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Écrit par Jerome   



March 31, 2001

A. AGASSI/P. Rafter
6-0, 6-7, 6-2

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: First question, please. Andre will be appearing in his 6th final here in Key Biscayne. He will try to become the first player to win four titles at the Ericsson Open. He has a five and two lifetime record against Gambill.

Q. Andre, there have been numerous All-American men's Finals here. You have been in some of them. Is there something special about it, particularly when you got a younger player who could be part of the future of American tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, think there is something special about it. It means a lot to American tennis to have young players playing so well like Jan-Mike. For me it is great before the match and it is great after the match. But during the match I mean, there is no nationality. You are assessing what you need to do to take your game to your opponent and tomorrow it will be a difficult challenge. I know Jan-Mike has been playing incredibly well. He has only gotten better this year.

Q. Following up on him, as you may know in this last month, he has defended 11 matchpoints in different matches total and very strong mental match against Gaudio a few nights ago; then the upset against LLeyton. Have you been following that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I will feel good if I give him a few more opportunities to defend some matchpoints. I hope to give him a few more. Yeah, he is competing great and he is hitting the ball clean and he is obviously confident because that is how you win close matches - you have confidence and you execute your shots and I think him winning some matches down match point just kind of reflects how well he feels about his game and how much confidence he has.

Q. Would you rather had the extra day to rest or how will that affect things that you played today and you are playing tomorrow?

ANDRE AGASSI: Normally, it is not ideal. I didn't really feel like today was too much of a brutal match. I think it can be a factor in some cases. I mean, I haven't played a lot this week. I went through a good stage of this tournament where I wasn't really playing a lot so I think it feels good to me right now to be in a rhythm and to have the match coming up. But hindsight is going to be 20/20, we will see how things go tomorrow.

Q. How much of a role does pressure play? You have been in this situation many times in the Finals and Jan-Michael talked about you were his boyhood idol and he has faced you before, but never in a Championship. How much do you think pressure and experience is going to play in this?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I think Jan-Mike and I have played each other enough to know each other's game well and to know what we need to do to address the other one's strengths and attack their weaknesses, so it is going to be a high quality match. We both hit the ball well from the baseline and I think just being for a title match just makes it all the better for both of us. Based on the fact that if you win, that is it, you win the tournament. If you lose, you know, you were playing for it. It is better to play in the finals I can assure you than first round.

Q. Can you talk about the time when you played him in 1998 in Indian Wells. What was different about that match? I know you lost that match.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, we played a few times in a row that stretch. He played a good match. I remember being up a break in the third and then he stepped it up and he played a good match. It was good tennis. He plays well on the hard courts. He plays well especially on the hard courts and a little bit of altitude it really gives his game even that much more of a pop.

Q. Back on this match today 13th time you have played Patrick and do you find that in the last few years matches sort of fallen to sort of the same rhythm pretty much know what to expect from each other and the way you win is going to be the way you play him week after week, whenever you play him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, there is no question, you play somebody so many times you get so used to their games and you have so much respect for what their strengths are and you have so much focus on what you need to do and then what you can afford to do. And today was that. I wanted to get off to a good start but I consider a good start holding serve with Patrick. I mean, I just don't want him to be up a break early. I feel like if I can get into a thick match then I am going to get my looks at some breakpoints some second serves. And from the baseline, I have to hit the ball big enough where I am keeping him from approaching but I can't start pressing so much because I think one thing that is easy to underestimate about Pat's game is his movement from the back of the court. Because he is a serve and volleyer you have the tendency to think that okay, well, he is looking to get in, he is not comfortable on the baseline, but man, you can't just take a short ball and approach to the open court. He gets there, put the ball at your feet and he is flying in behind it and fortunately to do something special two or three shots in a row. There is no question, we understand what is going to happen out there as far as what we are trying to do. But it is always a question of who is going to execute better.

Q. Did you ever remember breaking him three times in a row, particularly from coming out of the gate?

ANDRE AGASSI: I wouldn't say, no, never beaten him 6-0 before, if that is your question. Three times in a row, I guess it is possible. I don't remember that.

Q. How much of a confidence booster is that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would have rather him held serve in the first set for the third break and give me the third break in the second set. And that is what you are thinking out there, 6-0 set means a lot more when you are playing against a baseliner that you are having a lot of baseline rallies. With Pat I was on his serve, I had some great shots to break, and you are thinking yourself all he needs to do is get his rhythm going on his serve and he can go through an hour stretch where I don't even have a sniff at it. So I was thinking to myself the match is starting right now up 6-0, I was getting the first set and just trying to go to work.

Q. Anybody who knows Jan-Michael knows that he is a little bit more than just a forehand backhand guy. That he is pretty reflective fellow. And he has had to work real hard to get where he is. I know you want to beat the crap out of him tomorrow, but could you take a moment and talk about him as a person, what do you know much about him?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know a lot about him. I know that you know, he is a nice guy that does work really hard and, you know, we played a lot more earlier on than we have as of late. And I really couldn't say a whole lot else.

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