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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

2000 TENNIS MASTERS CUP

LISBON, PORTUGAL

November 27, 2000

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Questions about your health. What did you do since you left Paris?

ANDRE AGASSI: I was doing some rehabilitation. It took some time, took a good week, I started feeling pretty good again. Went to San Francisco and practiced with Brad, you know, just got ready slowly.

Q. How many days in San Francisco?

ANDRE AGASSI: Maybe five, six days.

Q. How do you feel right now hitting the ball and everything?

ANDRE AGASSI: Real good. It's been a few great days of practice. I kind of surprised myself a bit. I'm hitting the ball really clean. Certainly excited to be playing here. It's going to be an intense week - and well needed.

Q. Saturday I saw you coming to practice. You didn't do any warm-up or anything like that. It's usual?

ANDRE AGASSI: What do you mean?

Q. Stretching, exercise before.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I was late to practice because I was waiting for my bags to arrive. They didn't come for a while, so I didn't have a choice but to just go quickly.

Q. What do you think of the facility, the playing conditions?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it seems like a huge step up from Hannover as far as the accommodations and the facilities seem great. You know, it's hard to have a feel for it till you're out there playing with the people. Good decision to be here, I think, from what I see.

Q. What are your expectations?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I believe where I am right now, I could surprise myself. I always like that. I mean, I'm expecting to stay healthy for three matches, at least. I think past that, I've got to wait to see. I mean, I feel like my game's at a place right now where just a few matches and I could start to play great, a few good matches and I could start to play great. My expectations will grow every day. But right now it's to be healthy, to compete hard, give myself a chance. Not very exciting, huh (laughter)?

Q. Do you think it's a similar situation to what Pete had the last few years when he came in after the morning break?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I hope it's the same. You know, I think it is a very similar situation. I think when you come back after a few months away, only a few matches, you're hoping, especially on the indoor courts, to stay healthy. Anybody that's played as long as me or Pete, you know, you can get better so quickly just because of your experience and your confidence level can come back. You know, it's possible. There's a lot of great players here. Every match is going to be competitive. I just want people to feel my game, and go from there.

Q. Do you feel that any player here is the favorite? Do you feel that everybody is the same?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's hard to put a favorite in a round-robin. You have to play everybody. Match-ups are so interesting all the time. So, no, there's no real favorite. I think certain guys like Safin are coming in playing the best tennis - he's proven that. Again, you have to play the best players in the world back-to-back. A lot can happen.

Q. Have you any expectations already for next season?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah. I mean, my expectation is to be in a place where I can win every tournament that I'm playing, especially big ones.

Q. You're still motivated?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't. You know, I'm better taking on big projects - and next year is a big project. For me, this is a great way to end the year. I think it's going to put me in good position for next year. You get more motivated the better you play. It's hard to be motivated when you're getting your butt kicked. But as you start playing better, and you start feeling the taste of blood, of winning, you know, it can motivate you. Then you remember why it's fun. When you're struggling with an injury, you're losing, guys are playing better than you, and even when you are playing well, you don't feel so confident, it's a fight. I've been through that fight enough to recognize it.

Q. Since you didn't win since Australia, do you miss the feeling of winning?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, very much, very much. You know, the longer you go without it, the more you appreciate it. But, you know, for me it's been a difficult year. It hasn't been great since Australia. But when I step up my game, I still feel I have what it takes. If I start playing better, I can start getting the hunger and the enjoyment out of it, good things will happen.

Q. Has The Masters Series been a great success?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I mean, I'll qualify my answer by saying I don't think I'm a great judge of that. I have a hard time being objective about the sport from that perspective. I only can tell you how it feels when we're playing. Certainly guys feel the pressure of having to do well. So from a playing perspective, it's more intense. It seems like the fans are showing up. Excluding maybe Stuttgart, they've always struggled a bit there. It seems like it's been a success. But I think tennis is a success. I think you'd have to be proactive in screwing it up. It's a sport that everybody can identify with. It's one-on-one. What I do affects what you do. It can take you through your whole life. It's great exercise. If you play lousy, just pick your opponents better. It's a great sport. So, yeah, I think it's been a success.

