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Écrit par Jerome   


September 3, 2001

A. AGASSI/R. Federer
6-1, 6-2, 6-4

An interview with:


MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Were you surprised the way Roger played this summer at Wimbledon against Pete?

ANDRE AGASSI: Surprised?

Q. Surprised by it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, you know, you don't really assess the difficulty, so to speak, of a match until it's all over with. I mean, I had a lot of respect for his game going out there. I had a lot of respect for how I felt like he still could have turned it around late in that third set. But closing out the way it did, I felt great about really every part of my game. Not only did I have to play that well today, but I had to get a little lucky. He had me Love-40 twice, Love-30. He had his chances to get his teeth into the match. Once that happens, it's a different ballgame. So I felt great about the way it turned out, certainly.

Q. As you said, you saved a couple of breaks, down Love-40 twice. You broke him three times at Love. Are you getting better as the tournament goes on? Was this your best match so far?

ANDRE AGASSI: No question about it. It was like third gear, then fifth gear. Today just absolutely stepped it up in every department, and it was there, you know. And you need it to happen that way sometimes.

Q. When you step it up, it's really clicking, what does that feel like?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it just was coming off my racquet so solid. Every time he hit a big serve and missed it, you know, I felt like I was still on it. Then I would look at the speed gun and realize he was hitting it with some pep. It's just that I was seeing the ball that well. You feel like it's coming off your racquet solid, you feel like you have time to get to the ball, you feel like you can get to the ball. You're not letting anything affect your focus or concentration. It's a pretty tight package today.

Q. From the fans' point of view, the next round is a can't lose: either Pete or Patrick Rafter. You have built up rivalries with both. Do these rivalries feel different in any way to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Between the two?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, the rivalry, as far as I'm concerned, is all about inside the lines. You know, their games are similar. In one sense, they certainly like to come forward, but different styles of play really. How I match up with them is also different. You know, they're two entirely different matches. Whoever wins, I prepare and have my game plan as different for each one.

Q. The emotional part of you, does it approach these matches in different ways, Pete and Pat, different guys?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, if it's possible for a player to have a "can't lose," it would be a match like that against either one of these guys. I mean, you go out there, you give it all you've got. If you win, you've done something pretty incredible by beating one of the game's best. If you lose, you know, you were part of something, part of a challenge and opportunity that you know you're not going to get very often. While it's a "can't lose" for the fans, I really believe when you talk about guys that have been on the tour as long as me, Pat and Pete, it's can't lose for us, as well. It's just a great, great night for tennis.

Q. You say they're two different types of players. We could see this is serve and volley players. How exciting is it for you to play this type of player?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I enjoy it because I feel like the serve and volley players, against my style of play, allow the fans to see so many different parts of the game. You know, the game can be played so many different ways. I just think the match-up lends for a lot of excitement, a lot of great shots.

Q. When is the first time you played Pete?

ANDRE AGASSI: 12 and unders maybe, something like that.

Q. Do you remember any specifics about the first time?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Just that I was a lot taller than he was. That was it.

Q. You're known for your candid assessments on the game. There's a women's tennis player who retired, 22 Slams, won each four times, won the Grand Slam in '88. There was an article in a prominent national sports magazine that, of all people in tennis, she was the most overrated. Can you comment on that assessment?

ANDRE AGASSI: I guess it would be hard for me to say anything that would sound too objective (smiling).

Q. We know that.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'll tell you, the reason why I will speak to that is because I have actually answered that and addressed that before I had the privilege of spending my life with her. You know, there are four surfaces. To dominate on each one I think puts one in a position to argue the greatest of all time. She did that. I have spoken to that years ago. I mean, I think Martina was incredible, what she did on grass, for example, or Chrissy, how she dominated some of the slower surfaces. But to dominate on all of them is quite a feat, not easy to do. I think those things speak for themselves.

Q. Their argument was it was a soft field because of Monica. Any thoughts on that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm sure it made a few victories. I mean, it was quite a tragedy what happened with Monica. You know, just wasn't good for the game. Certainly it would have been tougher with Monica, no question.

Q. What does it mean to have the crowd support you the way they do? You're introduced, they roar. What does that mean to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's great to get such a level of support and enthusiasm. You know, I mean, for me, it's what makes me want to get out there and play. If the crowd was indifferent, I think I would be. Especially here in New York, so many memories - good and bad - difficult and overwhelming. To come back here for 16 years, still feel that connection, it's a wonderful thing.

Q. They mention the accomplishments you had on the court but also what you've done off the court. The crowd buys into that, generates a lot of excitement.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, to be quite honest, the players have the worst position to hear out of anybody in that stadium when you're down there.

Q. It was pretty eloquent.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I certainly take pride in all the accomplishments I've managed to have, and probably more so the ones off the court. I think my foundation has been something very close to my heart, something that will live a lot longer than my career will, a lot longer than I will. So it means a lot to get recognition for that. But hopefully more than just getting recognition for it, it inspires people to ask how they can make a difference and to get involved in their own way.

