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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

TENNIS MASTERS SERIES – ROMA
ROME, ITALY

May 12, 2002

A. AGASSI/T. Haas
6-3, 6-3, 6-0

An Interview With:

ANDRE AGASSI

THE MODERATOR: First question for Andre.

Q. We talked yesterday about the trials and tribulations of 1989. What about the first year, 1987? How did you feel coming in here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, was my first experience with the red clay, so wasn't a good one. And I just thought it wasn't a surface that tennis should be played onn , to be quite honest, so... It's not right to hit, you know, four good shots and still lose the point. So it did take me a little while to get used to it. A year later, I started playing much better on it. But it's been difficult pretty much most of my career.

Q. Can't help but notice the wrist. Is there a problem?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, just taking care of it. Just don't want to take anything for granted anymore. Still taking some of my antiinflammatories and still taking the precautions of warming it up before and making sure to ice it down.

Q. Will you be playing next week?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I have plans to. I'm going to sit down with Darren here. And now that this week's behind me, we can take a good look at things.

Q. You've won so many big titles around the world. Was this a missing link in your chain? Was this one you particularly wanted to win because of the history you talked about out there?

ANDRE AGASSI: It is. You know, it's something you don't really admit fully to yourself because it's pretty much a disappointment when you came so close. But you realize, as you size up all these tournaments outside the Grand Slams, that this has as much, if not probably more history, than all of them. It's been around the longest. It's been a staple in the game of tennis. And it's just an honor for me to win. It's truly an honor.

Q. We've talked here much about Alberto Mancini again.

ANDRE AGASSI: I resurrected him and I put him back in the grave (laughter)?

Q. Will you send him an E-mail to say, "Alberto, I did it!"

ANDRE AGASSI: Hopefully, wherever he is, he has a smile on his face for me.

Q. Today you played perfectly. Did you ask some suggestions from Steffi for the match of today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Are you related to the guy asking questions out there (laughter)? Unfortunately, she hasn't been able to be seeing my matches over the week. She hasn't been seeing the matches. Today was the first one she got to watch on the TV, and it was something she was looking forward to because, obviously, I've always struggled coming here. And for me to tell her I was playing well so quickly, it was one of those things that she really needed to see.

Q. When you didn't play Australia and then split with Brad, there were one or two people who thought you would still have the motivation to carry on. What does keep you going?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, was a lot on my plate there - married, kid, wrist injury, lose coach. Like I said before, I was in a perfect position, if history serves itself correctly, to play my best tennis. You know, I'm challenged. I'm challenged by the game itself. I think the game is a complex one. I think it continually asks more - forces you to ask more of yourself. I find that as I get older, it gets more difficult, which increases the challenge of it, which fuels the very thing that motivated me in the first place.

Q. Talking about the game, what are you doing better on the court this year that you were not doing before on the clay court?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think my shot selection and execution of my shots is better. I'm picking my shots well. I'm very patient, but yet I'm hitting with conviction. And when you move off the court in clay and you hit the ball big, it gives you less time to recover. It makes you more uncomfortable with the movement. But when you're stretched off the court and you can put some spin on the ball and you can execute the right shot, you have time to get back in it. It helps your movement. So I just feel like all around I'm moving better, I'm picking my shots better, and I'm executing my shots better.

Q. Are you feeling now, at this stage of your career, when you lose a match, you lose by yourself? It's not about your opponent, but instead it is about you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it depends. I've lost many times because of my opponent. I've lost many times because of myself. I hope as I get older I lose less because of myself. But, no, the tennis out there is a high standard, and it forces you to be at your best. If you're not at your best, you'd be very surprised how quickly things change. Every match, I go out there with a healthy respect for my opponent, which is why I've managed to keep a high standard of focus and concentration.

