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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

TENNIS MASTERS SERIES – ROMA
ROME, ITALY

May 10, 2002

A. AGASSI/A. Costa
6-2, 6-2

An Interview With:

ANDRE AGASSI

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Would you say this is the best you've played on clay since winning in Paris in '99?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I felt great today. Certainly the standard of tennis I had to play was pretty high. And to go out there and to meet that standard and then some was -- just felt like a great effort. I couldn't be more pleased with the way things feel and how everything's progressing.

Q. Did you expect a harder match today?

ANDRE AGASSI: You always expect them to be tough - always - especially a matchup like this on this surface.

Q. Didn't expect 6-2, 6-2?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, certainly not. Certainly didn't. I mean, I knew I'd have a little edge to start the match because he has two beautiful twin girls, and that means twice as little sleep, so...(Laughter). But for it to go that well was as much a surprise to me as it was to anybody.

Q. I didn't see you play yesterday. A friend asked me last night at dinner, said, "Looked like Agassi had it in hand all the time. Just playing half speed, but he could beat the guy. Is that true?" I said, "I'll ask him."

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I have speed as far as maybe pace of shots and shot selection, because I think it's one thing you have to do here on the clay. You have to be a little more patient and you can't just hit it big and flat. So I was definitely a lot more patient. But it's hard work. It never felt like it was in hand. I felt like I was getting the better of him in most cases, but it takes so little for a match to turn around. So I wasn't relaxed until it was over.

Q. Did you see a few moments of the match between Blake and Novak before your match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I saw it. But it was difficult to see specifically because of the camera in the locker room that we're watching. Saw some of it. Got an idea a little bit.

Q. What is your feeling about playing against Novak?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm looking forward to it. I think Blake had some big chances today, and it's very disappointing for him, I'm sure. Novak makes the game look very easy. He does everything very, very gracefully. And, you know, his game is almost a lot like -- reminds me of a slightly different version of (Miloslav) Mecir, you know, just everything comes really naturally, feels the ball very well. And he's obviously playing well this week - this year. So I got to play another great match. What a surprise - we're in the semis and you're playing against somebody tough.

Q. Do you ever look back at 19-year-old Agassi who was in the final here once?

ANDRE AGASSI: If I see a picture of that kid, I usually rip it or burn it, or I discard it somehow. That was a long time ago.

Q. Long time ago, yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: And one more match, and I'll be back in the same position, which is -- that would make me pretty proud, 13 years later.

Q. Apart from the age, what is the difference with the Agassi now and Agassi 13 years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: And hair... (Laughter). There's a big difference there. Well, I certainly have changed much as a player, much as a person, I mean, in both regards. I think my game is a lot more aggressive, but I have the experience to be patient when I need to. I have better experience on the court. Everything is pretty much better as far as my game goes. I have a lot more appreciation for the game.

Q. Your wife is coming?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I don't know. I hope so. We'll see...

Q. Will we see you again in 13 years (laughter)?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, maybe I'll be sitting with, you know, Claudio and Adriano and running the tournament - maybe (smiling). But I won't be on the court (smiling).

Q. What do you think about US tennis at this moment?

ANDRE AGASSI: You mean players?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think that we have a couple of real exciting prospects. James and Andy are two not just talented players but great to watch, and I think that's so important for the game. I think the American market is very important to tennis, and these two guys can capture the imagination of all those who enjoy tennis - and then some - in the United States. And that would be a great thing.

Q. Thirteen years ago you didn't lose a single set before the final. Will you lose one set tomorrow just for sentimental reasons?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not if I don't have to, no (smiling). Not if I don't have to. I might have no choice, but...

Q. Andre, you grew up on hardcourts. American men historically have had a pretty bad time on clay courts. What was your first reaction to European clay?

ANDRE AGASSI: Ooohhh, just really want to get on a plane and go back to America and get back on the hardcourts. It was a difficult surface for me. It was actually, here was my first experience with red clay. And that was in '86 or '87, yeah. And I just seemed to hit the ball and hit it once - good. Twice - good. Three times - good. Fourth time - not good. I would hit four good shots and lose a point and be very frustrated. So it was difficult.

Q. Took you a couple years for semifinals in Paris.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, about a year and a half or so I think. If I remember correctly, it was -- might have been two years or one year. Depends on if it was '86 or '87.

Q. '87.

ANDRE AGASSI: '87 was the first?

Q. Yeah?

ANDRE AGASSI: So it was the next year. I had a little advantage at the time. I was the first one to come into the game and take the ball early and hit it hard on both sides. So once I got control of my shots, I was able to stay on the offense. I didn't have to worry about the movement as much. But that changed as the game got faster paced. And five years later, all of a sudden I had to play defense as well. Then I came back to square one again, which was being uncomfortable with the surface.

Q. Did you learn to love it? Do you like it, or put up with it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, this week I'm loving it (smiling). You know... And I tell you, I have the potential to love it. Most of the time I have to endure it.

Q. You suggested a few minutes ago that James Blake would have been disappointed not to get through to a potential matchup against you. Are you equally disappointed you're not playing him? Also, would you look forward to a possible All-American final against Andy?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think the simple answer is I'm playing the guy that deserves to be there. So I'm not necessarily disappointed. I think James is a great competitor and great for the game, and I certainly really enjoy his person a lot. I have a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business, the way he conducts himself, and I always wish him well. In that regard, it's hard for me not to pull for him. From the tennis standpoint, I have to deal with the best player. The game's a funny game. The way that match went today was unfortunate for James, but a testament to Jiri's competitiveness. And then Andy, I mean, I always enjoy playing Andy. To me, it's an opportunity to improve. I mean, these guys all bring new weapons to the game, and it seems like he's playing really well. So, yeah, I would like to see that.

Q. Are you ahead of where you thought you'd be at this point for your French Open preparation?

ANDRE AGASSI: The way I feel out there is - I'm pleasantly surprised. I did not expect to be this comfortable with my game this quickly. Now it's a function of feeling the excitement of trying to win a tournament and trying to get through a tough field on a tough surface. So hard to think about Paris when you're in the semis of an event like this, which is good. It means everything is right where it needs to be.

Q. Anything between here and Paris?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm scheduled for Hamburg.

Q. You are?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. And Jiri Novak. I got him scheduled. He's written in my date book (smiling).

Q. What do you answer to James Blake and Andy Roddick when they both ask for you to come back in the US Davis Cup team?

ANDRE AGASSI: Is that a hypothetical? I don't... I'd have to think about hypotheticals. They haven't done that. And it's not -- it's a hypothetical.

Q. You have been on the tour for quite a while. What's your secret? And why don't other players make it so long?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think I've just been pretty blessed to stay healthy, first of all. I think physically it's a war out there year after year. And I think I've put a lot of emphasis on trying to prepare wisely, giving myself some rest when I felt like I needed it. And I continue to have to make those decisions. But I'd rather be lucky than smart when it comes to staying out here, because the body is something you cannot get around.

Q. You mentioned your hair earlier, the hair of 13 years ago. Now we notice you're not wearing a cap here. Although the weather hasn't been great, we've had some quite sunny days. Is it a problem, or do you put some sun lotion, something... (Laughter)?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I actually take great pride in preparing my scalp for the tennis matches (smiling). I would like to play with a cap. But then later that night when I go out to dinner, I look funny with the line across my forehead and a white head. It's like yours except with no hair (laughter).

 
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