Q. What do you think of McEnroe resigning? Have you been surprised? What does it mean for me?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I was really surprised. I found out after everybody did. You know, it's hard to know. I called him straightaway afterwards. Still over in Germany. I wanted to get a feel from him firsthand as to what his reasons were. I'm not quite sure I understand his reasons. I think on the one hand, you've got to see it through. On another hand, you know, I believe Davis Cup needs to change. You wonder, how do you accomplish changing the way it is? I mean, it's just not good for the game. It's not good for Davis Cup to have it every year. People don't understand it. They don't respect it like they should. If he's going about making changes this way, I agree with the battle; I'm just not quite sure I understand how he's going about it and how I agree with that.

Q. Do you think also the circuit needs a change, a revolution, in order to streamline it, to reduce the number of tournaments?

ANDRE AGASSI: The tour or Davis Cup?

Q. The tour, the ATP Tour.

ANDRE AGASSI: It's a lot of tournaments. I mean, we're already in December? What's the date today?

Q. November the 27th.

ANDRE AGASSI: We'll be well into December, and it won't be finished yet.

MODERATOR: Earlier next year.

ANDRE AGASSI: I'll believe it when I see it (laughter). It's a long year. You know, I think it's one of the reasons why, unlike basketball or some of these other sports where you see guys play late into their 30s, it's hard to do it. You're the only one out there, and you've got to play week after week, non-stop. It gets tougher and tougher. Let's face it, it doesn't get any easier.

Q. Do these events get any more special for you as your career continues?

ANDRE AGASSI: In some ways. In other ways, they don't. I mean, there's a certain part of what you do out here that's just what you would call work. The work part doesn't get more special; it gets more difficult, you have to be more focused about it. The part when you're actually out there and you're connecting with the people and you're playing a match that's potentially an epic, then those moments get more special when they happen. But as you approach a tournament, you approach it from a very worthwhile standpoint and know that that part continually gets more difficult.

Q. How special is it to actually qualify, that aspect of it, I mean, to be among the eight elite players of the world?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, for me, there's only seven places I'd rather be (laughter). You're talking about standards and you're talking about expectations. If we're going to put it in perspective, to be Top 100 on the planet is quite an accomplishment. Needless to say, being top eight is even that much more. But you want to win, you know, you want to win. You have to beat the best in the world to do it, so you have to be the best.

Q. Congratulations on being here. Can't avoid asking the question: How is the hip?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's better. I guess it's day-to-day on some levels. I feel like I can go out there and play a match, how it responds is still a question mark. But it does feel good.

Q. Can you fill me on what sort of work you've been doing on a day-to-day basis?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it starts with just rest and antiinflammatories, gentle stretching, massage to loosen up the back and everything that's kind of connected to getting the hip joint to move easier. You know, then you do everything a little bit more intensely as far as the treatment, the stretching, the deep tissue work. You get back on the court, you go slowly there and start gradually picking that up. It's a tedious, very kind of normal -- something you get very used to after a while.

Q. You started the year fantastically well in Australia. It was immensely promising, wasn't it? Can you reflect on the year? Is there anything you might have changed?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think obviously hindsight is 20/20. You say, "I should have done this, I should have done that." Ultimately, you're talking about health and perspective. In both cases, I think I've found myself struggling. For me, the year isn't January necessarily through December. It was a pretty intense year from the French Open before till the French Open again. It was a lot. It's always a lot every year. As you get older, it gets more difficult. You pick your spots, and I think that becomes much more of a high wire balancing act. If I could go back in time, I probably would have immediately taken a few months off and then got myself to feel healthy after Zimbabwe. I would have come out firing again, hoping to get things going.

Q. What are the lessons for next year? Is that going to affect how you think about next year?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, this year, while it's been difficult, I haven't played as much. I think ultimately I'm in a better position to kind of go again. You've got to be able to stay healthy. For me, it's about how much your expending, how your body is feeling, how your mind is feeling. I think everything in those regards are good. I mean, I'm healthy right now. I have an excitement to play, which is good. It's about bringing it together.

Q. You think you can bring it together this week?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think I don't have much choice. You either play great or you really have no chance against the best in the world. I'm hitting the ball well, I'm moving well, I'm anxious to play. Those are all great signs, making some great gains. I think this week you'll see go from good to much better.

Q. How is the hip?

ANDRE AGASSI: It doesn't reveal itself in going out there. When I ask it to do things, it reveals itself as I recover from hard activity, how stiff it gets. That's the first sign. I've been practicing pretty hard and it's responded.

