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Écrit par Jerome   

2002 NASDAQ-100 OPEN

March 22, 2002

A. AGASSI/G. Rusedski
6-3, 6-1

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: First question for Andre, please.

Q. Andre, the conditions were pretty foul, but your performance was pretty ruthless, wasn't it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I felt real good about the way I was hitting the ball and moving and the conditions. You know, the good news with a situation like today, it's not comfortable for anyone, but two guys have to face it. You just try to deal with it a little better than your opponent. I did that today. I felt like I was seeing the ball real well and despite the windy conditions hitting it pretty clean. I feel good. I'm moving well. It was a very dangerous match for me today.

Q. You've obviously had full advantage of that week's rest, presumably?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah, I didn't really have much choice. A number of months with no tennis, ten matches in twelve days, I was pretty beat up. And, you know, most of it, it was understandable. I didn't feel like anything was really wrong, as much as just a little fatigued in one particular muscle. So I needed just to rest and get ready so that I'm healthy here. Because the matches have helped me.

Q. Having played all those matches in such a short space, isn't there mental fatigue as well? Is it difficult to get yourself up for another tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think in most cases the body breaks before the mind these days. So, you know, I need to make sure that I keep my body healthy. I think that if, you know, if I'm a little fatigued or extra stiff or I'm feeling more 32 one day than any other day, I just kind of -- it's more to fight against mentally. But at this stage, I'm very eager, so I'm not really -- and I haven't played a whole lot of tennis in the last half a year. The overall wear and tear on the mind has been relatively minimal.

Q. In terms of his dimensions, Greg is the kind of guy who a lot of people a couple years ago were saying he's going to take over the game - a lot of power, sort of in a mold of a Safin, little bit of Pete there. Are you surprised that small guys continue to do as well as they do? Lleyton, Grosjean.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. If you looked at the Top 10 last year, how many guys were baseliners? Once you got somebody at the baseline, I mean, speed is a huge factor in this game. If you can cover the court and make somebody hit that extra ball or hit the ball well enough or early enough or big enough to control the point, you know, you do have a shot. It does take more than one weapon. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. You have to learn to understand what those are and respect them. But, I mean, I am surprised to see somebody under six feet tall finish No. 1 in the world. I think that's a hard thing to do these days because it's match after match. You're taking a pounding week after week.

Q. Physically more than mentally? Technically?

ANDRE AGASSI: Physically. I think, yeah, technically, I think somebody, you know, small and quick can be the best in any given time frame. To do it over the course of the year requires a lot more wear and tear, is harder. To do it over the course of a career is even harder than that. I'm not surprised that small guys do well out there. It's a tough weapon. You don't get to play against it too often. When you play someone that's small and fast, it presents whole other scenarios. You know, you have alley ways out there that look so big, and the court gets -- the court gets reduced really quickly. It's a whole different pace. It presents a whole different obstacle.

Q. How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as a pretty big guy, a smaller guy, generally speaking?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, when matches go like tonight, I'm growing like 6'5" by the end of the match. I think it's pretty rare I play somebody shorter than me. I think that maybe happens 15, 20 percent of the time. Seems like everybody I play is a little bit bigger. Occasionally, I run into a smaller guy that's faster. So it's not too often, though. I'd put myself on the smaller side.

Q. You said way back at the end of last year, before you got injured going into Australia, that you were going to give yourself a full commitment this year; you're really keen to do well, etc. how big a setback was not being able to play in Australia? What did you do in terms of tennis-wise in the time that the Australian Open was on?

ANDRE AGASSI: I was following it. It was a big setback. It was the way I was looking to get into my year. Mentally - I think it was tougher psychologically than the reality of missing the first big tournament. It's still a long year, there's still time. But it was tough for me to miss that. You know, I went a good six weeks without hitting a ball, just to give it a rest. I had it in the splint for ten days, I worked heavy antiinflammatories, treatments, took care of it. Solely rehabilitated it. Then I had about eight days of hitting the ball before going to San Jose. Literally - eight days. But my game felt good. My wheels were good. I was training the whole time. Jumping out of my shoes, jumping out of my skin getting ready to play, but not being able to. Very frustrating. Watched the tournament with great interest.

Q. I want to know, with the experience you have, do you consider it absolutely necessary to work with a coach? I'm asking you because some guys like Kafelnikov and Rios are alone and trying to get back to the top level on their own. Is it possible?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose anything's possible, you know, when you take account the human spirit. I mean, for me, what makes me my best is not just a certain work ethic, but also bouncing a lot of ideas off somebody that I have respect for in relation to the game of tennis. I need to learn more about my game. I need to learn more about other players' game. I need to learn more about the game of tennis. I don't think you ever really stop learning. I think Darren has been a great addition to my -- to where I am right now. He's helped me to get a lot more comfortable with my game with lack of playing than I ever could have hoped for. And there's still a lot more to tap into and a lot more for us to work on and to implement. I mean, everything that we try to work on now, I mean, we don't have a real expectation for it to come around for a while. It takes a while before things start translating into matches. But I do believe I have a lot to learn. And that's speaking for myself.

Q. Last week, you said that you watched Darren from afar and were impressed with what he did in his work ethic and all that. When did you actually decide you wanted to approach him and ask him?

ANDRE AGASSI: The day Brad and I separated - literally. I mean, I literally came home, somewhat in shock, but just it felt weird to kind of go, "Well, what am I going to do now?" I had to ask that question with a sense of urgency. You know, I quickly ran through those that came to my mind and was left pretty clear on the direction I wanted to go. So I made that decision straightaway.

Q. I assume this is just precautionary (indicating the ice on his wrist)?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, just keeping it in -- just after any trauma, I just want to -- I'll probably be icing it for the rest of my life. But it's a good thing. I'm keeping it at bay.

Q. Andre, Pete Sampras is getting involved with the Tennis Channel. What's your take on that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it's good. I think it's good for the game to have a tennis channel. I think it will help the interest of the game and certainly offer a lot to those who love the game of tennis. And I think it's great to have somebody such as Pete, you know, just a great champion, be involved and be willing to help the future of tennis. It's given us a lot.

Q. Would you like to get personally involved? Can you see that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I could. I could see that happening.

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