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Écrit par Jerome   



January 23, 2001

A. AGASSI/T. Martin
7-5, 6-3, 6-4

An interview with:


MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Pretty clinical display out there today. You must be pretty pleased with that performance.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, very pleased. When you play Todd, you have to get out there and be on your game right from the start because he has one of the best hold-game and serve-game combinations on the tour. That puts a lot of pressure on you to be at your best.

Q. You've played each other many times before, yet Todd said he felt you were as close to your best as he's ever seen you. Would you agree with that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I think at this stage it starts getting clearer and clearer. But I was very pleased with the way I played today. I think this is a great arena for me to play in. I think the court and the conditions suit my game very well. Seems like I feel pretty good.

Q. Who would you rather play out of Hrbaty or Rafter? Who do you think will give you most problems?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's really hard to say because they're two entirely opposite kind of players. I had a pretty tough match with Hrbaty in the semis of the French. I always seem to have a tough match with Pat. You know, it's hard to say. I think just for the sake of being here in Australia, it would be nice to see Pat win. He'll have to go out there and earn it.

Q. Where do you think your game is now compared with this time last year when you made such a wonderful start to the year?

ANDRE AGASSI: It feels pretty good. I mean, I've gotten better as the tournament's gone on. I think now that we're down to the semifinals, it's time to really step it up and ask yourself for that standard. It's a tough standard to compare to when you win, like last year here I was playing so well. I think anything shy of that is not as good, but it seems like everything's in good position.

Q. Did you feel today, it certainly seemed as if you could step it up at whatever stage you wanted to in the match.

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt on top of it today, no question about it. It's the best I've ever felt I think against Todd. Whether he made his first serve or didn't make his first serve, I seemed like I was really on the ball, I was making him earn all the points he was winning, and felt like I was executing everything that I could do as well as possible.

Q. You didn't seem too worried about being a game down in the third set. Were you comfortable that you were going to win that anyway? How did you feel?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not so much the third. You know, you have to really take the match in its entirety. All you're thinking to yourself is, "Make him earn every point." You know, I'm two sets up at that point. He has a long ways to go if he's going to come back and win. At that stage I was just really wanting to make him play and make him earn the set if he was going to win it. Can't expect it to always turn around that quickly. But I hit some good shots and made some good returns to get back into the set, then got a little fortunate there in the last game.

Q. Different subject. What is your view about the Tennis Masters Cup coming to Sydney two months before The Open? What kind of support do you think it would get from the top players?

ANDRE AGASSI: Two months before this Open?

Q. This coming November, which is two months before The Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: Two months after The Open, you mean?

Q. Before. This year it's in Sydney.

ANDRE AGASSI: Before the Australian Open. Well, I think it's great that it moves around. I was interested to see the response in Lisbon. I really thought it was a fabulous success, a lot of enthusiastic fans that got a chance to see the best tennis in the world. It seems like tennis deserves to give many different people that sort of taste. I thought it got stale in Hannover year after year. New York really seemed to pull it off well. But I would probably vote for it to move around.

Q. Do you think players will come out so close to The Open when it's so far?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, the difference between an 11-hour flight and 13 hours is half a sleeping drug. It's okay. We'll manage.

Q. Would the bleached blonde Agassi of years ago have squashed that bug on the court? You wouldn't hurt a fly now. You've talked about how your character has changed, how you've grown, how your approach maybe to your career has matured. Can you comment on that, on where you are today, and maybe where you're going in the future?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, there's a lot you don't know about me. I put on a good front (smiling). Well, I don't think it's so unique, the development of life with me, as it is with you or with anyone. I think as you get older, you make choices and you hopefully take a step closer to who it is you want to be every day. I think that's a lot more important, how you develop, than where it is you are. So however I was perceived early, I was only there for a brief period of time, like hopefully I'm only here. It's a developmental process that I've always prided myself on and something that I think more than just me strive for.

Q. How does that relate maybe to your goals for, say, 2001? Are you just trying to do everything a little better? Do you feel you just want to maintain what you've done in the past?

ANDRE AGASSI: Career-wise, you know, I have goals. I'm out here to win. I'm out here to hopefully add some more titles and ideally handle myself in a certain way in the process of those goals and challenges. I fall short many times, and that's the part that I think inspires you to get up the next day, is that you can do things a little better.

Q. You've got nothing to prove, you've won all four titles, been No. 1 many times. Do you have a hankering of perhaps one day winning all four Slams in one year and proving that can still be done?

ANDRE AGASSI: That would be great (laughter). Yeah, I really don't know what to say to that. I mean, yes, I would like that.

