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Écrit par Jerome   


March 16, 2001

A. AGASSI/N. Lapentti
6-2, 6-1

An interview with:


MODERATOR: Andre advances to his fourth semifinal here in Indian Wells, first since 1995. He's 1-1 lifetime against Lleyton Hewitt.

Q. So Old Balls are better than New Balls?

ANDRE AGASSI: (No response.)

Q. Three Old Balls in the semifinals, just one new. You pretty much gave Nicolas a tennis lesson out there.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it was tough conditions tonight. You know, it was really windy. I don't mind the wind so much. He just never seemed to really get comfortable out there. It certainly wasn't an easy situation for him. But you've still got to go out there and keep the reins tight, and I did that. I kind of saw it through from start to finish, never let him find his game. But there's no question that he's had better days than that.

Q. There are three solid players, Grand Slam winners, and yet everybody is trying to campaign for the new guys, talk about that. They shouldn't be closing the door on you guys quite yet?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, every week's a new week. Everybody in the semis here is playing well. Everybody in the semis here has the possibility of winning this tournament, whether you're 30 or 20. I always assess from inside the lines. I think Lleyton's game is a great game, I think he's a great competitor. I think it's going to be a tough match tomorrow. Likewise with Pete and Yevgeny. Everybody possesses their own strengths, and you have to deal with them. You have to get it done on the court, regardless of what the poster says.

Q. Pete compared Lleyton Hewitt to Chang. Would you go the same way or point some other qualities out?

ANDRE AGASSI: He's similar to Chang insofar as he does work really hard to win his matches and relies a lot on his speed to win his matches. Then also in the same sense, I think anytime you see him in the draw, you feel like he's always going to be in position. You're going to have to go out there and beat him. He's a great competitor, just like Chang was. How somebody's career is going to develop is hard to say. Chang won a Slam when he was 17 years old and never won one again. He's still out here playing. It could be a complete opposite with Lleyton. He might not fulfill his potential, then be the best. I mean, I think he has the potential to beat the best players, and that leaves room for him to have a better career than Chang. But there are a few similarities.

Q. Tell us a little about the two matches you played against Lleyton. Why did you win one and why did you lose one?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, one was back -- first tournament in '98 in Adelaide. You know, we had a brutal match. I was like 0 for 16 on breakpoints, lost 7-6, 7-6. Just never believed the whole time playing a 16-year-old that he was going to be able to stay with me throughout, so I just kind of kept the pressure on, kept the pressure on, never quite stepped it up on him. I was basically surprised when I ran out of time at the end. Then we played again in LA. He got injured in the first set, so he had to retire. We really haven't played at a time when we were both playing our best. He was 16 years old and I was ranked 110 in the world, trying to learn how to play the game again.

Q. Is Lleyton the type of player that you really look forward to playing, someone you might like to really play?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, if you're playing well, you'd like to play against him because he's going to bring out the best in you. I'm sure he's not a good guy to play if you don't like the way you're hitting the ball, because he's going to make you hit a lot of them. I'm looking forward to tomorrow because I think it's a great situation, being in the semis, hitting the ball well. Four great players left. You know, it's nice to know that the winner of this tournament is one of us four. I think it's good.

Q. When the conditions are difficult like you mentioned tonight and you're in confidence, do you say to yourself, "Good, because he'll suffer from it more than me"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I like the wind. I think there are a few good wind players. I think generally the quality of tennis drops, no question about it. Experience helps a lot, and so does options. I play with spin sometimes. Sometimes I play flat. I take the ball early. Sometimes I'll drop back and loop it. If the ball's low, if the ball's high, I still take a good swing at it. So when the ball's constantly moving in the wind, it doesn't tend to unsettle me as much as most people I play against. Tonight I don't think Lapentti got comfortable in the wind out there.

Q. You had some interesting comments the other day on how your game has changed over the past ten years. No one has faced Pete more in bigger matches than you. Can you take a moment and indicate how Pete's game has changed over the past ten years?

ANDRE AGASSI: Really I have to only assess it from my match with him in Australia because it was the last time we played. While I watched him, it's really not till you play somebody a year later that you can see where their game's at presently speaking. But I think he's learned how and when to be consistent and when to put pressure on you. I think his serve, his second serve, has improved tremendously in those ten years.

Q. Placement and pace?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I would definitely say both. More pace and more knowing when to take his chances with it. he knows when to play safe and when to play dangerous. There's a lot of experience behind him now. He's definitely better in some ways than he was ten years ago. Hard to say now. I don't know how his body's feeling. I don't know how he's moving till I get out there and hit the backhand up the line and see how much he can run it down and hit the running forehand cross-court.

Q. You said you would beat the old Andre 3-3. How do you think Pete compares now to then?

ANDRE AGASSI: Pete against Pete?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: At his best or ten years ago?

Q. Now versus ten years.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, ten years ago, he's better now, yeah.

Q. How about this Pete with Gil Reyes? Would that make any difference in his game?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, everybody's an individual, and everybody has ideas on what makes them good. That would just be my opinion. But I think Gil would help anybody's career.

Q. Lleyton has been saying he's been frustrated with the court, doesn't really like the courts because he's found them gritty and rough. How have you found them? Do you think that could be a factor?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's an awkward court in the sense that it's a big court. It's very gritty and slow, but yet the ball carries through the air relatively quickly because of the altitude here. It's a strange rhythm to playing the bounce of the ball. While it comes through the air, it's coming at you quick, it slows up after it bounces. It looks like it's going to be on you, then you have a little bit more time than you thought you did. So that's a factor for all of us. You know, I try to step up and kind of hit through the conditions anyhow, let the game come to me a little bit. I would say that I've gotten more comfortable in a few matches, but it has taken some time, including last week in Scottsdale.

Q. Would it be fair to refer to the conditions as a contradiction? You have that quick ball going through the air and then the court being a bit slow.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. It's awkward. It's an awkward feel, but one that once you get used to it, you can play great tennis on. It's not like it's unfair. It's just something we don't see but two weeks a year.

Q. Does it make it harder for somebody like you to take the ball on the rise or is it easier?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think in these conditions, to cut yourself the most slack, you have -- if you hold serve well, it gives you a chance to kind of not worry about the subtleties and you can just hit, let your game come around. For me, holding serve is hitting the ball well. It probably is more of an adjustment because I play closer to the line, I play with big swings. If my game's not on, I show my hand pretty quickly.

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