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May 8, 2000

A. AGASSI/ T. Martin

6-2, 7-6(4)

An interview with:


Q. Did you know that the T-shirt you're wearing is the color of our national soccer team?


Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't know that.

Q. Yeah. I felt it was complimentary. How can you explain the difference in the first set and second set? You won the first set very easily, and what was different in the second set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think, first of all, it's been, you know, three months since Todd has played a match, and I think his rhythm was a little bit off early in the first set and I got to a quick lead. In the second set, he was holding serve strongly, and he played one game to break me with four good returns. So I just had to get back into the set and was pretty fortunate to finish it 7-6. But I thought he was getting better.

Q. Having missed Monte Carlo and having done so well last year at Roland Garros, are you glad to get your feet back on European clay again, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: No question. I mean, I think that the best preparation is certainly to get a number of matches. How many is the question that's tough to answer. Last year I didn't have much at all excluding here, so I think for me it's best to be fresh, it's best to be in shape, and then to go in to Paris working hard, and that's the best I can be prepared.

Q. Are you satisfied with your tennis today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes. You know, the first one is always difficult, and I think against a player like Todd, he plays very aggressively, and it's tough to get a lot of rhythm. So I felt like I played solid, solid enough. But I think the test will start coming more and more.

Q. One year ago, things were very different, both personally and in your professional life. How do you feel getting back here in Rome, which was kind of your tournament where you began your comeback, you can say?

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt like here last year was a very good week for me. I started to feel confident and, you know, it was the start of the most incredible year of my life, and I wish everybody could have a year like I've had. It's been amazing. So, you know, it feels almost like my end of the year. January 1st is everybody else's New Year. For me, you know, coming out here and feeling good in Rome was the start.

Q. Having said that, Andre, we remember you sitting in here with a bad torso, you looking as if you were in pain, wondering how you would go on at Roland Garros. We were wondering that, not you. But it went amazingly well after that, didn't it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it was a difficult time. I didn't even know if I was going to play in Paris, and, yeah. I mean, I was wondering how I was going to get along, too. That was my first tournament in a while playing here, and it was responding well here. But the conditions were very fast, and the balls weren't getting heavy. I was really worried about that in Paris. Then I injured it even more in Dusseldorf because it was very heavy there, so it was quite a miraculous turnaround. Things had to go perfectly, and they did.

Q. Aside from the physical deal from last year, mentally about this time there were some questions that you couldn't get past Quarters and Semis. You were responding that that was something you needed to deal with. Then you went on and did it. This year you're kind of going into the French and other big events and you've achieved so much. A year ago, it was more of a drive. Now you've reached a point. How do you feel now mentally going into next month? Is there still that eagerness to do it again, or is it more difficult?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it gets more difficult every year, regardless of how well or not well you're doing. The players get better. It's another year of the toll being taken on you physically and mentally. So, I mean, I think it always kind of gets more difficult. You come to expect that. But I have to say in some respects, you can always count on a few things getting easier, and those vary. But in this case, you know, being the defending champion in Paris is nothing short of an honor, and it's almost like stepping out there will be another opportunity to kind of take in such a wonderful accomplishment and experience. And so I think that will be certainly motivating in itself.

Q. What is your opinion on the crowd, the balls and conditions here?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's playing a little bit heavier than last year, the balls. The court seems very much the same to me, but the balls seem like they're a little bit heavier, not quite as fast.

Q. And the crowd?

ANDRE AGASSI: The ones that were there were outstanding. It's very nice, very supportive.

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