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January 17, 2001

A. AGASSI/P. Goldstein
6-1, 6-3, 6-1

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: First question for Andre, please.

Q. Andre, I think you said earlier this week that you think you're now fitter than you've ever been before. Can you talk about what's made you fit. What have you done to get into this condition? What extra does it give you, being that fit?

ANDRE AGASSI: For me, it's an absolute necessity. If I'm not fit, I don't have a chance just because your body can break down and have a harder time recovering at 30 than it does at 25 than it does at 20. But I've just continued to work hard. You know, it's one thing I haven't lost along the way. Through some injuries, I've managed to train enough to keep myself in position. Then this December I just increased my training with the purpose of coming down here to be at my best. And I feel pretty good about where I am physically.

Q. There's been no change in technique? It's just doing more?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, you can train long or you can train hard, but you can't do both all the time. So for me, it's about becoming smarter and more specific to the things I need. So in some ways different, but in other ways not.

Q. Do you feel you're approaching the form that you were in last year that took you all the way last year?

ANDRE AGASSI: You can only judge yourself based on the matches that you've had, and I like everything I did tonight. Maybe scooting a few service games, I could have possibly been more disciplined on, but I like the way I'm hitting the ball. I like the way I'm moving, and I like the way my game's coming around definitely.

Q. On his first serve his winning percentage was something like only 40 percent. You always pride yourself on the way you return. That obviously must be a step that makes you very happy.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know, the first serve tends to be certainly a tougher proposition for any returner. But tonight I was seeing the ball well and Goldy doesn't have an overpowering serve. He likes to work it around. I was staying very sound fundamentally on my returns, getting him to play, taking offense, taking control of the point and finishing the point. So I just felt good with my shot selection and my footwork, and that always helps in my return games.

Q. The Americans are always anxiously looking for the next Pete and the next Andre. Maybe we call it too soon on a lot of guys. I was wondering, do you remember back to when you actually felt you were really going to make it in your career?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I remember well. I don't understand. What's the question though?

Q. At what point in your career, what happened, what year was it or where were you that you realized that you were really going to be a star?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, my dad kind of convinced me of that when I was three. (Laughter.)

Q. It was before your career?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. But I guess -- I guess I've always had you could call it naivete or cluelessness or arrogance, but I always kind of believed that I was going to be at the top as far back as I can remember. But I guess you're always looking for that moment that you start to prove it. That probably happened when I was 16 at Stratton. The week before, I got a wildcard against the finals of a tournament in Schenectady, New York, and the following week I qualified and beat Mayotte, 12 in the world, second round, got to the quarters and lost to Johnny Mac. I felt then I wasn't happy with the way I played against John and I felt like I could have done a lot better.

Q. That tournament brought your parents out that time, if I recall.

ANDRE AGASSI: The following year.

Q. It was the following year?

ANDRE AGASSI: The following year, yeah, they brought them out. Yeah.

Q. Do you feel it's a bit of a shame, Andre, that you're seeded to meet Pete as early as the quarterfinals? I think a lot of Australians would like to see you clash later in the tournament rather than the round of eight if it eventuates?

ANDRE AGASSI: Just think if we don't play at all. We're still a couple matches away, and, you know, that's one thing I think the players never lose perspective on, is just how difficult it is to get through each round and what it means if you are in the quarters. That means you're playing some pretty good tennis. So I always contend that I'd rather play Pete earlier than later. I think he's -- the longer he has to find his form, the better he gets. He's certainly proven that here. He's playing well. He's fighting hard, and I'll have my hands full with anybody that I'm facing in the quarterfinals. But third match to me is the most important right now.

Q. Ubaldo Scanagatta La Nazione Italia. I'm supposed to say it. For the first time since I think eight years neither you or Pete are No. 1 or No. 2 in this event. And we were thinking, between colleagues, it would be -- if you had to say pair you or Pete or Kuerten or Safin which are No. 1 or No. 2 right now, which pair do you think have more chances to win that tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, that's...

Q. Well, it's a sort of game.

ANDRE AGASSI: It is. It's interesting. I think to answer that question based on odds and to respect intentions of your question, I would have to say I need to analyze who everybody's playing and who they could end up playing because so much of sports do boil down to matchups. I can tell you who I think would win if Pete played Kuerten or if Pete played Safin or if I played Safin or I played Kuerten, but how the draw plays out is a different story. I mean, you know, I'd always be more comfortable betting on myself.

Q. Does it get to a stage in a match like tonight where you start working on a part of your game under match conditions where you can start to think, "Well, maybe I need to do a few more of these or do a few of those parts of my game," looking ahead to the future of the tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Not at all. I'm thinking the best thing I can do for my chances this week is to get to dinner as soon as possible.

Q. So you don't think --?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I mean the work is in. It's about executing and it's about doing what you have to do to win each match. And if you're in a dogfight, every point's important. If you're up on somebody, you want to close him out. Those are all factors that are going to play a part ultimately at the end, and you got to teach yourself to respect those situations or else they can turn around.

Q. So does that reinforce what is commonly heard of the opinion of your philosophy: You live in the now, play the now, you don't think about the past, you don't think about anything in the future, you just play and treat each match and play the next point? That's all you think about?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, if I'm doing it right. If I'm doing it right, I mean, you know it's easy to be distracted. It's easy to be thinking about your swing if your confidence isn't where it needs to be. But I can honestly say that tonight and the first round and hopefully in my next match I'll just be concentrating on every point. If they're up 30-15, I'm thinking to myself, I want them to struggle to hold, I want to see deuce here. You're always thinking about how you're going to win each point, what you're trying to do to your opponent, whether it's break them down or get to a weakness. That attack doesn't stop. It has to be start to finish, and assess it all when it's all over but don't stop.

