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Écrit par Jerome   



April 1, 2001

A. AGASSI/J-M. Gambill
7-6, 6-1, 6-0

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: With the win today, Andre becomes the oldest champion here at 30 years eleven months. He is the first man to win four Ericsson Open titles, and he has won 12 Tennis Masters Series titles which is an ATP best and also his third total this season which is also a Tour best.

Q. Andre, what do you do with all that crystal, do you have a separate warehouse or something for it?

ANDRE AGASSI: (Laughs) Why do you need a warehouse when you have got a dad. My dad loves them.

Q. The year is getting better and better. Where it is going to go from here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, I still contend that well, while this is a great place to be right now. I need to make good decisions with my schedule and I need make sure that physically, I am at my best going into the most important ones and I feel like I have done that smart three times this year. So, you know, you can play better than this and not win and I just hope that I continue to be at my best and make somebody play well to beat me and get a little lucky every now and then.

Q. Six years ago just in terms of wins an losses you had an even better start than you have had this year. Are you playing better tennis now than you did in 1995?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no question.

Q. Why?

ANDRE AGASSI: I have addressed this a few times. I am a better athlete now than I was in 1995. I am stronger and I am faster and I move better. When I move better I have more options. And I have a lot of experience to make good decisions with those options.

Q. You said you would have to take good decisions heading into Paris. What does it mean?

ANDRE AGASSI: Don't know yet. It means not -- not playing too much, you know I have gotten certainly a lot of matches. It means resting and preparing and then going hard again. So it is hard to say right now. I want to see how my body feels, she how my training is going and then take each week as it comes. I don't think I am going to need a lot to be ready for Paris. I think I can make the mistake easily by playing too much.

Q. Jan-Michael said you were the best thing the game has ever had which covers a hell of a lot of ground. What would be your response to that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Thank you. I would tell him I appreciate that compliment. I believe that when you have a few shots that you rely on and, you know, a game like mine I need to think out there. I have had the luxury of a lot of years of doing this which helps a lot. But I think a lot of other top players have been at the top with exceptional weapons and with me, I just -- I continually work to win my matches which forces me, I think, to do more. I have to do more thinking probably than most guys.

Q. Were the conditions very difficult out there? These past few days in particular, I mean, the girls had a terrible time in the women's final controlling the ball, you did on occasions. Has it been difficult out there to play?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think windy conditions, especially where it is a little bit swirly where it is not real dependable wind, it always makes the game more difficult and drops the standard because you have to -- if you do it well you have got to play a little more cautious, more high percentage. But I have said all along that my best conditions are hot weather where it is windy. Ideally, on a medium pace hard court that is what we are dealing with here. I feel like in windy conditions you have to have a number of things. You have to have good short footwork, so you have to adjust. You have to have a big wheelhouse so that if the balls does move you still can take a swing at it. I believe-- and on top of it all, you have to have good concentration and I believe all those things are some of my strengths. So, it is good conditions for me. But definitely conditions that drop the standard of play.

Q. You should read his press conference. It would make you feel good. He was very complimentary but he said you see angles that other players don't see. Do you have that sort of vision, guys say, see that 67 degree angle, or what is it that you find these openings?

ANDRE AGASSI: It is two-fold. You have to see it but you have to have the ability to hit it. And there is a lot of guys that play very straightforward and play through you. That could be because they are not utilizing their game entirely but it also could be because they don't have the fundamentals to hit a variety of shots. One of my strengths in my game is I can play with a variety of shots. I can play it flat, and try to go through somebody. I can play both wings up the line and crosscourt. I can play both wings short angles. You know, I can play high above your shoulder. I can keep the ball low. I mean, that is why my game requires a lot of thinking because when you have those kind of options you can really think yourself into paralysis. But when things go well and everything is coming together, you can really structure a match in a way that as long as the match goes, the more it starts favoring you.

