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Écrit par Jerome   


January 15, 2003

6-1, 6-0, 6-0

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions. .

Q. Given you just played Lee and the Tennis Australia announcement today that KIA signed a five-year association with them, how important do you think it is for Tennis Australia and this Grand Slam in general to start supporting the emerging Asian market?

ANDRE AGASSI: I wouldn't have an opinion off the top of my head on that one. I need to put some thought behind that one.

Q. Would you give yourself ten for that one?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, how can you not really when you play a guy of Lee's quality, playing as well as he's been playing, to go out there and have a score line like that doesn't happen too often. So, needless to say, I felt great about everything.

Q. The tennis you played as well, not just the fact of the score line?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's right. It's impossible to have a score line like that without playing well. If you do play well, it's nearly impossible to have a score line like that. So a lot of things have to come together, a lot of things have to go right. Today it certainly did.

Q. How good did you feel out there today? It was all coming together. Did you feel like it was one those days nothing could go wrong?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I was hitting the ball with conviction. My unforced errors were way down. My winners were up. The stats would show that I was playing aggressive tennis without missing a whole lot, so that's a great feeling.

Q. Is that one of the most enjoyable matches for you then, that you've played in a while?

ANDRE AGASSI: Every match is enjoyable for one reason or another when you find a way to get through it because they all sort of press you one way or another. Today I think, I mean, he came off to an incredible start. He hit a few winners, had me Love-40 on my serve. I felt an immediate sense of urgency. I felt his game and just picked up my shots and sort of got a little momentum and never looked back. So from that standpoint, I enjoyed it a lot.

Q. Was that a mistake, to get you down Love-40? He's a very good player, as we know. Were you running a little scared, this tournament's a major championship? You feel you really got to go all the way?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I've played him a couple times. I have a healthy respect for his strengths. He's a good mover around the court, he can lean into his backhand and hit it both directions, moves his forehand around pretty well, very competent net player. I knew I would have to be very committed to all my shots so I didn't give him a chance to control much. My sort of game plan was to go out there and control the match. For it to go that way was certainly unexpected.

Q. In the next round you might play Olivier Rochus, a Belgian guy. Do you know him?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've seen him play a little bit. I never got to play against him.

Q. What do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's quite impressive, what he manages to do out there, especially given his size and today's game. Speaks a lot to his competitiveness and court savvy.

Q. What could you advise Mr. Lee to be a better player like you. What could you advise?

ANDRE AGASSI: He's won a tournament more recently than I have (laughter). I'll ask him for advice. He's doing just fine.

Q. Can you talk about how the tournament has grown over the years. You didn't play it the first nine years you were a professional. First came in '95 and won. Was that in your mind the quality of the tournament had changed over that period of time? Where do you see it today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, my particular journey has been one that has been up and down with my commitment through the year, just based on where my priorities have been. I say that regrettingly so, because this is a place I wish I had played starting from the first time I could make it into the main draw. But I definitely get the sense that it's established itself as worthy of a Grand Slam, and right up there with all the other ones. To win here, you never forget it. It's right there with the biggest accomplishments. I remember at times it might not have been that way in other players' minds before I'd even come down here. So it seems like it's growing tremendously. But I wouldn't have a perspective on it because I wasn't here.

Q. You better than anybody know during the two weeks you have to really raise that level. Is it a major boost to know you've done it so early and reached such a peak, just for confidence?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, it's twofold. You have to know you can do it when you need it, but you don't necessarily need to do it until you need it. You hope you always play your best tennis in the best of situations. So I'll try to take all the positives from it because my experience in Grand Slam play is you can never predict how it's going to unfold, so you need to constantly push yourself to play your best.

Q. As you just heard, Kia signed a sponsorship today for five years. You've done a few or an advertisement for Kia. Is that a relationship you expect to continue?

ANDRE AGASSI: I do. My main motivation for my association with Kia has been in support of their support of tennis, Australian Open. I think it's been a big asset for the game of tennis, and I have a strong appreciation for that, and an interest in it - personally and professionally. So my involvement with them is one I hope continues for a long time just based on what they've meant to this sport.

Q. Do you know what it is about the Australian Open that seems to bring out the best in you? You always seem to start the year very well, have a phenomenal record here.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think you have to come here ready, and I think experience has helped me to prepare properly for it. But it's also surface I enjoy playing on. I play well on the surface. The ball gets up and I can work it, I can hit through the court. It's a great court for a baseliner that uses a variety of shots. The conditions I like, too, the heat, the breeze are just conditions I play well in.

Q. Is that why you start the year well? You seem to start your year better than most players, don't you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I come down here with a sense of urgency because we get out of the blocks so quickly. January 1 comes and the next thing you're thinking about is a Grand Slam tournament. You have to be ready to go. So, yeah, I couldn't pinpoint anything except I like the playing conditions and I do feel like I come down here ready.

Q. There's been some discussion today about the prevalence of drugs in tennis. What are your thoughts to other players taking performance-enhancing drugs?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the one thing that I'd like to stick to is what we do know. And what we do know is while there's been a minimal amount of players that have been caught over the last ten years, we are also probably the leading sport in reference to how often we test, how professional our tests are, and how strict our penalties are. The talk of who might be, who might not be, is irresponsible. It will really be all your guys' choices to focus on what we do know or otherwise.

Q. When you're in a match like that, is there a point where you say, "My God, I'm flying, it's wonderful"? Does that enter your mind?

ANDRE AGASSI: You're certainly aware of how it's going, thankful for how it's going. But it's not like in basketball where you could build yourself a 35-point halftime lead. Really, starting the third set, I'm thinking to myself, "If I get off to a bad start here and he gets up a break, I don't care what score the third set is, if he wins this set, it's two sets to one." I don't care if it's 6-1, 6-0, 6-7; 6-1, 6-0, 0-6, it's two sets to one and you got to find a way to close this match out. I don't ever consider myself in great position until it's over with.

Q. No time to step back and admire yourself?

ANDRE AGASSI: I have no interest in doing that, no. I really would much prefer to be sitting at dinner thinking about the match and talking about how it was and how it went and what I can improve on.

Q. Is it an advantage to have such a quick, short match do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it varies. I think it all depends on -- everybody has their gas tank and you don't want to spend more than you need to. But with that being said, you do want to make sure you have what it takes when you do get pushed. At the end of the day, getting through the match is what my experience tells me to value, find a way to get through it.

Q. Can you talk about Roddick, how hard it is to go from No. 10 to No. 3 or 4 in the world and how much of an improvement is needed to do that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's a lot harder for some than others. I think Andy has phenomenal fire power and, directed in the right way, will experience great success from here and further accomplishments. But every guy out here is hungry and eager and talented and has strengths that you need to know what you're doing. I can never speak to two things: I can speak to what his strengths are, but I can't speak to his competitiveness and his heart. I mean, that's up to every individual and how hard they push themselves. I can't speak to the choices he makes and how he goes about getting better. But I can say that he has the arsenal to expect much bigger things from himself.

Q. You have been No. 1 many times. Do you think Guga can get there after his injury?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think anybody that's done something once can do it again. They've proven it. A lot of guys out here have the ability to have great results, and Guga is one of those guys that can win anything at any time. So I give him a lot of confidence.

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