Q. Andre, do you think that Haas today made some strategical mistakes playing so much behind the baseline, or were you just anticipating all the time?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, there's only a few choices out there, and a lot of times it does depend on what the opponent is doing. I think with the way it was going today - and only based now on hindsight, because every day you have to wait to see, you know, how everybody's playing . I mean, maybe your opponent is not playing good and you can just make him play a lot . But seeing how things went, now in hindsight, he would have been better off taking a lot more chances, stepping up to the plate. But, you know, this forces you to take the mentality of taking a lot of risks, and that's not easy to pull off for three-out-of-five sets. So it's toe-to-toe. You try to get the better of each shot. As we were hitting the ball back and forth, I was getting the better of the points. I was making him work harder. I was controlling most of the points. And in the end, it was just a little bit better of a day for me.

Q. Seven years ago what were your thoughts about your future? Would you have thought you would be able to play again now, or still be playing?

ANDRE AGASSI: How long ago?

Q. Seven years ago.

ANDRE AGASSI: I would have had a hard time believing that, number one, it was possible; and, number two, that my life would allow me still to be doing it. It takes a lot physically. It takes a lot of luck, too. It takes a lot mentally. And then you're still not really promised that you can do it. So I've been pretty blessed.

Q. One of the things you mentioned, don't you feel you're serving a lot better, too?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I think I've gotten better at a lot of things over the years. But the serve is one that is a function of strength and also the ability to learn how to hold serve. I've always made a distinction between having a great serve and a good hold game, or a good serve and a great hold game. I've learned, over the years, to turn a good serve into a better hold game, and that's helped me.

Q. Meaning...? Good serve into a good hold game, what does that mean exactly?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's one thing to serve well; it's another thing to back your serve up well. And I think there are many examples out on the tour of guys that serve better than they hold, and guys that hold better than they serve. So it's basically an evolution of learning how to play better tennis - smarter tennis.

Q. Have you felt this good going into the French?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Pretty clear, no.

Q. Is that what you've been doing with Darren, is that playing smarter tennis, what you talked about?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it's a combination of a lot of things . I missed Australia. I spent a lot of time training. I'm physically prepared for the demands. I've done great work with Darren. I think Darren has really come into a pretty tough situation and absolutely allowed me to be the best that I can be and is continually pushing me to get better. And this week has been just a... it's been a great effort in discipline and patience and shot selection and execution.

Q. Was there ever a point today where you didn't feel in control?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Today was a great day. I got off to a good start and felt like when I got into the point, I was very clear on what it is I was trying to do and pulling it off most of the time. And then I got the early break and I managed to keep that lead. Then when he got back into the match, broke me serving at 3-4, 30-love, I played four good points in a row. So it helps to play your best tennis at the right time. And today was me playing well, but also playing really well at the right time. So I kept a lot of pressure on him in that regard.

Q. You weren't going to let the match get to a fifth set this time around?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I certainly didn't want that. My mentality takes one of good work ethic. When I'm up two sets, I'm just thinking about making it a long road for my opponent, and to continue what it is that got me there by executing my game.

Q. Fifteen years ago you didn't like clay. And we were told that you liked when you were at the restaurants in Hamburg, and ate only junkfood. Have you changed your mind? Do you like the Mediterranean cuisine now?

ANDRE AGASSI: I tell you, I've been 90% pasta here (laughter). There's not many options in Rome (laughter).

Q. One to follow up, Jaden Gil has the blue eyes of Steffi or the brown eyes of Andre?

ANDRE AGASSI: Jaden has blue eyes. He has blue eyes - beautiful blue eyes.

Q. What would be the perfect preparation for the French?

ANDRE AGASSI: To win everything at the start of the year, then to take a month and a half off. To come win Rome, to go back home for, you know, a week and a half, then to come over and... (Smiling). This is perfect.

Q. So Steffi is waiting there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah (smiling).

You know, it couldn't be more perfect than to come here and do this well.

Q. Hamburg then a week off?

ANDRE AGASSI: Hamburg, week off, Paris.

Q. Will you follow the World Championship of soccer?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I will watch that. Definitely.

 
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