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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

2001 THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND

July 2, 2001

A. AGASSI/N. Kiefer
6-3, 7-5, 7-5

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. We want to talk about your match, but a general comment on Pete Sampras' loss here at Wimbledon, how surprising that might be to you, whether we're at the end of a Sampras era here.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, you've got to give the guy a lot of credit for what he's done. You know, he's certainly a great champion, was playing like one today. I'm sure it just didn't go right for him at the end. I think if you want to talk about anything that's incredible, talk about how he's won this thing seven times.

Q. Can you size up your play and kind of how the draw is opening up so rapidly? Your thoughts at this point.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, every player presents their own problems. As the tournament goes on, it's getting tougher. I mean, my next match, regardless of who it is, is going to be asking more of me than I've had to come up with so far. So, you know, it's one at a time for me. That's when I play my best tennis. I'm really not too concerned with anybody but my next opponent.

Q. How big a break is it for everybody else to have Pete out of the way? I guess it's kind of obvious. But in your mind.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, you've got to go out there and win. I mean, he's obviously been the toughest one to beat here in the history of this tournament. I mean, but I can't honestly say I do much thinking about Pete until I have to play him. I'm sure a lot of guys feel that way. Seems to me like Federer is the one to worry about now.

Q. So you guys won't all be going back to the locker room and popping the champagne corks?

ANDRE AGASSI: Why is that?

Q. Because Pete is out.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, no. You don't celebrate other people's losses, just your own wins.

Q. What's your perspective on that seven Wimbledon titles for Pete? You alluded to it earlier. When you think of the great accomplishments during this era in tennis, how do you rate that accomplishment?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's one of the greatest accomplishments that a person can have, that kind of domination, on any surface, regardless if it's those kind of results on grass. I mean, to come back year after year and play the way he's played, you know, just speaks for him as a player and as a champion. Forget having the ability to do it; it's being able to go out there and execute it mentally, as well. Those two things have to come together. You know, he's impressed me every year here. You know, this year he was probably pretty close to doing the same thing. You never know when you get through one of those ones like he had today. Might be able to do it again.

Q. You said on the one hand Pete has been a big thorn in your side during your career. But he's also been your chief rival and has really pushed you. In what ways can you say he has helped you to become a better player?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, for so many years he was the measuring stick, you know, the measuring tool that I used to gauge, you know, where I am and where I have to be. And the years that I was playing better than him at any given point, you know, you always had to worry about him catching you from behind. It always kept you kind of focused on what you needed to do to get better. In both cases, I always found that he helped me to improve.

Q. Escude up a break on the fifth in Hewitt. Can you give us a brief on both of those guys?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, two incredibly different kind of players. I mean, Hewitt is not a serve-volleyer. He's going to be running down balls, having a lot of baseline rallies. Anytime you play a baseline match on grass, you know, a lot can happen out there. Going to have to be playing my best tennis. Escude coming forward, I'll have to be executing shots and making sure that I'm taking care of my service games and not get careless for a second. Sets can slip away. They're both dangerous in what it is they do.

Q. You said along about the sixth stroke of a rally, that's where you like to really take control of it, make your move. With Hewitt out there, does he make you change that, make you play 10, 12 strokes?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think how many balls I play ideally is based on the surface. You know, I mean, if I'm playing on hard court, I think six to eight shots is an ideal point for me. If I'm playing on grass, I think two to three is good, two or three good groundies. Any longer than that and the point probably has gone on too long. Shorter than that, it's probably not gone the way that I would ideally want. But Hewitt is going to run down extra balls, he's going to use your pace. If you think you hit a good shot, he gets there quicker than you think and uses your pace to hurt you. If you lay off any balls, he's quick enough to do something. He forces you to execute point after point. One of the best competitors in the game. Has some real good speed out there. So that creates problems because you're talking about a surface that has a lot of bad bounces. You know, it's hard to hit the ball clean time after time.

Q. Do you feel like you're kind of under the radar so far in this championship?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think there's a lot to talk about out there. Certainly today with Pete being gone, I mean, there's going to be even more to talk about. I just want to make sure I'm executing my game and getting better as the tournament goes on. So far I've managed to do that. Those are all good signs. But you have to go out there and win a Slam like this, you have to step your game up big at the right time. Certainly I'll have that opportunity being in the quarters. But I've got to go out there and do it.

Q. Are you happy with the way you played today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I am. I mean, I think there was a couple times. I mean it was a little more humid today. The balls felt a little bit heavier. I think I made a few more errors than I would have cared to. But a lot had to do with respect for Kiefer's game and speed, the way he likes to play. But I concentrated well and came up with the right shots at the right time.

Q. Do Court 1 and Centre Court play differently?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Is Court 1 playing harder?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, harder and higher bouncing, a touch quicker.

Q. Compared to your play here last year, do you feel like you're above that, the same?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think going into the quarters I feel better about my game this year, you know. But, again, it's about putting it together at the right time. Last year in the quarters I played a great match against Philippoussis and beat him in straights when he was actually playing pretty well. So, you know, I'll have the opportunity again to step it up, but going to have to do it. You know, I need three great matches.

Q. How do you explain for somebody like Kiefer being up a break and today a couple of times in vital situations, not being able to use it, to save the break, to win the set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, a match-up like me and Kiefer, you know, there's going to be breaks out there. We both return the ball well, and it's grass court. If you get a good return, I mean, you're completely in command of the point. So you've got to expect a lot of breaks. You know, I think I played a couple good games when I was down the break. You know, I think maybe he got a little tentative and played a little too safe. Last game he looked like he was just trying to make it, and he made some errors. But I think overall, you know, the breaks are going to happen in a match like that.

Q. Did you have the feeling that he still lacks some confidence when he comes up to the important situations against you, that his confidence is not up to your standard, that he's getting afraid in these situations?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I don't -- maybe it is confidence. I'm not inside Kiefer's head. I think he can play a lot better. I think he can play smarter. I think he can use his game a lot differently. So, I mean, I haven't been too impressed with how he's trying to play out there. With his ability, he should be, in my opinion, playing differently. I think if he starts playing more aggressively, I think he will feel comfortable to be aggressive in the big situations. But he's so fast, he uses his legs so well, that a lot of times it's easy for him to rely on just playing safe. When you're going out there to win a match against a top player, sometimes, you know, that's -- a lot of times that's not good enough.

Q. You're the last person to win here who really didn't come forward with the big serve. Can you kind of size up how incredibly difficult it is for a player like you to win this tournament against all the big hammers?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, there's less now than there used to be as far as serve-volleyers. But guys can still pound the serve and serve big. That's such a big weapon out there. You know, it's the only shot that's not interrupted with the inconsistencies of the court, is the serve. You know, it's not easy to do. But I think with 85 baseliners in the draw, there's a chance for a baseliner to do it again.

Q. Could you talk about Goran's great run here? Come out of nowhere, caught on fire.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's great to see. You know, I mean, he's obviously proven that he has a lot of great tennis left in him. It seems like this surface is so good for him. You know, more than just how he does here, I mean, once I'm out, I'll probably root for him to win just because I believe his career has deserved that. But with that being said, I think more importantly than this tournament is I like to see him, you know, kind of build on it. I can't say more importantly, because this would be huge for him to win here. But to see him build on it and start playing this way on a consistent level, because he's capable of it.

 
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