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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

2000 TENNIS MASTERS CUP

LISBON, PORTUGAL

December 2, 2000

A. AGASSI/M. Safin
6-3, 6-3

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Seemed to be on top of the match, even before he injured his ankle. Was that your opinion, too?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it was a very hard-fought match, straight from the onset. We were both trying to establish control of the points. I felt like I was getting the better of him. But the match stayed highly competitive and stayed at a high standard. I just raised it a little actually there at the end.

Q. Would you be offended if instead of saying, "Please, new balls," somebody would shout, "Old balls, please"?

ANDRE AGASSI: I guess it's better than "big balls," huh?

Q. No kidding. How is the situation for you right now? Is it psychologically different for you now, this emphasis from ATP that they support the young a lot, new generation?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, there's always new generations coming up. It's always a matter of time before they're playing the best. I just don't think we're there yet. If you step up and play your best tennis, you can win matches. As long as you're healthy, as long as I feel like I'm healthy and fit, my game's right there. I mean, I think the game of tennis is a great game that can be sold just by the merits of what it offers somebody's life. I don't think you need to talk about players' balls.

Q. You forced Safin to defend some short balls, which is the kind of game that was very hard for him. Was it intentional?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Sometimes I was just fighting it off and barely getting it over the net. What you do, you move, you try to stay in control of the points. If you're not, then you find a way to make him hit one more shot. Today was probably more of a question of that. You can't play him short on purpose. He hits the ball too big. That's not my style of game.

Q. You seemed to be well in control of the game right throughout. Was it a case of you playing really, really well or him slightly underachieving on this day? What do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would have to judge it by the quality of tennis. I thought it was pretty high. I mean, anybody that can serve at 135 miles an hour can have an incredible serving day. But there were so many physical points, there were so many times he went up to the line a little winded, not able to go up and hit his serve the way he would normally like to. It was just toe-to-toe good tennis. I came out on top today.

Q. What does it seem to say about the fact that you and Pete seem to be dominating?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't know if there's any statements to be made outside that we can still play the best tennis in the world if we're on the top of our game. But you have to play the best tennis week in and week out. I think that's the difference. I think younger guys have an easier time playing 25 weeks a year. But if Pete and I are playing our best tennis, all it says is that we're just tough to beat, like everybody else in this tournament.

Q. You haven't played him in about a year, in a competitive match. How much has his game lifted and improved in the last months, Marat, what did he show you since the Paris final last year?

ANDRE AGASSI: Hard to say. I mean, I stepped it up on him today I think better than last time I played him. You know, he still hits the ball well off both wings, he has a lot of power. He's 6'5" and moves great. He has a huge serve. I mean, the guy has weapons that can come together on different levels on any given day. Today I felt like I just had an answer for them all.

Q. You won the Masters ten years ago. What would it mean to win again the tournament tomorrow?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, this is a huge tournament. I think it means the most because of the quality of players that are in it. It's certainly done already a lot for my confidence, going into next year. I feel like there's a lot I can build on from this week. I feel like I have the guarantee that I'm going to go into the Australian Open playing well. That's a nice luxury to have. Now I'm starting to let it fly. It would mean a lot.

Q. Last year you reached the final without losing a match. You've done the same again this year. How would you compare your form going into the final this year to last year?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, last year Lapentti didn't play a great match against me. I had an easy win there, like 1 and 2. I had a strange 2-2 match against Pete. I never beat Pete 2-2, but he hadn't played in so long. Then I had a quality match against Guga and Kafelnikov. Those are both kind of baseline games that allow me to establish the things I'm looking to do out there. In a lot of ways, it's real similar to how it's been for four matches now. I've really had a look at the ball, I've had an opportunity to build on my game and set up the points, play the match on my terms. I always do better when I find that rhythm, so I think I'm more prepared right now going into the final because I feel fresh and ready versus last year was the end of a pretty long year on the court.

Q. Pretty satisfactory week so far, all added up?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's been very satisfying. But you raise the standard and expectations every match. All of a sudden it will be disappointing not to win because I'm playing well enough. While it's been a great week, I'm still thinking about playing better and getting the victory tomorrow.

Q. No matter who wins the second match today, the cheers tomorrow might be divided between you and Gustavo and Sampras. How does it make you feel?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's good. It's great for the game. It's great for the spectators here. It's the way it should be. You enjoy seeing the people support other players, too. It's nice.

Q. You played a lot in the finals in Germany. The move here, I know you've enjoyed playing here, but how much of a success do you think it's been, the move to Lisbon?

ANDRE AGASSI: Seems like it's been a huge step up. From the players' perspective, certainly. I have to say, the crowd, the enthusiasm, the turn-out has all been great. Facilities have been flawless as far as I'm concerned. I think it's been a great success. I think it's also a great idea to take it around the world.

Q. You quite like that idea, that next year it will be in Sydney?

ANDRE AGASSI: I do. I do.

Q. The year after that, who knows.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I do. I think this is too high quality of a tournament not to give a chance for it to be, you know, seen all around the world. I like the adjustments that go along with playing in a place that's new.

Q. You and Pete, for different reasons, missed a little bit of tournament time before you came here. Both of you played amazingly well. Pete certainly after his first match here. Do you think that maybe is an indication that given a little bit more time off between tournaments, the top players are more likely to give their best more regularly?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I certainly think that's the case when you're talking about guys that are, you know, respectively 29, 30 years old, that have been doing it for a long time. It's not. You can play a lot or you can play hard, but you can't play a lot and hard all the time. It doesn't work that way mentally or in some cases physically. Ideally, you do hope for some time to recover, then to go hard again. That's not the way it works, so you have to make adjustments the way you see fit. Sometimes that's forced to take some time off, you get an injury, a kink, then sometimes you could do what Pete does, you just get married (laughter). In either case, I think you have to ask what brings out the best in your game. At this stage of the ballgame, you need to be fresh, ready, rested, and also have the matches. It's a fine balance.

Q. Pete has sort of already indicated next year he's going to build his schedule aiming mainly for the Grand Slams, he's going to pick and choose and rest the body when he can. Have you reached that stage now? Do you have a pretty full schedule?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I have a pretty full schedule, but I don't know what that means this early on. I'm always going to make the best decision for my tennis and for my body, regardless of what my schedule says. I'm not as concerned these days with -- I like giving myself the options. But I do believe much of this part of my career will boil down to making good decisions.

Q. If it is Pete in the final, do you think you have a bit of an edge because you put the time in over here, played more lately than he has? How do you view the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: How else do you view it if you played 35 times? You know, it's who's going to step up at the right moment. I mean, I feel good physically. Seems like he's feeling good physically. It's going to be three-out-of-five. He's going to have to serve well. I'm going to have to be picking up the ball well, executing. You know, I think I'll find a way. I'm sure he would argue with that.

 
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