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Écrit par Jerome   
19-09-2006

2001 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

January 21, 2001

A. AGASSI/A. Ilie
6-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3

An Interview With:

ANDRE AGASSI

THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. When you lost the first set did your mind go back to against Spadea a couple times at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: No.

Q. You never thought it could happen again?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you always -- it's always possible to lose. But I was kind of focused on what was going on out there, and I mean, down a set you're switching sides, you look up at the score board, you just got to ask one question and that's why. Why did he win the first set? That question was easily answer. He played some spectacular tennis. And I felt like at that stage I wasn't really doing much wrong. I mean I lost my serve serving for the set, the sun came out, he hit a few good shots. But I was telling myself to just at least make him continue that standard for the rest of the match. And -- but just trying to do everything possible in the first set. I tried everything possible.

Q. Now that it's all said and done, what are your feelings about his flamboyance and theatrics?

ANDRE AGASSI: I have to say it's much more enjoyable watching him than playing against him. Sometimes you feel like you're watching when you're out there playing against him because he really hits some shots that you just can't believe a person can even attempt let alone make, and it's -- I mean it's great for the game, it's enjoyable shot-making tennis, and it's hard to play against. Because fundamentally, you can pretty much expect the opposite.

Q. Alan Attwood, The Age. Did you have a sense at the beginning of the second set and just broke that even though he was playing spectacularly, it was unlikely to last?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, up until that point, you know, he had made me a believer. But, again, you're out there for three out of five and when a guy is hitting the ball that big, you know, he takes such a big cut at the ball that if he's not in perfect position, you know, a swing like that can get away from you. So I did feel like if I could somehow get to his legs he's going to start making more errors. But I wasn't going to assume that that was going to get it done. I felt like at some stage I needed to step it up and I was trying everything I could to do that. Fortunately the tide turned. It looked like he was more out of position on a lot of the shots he was going for and I was getting some errors and got the lead and kind of stayed on top of him.

Q. Was there an adjustment period for you? Were his shots particularly difficult to read?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, they're -- they're nearly impossible to read. Nearly impossible. I mean, you think you have him on the defense and it's like he has you right where he wants you. So that's not easy to make a running flying backhand up the line on your back foot open stance 25 feet down the baseline. That's too good. (Laughter.)

Q. If he had a little more discipline to his game, where do you think he really would be in terms of rankings since he has so much raw talent?

ANDRE AGASSI: He has a lot of shot-making ability, no question about it. He's a strong, strong guy who can hit the ball big whether it's up high above his shoulder or low. But, you know, everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. While you can say he can improve by becoming more disciplined with shot selection, you also wonder what that would take away from possibly his greatest weapon, which is the unexpected and the lack of rhythm that you're allowed to get because you just, when you think he's going to play something solid he plays something bigger. When you think he's in position to really hit it, he lays off of it. That's a weapon in itself, just not really understanding what kind of shots he's going to hit. I mean if you give me his game, I would be ranked a lot higher than him.

Q. Considering where you are in your career, is preparation a matter of going out, saying, you know, "This is where I am, this is my game, I need to be true to that and worry about what I'm doing"? Or is it a little bit of going out against a guy like this and kind of taking him on the day or maybe even scouting and, you know, seeing how he's been playing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, scouting is certainly a big part of it. You want to understand, you know, what players rely on in the biggest of situations, what their strengths are. And like I said, that's one of his greatest weapons because he doesn't really have something he relies on. He kind of relies on the unexpected and he hits shots that surprise you in the most crucial of situations. But for me, it's about understanding your strengths and understanding your opponent's weaknesses and their strengths, and going out there and doing the necessary things to keep the match in your wheel house, to keep the match on your terms. And your opponent is trying to stop you from doing that. That's what makes this sport so great, it's one-on-one and it's about matchups and how it plays out is sometimes day-to-day because things don't go as planned as always. But I'm going out there with a distinct plan of what it is I'm trying to do and then make adjustments if necessary.

