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Écrit par Jerome   

October 20, 2002

An interview with:


Q. How do you feel?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it's very disappointing for many people, especially Jiri, because it's unfortunate that anything like that has to happen. Then you're disappointed for the tournament. It's sort of anti-climatic. I just try to feel good about the form I did have, go from there.

Q. One thing that isn't anti-climactic, the fact that you're 43 points behind Lleyton for the No. 1 spot for Paris and Shanghai. Excited about the end of the season?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, sure. For me, again, I always want to win every time I'm on the court. The more you put on the line, the more exciting it becomes. There's a lot of tennis to be played this year. I find myself very much looking forward to that.

Q. I noticed you were on the original St. Petersburg entry list. Are you still playing there?


Q. Your little son is one next week, is that right?


Q. Tim had a girl yesterday -- well, Lucy had the girl. How does being a parent change your attitude at all to the sport or to life in general? How is he going to find it a little different now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose it's an individual experience for everyone. For me, it puts a lot of things in such clear perspective so often during the day, which only helps everything else that you choose to do. I think in a sport that doesn't really have an off-season, to be able to get away from it quickly is very important. I think a child allows you that opportunity. But everything else that you do, like the traveling, it's a lot slower. Must take your time.

Q. In that respect, have you actually found it's been a help rather than a hindrance?

ANDRE AGASSI: I can honestly say that I feel as eager and inspired in my life now as I ever have - if not considerably more. But the support from Stefanie is a crucial part of that because there's just a lot more work that goes into moving from week to week. She makes it so I don't have to spend endless weeks on the road without her or Jaden. I have wonderful support there.

Q. I meant the fact that the baby is there from time to time, when you obviously need to get away from just tennis - has that actually made it easier for you to play in some respects than before?

ANDRE AGASSI: Absolutely. No question.

Q. Pete is deciding what he's going to do next with his career. What do you think he should do or will do? How do you compare yourselves at this point? You're out here playing.

ANDRE AGASSI: Pete's choices. Like I even said before The Open, as everybody was sort of riding the momentum that he should quit, he shouldn't play anymore, I contended the whole time that if there's been anybody that's earned the right to sort of play on his terms, it's Pete. So I say the same thing really going into this stage of his life - whatever it may be - that if anybody's earned the right to not play on his terms, it's Pete. If he's interested in sort of ending his career with something that you can wrap in a bow and sort of say, "Here's how I finished it," then it seems to me like he has that opportunity before him. But my inspiration doesn't come from thinking about my career being over with now; it comes from actually playing and getting out there. I think we're at two entirely different places in that regard.

Q. How much longer do you think you can keep getting out there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it's twofold. It's the body and the mind. My body's holding up, so I have no predictions on that. I have no idea how long it's going to feel possible physically. But my mind is still determined to get better and to play. I suppose the easy answer to your question is, "I don't know." The more specific answer is, "I think I can find a way for a few more years."

Q. When did you know that the final was suspended, and who told you that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I found out maybe just past 11:30, and from the tournament referee, Gayle Bradshaw.

Q. How important is the last few weeks, including Shanghai, dueling with Lleyton?

How much importance do you put on that to cap off the season.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think for me, first and foremost, is trying to be better than everybody, whoever I'm playing. The only time I really think about Lleyton is if I'm playing him. So, again, I just think there's an added sort of stake on the game with the spot for No. 1. But for me, it doesn't really change my focus when I'm out there - nor should it.

Q. If you were to get to No. 1, you haven't won a Slam this year, would it feel right to you? Do you feel it would be an appropriate finish?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's been a lot of work all year, especially missing Australia, three Super 9 tournaments. I think there's a number of different things to accomplish in the game. I'd put winning Slams at the top. But finishing No. 1 is sort of a symbol of a lot of work, so it would mean something to me, definitely.

Q. You were No. 1 in the world, you won most of the tournaments, where do you find the ambition for keeping on trying to win tournaments?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think my greatest inspiration is just trying to be better as a tennis player. I enjoy doing it better now than I did 10 years ago. But there are things I haven't done. I mean, I've never won here in Madrid before. That's just one example of it. You just keep working, and the accomplishments, maybe they come, maybe they don't. But you have to be motivated every day by more than just the winning. It has to be, to me, a determination to be a tennis player, and to give as much as I can, till I can't do it anymore.

Q. When you say you haven't won in Madrid before, is that a suspicion that this doesn't quite feel like a win, or am I reading that quote wrong?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I just think I was answering the specific question of sort of, "If you've won so many before." Every one is different. Every one feels different - even the same tournament, let alone a place I've never been to and a place I've never won.

Q. You are very special in your generation. How do you feel when you hear "new balls, please"?

ANDRE AGASSI: How do I feel about the campaign or the players?

