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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

2001 THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND

July 4, 2001

A. AGASSI/N. Escude
6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone, Andre.

Q. You never have easy match against Nicolas. What is the most difficult in his game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's a very dangerous player. I think he hits the ball very early. He's fast. He likes to move very explosively to the ball. He's not scared to take chances. You know, he plays very dangerously. You know, his serve is very underrated. You know, you don't expect for a guy his size to serve the ball so well to all the corners. But he hits a few serves that are difficult for somebody like him to hit. He hits it wide in the ad court, wide in the deuce court very well. Then he's quick to get in. Then he can stay back and do some good for himself from the ground. I mean, overall, he's just a dangerous player.

Q. How much confidence do you take from seeing your opponent suddenly being massaged for ten minutes? Seems like he had been fairly dominant till then. Does that help a player's confidence, an opponent's confidence?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, it would be hard to say 7-6, 2-3 is dominant. It was a tight match.

Q. He was playing quite well.

ANDRE AGASSI: He was playing very well, no question about it. You know, I don't know what was wrong. From my perspective, I'm out there just thinking that that can work against you, too. I'm trying just to execute my game, raise my level. If his level drops off, then that just will make it easier for me. But it's easy to lose concentration, and that's one thing I think that experience helps you to deal with. I mean, I hope he wasn't too injured. But, you know, he still continued to play pretty well. It's unfortunate if something is a little wrong.

Q. Could you talk a little about what it means facing Rafter in the semifinals for the third straight year.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I just -- you know, I'm just really looking forward to it. I've said many times about Pat, he's a great player, a great competitor. I've had some great matches with him. You know, they're always ones to remember. Win or lose, you really cherish the opportunity to raise your level at the right time. I'm certainly going to have to do that. He looked really sharp today in some pretty tough conditions. You know, you've just got to play better as the tournament goes on. We're down to the last four. Everyone has a shot.

Q. Is there any special significance attached to it this year, knowing that Pete isn't waiting in the final? Does that change the mindset at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: It will if I'm there on Sunday, you know. But, you know, I've got another match to play before I even have to deal with the other side of the draw. And really, one of the greatest things about the way the sport of tennis is played is that the best player is still alive, you know. That's not Pete this year. While it's surprising, it's also something you have to kind of put behind you and deal with who's over there.

Q. There have been times in your career that people have really expected you to go out and win most matches, then there have been times where fewer people have expected that of you. Can you talk about the difference?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I've always been pretty darn good at putting enough pressure on myself, you know, so I never really thought a whole lot about what was expected of me. You know, I was always -- when my career wasn't quite where I wanted it to be, I was pretty hard on myself. Then when I was doing pretty well, I was hard on myself, so you just try --

Q. Do you go into each match expecting to win, and if you win, it's routine, and if you don't, it's much more difficult?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you've got to believe that you're going to win. But I also believe respect for the fact that you can lose is what you have to always keep in your mind so that you're ready to play the tennis necessary, so that nothing surprises you. Everybody can win out there. I've had some shockers and I've had some great results. But it does boil down to how I execute my game and make somebody play great to win.

Q. It seems that today is going to be a great day for the cagey veterans. Henman is now up, as well. Does it all make sense to you that that kind of experience would be triumphant on a day like today at Wimbledon?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think experience is always an advantage, assuming you have your health and you still have your shots. I mean, it's a very difficult thing to do, to go out there for the first time and to step up to the occasion and keep everything together. You know, it's not easy. Today, it wasn't easy conditions. It was breezy out there. You know, it forces you to play a bit more conservatively with margin for error, but still execute your game. You know, that's where experience does help a lot.

Q. You came all the way back from 141, went all the way to the top. You're one of the few people in the world who can understand exactly how tough what Goran is now doing is. What is the toughest thing about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I think everybody has their reasons for why they fall. The first thing you have to assess is why somebody's game is at 140 in the world. With me, it was my physical. You know, I wasn't moving well. I wasn't in the greatest shape. I wasn't as prepared as I could be. I needed to go back to square one and work, you know, get myself in position where I can bring my game out. That is very difficult because, you know, you have to start over, and you have to start over at 28 years old. Goran, it's not because of his game, it's because of his head. I mean, the guy has a great game. But he's always playing against two people out there, and that's unfortunate, because the guy has a great game. Then there are these times when he really directs his energies, and you get -- the fans and everybody gets a chance to really appreciate some great tennis. I'm a big fan of his. I'm a big supporter. I think he's great for the game. It's great to see him here. I think if all goes well for Henman today, I think that's an incredible weekend for the sport of tennis. So I think what Goran is doing is difficult in a different sense. You know, you have to believe when you really never have given yourself a reason to believe in yourself.

