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Écrit par Jerome   

2002 NASDAQ-100 OPEN

March 27, 2002

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

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: First question for Andre, please.


Q. Does Tiffany make those ice bracelets?

ANDRE AGASSI: (Smiling).

Q. You think you'll be sleeping and thinking about slice backhands all night?

ANDRE AGASSI: He hit a lot of them, huh? You know, that's what makes him a tough player, because he's always changing the rhythm of the point. He's never coming at you with one speed. He'll slice a backhand then all of a sudden he'll sneak around one and really give a lot of pep to his forehand. He constantly has you having to adjust. You know, I managed to close it out there. But it was hard-fought all the way.

Q. Seemed like he was trying to tempt you into taking the big shot today and hoping that he would almost win this thing by attrition?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I'm not quite sure exactly what he was thinking. I know he came out there playing well. He served well and he was putting a lot of heat on his forehand. You know, I just managed to play some of the big points a little bit better. I got that break in the first set, I stepped it up, got a few returns in the court, hit a few balls all of a sudden pretty big, then next thing you know I was serving for the set. That always helps your cause. Then he never quite got in front there in the second. After I got the break, it was, he broke back. But it was still in the thick of things. And just managed to get a little fortunate there in that last game to come back and hold. Hit a few good serves finally. He was getting a lot of returns back in the court. I wasn't getting any free points there for a few games. 15-40 I made a few good first serves.

Q. That's what keeps the game interesting to us. You lose your serve once in the entire tournament, twice successively?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's hard to step up to the service line feeling like you should hold. That's what makes you hold. You take it seriously. You treat your serve as if it's a precious thing. "I got to take care of it. I got to hold. I got to find a way to hold here." You're about to close out a guy who's a real good player, and you rush a little bit and that's all it takes.

Q. You think it was fair to call him for a time violation at that stage of a match when things were going along seemingly fine?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose if the time was violated, yeah. I mean, it's to me, time violations are no different than foot-faults. You just, you can't do it. It's part of the game. It doesn't make sense to me how you can get a time violation and then have the umpire allow you to continue for another minute. It's like that's the whole part of the violation is play, you know. But, you know, but it happens. Sometimes you can lose track of time. Other times you're working it the whole match and you cross that line, and that's the umpire's job, is to keep the pace of the game moving so that it's not, you know, so that somebody's not using a lot of time to kind of get their wind back. It's all part of what it takes out there.

Q. Andre, the only sets you've lost this year have been in tiebreakers. Is that one of those fluky things, when it goes into streaks like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I guess tiebreakers do. Again, I think my tiebreak record this year had a lot more to do with not so many matches, in five months. Then you get to an end of a set, you know it's a crucial situation. You're not quite playing those big points the way you normally would like. And so I think with matches, those get better. By the end of the year you tend to even it out somewhere, up a few, down a few.

Q. Did that even enter your mind, when he had a couple break points?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I just try to remind myself that while he's trying to get to a third, I'm prepared for it if we go there. You want to just keep the pressure on. Make somebody play great throughout the whole match to beat you. Last thing you want to do is play great for an hour and a half, play a bad ten minutes, and then throw it away.

Q. How much did you want to avoid that third set, though, in terms of conserving energy here late in the tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, with the day off tomorrow, it's less of an issue. I mean, I think some of these tournaments, Masters Series tournaments, are difficult to win because it is back-to-back-to-back. You have to play five, sometimes six matches in a row. Then, I think it becomes more of an issue. With tomorrow being off, it was just a function of finding a way to win a match today.

Q. Serena seems to have a hard time beating Venus, the older sibling. Do you remember when you had a hard time psychologically beating Phil?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sure, it is. It's real tough. I can't even imagine what it is to go through as a sibling stepping out on the court competing against each other. You know, I mean, I don't know how I would do it if I was either one of them or if I was their parents. It's not an easy situation. You try to keep it in perspective, and I guess go out there and just give it a good go and leave it behind. But somehow, somehow you only can imagine it's not quite as easy as that.

Q. How old were you when you kind of had the edge?

ANDRE AGASSI: Nine (smiling). No, I'm kidding (laughter).

It was -- I was probably somewhere around 14.