Q. Have you ever thought of, seriously thought, "I wonder whether I can really sort of plan my year and really do this"?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think you try to win as much as possible. You have to start with your first round of your first one. You know, being in the semifinals, you know, last year getting into four finals in a row was a very difficult thing to do. I remember talking about winning all of them last year here. I just couldn't buy into it, you know. It requires a lot, and you take one at a time. There's no saying it can't be done, but I think we're a lot closer to seeing Mark McGwire's home run record being beat than we are of seeing someone win four Grand Slams in the same year, in the men's game, that is.

Q. Does it surprise you when you look at what you've accomplished, or did you when you were younger always feel that this is something you could attain, all the Slams, all that?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, they were doing the special on some FOX station here about the history of Wimbledon and the champions throughout Wimbledon. When they got to the year '92, they kind of told briefly the story of that year. They had a quote from me at the end of that little section which said, "If my career ended today, I have a lot more than I ever thought and a lot more than I could ever ask for." I think I still feel that way. So, no, I never expected it. I try not to expect anything. I try to go out there and do my business a certain way. It's quite incredible to me in a lot of cases when I look at things, my life.

Q. It has been reported in the German paper that you plan to marry Steffi Graf this year and you plan to have children very soon. Can you comment on the truth of this report?

ANDRE AGASSI: I just say you keep reading and stay tuned. Keep reading. You guys have it all figured out over there (laughter).

Q. The possibility of playing Rafter, it will be a great festivity, a fantastic crowd. Ideally would you prefer that sort of atmosphere to playing Hrbaty, which would probably be not quite as exciting?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think from a playing standpoint, Rafter is always an enjoyable match-up for the game of tennis just because there aren't any real traditional serve-volleyers left. I mean, the guy serves-volleys every time. You know he's going to do it and he still is an athlete enough to pull it off, which is incredible. I think that brings out a lot of different parts of the game, not to mention being here in Australia and what he's done for the game of tennis. I think it would be great for the game to play Rafter. I guess if I had my choice, for the sake of this tournament and everybody, I would like to see Rafter be there. You can't always have it that way. I got a hunch that if Hrbaty wins, he's going to believe he's six sets away from winning this tournament. That's something I'm going to have to deal with.

Q. What memories do you keep from the match against Hrbaty in Paris two years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: That was a great match. I tell you, it was tough conditions. It was a very thick day. Up two sets to love, he really started playing great tennis in the third. I was serving 1-2 when we stopped for the rain. I came back out the next day and immediately got down 15-40. I managed to hold, get through that set somehow, which was great. I think one of my best memories about that was before I walked on the court on Saturday, down 2-1 in the fourth, Brad said to me, "24 minutes, we just need 24 good minutes today, we'll be in great position." It was 24 minutes exactly on the nose.

Q. You work with your coaches for pretty long time right now. Could you tell a little about the secret of this long period? Other players tend to change coaches after one or two years.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, for me it's about making great professional decisions, knowing what somebody can add to your game, knowing what you need. In reference to Brad, I still contend he's the best coach there is. I think there's always issues of personalities and people needing certain things and needing different things. For me, Brad addresses everything that I need in between the lines. Gil, my strength and conditioning coach, has gotten me to be stronger and fitter at almost 31 than I was at 21. He's quite amazing at what he does, too. I see no point in ever -- I can question a lot of things, but what those two guys are great at, I cannot question ever.

Q. Do you remember an Australian Open match against Rafter probably '95, built up as being a great --?

ANDRE AGASSI: 6-4, 6-3, 6-0. I hit three unforced errors to 33 winners.

Q. Other than that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Just one of those nights I went to heaven here. I couldn't miss a shot. We both have come a long way since then. Yeah, it was built up because it was going to be a great match, and it was. It was just a great match on my end. You know, sometimes it goes that way. But, again, we were both a lot younger and we're both a lot better now.

Q. With Patrick maybe, maybe not playing his last Australian Open here, would it be nice for you, given that, to put on another show here with Patrick?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it would be great for the fans here and for the tennis fans all around the world. I think Pat is appreciated and loved by many fans across the world. Just kind of wish he had retired this year, and then I wouldn't have to think about him. But he has a way of making it a lot tougher to win these tournaments. You've got to give him a lot of credit for what he adds to the game. If this is his last Australian Open, he's certainly going out giving it his best go.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the way your two games match up on this court as opposed to the great match you had at Wimbledon this year on grass?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I would much prefer -- grass would probably be the last surface I would pick to play Pat on. I'll have a few more looks at the returns and the ground game. But again, I think he relies on his athleticism and his fighting spirit and his ability to really put pressure on you on big points. I'm going to have to step up and execute and play my game through a lot of pressure. The match is going to boil down to who's doing their job better. I mean, it's really quite simple.

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