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Écrit par Jerome   

2002 NASDAQ-100 OPEN

March 29, 2002

6-7, 6-4 (ret.)

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Are you feeling fortunate, Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: Fortunate? I don't know exactly how you mean that. I mean, I think you're always fortunate when you can wake up in the morning.

Q. The guy was playing really well. Who knows what would have happened in the third set today.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well... We don't know what would have happened, do we? It's very frustrating.

Q. You're an all-time champion. In a match like that, in a match like that does an element of discouragement come into play?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, sure it's frustrating. It's very frustrating. But you have a simple choice to make: What are you going to do? Are you going to allow the frustration get the better of you or are you going to keep working and know you're getting your opportunities? If you kind of change the perspective and you feel like you're getting a lot of chances, which is a good thing, but it's easy to cross that line and to get a little discouraged. I just kept plugging away and hoping my chance would come. I mean, it got to a point when I was at breakpoint, I'd hit the return and I was almost saying, "Good shot," before he even hit the ball. The set point there, I hit the good return, and it left his racquet. I assumed it was going to be on the line. I just was seeing it so much out there. But, yeah, yeah. It's very frustrating.

Q. Would you in an earlier stage of your career chucked it in?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm sure I would have -- I'm sure there's been some times that I wouldn't have seen through a match like that. Doesn't mean I'm a bad person (laughter).

Q. Did he fool you a lot?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, he's a very talented player. He has an incredibly deceptive serve. He can hit all corners with it. Especially for his size, it's a phenomenal serve. He has great hand speed on his forehand, and he can take the backhand early and hit it with good direction. So, you know, both of us are looking to control the point and both of us are trying to get the other one on their heels. He hit his fair share of licks out there. But, you know, I just -- you can't run out the clock. You got to finish it off. Today was one of those days that I just hung in there long enough.

Q. Were you surprised he packed it in? I mean, to the observer it didn't look like he was -- had anything happening.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I was definitely surprised. You know, you're in the middle of a battle out there. It's a hard-fought match. The last thing you're expecting is for the match to come to some kind of an abrupt end. I was very, very surprised.

Q. Did he say why?

ANDRE AGASSI: Specifically, I think it was about his knee. But, you know, I don't know what he was feeling. No.

Q. Hard to find patterns to get into on the court?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's about controlling the point and it's hard to control it against him because he hits the ball so well and takes it early. He hits his forehand both directions, he hits his backhand both directions. That's a quality player there. He can take it early, work his serve. He's going to make you play well. He's going to make me hit a lot of good shots to win the point. At this stage you don't expect to do anything less. So I had a lot of chances. Felt like I could have made it a lot easier on myself out there had I gotten a little fortune or stepped it up a little bit at the right time. But the big points he played incredibly well and kept himself in the lead until the very end.

Q. Is this a good type of player to play to prepare yourself for Lleyton on Sunday?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, Lleyton still has to win (laughter).

Q. That's true. But if Lleyton wins, does this prepare you for someone like him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Any good semis match prepares you for anybody you're playing. To be honest, every match requires the subtleties are different. He has different weapons than Lleyton has and, you know, I'll have to go out there with respect for whoever it is I'm playing.

Q. Did Rios give you any indication he was hurting out there physically?

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't notice anything. I didn't know if -- anything I might have noticed at that stage, I would have attributed it to fatigue or just was thinking that. I mean, the tape that he was getting on the changeovers I thought was just a function of sweating a lot and needing to retape it. He's had it for apparently for a while, and, you know, I've seen him around playing with the bandage. So I wasn't ready for him to not be fit to go.

Q. What did Rios exactly say to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Said something about his knee. You know, "My knee hurts," something. I wasn't hearing anything at that point.

Q. You went out with a fight. You came back in the second match, the second set and the momentum swung in your way. As a player, do you just say, "I'll take the victory and let's move on," or do you focus on this match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, you have no choice. I was ready to go. I mean, I felt like the third would have been a good contest, you know. But I can only control the things I can control. And so you just try to, you know, take the good. I mean, you know... Yeah, you just try to take it -- take the good out of the match. I was playing pretty well and doing what I needed to do. Felt like I was gonna get in control of things in the third. I felt positive. But we never got to play it, so it's just disappointing, if anything.

Q. Linesmen do a satisfactory job in this match?

ANDRE AGASSI: The linesmen?

Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I would say so. I mean, I think there's a lot of close calls. I was pleased to not see many overrules or any overrules. But, yeah, I think so. I think they did a relatively good job. It's never going to be perfect.

