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Écrit par Jerome   


August 30, 2001

A. AGASSI/N. Massu
6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5

An interview with:


MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q.The look in your face afterwards said a lot, the way you acknowledged the crowd. Was a wonderful one to get through?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, no question about it. There's ones that stand out more than others in a series of seven matches. My experience tells me that was a great one to kind of sneak through there. I mean, it was one of those days, it was tough conditions, he was playing well, executing a great game, especially on the big points. He was moving really well, competing hard. He wasn't giving an inch from the beginning, and neither was I. By the time we got to the end of the fourth set, we both knew it was a big moment there.

Q.Were there ever thoughts of the match against Arnaud last year second round?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I mean, that had a whole different feel to it. Certainly memories of matches can come into your mind. But, you know, last year I really never got into the match. Today, even though I lost the first set, I was really focused on what I was doing and felt like I was committed to the game plan of making him play that standard the rest of the match. I thought I had an opportunity to really stretch the match open, possibly beat him 6-7, 4-2 and 1. I felt like the momentum was really going my way. Man, I didn't close out one game in the fourth, and here he came again. To his credit. Turned out to be a pretty good battle.

Q.In the second set, 3-4, he's like one inch from serving for the second set. The volley that you hit, did it wiggle in the wind before you hit it?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, I should have squeezed it. I should have just knocked it off. You know, it's a tight situation there. You know, you don't come in but a few times here and there. All of a sudden you're forced to hit a shot you haven't hit in an hour. I didn't quite execute that as well and I gave him a look at a running pass. It's pretty fortunate that it sailed long on him.

Q.Were you thinking it was going in?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. I mean, it felt like it was going out. When it dropped, it certainly dropped closer than I thought. Yeah, it was definitely out.

Q.Did you have a feeling you were just trying to withstand the barrage the first two sets? He was playing so well.

ANDRE AGASSI: He was. But, I mean, I don't have the stats, but I have to believe I only converted maybe 15, 20% of my breakpoint opportunities. I felt like I had the chances. Negotiate, he gosh he came up with some great shots. A couple times, I was dominating the point, the ball danced in the wind a little bit, either I missed a shot, or it sailed or landed on the line. A couple of interesting points that happened on some breakpoints. You know, I just felt like if I just stayed with it, I would eventually consolidate those opportunities.

Q.Those long points, how much is psychological, going back 20, 30 times, how much of that is just will and how much is positioning?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, for me, I try to make those particular points -- the commitment to those points is very mental. Once you're in them, it becomes physical very quick. It becomes about executing shots when your legs start to burn and making your opponent work harder and harder with each shot. Over the course of a match, that's an important ingredient for me, that an opponent is having to work hard. You know, especially in tough conditions, when there's a lot of wind, you just can't step up and necessarily hit through the court because you don't want to take those kinds of risks.

Q.I know Nicolas Massu, you are his hero. When you played him in Wimbledon, he almost couldn't play because he wanted to ask for your autograph. Now he says things are going to be different because he will look at you as his equal. Do you think there was a big change between the two matches?

ANDRE AGASSI: Good decision on his part (laughter). But, you know, while I certainly appreciate that respect, a lot of times that respect brings out another level in these players. In Wimbledon, I think it was a question of fundamentals. The ball stays a lot lower on that surface. I think he likes the ball up. He gets more of an opportunity to use his legs and to hit his forehand. His second serve was jumping, so it wasn't easy just to pounce on his second serve, especially in the wind. I think the conditions, I was expecting it to be a lot more difficult today. I knew he had felt my game and knew that he would have to play a certain standard. Any time somebody goes out really clear on what it is they're going to do, they're that much more difficult to beat.

Q.Who would be more tired, you or him for the fifth set?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's hard to say. I don't know what he's feeling like.

Q.How about you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I would have hung in there a little bit longer.

Q.You're characterized in the press pretty much these days as this sort of generous philanthropist, a gracious winner, yet not such a good loser, some would even say a lousy loser. Would you agree with that characterization these days or do you think that's unfair?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I definitely don't like losing. I mean, I can say that. There's a competitive side to me. It's not just losing; it's how you go about it. I can be disappointed with myself on two levels: whether it's my concentration, my game; or whether it's a sense of how I conducted myself. I tend to be pretty hard on myself. My reaction to my losses are much more in the category of me being difficult on myself than it is some kind of outward - what word am I looking for? I internalize a lot of it. Sometimes it takes me a while to get over those disappointments.

