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Écrit par Jerome   



January 25, 2001

A. AGASSI/P. Rafter
7-5, 2-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3

An interview with:


MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. You've played nearly three hours. You're into the fifth set. Can you tell us how exactly you were feeling at that stage of the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Physically?

Q. Yes, physically and emotionally.

ANDRE AGASSI: I was feeling pretty good. I mean, I think it always helps when your opponent is struggling. You know, Pat, it's definitely taken its toll on him. That always helps. But, you know, everything felt strong. It's just you get to a point where it's so humid, you're sweating so much, you can't quite put in what you're expending. You start drinking. You get to a point where you can't really drink, but you're still losing a lot of fluid. It's not an easy physical situation out there in that kind of humidity. I was prepared for it to take its toll on both of us. But you only have to really deal with the circumstances better than one person, and sometimes it's a good thing.

Q. When you won the US Open, you say that you play a selective game. Was it your feelings tonight to be nearly at your top on every shot?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I knew I had to be, you know. I mean, it's difficult playing Pat. He's not only a great player, but he plays a style of game that you don't play against a whole lot. He's a great competitor. Certainly with the situation being out there, his home crowd, you know, it's not a situation that you can afford to be anything but your best, and hope that that's good enough. He went through a stage where he was really serving well, coming up with some great shots. I was just trying to make him play as much as possible early on, and got the first set, which ended up being quite significant, because I think once Pat sees the light at the end of the tunnel, he becomes very, very effective. It was important for me to keep it close and to keep it physical by making him play as much as possible.

Q. How would you describe the quality of that first set?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I got asked this question last year after the semifinals. As great of tennis as it was last year, I really wasn't aware of it coming off the court. You know, to me, that's always a sign that I'm playing my best tennis, is when I hear people saying what a great match it was, and I'm kind of feeling like I could have done things better. But that's just more right after the battle. It's hard to have a clear perspective on it. But I would have to imagine it was pretty high, pretty high standard.

Q. After that third set tiebreak, did you feel at all the match was slipping away, or did you sense even then that Patrick might have been feeling something?

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt like towards the end of the third, I started getting more looks at his first serve, like it lost a little bit. You're never quite sure if that's because he was a little more reluctant to hit second serves in crucial situations or he was getting away with it, and he was, because he was holding pretty easily there for a stage. I really can't say I felt like he was struggling until early in the fourth. But, yeah, two sets to one down, that's a problem, especially against a guy who knows how to win.

Q. Normally you're so used to having the crowd on your side. You basically had your few people, and everybody else was for Pat. Are you actually aware of that during the match or not?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, I was aware of that, very aware of that, before, during and after.

Q. How hard is that for you, you're normally having a lot of support?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's hard not to have a perspective on it. I mean, I've got to be honest. I would probably root for him, too, if I was Aussie and down here. It's certainly an understandable situation. You don't take it personally. It doesn't make it any easier. You know, you try to stick to what it is you do and not lose focus. No matter what the situation is, that's a requirement at this stage of the tournament. You can't afford to lose that focus. I'm experienced enough to be prepared for whatever's thrown at me out there. At the end of the day, you just want him to earn it if he wins, and that's what I was trying to make him do, just play a great match. It turned out to be a great match that happened to go my way.

Q. Could you have imagined at the start of the fortnight that either Clement or Grosjean would be on one side of the net in the final?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it's quite a surprise. But then you watch the way they've been playing tennis and you realize why they're there. I mean, I really enjoyed watching them play. They've done nothing but raise their games to a standard that makes them worthy of the semifinals. You know, they're like Pat in a completely opposite way. You don't play guys like that very often. They're a lot smaller and a lot faster, and their weapons are a lot different than the ones you're normally facing. You know, there's adjustments that have to be made for that. Guaranteed to see a lot of balls in the final, that's for sure.

Q. The history of tennis is littered with guys who have played epic semifinals, only to fall in the final. We can look at last year. That's not exactly what happened to you in the final. There is a danger, isn't there, of playing this epic match that everyone looks forward to and then perhaps somehow not playing your best in the final. Is there a relationship between those two things, do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I think someone of less experience could fall victim to that if they, say, play outside themselves and have just an incredible match where all of a sudden they have to kind of regroup and just become solid. But I don't struggle with that. I mean, while it was certainly a great match tonight, I have two days and a whole different style of player to contend with. I'm too practical and focused on what I'm trying to do to take anything for granted.

Q. Talking about different styles, Pat Cash mentioned in a column this morning that he felt that with Pat saying this might be his last Australian Open, and with who knows how long Pete's going to carry on, the year of the serve-and-volleyer is dying, this might be one of the last great classic matches. Would you be sad to see the serve-and-volley element go right out of tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's a great part of the game, if somebody can do it. I think every sport evolves in a way that forces you to get better. Anybody that can live up to the standard of play like Pat does playing that way is quite a player. You know, you have to be solid at most things and great at a few things to win out there. I'd be hard-pressed to see -- I'd have a hard time believing anybody could come along and quite do it the way that many guys have done in the past, and that Pat does it now. So that would be sad to not see that as part of the game.