Q. What was it you spoke to the umpire about in the third set?

ANDRE AGASSI: At the end of the third?

Q. Yeah. Towards the end of the third?

ANDRE AGASSI: I told him when the set was over, I was going to need a trainer to come out and tape my toe.

Q. How interested are you in events back home at the moment? I mean you started this tournament with one president, you'll end up with another one.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you try to stay interested. I think this election time has been difficult for our country in many ways. But I think it speaks volumes for our country, that through it there wasn't, you know, anarchy and martial law on the streets. We kept it together and hopefully can recover from it before the next four years are up. But I stay very interested.

Q. From outside, during the first two sets it looked like you were saving energy or you were just waiting for your opportunity, but you didn't show the same kind of attitude, for example, as in the game with Paul Goldstein, that you didn't give him any kind of opportunity and you put a lot of energy into it. Today you looked like more relaxed.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it's just styles and matchups. Paul Goldstein doesn't hit a lot of power on his shots so I was in position to control the points. Today on some of my best shots he would hit them even bigger so, you know, to a certain degree you have to kind of wait and react because if you step into the court and he hits one big one, it's -- the point's over. You have to make sure it's the right time and that requires you to be patient and disciplined.

Q. Are you much more analytical about matches than you were several years ago and about opponents?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think experience teaches you how to make your life a little easier out there, definitely.

Q. Did experience make the difference today, you think? He brought so much at you in the first set there.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I guess it would have been possible for me to have not kept up a high level after losing a difficult first set, but I think overall it was just game on game and the question was was he going to be able to keep up that standard, and was I going to be able to keep up the standard. And, you know, that question always gets answered by the end. And today I started to maintain and pick it up as he was going in the other direction.

Q. A blister with your toe, is that right?

ANDRE AGASSI: This actually wasn't a blister. It was just starting to get hot and a spot on my toe, and it was more in prevention of a problem occurring.

Q. If we were playing back in the days when they had wooden racquets, do you think you would have fared as well in your career? Would that be -- technology has helped a lot of players...

ANDRE AGASSI: I think technology helps, certainly helps everybody in a lousy game to get better. Same token, I've heard talk about if we went back to the wood racquets, the points would be more interesting and so forth. I truly believe with the athletes nowadays and the size of the guys, the discrepancy between a big server and say somebody who returns well or a scrapper would even grow in its separation. I mean, with a wood racquet, you can still hit the serve 129 miles an hour. And if you lose ten miles an hour from 140 to 130, that's not as much of a factor as losing 10 miles an hour serving 112 to 102, not to mention if -- the problem with the wood racquet is if you hit it off center, the way I play the game, I take the ball early, take big cuts out it. There's a heck of a chance that's going to cause me a lot of problems. I think if I was playing with wood racquets today, I would find a way to win a lot of matches but it would probably affect me more than it would affect say a player like Pete.

Q. Speaking of which, it's a little early for a showdown with Pete. What are your thoughts about that prospect?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I hope -- it's hard to really root for one American over another, because they're both worthy of seeing who's playing better today. But, you know, we had such a memorable match last year. I would enjoy the prospects of playing him again. I really look forward to that.

Q. The end of a big match, physically how do you feel now compared to, say, five years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm more fit now than I was five years ago. I think I move better and I'm stronger and I recover better. All in all, I like my physical position now more than I did five years ago. I think I'm stronger in my legs especially.

Q. There's some talk that John McEnroe might be named to the Davis Cup team for doubles. I know you're not playing. Is he really capable of that role? Is his game still on?

ANDRE AGASSI: From what I've seen, I believe he is actually. I mean I've seen him practice with a lot of the doubles guys during the weeks that we were together, and he still is one of the best on the court. Whether he can do it three out of five, I mean, and whether all those things, at some point you got to stop talking about it and do it. So I would like to see him try. I think he would have a heck of a shot.

 
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