Q. Have you taken notice of how many of the big guys are still standing and how many upsets there haven't been?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's a credit to the ATP race to be quite honest. Because, you know, I've always felt like this tournament is the most likely to have the upsets just based on the fact it's the start of the year and those that took it easy at the end of the year or didn't have the matches, you know, people don't come in so ready. But there's this kind of overriding feeling that the year's just started and while it starts off with a Grand Slam, I'll have time to work out the kinks. And you see guys that don't step up to the plate that could. And now you see all the top guys really having to respect the fact that whoever gets off to the best start is going to have a great step on the year and those that maybe aren't at the top are looking at every match as an opportunity. And that's really the way it should be. It should be -- every match should be an opportunity to search forward in your year, and this year it is different. But I think I can point to the race as part of that.

Q. You won tonight, I think it was 77 minutes was the game time. How much of an advantage does that give you in the later rounds as opposed to players who have had longer matches in the earlier rounds, say Lleyton Hewitt the other night went nearly four hours.

ANDRE AGASSI: It's more how things play out in the big picture. I think if Lleyton comes back with a quick win, then he can recover and get himself back to where his tank is full. But I think if it gets tough, it can snowball on you when you have a difficult match, then you have to come back and play a difficult player. Sometimes it's tough to kind of get your head above water. The other side of the coin is you know you got to win some close matches to win a big tournament like this. So I know that's going to come. When it comes and how I deal with it remains to be seen. So that's the other side of the coin.

Q. Karen Lion (ph) from The Age, on a similar topic to that, how much of a bonus is to get out of a night match quickly and not be here until 1:30 in the morning, 2 a.m. and have to front up in a few days' time?

ANDRE AGASSI: When you play a night match, usually it's only a day and a half's time because you're coming back for the next match in a day so that becomes the issue. It becomes about rest, it becomes about food, it becomes about liquids, it becomes about recuperation. And all those things are very important, especially depending on who it is you're playing and what the conditions are going to be a day and a half later. So if you play till one o'clock in the morning here and the day after tomorrow it's 35 degrees and you're playing 11, 12, 1 o'clock, that's not a lot of turnaround time. I think mentally it might get you as much as physically. So you want to get out there, take care of business and get off the court. By the same token, you can't really worry about that. You have to be willing to go the distance in any match at any time and let the cards play.

Q. Even if you don't have to worry about the time, if you could pick the right time, the perfect time to play a tennis match in Australia, when would you like to play? What time? Would you prefer the night when it's cooler?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think I could -- I'd have to, I mean answering that generally speaking, I would prefer extremely hot and windy.

Q. In here or out there? This court or out there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Where's out there?

Q. Well, Court 1 or Vodafone.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean ideally here because it's closer to the locker room.

Q. Does it feel like just a completely foreign place, Vodafone, is that why you want to be here?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I want to be here because it's the place to be, you know. This is it. This is Rod Laver Arena right here. But I would say real hot and windy because in the wind I can work a variety of shots. I don't have a high ball toss. I have little steps in my footwork that allow me to adjust to the ball. I don't mind the ball if it's low, if it's high. So if it's moving around I tend to hit it relatively clean anyhow. If I'm with the wind, I play with spin. If I'm against the wind, I can flatten it out. If it's hot, other guys are just worried about making clean contact, I can control most of the points and get to his physical or his mind. So that's probably my best -- like a nice day at Key Biscayne, something like that.

Q. How do you sustain form over two weeks of a Grand Slam?

ANDRE AGASSI: You don't hope to sustain. You hope to really increase. You want to get a good sense for who it is you're playing and when you're going to have to ask yourself for the best tennis and be able to step it up. Every match asks something different of you. Some matches you have to go out there and just be solid and not make any mental errors or any bad decisions, just meat and potatoes tennis. Other times you got to step up and know when to pull triggers, and that's not always easy. But ideally, you hope that as the tournament gets tougher, the better you get, the more you let your game come out.

Q. Tonight in the second set I think early you had a lapse for a game or two, made a bunch of errors. How did that happen, and what was going through your mind during that brief patch?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, first of all, it would be hard to call it a lapse. I mean it's not easy to just go out there and beat somebody after beating him 6-1 to do it two more times. First game of the second set, you know, I'm up 6-1, I'm thinking, "Continue what you're doing," and Paul stepped it up and hit a few good shots. I had the wind on my back, a couple balls got away from me. Next thing you know, I'm down break point, he hits a good scooter up the line and I'm down a break. He plays a good service game, forces me to play a good service game just to keep it 2-1. But then I got back to work and stayed with my intensity and managed to turn it around early. But, you know, you can't take anything for granted, and especially if you're up by a long margin. Because all that means is your opponent feels a certain amount of desperation to change things, and, you know, it's like the guy who shoots the three ball that when you're down 15, there's a heck of a chance he's going to make it. If he's down two and has to make it to win the game, it's a different story.

Q. Do you think you changed your approach and attitude towards the press? I mean you seem to be so relaxed now and you like to talk. Do you think your attitude to the media is different?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think both of us are. You know, I really believe that if the media does their job right, they're trying to get to the heart of issues, they're trying to understand issues and people. And if I do my job right, I communicated effectively. And I just think when you have the luxury of years, I think for the most part I feel understood, and for the most part I feel the freedom to continue that communication. So I think it builds on itself, and something to be proud of.

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