as to what it is I love about this game. But now, it's, you know, it's different. But it's still wonderful. It's still a great opportunity to have a great time. I mean it really is fun, once you leave it out there, win or lose, you feel like you're playing for a higher cause. It's quite a feeling.

Q. Andre, you've, in the past, been a little bit critical of music and things like that in between sets. How do you feel about what's gone on out there in the last couple of days, all the glitz and the skyrockets and the Laker girls and stuff like that? Do you think it was appropriate or not?

ANDRE AGASSI: We had the Laker girls out there? (Laughter.)

Q. We heard that.

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't see anything. I didn't hear anything. I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing.

Q. Andre, did you feel the need to say anything to Pete today or do you kind of give him distance because he went through such a nightmare the other day?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't feel like there's anything I can say to him that he doesn't already know, excluding any tactical experiences I had against Dosedel. But you're still dealing with completely different matchup. I'm an entirely different player than Dosedel. Like Jiri Novak, if Pete serves wide to Jiri Novak, he just uses his six-foot-three-and-a-half body to poke the ball up the line and moves well and passes. With me, if I serve wide to Jiri, if he doesn't hit that thing with good wood on it, he's exposed and I'm going to run him three or four corners. There's always a difference in the matchups. One of the things that I told Pete that he could really utilize is body serves, changing the pace. I feel like Dosedel enjoys a certain rhythm to the shots, but I also feel like Dosedel hits the ball right at Pete's honey hole. You're going to see Pete hitting a lot cleaner balls than he did when he played Jiri.

Q. Andre, you were incredibly focused and extraordinarily pumped up today for the occasion. You've had so many of these big matches in your life. Do you have a special program on a day like today? Do you have a hard time sleeping because of anticipation? Do you have a little ritual? Do you eat breakfast with the team? What was your preparation before the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: For me, it's the same as it always is. I mean, just make sure that I'm comfortable with what I'm eating because the energy I need out there is not coming from the prematch meal. Make sure I'm rested, which I've never had a problem sleeping. And to make sure that I don't waste any useless energy thinking about it more than I need to. I mean, once I'm sure I know what I need to do from a playing standpoint, I only think about it when I get out there to warm up. I warm up quickly, I warm up intensely, then team up.

Q. You're obviously preoccupied during the match, but how much do you sense John's nervous energy? He really struggles to sit still, he's obviously very into the match and restless as the match goes on.

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think he struggles to sit still. I think he chooses not to. I mean, you know, God bless him for it. I like the energy. You know, you need to have it out there. There's only so much we can do in that arena, but that kind of enthusiasm and support can keep the level of tennis at such a great level, and I feel like that's what it does. I mean, when I'm up 4-1 in the third, I mean, I'm on the sidelines and I'm feeling like I want to break this guy again. I'm not thinking about closing out the match. I'm thinking about winning every point. It's that kind of enthusiasm, I think, that really is offered by the energy of John and by the energy of your team.

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