Q. Were you as enthusiastic as ever coming into an event like this?

ANDRE AGASSI: I am pretty enthusiastic this week - certainly more than I've been in a while, which is a great sign. As you play better, you get the confidence, you get more enthusiasm. I'm actually playing pretty well, hitting the ball well. I had a great week in Lyon, starting to feel like I was putting together some good tennis. So I do feel more enthusiastic.

Q. It's been a strange year, great start winning the Australian, continuing that incredible run you had. Obviously, the rest of it has been, by your standards, disappointing.

ANDRE AGASSI: I agree.

Q. Looking forward to next year, do you say, "I can get back to where I was in '99"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I do believe that. At the end of the day, you have to size up the X's and O's and understand why you are or are not doing well. For me, my game is right there. I mean, my shots are there. I'm moving well. You know, I'm doing everything well. It's just I've got to play - I've got to play. I have to play with focus and passion and determination. I think that side of it, I'm a lot more ready for right now, which I think will suit me well for next year.

Q. How much did the niggling injuries like the hip and one or two others have actually sort of depressed you this year? Is that the main reason?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it goes hand-in-hand. I think if you're struggling physically, it's easy to get negative. I think if you're not feeling positive, it's easy for injuries to get the better of you. It's kind of been kind of a snowball on me. I haven't poured in the passion and commitment that's required to get over the hurdles that have existed. I've kind of found myself a little beaten up by the whole process this year. It comes as no surprise to me. I mean, it's not easy to do it over and over and over again. But I do feel good about my game. I feel good about my determination to play my best tennis again. I think that's when things can start happening well. I think you get more excited to do well, the better you do. It's hard to lose when you aren't used to it or you don't like it. It can really take a chunk out.

Q. Last year we saw a real giant battle between you and Pete. Do you feel comfortable 100% to do the same here if you play Pete, show the Portuguese people a battle?

ANDRE AGASSI: Seeing that Pete hasn't played a match since the US Open, he'd probably be the best option for me to play right now. All due respect to a great champion who doesn't need props from me in order to get his respect. You can't go two months these days without playing without suffering the consequences. He's great enough to overcome that. He did that last year. But there's a lot of guys here right now playing well. Pete is not on my mind.

Q. Did you recover completely from Paris? Do you feel comfortable physically and mentally to be here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think so. I think so.

Q. How do you rate sort of the two newcomers in this thing, Safin and Hewitt?

ANDRE AGASSI: How do I rate them?

Q. As players.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think Safin is a great player. I mean, I think he does everything incredibly well and does a few things outstanding. That's the sign of somebody who can really push the game of tennis. I look at Hewitt's game and I think he's the 2000 version of Chang, you know. He can really use his speed as an offensive weapon. He has a better serve, I think, than Michael did. His tenacity and fighting spirit is a credit to the game of tennis. I think he can present an incredible amount of problems to an incredible amount of guys as long as his body allows him to. But I think they're both a threat to win big tournaments for a while to come.

Q. Do you plan on playing Davis Cup next year?

ANDRE AGASSI: It hasn't been on my mind yet. We have as much turmoil going on in Davis Cup as we do in the entire country right now.

Q. How many of the players have been consulted on what should happen next with that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I was consulted in Las Vegas with Arling (phonetic) a new guy that's come into the mix. I don't remember his last name. You know, we just talked about it, talked about the whole situation, what needs to change, the same conversation you have every two years, what needs to change.

Q. Do you think that is one of the problems with American tennis, the fact that they have this change at the top every two years? Whoever comes in new wants to stamp their personality, everything changes.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think you can do a lot more damage in two years than you can good things. By the same token, I believe that Americans are incredibly spoiled with having a certain amount of understanding as to what it is they're watching. The Davis Cup is the last thing that people can understand. I think other countries have the luxury of rallying behind their country. America, we have so many sports, we have so many things that take our attention and focus, sports Heroes, all the different Championships that are going on, nobody understands Davis Cup. It needs to change. It needs to change for everybody's sake. I believe one of the up-sides to the way they do it is tennis gets to be taken around the world to these smaller places that really bring tennis into the country on a grass-roots level. By the same token, I think there's a really damage done on a bigger end, because it doesn't end. You finish one tie and you start another. I would like to see the Davis Cup change. I would like to see the top group maybe be less countries and have that group play every other year, have a qualifying process that happens every year so all these other countries do play every year. The country that wins the whole thing, you know, have all the countries go to their country and put it together in a two-week package, like The Ryder Cup or -- I'm drawing a blank on the sailing.