Q. You've won one other event five times. Can you just talk about what an accomplishment that is.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I guess so. I mean, it's -- I just love playing here. I love playing as many matches as possible here. When I can be here for the length of the tournament and be in the biggest match, it's, you know, memories I'll take with me for a lifetime. So it's, you know, it's one thing to win a smaller tournament a few times. But when you start winning tournaments of this stature, it really makes you feel good. There's been a long span in between my first victory and my last. That also makes me feel good.

Q. Andre, did I understand, you take what you give, but you're disappointed not to play the third set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sure. That's what we're out there for, you know? I mean, you're out there to -- you're out there to finish it, you know, to try to win. So it's disappointing. It's disappointing for the fans. Nobody wins in a situation like that.

Q. How big was the frustration to lose the first set after you have so many opportunities?

ANDRE AGASSI: Very frustrating. But, again, I was trying to view it as a function of opportunity. I had a lot of opportunities. So I felt like if I just stayed with it, eventually I would be able to take my opportunity. Hard to keep that perspective, but I was doing it.

Q. No, because what you said now, that you wished to play a third set, is it because all together, perhaps you are not happy with your performance?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. I don't think it was a question of that. I mean, I wish I would have stepped up a little bit more in some of the crucial points but a lot had to do with the way he came up with the right shots at the right time and he played aggressive on those. I wanted to play the third because the third was there to be played. I mean... You would have to explain to me why you wouldn't want to play the third. It was a hard-fought match. And there was a lot of tennis still left.

Q. Strong forehand today. What do you think of your backhand?


Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I felt good about it. I felt good about it. What did you think of it (laughter)?

Q. I wanted to see some more winners.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, it's not easy against a style like his because he jerks the ball around the court and he can get it out of your strike zone pretty effortlessly so you have to make sure you're not choosing the wrong shot to be aggressive on. Because that's when you can start having a lot of errors bleed into your game.

Q. Besides the fact you lost your first set of the tournament, was he the toughest opponent you had so far? Has it been an easy tournament overall?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, none of it's easy. If it seems easy, it's only because I'm working my butt off to make it seem that way. It's all difficult. Yeah, it was certainly the toughest match I've played so far. Every day is a new one. If we played again tomorrow, it might be way different.

Q. If you end up getting Roger on Sunday, can you talk about the challenges his game presents?

ANDRE AGASSI: You've got two incredibly talented players in the semis over there, young and explosive in their own ways. Roger has a powerful game, some of the best hand speed on the tour, some of the best hands as far as feel for the ball. Moves well, plays well from the back of the court, knows how to put pressure on you. There's a lot of things he does well. He certainly has a lot to look forward in his career, so it will be a challenge.

Q. You saw this guy about four years ago when he was probably at his best. Can you compare or contrast his game today, four years later, after a couple surgeries?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, hard to because, you know, I mean I'm a different player than I was four years ago. You know, that wasn't, by any means, the best stage of my career. And, you know, all he had to really do was hit one good ball against me and I think I was a little bit on my heels, wasn't moving as well. You know, it's a different matchup now. So, I only can really assess it based on today. But I can only believe that surgery doesn't help.

Q. What is it about tiebreakers?

ANDRE AGASSI: Don't get me thinking about that, Bud (laughter). It's gonna get in my kitchen.

Q. Have you seen a difference since September, you know, and walking around the event, Rios had a lot of support. You can hear them in the stadium. All of a sudden there was a ground swell throughout the stadium cheering USA. Does that give you a sense of encouragement, pump you up during the match? Do you hear that?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's a great feeling. It's a great feeling to see that kind of enthusiasm towards the game. I always expect to hear the South Americans when you play one. Because it's -- they love the game. They love the, you know, the -- they have a lot of national pride. And coming out here today, I was expecting that, and when I hear USA being chanted, it makes me feel proud. It makes me glad I'm out there.

Q. The resurgence that the South Americans have had here, a lot of people have been talking about it. Have you seen that coming in the last six months, a year, or is it something that's been more focused here in Miami?

ANDRE AGASSI: Of the South Americans?

Q. Yes, the players.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, we had Guga No. 1 in the world, we've had Rios No. 1 in the world. I mean two No. 1s in the world from South America, you'd have to go back a long ways to find that, and they're only a few years apart. Plus there's a good, strong field of Argentinians now that are making their self seen out there on the tour and winning a lot of matches. So, yeah, it's gotten a lot stronger.

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