Q. Your victory today has taken you alongside McEnroe with the all-time Grand Slam victories. Can you talk about what it means to pull alongside one of the greats of the game?

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't know that. You know, I mean, certainly anytime you do something that matches somebody as great as a player like John, then you feel great about it. You know, I'd like to pass him by two here then this week. Just every match, you know.

Q. Last year Pat gave you some troubles with his serve, particularly deep into the match. Is there anything you can do to step it up in the match and make him work hard off the serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, there's no secret approach out there for either of us. You know, we both are way too familiar with the other one's game. We both are way too concerned with what it is we each have to do well in order to win. He's going to have to serve well, you know. I'm going to have to return well - and serve well, as well. It's going to be a day like it always is: who's executing their game better. The fact that he plays the game so differently than I do really lends to just a great, not only variety of tennis, but also level.

Q. You've spoken in the past about your physical, Brad sort of helping whip you into shape. How about the mental? Does he stay on you or are you well enough along in your age and experience that you don't need anybody goading you?

ANDRE AGASSI: First of all, Brad didn't get me into shape. As far as I'm concerned, that's not his business. You know, we communicate on where I am physically. You know, I've trained very specifically with Gil Reyes for 12 years. I think there's only so much motivation you can give somebody. You can be an example at best, and that's what I think Brad has always done really well. He's an example. He comes to work every day, puts in his hours, puts in his dedication, makes me rise to the level. But ultimately he's helped me to be able to think for myself out there, and that's what you have to do in this sport, because there's no time-outs.

Q. What turned this match in your favour, do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the first set I was returning well, but not quite serving well. I didn't find a rhythm on my serve. The wind was blowing around. I really was kind of forcing my serve a little bit. So I let him get back into the set. Then he played a great tiebreaker. And then the second set, I started serving better, but I went through a few games early where I wasn't quite making him play as much on the return. Then all of a sudden, you know, I kept my rhythm on my serve, and I was taking care of my serve, and I started making him play more at net. He's not a meat-and-potatoes volleyer. He's a dangerous player. He likes to come in quickly and get that easy put-away, use his speed. When I started getting it down, I got a few misses at the right time.

Q. Pat is not out there bombing those 125, 130 serves. He's a little bit slower. He seems to rely a lot on his volleying, movement around the net. I wonder if you could get into some detail about his acrobatic, athletic ability around the net when you're trying to pass him.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, you know, Pat's one of those guys that doesn't need to serve 128 miles an hour, 135 miles an hour, because not only does he move it around well, he hits a lot of different speeds. You know, he gets into the net so tight. You know, there's a lot of volleyers out there that if you rip a return, they just stick their racquet out, and they're firm. You know, they can just knock off a big return. I remember playing David Wheaton here, for example, a 6'4" guy; if I ripped a return, he would stick his racquet out and be very firm. Then if you kind of knuckled one down, he wasn't quite as fundamentally sound on that shot, he could maybe miss some low volleys. Pat's one of those guys that if you hit it hard, he's firm; and if you just play it low, he's very athletic. You know, he just has a great ability, especially inside the service line. You know, then he moves so well around the baseline. He looks for his opportunities, he's a great competitor, makes you play start to finish. You know, you have to put together a good match to win.

Q. You know you're not a gambling man. If I have it right, you played a guy with the same first name on the same court for three matches in a row. What do you think the odds of that happening are?

ANDRE AGASSI: I guarantee, you could find somebody in England who could tell you that.

Q. Taking you to the American hard court season. Can you talk about how you use those tournaments, especially the two or three weeks in August, to prepare for the US Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, hard court is a surface that I'm probably most dangerous on because I can really time my shots and pick up the ball and swing with conviction. Once I start grooving in on my game, I can just really let it fly. You know, I can work a kick serve, I can play a lot of different ways. I can play high, I can play fast. It allows me the opportunity and options.

You know, I enjoy playing a few weeks on hard court because, you know, my body holds up well and I really start executing my game. You know, it's like earlier this year, you know, it wasn't really until the end of Key Biscayne I really started feeling great about the way I was executing. I think a few tournaments always help you.

Q. That helps get you up for The Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, yeah.

Q. Do you have a feeling this can be your year at Wimbledon?

ANDRE AGASSI: Feelings don't matter a whole lot. You know, you've got to go out there and get it done.

Q. Do you think you can get it done?

ANDRE AGASSI: There's four guys that can win this.

Q. Do you think you can get it done, though?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I guess I've got at least a 25% shot, right (smiling)?

 
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