Q. America's Cup.

ANDRE AGASSI: Let all the countries come together in the home country's place, and put it together in a package that people can actually get excited about it. It makes sense from players' schedule, it makes sense for TV, revenues, everything. Right now it's the same old thing over and over again.

Q. Do you think there's a case for going back to the challenge round in the Davis Cup, just the Davis Cup?

ANDRE AGASSI: Which is the winner goes straight to the final?

Q. Waits for everybody else to come through.

ANDRE AGASSI: No. You're still playing every year. It's still something that people have a hard time understanding. I mean, every other year and not on Olympic years. I believe that it should take place in one place. Can you imagine the top eight countries in the world coming together in Spain or in France or in Australia or in America even. I mean, you'd sell out any arena in the world. The revenues you could generate on top of the interest and the focus would be phenomenal.

Q. One of the problems of course is that outside America, there is a special problem of so many sports challenging for support. The Davis Cup is understood elsewhere. Literally only in the States this problem occurs.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I wouldn't be so sure that it's about it being understood as much as supported. I mean, I make a distinction there. I'm not quite convinced you go to the average sports fan in these places and they could tell you how it is. Maybe a true tennis fan could, like they probably could in America. I think overall, you're talking about sports fans being able to rally behind a sport that they know nothing about. I mean, when I watch, I could like golf or not like golf, and I know what I'm rooting for when you watch The Ryder Cup. It's the same thing. I believe it can be understood a lot better all around the world and there can be more interest on it.

Q. What do you think about the American elections?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's very unfortunate, incredibly unfortunate. You have two dogs fighting over a bone, and the bone is our country. It's not a good thing.

Q. Did you vote?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes.

Q. At least you didn't have to vote in Florida, so you're not responsible for this mess.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. It is a mess.

Q. About the Tennis Masters Cup, your goal ties win, but what do you think you can do here?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think I can win.

Q. You think you are physically and mentally prepared a hundred percent?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I feel great right now. Obviously physical has been something that's been more of a concern by the day than it has in the past. I mean, it obviously hasn't taken much, indoors, coming back after a couple months, to feel my body. I hope a few weeks of playing and a little time off, I hope I'm more prepared now than I have been in a long time. I feel good about my game. I'm certainly excited. You combine those things and I think I can play well and get things going the right next.

Q. Yevgeny told me a minute ago that if he doesn't reach the semifinal, it's going to be a disappointment for him. Do you think this way, too? You have another perspective?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I think semifinals would be a disappointment, too. I think anything short of winning is a disappointment.

Q. This is your first time in Portugal?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes.

Q. Do you intend to visit Lisbon?

ANDRE AGASSI: I hope so. There's not a whole lot of time for pleasure this week.

Q. Who would you like to play against in the final?

ANDRE AGASSI: Whoever's playing well enough to be there.

Q. A rematch of the Masters last year?

ANDRE AGASSI: Whoever is playing the best to be there. You have to understand that at this level so many things can happen. You want to feel like you're the best if you win. On paper Pete and I are always a great show. Unless we're playing our best, it's not the case.

Q. Have you talked about Davis Cup already?

ANDRE AGASSI: A bit.

Q. I was curious, Mac making his decision, Pete said he was surprised. Were you surprised by it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I was very surprised. I didn't know anything about it. I agree with the battle of wanting to change the format of Davis Cup. I agree with it wholeheartedly. It did come as a big surprise.

Q. Disappointing, considering what he could bring as Davis Cup for a captain, only being there for one year?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, apparently, you know, you can't bring a lot if you don't think you can. Somehow he was judging himself on a standard that didn't allow him to feel the confidence that he could really add a whole lot. I mean, it is disappointing. I think it's a step backwards for the Davis Cup. But I think they have much bigger problems than John not being captain.

Q. Pretty hard to resolve the issue when you have a global market and the American market?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I think I pretty much resolved that. If you did play every other year and you had eight countries, maybe even six, then you had the rest of the countries play every year for qualification to a world tournament that happened in a two-week period every other year. The country that wins would be the host. I mean, I think the revenues would be phenomenal. I think people would understand it, people could get behind it. That itself would bring revenue and opportunity. You still have all the countries fighting every year to try to qualify, which is okay. At least you're working hard to accomplish something. Like I came in in '88, we were in the second group. We worked our butt off to get back into the main group that year, only to play a couple months later. It's frustrating, it's tiring. It's, unfortunately, really old.