Q. Very big point at 3-3 in the tiebreak. Jan-Michael is winding up for forehand down-the-line you make a stab volley for a winner. Is he-- if he wins that, he is up 4-3 with two serves. Take us through what your eyes saw on that particular point.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he hit a serve no, no, hold on a second. I was serving. Hit a serve short return, he kind of forced me to, you know, the difficult thing in a situation like that is you want to be fundamentally sound and work a percentage shot. But in a tiebreak you know the first one that takes it to the opponent is going to win the point. I was just a little worried about pulling off that ball and backing up to the baseline, because I thought he would take his chance. So, I kind of committed with the backhand, I believe, I kind of committed hard just to come in or I can't remember which shot it was. But I got to net. He got the ball down pretty well. And in the wind I felt like I made pretty good volley to make him play another forehand pass, and he was a little late to it and once somebody is late you always got to force him to go crosscourt. I kind of took the line away and happened to work well. I just stuck out my racket and made a good volley. But there is always a few points that decide a close set like that. I feel like, if I could have any point back I would take shot point back at 3-2 when I was serving 40-30 I hit a good first serve, I had a very makeable forehand with open court crosscourt. I just tried to kind of hit it with heavy spin crosscourt. I didn't really execute that well and the wind took it long. Next thing you know I got broken and was in a battle. So, there are a few points that go for you sometimes and also go against you.

Q. You say you don't want to play too much going to Paris. Obviously, I do not think you play Monte Carlo, Hamburg and Rome. Do you have a preference?

ANDRE AGASSI: Do I have a preference which one I play?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I think Monte Carlo is very early in the season to really consider it good preparation. I think it is a completely different environment than Paris. I think it is very heavy and cold and the conditions it is a lot thicker there. I think Paris plays quicker than that. I think Rome is a close match to Paris and now that that they have the roof at Hamburg, I look forward to seeing that. So-- but they are also where the weeks fall and how my training is going too. So, there is a lot to consider.

Q. You say that you are playing better now than you did in 1995. You are the oldest man to ever win this tournament. Do you think that more young players careers will begin to last longer or are you just an exception?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think you have to do a number of things right for your career to last this long in this sport. It is a year-round sport and a lot of times you are thinking so much about on the court and your tennis game that you don't put enough work into your body off the court and it takes its toll. Whether you lose a hair of speed that causes guys all of a sudden exploit your weaknesses or whether you actually get injured and can't continue. So I don't know with the way the Tour is set up, if guys can address their bodies in a way that will allow the sport to kind of have a longer career span. I have had the luxury of a great trainer who have helped me make real important decisions. And I have taken off some years that I have spent a lot of nights regretting. But I am still out here doing it and that, to me, is making up for some of that.

Q. How far could you envision someone like Jan-Michael's career going?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think these are some of the best conditions for Jan-Mike's game, the hard courts where the ball is going to be consistent bounce, where he can hit through the pace of the court. The only thing you worry about in guy like Jan-Mike is injuries, make sure that he plays very hard and very physical with two hands on both sides he has to work harder than a lot of guys. And the changes of surfaces, playing clay with bad bounces windy days, I mean, his possibility isn't as big as a lot of guys because of the two hands. But with all that being said, he has incredible serve and he has incredible presence on the court. He makes you feel like he is bringing it and I think that speaks well for him having a lot of great wins and contending for some of these tournaments.

Q. People spoke highly of you earlier in the tournament when it came out that you had given Roddick advice and some tips. Yesterday there was incredible match where Jennifer had 8 matchpoints. What is the secret on closing out a match at matchpoint especially if you have multiple matchpoints?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think people struggle with different things. I think some people get too conservative and they want the other person to lose. I think other players then get too impatient and they press. And, you know, what happened there 6 or seven of her 8 match points she missed first serves and I think five or possibly 6 of those matchpoints she went for backhand, you know, fenagling (sic) (inaudible) backhand up the line. That was -- that turned out to be mistake in hindsight. I wouldn't take that out of her game though because I think that is what makes Jennifer special is the fact that she is willing to win it, or possibly lose it. But she wants the result to be on her racket. And I think that is a great quality to have in this game. I think it is a championship spirit. Unfortunately you live by the sword and you die by it. That was one of the most disappointing matches I am sure she has ever faced, but I got a hunch it is only going to make her better.

Q. When you see Roddick and Gambill's success do you feel old or does winning keep you young?

ANDRE AGASSI: I feel old when I see mousse in my opponent's hair, and I start realizing that well I have a lot of options inside the lines of tennis outside the lines I am starting to run out of a few.

