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Écrit par Jerome   


May 11, 2002

A. AGASSI/J. Novak
7-5, 6-4

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Andre, back in another century... (laughter)... 1989, there was an Agassi here. Any relation?

ANDRE AGASSI: Different century, different decade, different millennium.

Q. That's right.

ANDRE AGASSI: Been around a long time. It feels so great to be back in the finals, I can't even tell you. For me to be here 13 years later, it's truly like a dream. I wasn't sure that would ever happen. I just feel great about it. And there's been a lot of downs, there's been a few ups. Hopefully, I can help balance those scales a little bit more tomorrow.

Q. (Inaudible)?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, we're not allowed to bet. It's against the rules of the ATP (smiling). But if I was to tell you to bet...

Q. You would tell me?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would say, "Show me a little love and go bet for me." But every day's a new day and there are two guys out there that are going to fight hard to get in the finals, and the better one will be difficult to beat.

Q. Did you feel yourself strengthening as the match went on? You weren't as sharp in the beginning.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that's right. Jiri's a nice presence out there. He's a big guy that moves well and hits the ball well off both sides, so he does make you feel early that you got to do something pretty special. I think I was pressing a little bit in the beginning. But then we both settled into the match nicely. As the match wore on, I was finding ways to hold serve easier than him, and I was getting many more chances. So I was staying positive, and I felt like the longer we played, the better I was going to -- more comfortable I was going to get. But it's always nice to finish it off when you get the first opportunity.

Q. Does it hurt, your wrist?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it's good. Just preventive.

Q. Are you going to watch the other match?

ANDRE AGASSI: If it's on TV, from my hotel room (smiling).

Q. How is your game now compared to three years ago when you came here before you went to Roland Garros?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I was actually playing well here that year, then I ran into a guy that didn't play the classical clay court tennis. Rafter was serve-volleying and really hitting off-speed chips. Yeah, it was just such an odd look, he was rushing you, you know, coming in. He just played a not only great match but a great tournament. So I felt pretty good that year. I was pretty confident. But I still think I'm probably playing better now.

Q. It's fun to call you a geezer, Andre, but don't you feel that at 32 the age factor is overblown if you stay healthy and fit?

ANDRE AGASSI: I actually think if you stay healthy and fit, it's an advantage. The body is the most important thing because without it, you can't compete against these guys. And the mind and the experience is a big asset if everything's feeling good. Thirty-two is certainly old by tennis standards, but there are many athletes that find their best stuff in the mid 30s and that's been proven a number of times. So I take it day by day and really just try to take care of myself and keep myself in position to be out here working this hard.

Q. The fact that you have a lot of match experience allows you not to make many errors. Which kind of errors can you pass by thanks to that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, this is a tough question because I think there are many elements of the game of tennis. But I just have to say, most importantly, I'm always -- the experience allows me to get the most out of my game every point of the match, to make good decisions with what it is I'm trying to do. You don't always hit it in; you make errors. But the focus of always trying to do the right thing, and then executing it, that's the difficult part - is to make it. But to make the right decisions out there is - that's the part that you have to make sure exists.

Q. We've discussed with you already this week the matchpoint you had against Alberto Mancini. You explained that very, very well. But the fifth set was, you know, a real anti-climax, 6-1, you lost that. Do you think that was part of your inexperience, that you just fell flat after missing that matchpoint?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think that is a function of being young and inexperienced. For me, I was pretty dejected after that loss of the fourth set. It was probably a little physical, as well. You know, the fifth set becomes both physical and mental. And he raised his game. I mean, I still remember the crowd really got behind him and he played well, and I was discouraged. That's all it takes for the match to slip away.

Q. Does the fact you have a new coach change something in your preparation, in clay especially?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think Darren's a great coach. I think he's come in and given me new perspectives every day, which only can help - especially on the clay. It's a surface that hasn't traditionally been the best for me over the years. But he's helped me to believe in many parts of my game on the clay, and he continually helps me to improve.

Q. The fact that the final is best-of-five, it's a worry? It worries you or not? If it's hot...?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I'd prefer that. I think it's easier to settle into your game. It brings a physical element to the game, which I've always used as an asset. And the better player usually wins in three-out-of-five. Two-out-of-three, things can happen quickly. One set can disappear with one or two mistakes or errors, or to be a little unlucky. But three-out-of-five, you have to earn it over a long period of time, and that's good. This is the Italian Open, it's three-out-of-five.

Q. You mentioned before how the crowd got behind Mancini in the final set 13 years ago. How much of a difference is it now with the crowd really behind you here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it feels great. I mean, you know, it's a benefit to have that kind of enthusiasm for you out there. You can feel it. The energy is great. It always brings out my own excitement and intensity. And I prefer to play with a lot of support.

Q. What about the crowd over 13 years, they've really come over to your side, no?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. Well, I think that day there was a lot of support for great tennis. I think the support came from Mancini as he rallied back from being down. And, you know, there was a lot of competitiveness to appreciate in the spirit that day. I don't think Mancini's been talked about this much in 13 years (laughter). Mancini, Mancini, Mancini every...(laughter).

Q. Can I ask you, when do you remember the crowd being against you the last time? Because I think in the last years, you had always the crowd with you more or less.

ANDRE AGASSI: Against me or...?

Q. Yes, against you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Or supporting my opponent?

Q. Supporting more your opponent than you, let's say. See if you have a good memory (laughter).

ANDRE AGASSI: I would say Paris last year, Grosjean.

Q. You caught me (laughter).

ANDRE AGASSI: (Smiling).

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