Q. Andre, you haven't played Marcelo Rios for a couple years now. If he ends up being the next opponent, your thoughts on that match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I look forward to it. This is where we played in the finals, and certainly I'll have strong memories of that. He seems like he's playing a lot better now, which is good. He certainly has a lot of talent. I feel ready. I am ready. I'll go out there and give it my best shot, you know. I mean, I really don't know what to expect anymore. I'm kind of taking everything one at a time, and I feel pretty good right now.

Q. What about Chela?

ANDRE AGASSI: What do I know about him? We played this year in Scottsdale, so I feel like I got a, you know, good two hours and 40 minute insight into his game. He's a good player. He's been playing incredibly well.

Q. He doesn't have a high percentage of first serves. Yet he continues to win matches. Why?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, again, it's not about how big you serve, it's about how you hold serve. The guy's a good game. The guy's very deceptive with the amount of court he covers when he's out there. He has a big forehand. He takes his chances on his first serve because most of the time he can afford to because he's pretty good at defending his second. So that's an important part of it. If you can get away with your second serves, then it allows you to improve your first.

Q. Did you find it difficult to jump on his second serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. No. I mean, I felt like if he was hitting a second serve, I was going to have the advantage and the point. But it was about keeping the advantage and the point because he moves well and he gets good length on his shots. If he's set to hit a forehand, it's pretty big.

Q. How would you rate Richard Krajicek's place in tennis history?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, you know... I can't say that it's really my place at all to assess anybody's place in history. I'll leave that to the tennis fans. I can speak of what it was like playing him, and it was absolutely misery. He was... One of the toughest guys to play against. Gave you no rhythm at all. He was 6'5" and played like he was about 6'10". He had one of the most fluid serves the game could ever see and he could still generate 140 miles an hour on it. He moved forward better than anybody that I've seen play the game. It was very rare he wasn't hitting a volley inside the service line. And when you serve the ball 130 miles an hour and you can volley inside the service line, you're pretty darn good at covering the court. So, you know... Is he retired now? Is that it for him?

Q. Not yet. He's still trying to make a comeback.


Q. Misery?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he was very uncomfortable to play. You felt uncomfortable even thinking about him (laughter).

Q. Are you looking at playing all three Masters Series in Europe, the clay courts?

ANDRE AGASSI: Probably not. Probably not. I'm going to assess it as I go along, but for me, the most important thing in the clay season is to make sure that I'm finding my game but not leaving my best stuff in anywhere but Paris.

Q. And if you miss one, it's likely to be Monte-Carlo?


Q. You are playing Houston though, right?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes. I don't want to go a horribly long period of time without playing matches, but to get over there and the grind on the red dirt and heavy conditions, to me it's not ideal preparation for Paris. It's too early. And the conditions are considerably different.

Q. Is it tougher to travel with a family in tow? Babies are this big and have about that much worth of stuff.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah. Sure it is. It's a lot tougher. A lot tougher.

Q. Coming along on your volleying are you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm trying to be - not necessarily come in more, but be more selective on when I do, and trying to learn a few things as I'm up there. I'm trying to get more comfortable.

Q. You open up the court.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. It's a nice way to finish off a lot of points. The opportunity does present itself quite frequently with the style of play that I play. And if I just choose my moments correctly, I think I'm doing myself a big service.

Q. Did you have a chance to look at Rios at all in the last two weeks?


Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: No. No, I haven't actually. But seems like he's --.

Q. Starting to look like the old Rios.


Q. Uncomfortable thought maybe?

ANDRE AGASSI: What is that?

Q. Maybe that's an uncomfortable thought for a lot of players.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's a good player. He has good -- he strikes the ball as well as anybody. A lefty that can play well off the ground is always -- always forces you to make adjustments. He's a good player.

Q. Can I just ask you to comment on Darren Cahill's award? He won an award in Australia as International Coach of the Year.

ANDRE AGASSI: Is that what it was? Wow! That's a big compliment. I certainly can see why. He not only did a lot with Lleyton over the years, but developed him into a great player. But I've had now firsthand experience on just how important it is to him to really understand the game and to coach. I think he does a great job and is well worthy of it.

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