Q. Will it be fair to say that he volleyed against you better than anyone since perhaps the semifinal last year?


Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, there's more to it than just volleying. It's about movement and it's about a variety of serves. You know, Pat's one of the guys that can hit a serve 162 K's that is so tough to return, which allows him even more time to use his speed and close off. You know, while I think he's fundamentally -- while I don't think there's anybody in the game that quite plays it the way he does, I wouldn't necessarily say that he has volleyed the greatest against me that anybody has. I would say he's serve-volleyed better than anybody has against me.

Q. Is it basically the same match for you Sunday regardless of which guy you face, or are there differences between the two that will make it different for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: They're different. They both have their weapons, and speed is certainly a big factor in both cases. But I think Grosjean is more dangerous off his forehand. He has a really big forehand. Clement is pretty dangerous off both sides. He can hit the backhand as well as the forehand. They're both incredibly fast and they're both great competitors. I mean, it will affect a little bit of how I play, but I've basically got to stick to what it is I do.

Q. What has been changed in your opinion in tennis compared to when Chang was the only one in the Top 10 that was capable to play against power tennis and fight against it? Now there are these two French and others coming.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, don't underestimate the power that they have, too. You know, they have good power. I mean, Chang was a great counter-puncher, maybe even the best counter-puncher I've ever played against. But Grosjean and Clement can take good offense, too. That was never really Chang's weapon. They're serving in the 190's, too. They're serving big. I don't know necessarily what's changed to make it possible. I just think you've got two pretty good exceptions right there.

Q. How tough and how enjoyable is the training you do to enable you to get through a match like tonight better than a younger man?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's really only enjoyable at the end of the day, when the work's behind you. You know, that's the enjoyable part, putting your feet up, knowing you worked hard. It's what we all try to do when we get up in the morning, is approach our day with a level of professionalism that makes us feel proud of ourselves. And that part always feels good.

Q. Are you having to work more than you used to?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm having to work smarter. I wouldn't say more. You've got to be careful, you know, what you choose to do, how you choose to do it, especially as you get older. But I would say that training smarter has become more important now than it's ever been.

Q. Up in the stands Brad Gilbert didn't seem to be too happy about your footwork. Did he tell you something or did he congratulate you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Did he tell you that?

Q. He seemed to be complaining a bit.

ANDRE AGASSI: It's part of what makes Brad Brad, is that he always sees things you could do better, you know. If he didn't complain when he played about himself, then I would take it personally. But he doesn't know any better.

Q. When did you notice that Pat was struggling, and how much did that change your game plan tonight?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's a fine line you walk out there when your opponent starts struggling physically because you want to make him play, but you can't afford to give a guy any window to take offense in the point. I was just trying to execute the ball big enough to stay in control of the point, but not so big that I was taking any unnecessary risk. I think the biggest factor was just what he lost in the serve, and I could start really making him have to play a lot of volleys. It's hard to dig out volleys if your legs are going on you. It's a big part of this game. I think that's what possibly his greatest weapon is - his ability to cover the court and to dig out low volleys. Once that was going on him, he was in a tough predicament.

Q. Just to know your opinion, were you surprised by the victory of Capriati against Davenport, and how do you see her chances against Hingis in the final?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I guess she had a chance today, especially if it was hot. I felt like she had a chance. She looks as good as she's ever looked as far as her fitness. It would help her a lot if it was hot today because I think Lindsay has seemed to struggle in those conditions in the past. In a 6-3, 6-3 match, to have 43 unforced errors, you can't beat anybody with those stats. No different than Venus' match, 6-1, 6-1, with 39 errors. That's not good.

Q. And in the final?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think Jennifer seems to play well against pace, you know, with Monica and Lindsay. Hingis having the ability to hit the ball up the line, take it early, but not necessarily hit it big, I think she's going to pretty much control the points. She would be heavily favored. But Jennifer has nothing to lose, so she should just work hard and swing for the fences.

Q. 301 points in these semifinals, you made only 12 unforced errors. Have you done better many times?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, those stats aren't always accurate. Let's just call it like it is. I mean, there are a lot of times where I feel like I missed a shot, but because he was coming to the net, they say he forced me, so it's not unforced. So against a player like Rafter, it's easy to have less unforced errors because he's forcing you so many times. When I played him here in '95, I had three unforced errors in three sets. But I'll take 12. That's good.

Q. One in the last two sets.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know, I really wasn't asked to do a whole lot in the last two sets except stay solid and disciplined on my shot selection.

Q. With Pat departing the Australian Open, is there some story or little pearl of wisdom you could perhaps leave the Australian people about Pat?


Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it would be breaking an unwritten rule to speak about anything that takes place in the locker room, you know.

Q. It could be good, though.

ANDRE AGASSI: A lot of real good things, actually. You know, maybe I can work out making it up to the Australian people for taking him out of this event and talk them into sticking around an extra year to play down here again. With tennis like that, there's no reason why he couldn't or shouldn't.

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