Q. The format is really old?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes. You've got to be willing to make the proper adjustments. The sport has changed dramatically since Davis Cup was set up. Adjustments need to be made on behalf of the players, on behalf of the fans, on behalf of anybody who claims to care about it.

Q. Who is your pick for the Davis Cup final next week?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the fact that they play indoors gives Australia a (inaudible). You have to give them the doubles, which is a huge swing point. I think they have a shot at winning two singles. But I would probably still give the edge to the Spanish. I would say 3-2 Spain.

Q. Australia went pretty well against the home crowd in Nice. Do you think the home crowd advantage is going to be any different this time?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's not going to be as much of a problem as the players. I mean, you know, France, every time you play away, it's pretty tough. I think Spain and France, they're all pretty enthusiastic. That won't be the difference. The difference is going to be matchups and games. I think Spain has options when they play Rafter, and I think they have options when they play Hewitt. They can work that a little bit.

Q. What do you think the conclusions are to draw about the men's game at the end of this year? New paradigm, new group coming through?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's nice in certain ways. Always mixed emotions when you see a younger player step up to the plate, like Safin at The Open this year. I think ultimately it's a matter of time before somebody new starts establishing themselves as the person to beat. You know, it's just an incredibly open, open sport. It just takes such a toll on you mentally and physically that you can't count on somebody dominating. I see Safin's game as one of the best.

Q. If you look back at yourself, the way you played in January, focused, on your game, is that your all-time peak, looking in the rearview mirror?

ANDRE AGASSI: Up-to-date, yeah.

Q. Could you imagine getting back to that same level of focus and concentration?

ANDRE AGASSI: I hope to get better. I hope to get better. Yeah, I definitely can.

Q. What would you do better?

ANDRE AGASSI: You can always get better. I mean, you can always hit your shots bigger and cleaner. I mean, I think the one thing that you have to hold to the same level or standard is focus and concentration. That always has to be great, or else you don't win. Then I think your game can be more confident, you can -- experience can help you adjust against guys you might normally struggle with if you play a certain way. A lot of things can make you play better. Every split second you take the ball earlier is that much less time your opponent has.

Q. What are the pros and cons of one-year shift? This year Lisbon, next year Sydney.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's good. Unless they're going to stay in New York.

Q. Vegas?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, New York. I think they should stay in the Garden. They should never have left. That's just my opinion. I think it's good to take this event to different parts of the world that can really host it and give it what it respects.

Q. Because it's fresh whenever it comes to a new place, people get excited about it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, you're taking the eight best players in the world. Do you know how much money you would have to pay to get these players to play an exhibition. Probably have to pay them double to get them to care about it. You're getting all of the above there. It's quite an opportunity to bring awareness and interest to the game of tennis.

Q. What about the surface? Do you think it will be good to change also the surface?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's hard. No, I don't think so. I don't think so. You have to remember, you're still dealing with a season. You're dealing with what players are used to. You're playing indoors, all of a sudden you're going to go to clay, other surfaces, it's a big adjustment. I think we have to do that too much during the year. It needs to stay sectioned off and stay that way so you can get a chance to work into the tournament. I mean, I think you're going to see the best tennis that way.

Q. When you're playing a match at this stage in your career, are you ever surprised by what happens on the court or does everything seem comprehensible to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, for me, when I get to a point where I'm only thinking about my opponent and I'm comfortable with my game, the way I'm feeling out there, then everything's completely manageable. But when you're fighting off the in and outs of injuries and setbacks, you get out there, a lot of times you feel like it's in your hands, and you're so frustrated with the fact that you're not doing it; that you're not thinking about your opponent, what he's throwing at you. You're trying to get yourself to at least do what you do. Once you do what you do, you can start dealing with how that sizes up against what he's doing. Once it's there, yeah, I'm as comfortable as with anything.

