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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

2000 TENNIS MASTERS CUP

LISBON, PORTUGAL

November 30, 2000

A. AGASSI/Y. Kafelnikov
6-1, 6-4

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. That was pretty devastating. Was that a long time since you've played like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I mean, that was certainly the best I've played in a long time. You know, today it was a good opportunity for me because I got my game going better in the first match against Gustavo, and then I'm familiar enough with Kafelnikov's game that I knew I would have a chance to execute, and I executed well. I took care of my serve well. I was moving well. I was staying disciplined in trusting my shots. My game started really firing on all cylinders today. I would have to say that's probably the first time in a while that it felt that way. You know, it's been a little while certainly.

Q. Having a personal relationship with Jesus, do you give him some of the glory of each of your victories?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, certainly my faith, but it's also my belief that along with many things, you know, God gives us ability and a mind. It's our choice to go out there and use it or not. While I'm thankful for many things, I choose to kind of keep that part of it private.

Q. You say "a while." Would it be right to think the last time you played that well was the semi against Rafter, which although didn't go your way, was one of the great matches of the year?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I actually thought that match sucked (laughter). Today was different. You know, I felt like that match against Rafter, while the quality ultimately at the end of the match was pretty high, there were a number of opportunities in each set for the other one to take control, and neither one of us did. I didn't feel like it was the other one stepped it up. I felt like we both let some opportunities go by. That's what separates beating the big player in the big moment. And today it felt opposite. It felt very solid, and it felt like I was taking control when I had the opportunity. So I would even say it felt better today.

Q. Maybe going back to Australia then?

ANDRE AGASSI: I guess technically speaking, I played a pretty good match against Novak in the Davis Cup.

Q. Now that you won the first two games, do you feel more favorite to win the Tennis Masters Series Cup?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, to win it here, you've got to play like that every day. Guys know how to win here. Unless you play great again at the right time, it's not going to happen. I'm pleased the way it went today, but I'm thinking about being better and doing it again tomorrow.

Q. What do you get out of playing now? Is it still the same joy from playing the game you had when you were younger?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I think your reasons for playing change as you go through a career. I think the older you get the more difficult certain things get that never used to be, the more you appreciate certain things that you never used to appreciate. I think there's a real give and take that happens. At this stage, you enjoy the thrill of challenging your yourself, pushing yourself, playing a level of tennis that really allows people to enjoy it. You know, I feel still incredibly challenged because I feel the room to get better. As long as I stay healthy, my game is there, and that part feels very challenging. I enjoy that more now than I ever used to. It used to be a real heavy pressure on me, and now I enjoy that part of it more. You know, the memories that you create, you value them more.

Q. In the last few weeks and months, your results haven't been as good as obviously we would expect from you sometimes. Are you surprised that it suddenly looks as if it's coming good now or is it something you've been working for and concentrating on this, perhaps at the expense of some of the others?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, even while I was struggling through the year, I was keeping my physical ready. I was always fit and I was putting time on the court. I don't think my concentration and my focus and my health allowed me to really play my best tennis. But unlike other times, I kept myself in position so that, you know, it can turn around quickly. I've said it for a while now, I can get better quickly if I keep executing, keep working hard. I've been practicing well now for a while. So it's nice to feel it in the match. This is exactly what I'm looking for to end the year, to really have expectations, high expectations, for Australia.

Q. If you could pick an opponent in the semifinal, who would you choose?

ANDRE AGASSI: You. (Laughter) I would choose you, for sure.

Q. I'm not playing.

ANDRE AGASSI: Out of the people playing, you mean (laughter)?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I've got to say I haven't played Hewitt but twice, and once was in January of '98, and another one was a year and a half ago. It's been a while since I played him. I would like playing him. I'm looking forward to playing Norman tomorrow. I want to feel his game. I want him to feel mine. Certain Safin, who has proven to be No. 1 this year, I would welcome that challenge, as well. I really wouldn't choose. If I could choose, I'd probably have somebody else do it for me.

Q. When you pulled out of Paris with a hip injury, was it a precautionary measure or was there a serious chance you might not be able to play here?

ANDRE AGASSI: It was a tough decision because I injured it in Lyon. I was starting to play well, but I knew it was close to being much better but wasn't there yet. So the question was, you know, do I try to play with this on my mind and then possibly put myself out of position for having a good week there and not being able to play here, or just cut my losses immediately, write off a couple weeks of improvement, take a couple weeks, get healthy, then play a lot of matches here. That seemed to be the smartest thing to do. I mean, I might have been able to find a way to get through a tournament; I just don't think I could have played my best tennis, and I think I could have risked doing something more serious.

Q. You talk a lot about having Brad with you as a coach. Specifically, what has he helped you with this week or what is his importance at this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think one of the greatest qualities about Brad as a coach is how direct he is, and his ability to just be objective and tell you how he sees things matching up. Brad is very clear about my game and where it is in relation to where it can be and where it should be. He's allowed me to see from his perspective that I can step my game up and still win. I can still do things with the ball that will always create opportunities for me, as long as I'm healthy. I mean, I think specifically this week he certainly has allowed me to believe if I execute, I can win.

Q. How much of a thrill do you still get playing like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think when it's all said and done, it's a huge buzz, it's a huge challenge. You look at the tournament in its entirety, one match doesn't get it done for you. But the progress and the potential that you see for yourself excites you, and you keep pushing yourself. If you don't win, you try to figure out why you didn't. That part's also fun. You know, it's a process of making yourself better. It's still great. It's still great to go out there and play well and bring a level of entertainment to the fans that they appreciate.

Q. You're clearly one of the favorites of the Portuguese audience, as you can probably tell from the applause. Were you expecting it? Were you expecting to be popular and have such a lack of privacy here in a small country?

ANDRE AGASSI: I try not to really come to anyplace with expectations. I try to come in with an open mind to enjoy a new experience. It's been a great week for me. I've enjoyed being here very much. I've enjoyed playing in front of the people. I certainly have appreciated how much they've made me feel welcome.

Q. What present would you ask Santa Claus for Christmas?

ANDRE AGASSI: That maybe in the whole year of 2001, I don't have to answer a question like that. "Please, Santa."

 
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