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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

2002 WESTERN & SOUTHERN FINANCIAL GROUP MASTERS
CINCINNATI, OHIO

August 5, 2002

AGASSI/El Aynaoui
6-4, 4-6, 6-4

An Interview With:

ANDRE AGASSI

GREG SHARKO: With this win today, Andre improves his 35 and 5 on the season including 21 and 2 on hard courts. Questions for Andre.

Q. How did you feel out there today physically?

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt pretty good. I came here a few days early so it gave me chance to get ready and right from the get I felt pretty comfortable.

Q. Have you ever thought about what it is that makes you so popular? How do guys go in? You have sustained it for sort of 10, 12 years. People crowd around you. They fill the stadiums. It's more than just the way you play. What is charisma? What makes you so popular?

ANDRE AGASSI: You are asking the wrong guy for that. I consider myself quite boring to be honest. Most people should feel pretty good that they don't have to live with me. That's a tough one for me to answer.

Q. You consider yourself boring?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I have been around more exciting people before, that's for sure. You know, for me it's just a function of trying to give people that show me so much love what it is that they want when they come to a tennis match. So I try hard to show my appreciation through my game and through my efforts. To speak to anything beyond that would be impossible for me to have a perspective on.

Q. Surprised people still today find you so attractive in a sense that --

ANDRE AGASSI: Surprised? Yeah. I'd say surprises me every time. Every time I am out there I feel like I am almost living somebody else's life. It's quite a compliment; one that's hard to absorb.

Q. You ever feel like the more stories come out about your marriage and your fatherhood and all, that maybe you reach even more people, segment of people who get behind you and all that grows or changes?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I am reaching people in their 30s now which is good, so I think the older you get the harder it gets, and to still find a way is something that becomes more obvious to the untrained eye what you have to go through to get the job done. It's easy for things to look easy when you are young. When you get older, it changes, and there's more on your plate. There's more potential distractions. There's a lot of things that make it harder. So assuming you stay healthy because that's the most important. But even that gets dodgy.

Q. Do you have to work noticeably harder than you did say five years ago to maintain this level?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think so. You have to work smarter too which is a big difference. You have to work harder but you have to work smarter. I can't just take the toll, I can't just keep taking money out of the bank. You start writing checks your body can't cash after a while.

Q. How has the year been for you from a mental standpoint, with your son at home and trying to focus on this at the same time, how has that been?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I have been blessed because I have a wife that's phenomenally supportive and I think this week is the second week all year that I have had to be away from them which is pretty amazing. So the focus is harder in some respects but easier in others because I mean, it's impossible for me to spend a week away from my family, go out on the court and not give it everything I have. Because I mean, I am away from my family. I might as well be doing this for a reason, and so I find that it's harder for me to have bad days from a focus standpoint but it's also negotiations with your time, so that's the other side of it.

Q. Did you really feel that you couldn't play last week?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it wasn't right for me to play. I was nursing an injury all week in L.A. and I don't have four weeks in a row in me anymore. I can't do that. I can't take for granted the fact that one day off and I can turn some sort of corner. I need to pay attention to every sort of kink I may feel, and I have to give myself the rest and the reason to go hard again.

Q. Did you disagree strongly about the fine or did you just say, well, that's part of the system?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I certainly am aware that it's part of the system. I think it's certainly -- I don't think it is a great rule by any means. I mean, I think somewhere along the line -- the difficulty is the expectation that I can play the same schedule that a 20 year old can play. I can't do it. So either I don't play anymore or I do it the only way I can and accept the penalties that go along with it which unfortunately is pretty darn steep.

Q. Things like that maybe cause you or Pete to think about leaving earlier than you want to versus playing a reduced schedule?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I don't think -- if I do things right, I will leave for reasons inside the lines so I don't -- I mean, while I don't agree with it and while it might be more of a factor to me maybe than other guys because of the fact that I might not able to play as much based on how my body feels and holds up, I mean, that's the unfortunate side. I don't know. It's easy to point at problems; more difficult to solve them.