Q. Can you live without tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes.

Q. Do you think the Champions Race can help sell the game?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, because I think that in order to really sell the game, people have to understand how it works. I don't believe it's so clear to understand throughout the year. I mean, I go all the way back to the start of the year when they had three rankings. I mean, they this your normal ranking, I guess, the one we're most familiar with, then they had your Champions Race ranking, and then they had the third stat where you are on the race. There were these three numbers that would pop up. You're looking at them like, "What is this supposed to mean to people?" I think you have to understand it. For me, I wouldn't put so much interest in selling the game with changing a whole lot. I mean, you've got to change a few things, but bring attention to just how great this game is. I think you've got to make that assumption that it's still one of the only sports that it's one-on-one, that what I do affects what you do. That's awesome. I mean, people can play it a lifetime. I mean, those fundamentals in the game of tennis will never be too far out of reach. But I don't believe the series has necessarily sold the game better. I mean, I don't think it's been bad. It's been a little bit of a side story, in my mind.

Q. Who is your favorite to win Masters Series?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think there really is a favorite.

Q. (Inaudible)?

ANDRE AGASSI: For me it was about qualifying. I would have been left with a tough decision not having been able to play Paris. I feel like if I could have played Paris, I could have qualified. I was just hoping I'd finish 8th to answer --.

Q. With the schedule, what in your position would you like to do with the schedule? Would you like to see it shortened?

ANDRE AGASSI: Definitely shorter. I'd like to see every tournament count. I'd like to see less tournaments. You know, I would like to see every season build up to its pinnacle. I mean, you start the year in Australia, then you go indoor, then you go hard court, then you go clay, then you go French. I'd like to see hard court build up to the Australian Open, clay court build up to the French, a couple grass tournaments build up to Wimbledon, hard court to the US Open, indoor, have just a few tournaments, boom, tight package. People go, "I get it, this is this surface." It gives the players a bit to work into it, gives the public to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the players, end it with a Slam. I feel it's a little off to kind of go January to June, then play three Slams within two months, two and a half months.

Q. What would you think of a situation where they had the Grand Slams and then Ericsson or Indian Wells like tournaments, then cut a bunch of the smaller tournaments away from the schedule?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would hate just to make a sweeping statement and not realize what it is I'm saying in reference to screwing small events or maybe not making the best decision for taking tennis around because I think you have some issues there. Ultimately, if you want to sell the game of tennis, you have to bring a product that is great every time it steps in the arena. I think when you have two, three tournaments going on in the same week, it's not clearly able to be separated in people's minds, it's too much, it's not clear enough. You want to make it ideally so you always have the Top 50 players playing the same tournaments and as few as possible. That would be an off-season, give people a chance to get excited about it. It would be one heck of a product every time it happened.

Q. What is your opinion about Marat Safin?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he's done some incredible things this year. I think he's only lived up to what a lot of other players expect him to do. He's a great player.

Q. And about possibilities in this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Eight best players in the world. Nobody is the favorite. Everybody is going to have a difficult time. The winner will be a good player who is a little bit lucky.

Q. Did John talk to you about his decision before, about Davis Cup?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. Do you wish he had?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would like to understand it, because then I could at least support or be clear on what's taken place.

Q. To those of us on the outside, he lobbied so hard for it.

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm not sure he lobbied about it. How did he do it.

Q. He talked about wanting to do it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Wanting to do it and lobbying for it are different things. I think it would be strange to find a player who would turn it down. I mean, when the players got together and chose him, me, Todd Martin, Jim Courier and Pete, who just hurt himself at The Open, that's the only reason he wasn't in the meeting. The players chose him.

Q. You don't think it was something where he created the situation where he wanted to have it, and he got the chance?

ANDRE AGASSI: People knew he wanted to do it. However, I mean, he was passed over on a couple of occasions. It's not like --.

Q. We don't know him like you know him. It seems a bit odd.

ANDRE AGASSI: Which is why I wish he would have talked to me about it. I understand the battle of wanting Davis Cup to change - I couldn't agree more. I'm not sure I understand how he's gone about it. Can you really justify the means by the end? I know where he's probably trying to get to with Davis Cup; I just don't understand the process here and where that leaves a lot of people, including myself. I mean, it's all now a bit hard to kind of put together. I guess time will play itself out.

Q. Are you waiting to see if you're going to play next year?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, that's the last thing on my mind.

Q. What does it mean to be patriotic to the US?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm a proud American. It means a lot.

Q. Taking part in Davis Cup.

ANDRE AGASSI: There's a lot of ways to support your country. Playing Davis Cup and voting are certainly a couple ways.

 
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