Q. If it is Pete in your next match, how much will the history between the two of you be a factor in the preparation and in your mind when you play him, or is it just the most recent matches that might affect your thought process?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's all about what you have to deal with today. I mean, I think in just looking towards the match, from a fan's perspective, and I do, I think about playing Pete from just a fan of tennis, it's a wonderful opportunity to play such a high-quality level of tennis. When I look at it like that, I see a lot of history. But when I actually prepare for it, no, I'm thinking about the game, I'm thinking about the X's and O's, what I need to do. When it's all said and done, I probably take in more than that.

Q. Having played him most recently this summer, your most recent matches, what's most striking about the match-ups lately?

ANDRE AGASSI: That I've actually won them (smiling). No, you know, last time we played, I felt like I played really well. You know, it had that energy for me of kind of me feeling like I needed to raise my level. Got down a break in the first set. I felt like I stepped it up from there. You know, Pete always makes you feel that way. The difference is, not all the time you can just turn it on against him. A lot of times you have no say-so. You know, my memories are pretty much the same. You know, I'm pretty focused on what I've seen over the years, trying hard to execute what I'm trying to do, knowing that he's trying to stop that.

Q. Do you recall the last time you came out of a Grand Slam match with a clean slate on your serve, no breaks, against an opponent of this quality?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know what you would be basing that on. His ranking? Wimbledon, I did it the first couple matches. '99 in the finals against Todd Martin, I did that. So it's happened a few times. It's rare.

Q. You talked about clicking today. Could you talk about when it all comes together, is it a matter of getting out of bed, the match-up, the warm-up?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, you have to feel -- like I was saying afterwards in the TV interview, Roger should take it as a big compliment that I played so well today. It takes that kind of respect for somebody's weapons and somebody's abilities that force you to execute everything without second-guessing it. A lot of times when people cut you slack out there or give you room, you choose the lower end of the quality of shot because you don't want to miss, and you know you can get away with it. But today was a question of knowing I had to execute a certain standard of shot, and there was no hesitation in any of my game. That, i think, comes from the quality of opponent, as well.

Q. Why do you think you and Brad have been working so well together over the years? What has he done?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he's taught me how to think for myself out there. I think he's one of the guys that have done more with his game than possibly anybody. What he got out of his game was really a tribute to his ability to think and compete. So I think he's given me that, or I've learned that from him.

Q. You talked about having good and bad memories here. Last year you lost in the second round. How happy are you to be alive in the second week, to have won this match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, this is what it all boils down to. It all boils down to giving yourself a shot at winning these titles. This is the last one of the year. It's just an opportunity to make a year incredible and have something you'll always keep with you the rest of your life. You know, it's just a thrill. I mean, it all feels like icing on the cake to me these days, but very, very sweet.

Q. How surprised are you that Pete has gone through a draught? What do you think the reason may be that he struggled to win a tournament since last year at Wimbledon?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I just don't think you can win every match all the time. You can't be No. 1 in the world every year. I think things change. I think priorities and focuses and eagerness, sometimes the body, sometimes the mind, sometimes the heart. I'm not inside of him. I can only attest to what's required to be the best in this game. And Pete can attest to that, too. But his particular reasons and how they're manifesting themselves in the court, you know, it varies. I think some days I've seen him not serve as well, other days not move as well. But I've also seen him put it together.

Q. The players win, the fan wins, the public wins when you guys can come in here feeling fairly fresh from spacing your schedule out so you don't play four weeks in a row, play every Masters Series event that the ATP "requires" you to play. Is the rule unrealistic and should the player wink at the rule and play whatever tournaments they wish to come in here fresh?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's an individual sport. Everybody has to kind of make the decision as to what prepares them the best. You know, I don't like to put myself in a position where I just speak about the problems of the game without having some kind of solution. But the easy answer is, it is a lot of tennis, and it's not always easy to be at your best nine times a year, plus the Grand Slams. So you do have to pick your moments. How it should change or how it could change that would make more sense for the overall sport is difficult to say because you're talking about a hundred different individuals. I think at the end of the day, everybody needs to kind of look out for what's going to help them address their goals. For me it's to be ready for the big ones. At this stage I have the luxury of maybe taking a pass on playing some of the other tournaments without the cost being such a factor, the consequences being such a factor. So I think it is tough. I think it gets tougher and tougher.

Q. Is there a subtlety here of a respect level for Federer that doesn't exist -- I know you regard every opponent as important - if you lose you're out - but a level with Federer, you know, you're weary, that you don't have with a Massu or Delgado?

ANDRE AGASSI: Everybody has their strengths. The question is how somebody's strengths match into yours. I don't worry as much when somebody gives me a look at the point because I have enough weapons to at any point of the match kind of step it up. But when you have somebody at the other end that plays a style of game that takes it to you, that can step it up and snap the ball off both wings or all of a sudden go through a set and a half of tennis or an hour of tennis without, you know, dropping more than a point a game on his serve, or somebody that can attack the net, all these things Federer does really well. He moves well, he volleys well, he snaps the ball off both wings and can get hot with his serve. You know, those are all things I consider problems from the other side of the net. So there is an urgency to how you execute your shots.

Q. There is going to be an exhibition between McEnroe and Becker next Saturday. You hit with McEnroe, Boris played doubles in Cincy.

ANDRE AGASSI: I can only assess it from the standpoint if they both played their best tennis. Neither one is going to play their best tennis (laughter).

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