Q.Is it possible you'll pay a price for this match down the road because it was so long and so physical, or do you think there are benefits to come out of this?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think there are a lot of benefits. Certainly, you don't want to tax yourself in any match by any means. You have to make sure when you are expending the energy, it's at the right time and for the right reasons. The next match is certainly going to be a difficult one. I think they might even still be out there playing. You know, it will be an opportunity for me to step it up, try to get through the next one.

Q.As the long-time favorite, you're used to the crowd rooting for the underdog. Are you okay with that? Do you identify with that at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I feel a lot of support in so many places that it's easy for me to feel generous with the crowd kind of sharing that support with my opponent. I prefer them to be into it more than I prefer it to necessarily be for me. There's no question it helps when they're pulling for you. But I think the worst thing would be for nobody to really care, period, to be indifferent.

Q.A long, hard day for you. Also it was the first day of school back in Las Vegas. I don't know if you can have a lesson at this point in your career. In those terms, was there a lesson for you today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, it was definitely on my mind. It's been a long project in the making. To see the kids actually pull into school today would have been a great thing to be there and be a part of firsthand. Like I was saying earlier, I think there's something quite right about while that school opens, I'm out here at the US Open working hard out there on the court. The tennis has given me the opportunity to do so many things. You know, I've been thinking about school all day. Even in the match, you know, you think about things that give you focus, determination and inspiration. These children have an opportunity for an education that they never would have been able to have had it not been for the school. It's definitely something that was helping me today.

Q.What thoughts came to mind specifically during the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I think it's twofold. I think it's putting things in perspective, first of all, that there's no battle out there on the court more tougher than not having opportunities in life. I think the work that's going to be required of these children and how, through that work, they will learn to plan and take care of their future, along with impacting others, is inspirational. It's one moment at a time, you know, one day at a time. It's all kind of like a little microcosm of life, being out there on the tennis court.

Q.You hear that Massu idolized you. The Bryan brothers earlier in the week were talking about that. Is there an idea, "Gosh, I must be old, I'm playing these kids that idolized me"?

ANDRE AGASSI: To me it's the greatest compliment you can have, a peer looking up to you, respecting you, expressing that in any number of ways. But with that being said, like I said earlier, I think respect brings out a level of competition in these guys that I know I felt when I was coming on the scene. I don't really look at it as age. I look at it as game, what somebody's weapons are, what it is I have to deal with, what it is I'm trying to do. So you don't think much about that when you're out there. You just hope that you do what it is you're planning on doing.

Q.Delgado did win the match. Any thoughts on the next one?

ANDRE AGASSI: He's been struggling for a while with I guess injuries and so forth. It's nice to see him playing well. You know, he's similar to the guy I played today, Massu, in the sense that he has a real sneaky, big first serve, good kick on the second, as well as a big forehand he likes to hit when he has time. You know, I had a match with him in the semis of Indianapolis. You know, I'll have my work cut out for me. I'll have to step it up.

Q.Jan-Michael went down with what looked like a pretty serious injury just a little while ago. He's probably questionable for Winston-Salem. What extraordinary changes in the Davis Cup scene would have to happen to have you back out there to play Davis Cup?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, at this stage of my career, I look at it like these younger ones need that opportunity to play. Really, I can't constantly go back and forth. Like I've said for a while now, that part of my career is over with.

Q.Was the wind out there predictable on one side or the other?

ANDRE AGASSI: It was predictable in the sense it was one-sided. It did start dying down late in the match, then it would occasionally pick up for a brief second. Over the course of 3 hours and 20 minutes, conditions can change quite considerably. You have to be sensitive to that, else you continue a way of hitting the ball that's going to leave your opponent in a pretty good position if you don't make the adjustment.

Q.Cause you to get more cautious with your groundstrokes?

ANDRE AGASSI: Margin for error is key in the wind. Usually the person making the least amount of unforced errors wins the match. I would guess that could be true under any circumstances. But I think wind, it's very important to buy margin for error. I feel like I have the game that can play with spin or I can flatten it out. I was trying to pick my moment when I got a little more risky.

Q.When you find yourself in a jam like you did in the second set, what resource do you draw upon first?

ANDRE AGASSI: Fundamentals. "What am I trying to do out here? What's been my game plan? Am I sticking with it? Do I need to make an adjustment?" Ultimately, it boils down to execution. You want to execute whatever it is you're focused on doing. You know, the last thing you want to do is think yourself into paralysis. You try to keep it as simple as possible: move your feet, watch the ball, execute your game plan.

Q.Did you think you have to outwork him at that stage?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, work is a given when you're out there. You don't win without the work. If you do, it only develops a habit that will be your downfall in a matter of days.

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