Q. Looking at Roddick and Gambill and or Dent, do you think that the USTA is doing a good job? Do you think it is a cycle without the help of any organization?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know what they are doing specifically. I know there is always more you can do and I would like to see a training center out on the west coast that was equipped to have guys like myself and Pete and Chang and to go over there practice, let some of the younger guys see what it is like, see what kind of intensity what kind of standard they have to shoot for. And create a competitive environment where these guys learn how to compete and I think again like I said earlier, this week I think it is one thing we can learn from what Bollettieri has done. He has created an environment where people are forced to get better. And with all that being said though I think countries could go in cycles. Is it hard to have the best in the world all the time.

Q. Even perhaps playing the best you have ever played, do you have -- do you ever even occasionally think of how much longer you will keep at it or it is just something that is going to happen when you decide?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well it is my belief that a man needs to work, so I mean, if I have to work and feel good about my day I might as well do it with something that is enjoyable as playing tennis. And if I do it right, I hope that the decision to stop is a choice that I get to make. But I believe I can still do this for a few more years. I don't know. This I have never been 31 before, so I will continually have to learn and make my adjustments. But it is my belief you can be physically at your best into your 30s.

Q. If you can keep the shape you are in right now 'til Paris, how will you rate your chances in Paris? Do you think you are the No. 1 favorite there or Kuerten or clay court specialist are slightly ahead of you?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think we will have to see how some of the clay court tournaments play out. As of right now I have certainly played well on the hard courts, but there is too many great players out there who specialize in surfaces, and I always try to contend with the best in the world on every surface. And I have a lot to establish still if I want to consider myself the strong favorite for winning Paris. And I think others are going to have a few things to prove too in the elite up.

Q. You said before that you had these regrets some nights. Did you ever think that if you didn't have these regrets, you would still be out here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think I would. I think I have learned on a few different levels as to what makes me tick and regrets or no regrets I still had more tennis in me. When I put my mind to something I am pretty stubborn about it.

Q. 1979 there were 39 Americans in the top 100. Now there are 7. Is it because of the competition is bigger or tennis is going down in this country?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's gotten to become an incredibly strong international sport. It is so huge in so many different countries now and with the tournaments that are on clay, I mean, we don't have a lot of the clay here in America, so you got guys now that can that if he can't play well on one surface, it really hurts your chances for contending the whole year because you might able to do it one year but you come around the next year and if there is only one surface you play well on it is just a lot of pressure and a lot of -- it is difficult to do it year after year. You know, America has a luxury of almost 300 million people, you know, it is a big place, so I think we should have more Americans playing on the top level, but I think it speaks to how international the game is.

Q. Arizona or Duke?

ANDRE AGASSI: I am going for Arizona. I have called them from pretty early on believe it or not. And I don't know a whole lot about it, but I like them.

Q. About playing too much before the French what is your key preparation on clay?

ANDRE AGASSI: Physical. I need to be strong. I need to feel like I can run not only offensively, but defensively for three out of five sets for 10 to 15 balls a point. If I can get myself physically where I can pay that price and then play enough matches where mentally I am paying that price, everything will come together.

Q. You say from now it's a matter of rest, regrouping; then preparing again. How long do you think it will be before you next see a tennis racket? Will it be days? Weeks?

ANDRE AGASSI: The actual tennis racket part has never been a top priority to me and at 31 years of doing this, 30 years of doing it, and I have since I was literally was in diapers, you can't hit the ball any better. It is not like you can really-- you have to make sure you give yourself enough time to get back to where you are hitting the ball clean, but one thing I think you can get stronger and faster and you -- I am not going to forget how to hit a tennis ball. So specific answer to your question, you know, I will probably take a good week without worrying about even picking up the racket and then when I do pick it up it will only be to kind of appease any possible doubts I have about my own preparation.

Q. In Paris last year you didn't do well. Was this because of the setbacks in Zimbabwe; you just never quite caught up physically?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think I struggled a lot physically last year. I think my focus was kind of had strayed a little bit. Physically I was pretty much plagued. I never got over that back injury that did start in Zimbabwe completely. You know it was a tough year. Tough year, physically emotionally mentally and I got through it. I think it's made me better in many ways.

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