Q. The campaign.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I understand the marketing strategy of introducing new faces to the game of tennis for when some of the more familiar faces aren't there anymore. I think it's important. But it has to be more than just marketing. You have some players that are bringing dynamics and good tennis to the game. That's worthy of a lot of attention. I have no issue with that.

Q. You said you were pleased, despite no final, with the way you were playing. How encouraged are you by the fact you haven't played since the US Open, you've come back and reached this level so quickly?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think it's a sign of how much work's gone into the year, how much tennis I have played, how hard I have prepared myself. Any time you take a few weeks off, you're never sure how quickly it's going to be comfortable out there. Sometimes you can win and not being comfortable. Other times you can be comfortable and not win. So for it to come together is very encouraging and certainly important because there's not a lot of tournaments left. I'm looking forward to how this year will end. It's been a year that in many ways I'm proud of.

Q. Was Feliciano Lopez your toughest competitor here in Madrid?

ANDRE AGASSI: That match was I think the closest to going either way. But yesterday's match was also this way, for different reasons. I'd say he was, in hindsight only, the crucial match for me, the most crucial match to get through.

Q. When you face those players from the new generation, like Lopez, do you remember yourself when you were facing Wilander or Connors years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I don't. I've got to be honest. I don't look at my opponents through the lens of how old they are, how old I am. I give my opponents respect as peers who play the highest standard of tennis in the world. When I was younger, I remembered it differently. I would look to some of the older guys, and it would be intimidating. But I don't see them as being young; I see them as being dangerous from a tennis perspective.

Q. You seem so interested in the doubles match, why don't you play doubles now?

ANDRE AGASSI: 'Cause my body can't do it. It's too much tennis when you play many matches in the singles. Singles and doubles week after week, it's not easy. If it rains one day, then you have to play two matches the next day, plus the doubles. A lot of things make it very difficult. I think it's much easier to be focused. But I know these guys, so I'm interested (smiling).

Q. We have players in the circuit that have members of their family as advisors. Do you have, in the last years, Steffi as an advisor as well, telling you to do a certain thing against a certain player?

ANDRE AGASSI: More about telling me how to change diapers and how to help around the house more (laughter).

Q. So Tim has a tough time ahead?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, yes, in some respects. What's the baby's name?

Q. Rose Elizabeth?

ANDRE AGASSI: Lucy is good?

Q. Yes.


Q. Are you good at changing diapers?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think so (smiling).

Q. You said you don't have any issue with marketing players. Do you have any issues that you want to see resolved in the game in the next years that you have left playing, using your influence as a spokesperson for the sport to effect that somehow?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the game of tennis, in and of itself, is a phenomenal sport that offers a lot to people's lives for many reasons: it keeps you healthy, you can play it your whole life; it's competitive; if you're not so good, you just pick your opponent and you can have a good match, it all depends on who you play. I think the fabric of tennis will always exist as a sport that is acknowledged as a big sport. With that being said, I think there's things that can make it a little easier for the public to identify with - understanding tournaments leading up to big tournaments.

Q. Scheduling issues?

ANDRE AGASSI: Scheduling issues is probably an important part of it. Off-season, give the fans a chance to look forward to something. I would say, scheduling issues.

Q. Having won seven of the nine different Masters Series titles during your careers, four Grand Slams, gold medal, will you go next year to Monte-Carlo and Hamburg with more motivation to complete that in addition to everything else you've done?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think that would be an added motivation for me to go and try to win. But, again, it takes a lot to win. A lot of things have to come together. There are scheduling issues and there are decisions, unfortunately, I'm forced to make along the way during the year. But no question, from this perspective, it's something I would want to do.

Q. When you arrived in Spain, you said that you had a lot of expectations in this country because it is a big tennis country. How do you leave after this expectation that you had about this country?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, this week has been an incredible week for many reasons for me because I've enjoyed playing here, I've played well. But the enthusiasm and the support that the fans have given to the game of tennis, you wish every week could be like this. Unfortunately, because you're working so hard, you don't get to enjoy the city as much as you would like. I leave here with a great anticipation of coming back.

Q. It sounds kind of weird, you said that you have to find motivation, you have to learn more in the game of tennis. A man who has won so much, so many tournaments, so much in tennis. What is it specifically that you have to improve to be a better tennis player? What role, what part of that is Darren Cahill involved in?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think there are some areas now that I have yet to be aware of where I need to improve, which is part of the learning. I think hitting the ball, it's hard to improve that after a certain amount of time. But I think you can always improve with your athleticism; you can become stronger and faster. I think you can improve with your concentration. I think you can improve with your shot selection; the way you make different players have to beat you. So there's more to learn about the game. There's many ways to improve. I think I will always be searching for the perfect game.

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