Q. On this side of the room we tend to think that if a guy is 50th, past player, in any sport he can go on forever but if a guy has been No. 1, you, or Pete or Michael Jordan, if he continues on past a certain age we think, oh, he doesn't like that because he can't be the best player every week anymore. Yet you continue to play. Are we looking at it the wrong way?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you don't win every week even when you are young. You want to hopefully feel like when you play your best you can win any given week. I think that's the motivation and the inspiration and it is that you have a chance to accomplish more. If you have only -- if you are 50 in the world and you have only won a little bit, or you are used to only winning a few matches in any given week to win a few matches or to win three or to win four, these become your motivation, to do better than you have done. Or to repeat what you have done and for me, that's my motivation. Might not be every week, but I go into big tournaments feeling if I play my best tennis I can win and that's critical for me, at least, at this stage, I don't know if that will ever change.

Q. For those of us who haven't seen you since you were here last year, can you talk about becoming a father, just the impact on your life outside of tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it has been the greatest thing I have ever experienced. It's like a discovery everyday to learn more about who my son is and to share in that side of it, it's, you know, it's a joy. It's just a joy, anybody that's a parent would understand.

Q. Does it get easier getting up in the middle of the night, anything like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I get up less than my wife does. But yeah, it gets easier in some respect and gets harder in others.

Q. You learned things about yourself this year that you didn't know because of that?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. You know, there aren't a whole lot of lessons going on. It's really a function of just taking care of some pretty contained needs, so I am sure that will change. But it's just been a lot of fun taking care of him.

Q. Learn things about Steffi that you didn't know?

ANDRE AGASSI: Learned that she's a better mom than I even thought she would be, which is saying a lot.

Q. Someone said you are playing better tennis now in your 30s than you were in your 20s, maybe they are talking about more of the mental game. Where do you see yourself?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think so. I think my high end is better than it used to be. I feel like as long as my body holds up athletically I feel stronger than I have ever been, and my -- the fact that I am healthy and moving well, that gives me options out there and when I have options I am making good decisions because I have done it for 16 years. So I feel like my upper end of what I can play is better than it ever has been. But this sport is a function of week in and week out with no offseason and so you have to concede the fact that you are not always going to play that way.

Q. Do you think that was a difference in your match today, you have all these options available?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, today it boiled down to a couple of simple games. Very rarely does a match not have more facets to it, but today I played a good game to break in the first set where he made a couple of errors and I made a couple of good shots. Second set I served to stay in it. He came up with some big shots to break me that game. And I fought off two breakpoints and he missed four first serves that got into the point for me to break in the third. Everything in between was us taking care of our strengths. He was serving big and it was hard for me to get into those games, and when I was serving, I was controlling the points. So it was pretty straightforward today; where it fell was a question of a little bit of luck at the right time.

Q. Did you feel like it turned in your favor when you made that backhand crosscourt on his little drop shot there when you broke him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I still had two more breakpoints to go had I missed that. I was up Love-40 there. He had missed four first serves in a row. He went through a stage there where he started missing a few first serves. But, yeah, the momentum was certainly in my favor at that point.

Q. There were predictions five, six years ago that the servers were going to take over tennis like a serving contest. It's kind of swung back a little bit to baseliners doing really well. Any idea on why that has been?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, because tennis is -- there's a lot to the game of tennis. It's not just about how you can serve. I think the results last few years have shown that. You look at the Top-10 last year and you will see eight of them being quality groundstroke players. There's still a lot of room for somebody that's fast and somebody that punches in the clock everyday and there are ways to get around peoples' strengths for everybody.

Q. Have you seen any subtle changes -- they talk about the court maybe a little bit slower in some places, that being a factor --

ANDRE AGASSI: I think some indoors courts are slower than they used to be ten years ago but playing here is faster than I think it used to be. At least it feels that way. The ball is flying out there and guys might be hitting it a little bigger, but it seems like it's really skipping off the court.

Q. How much have you seen of James Blake? Are you surprised by how well he has done in Davis Cup?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I have seen a lot of him.

Q. Surprised by how well he has done in Davis Cup?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I am not surprised any times he's done well. He is a great athlete, big forehand, he's a phenomenal mover around the court and he's a great competitor. So those are some pretty good strengths and Davis Cup, that's what you need. You need the mindset and the heart, that's what it comes down to.

GREG SHARKO: Thanks, everyone.

ANDRE AGASSI: Thanks, guys.

 
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