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2003 NASDAQ-100 OPEN

March 30, 2003

6-3, 6-3

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Andre becomes the first man to repeat here at the NASDAQ-100 and he's now 18-1 on the ATP circuit this year, which leads all players. Questions.

Q. Andre, congratulations.


Q. Are you serving as well as you ever have, do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think so. Today was certainly a great day for me, serving-wise. I think specifically because it was breezy. Any time you can get a good percentage of first serves in, especially on key points, in windy conditions, it's a big advantage. I did that well today.

Q. What has gone into improving that aspect of your game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, to be honest, this week, I'm just so relieved that my shoulder isn't getting my attention on every serve, that I just -- it just feels good to go up and go after it. I can't say anything specific right now except I sort of relied on my legs a lot because of my shoulder, and I'm really getting up on it well.

Q. 1995 was a great start for you, too. Is this better than 1995? You were 19-1 to start the year.

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm 18-1 now? No, it's not quite as good. One more match (laughter). Yeah, listen, this is as good as I could ever hope for. To win Australia means a successful year, regardless what happens. Let alone to continue the momentum and to capture a couple more tournaments, especially this one, being the big event that it is. And I feel great about how I feel mentally, how I feel physically. Very positive going out on to the clay season, hopeful that everything is going to stay together. Ten days ago, two weeks ago, I wasn't so sure if I was even going to play here. So it's been quite a welcome surprised.

Q. Are you more cautious about injuries now than you were in the past, in previous times when you have played, to test it out?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I don't have the luxury of making -- erring on the side of pushing an injury over the edge. So I always need to be more careful. As you get older, I think everybody does. Time is more of the essence. I think you're more limited on the time that you have, and I think your body takes a little longer to respond.

Q. Do you ever surprise yourself? I mean, I don't think anyone really expected a match to be so short. Do you ever even surprise yourself at some of the things you do?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, "surprise" I don't think would be the word. I certainly find myself, many times, relieved and sort of can't believe it, you know. But you go out there, knowing that, "If I just keep my head down, hit my shots," there are days where it's gonna go for you, and other days that they don't. So I try not to assess it till after the fact. And then after the fact, I can look at it and be objective. Today, I can say I played a great match.

Q. How is the shoulder? I mean, is the injury behind you at this point?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, literally and figuratively, yes. I feel it, I'm aware of it, but it warms up and it's actually better at the end of the match than it is at the start. So that's a great sign that it's on its way.

Q. How concerned were you on Thursday night about having to get through three matches in three days?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's never ideal, especially as you get older. I've always felt it's easier to go three-out-of-five every other day than to go back-to-back two-out-of-three, especially in the conditions here. But two-out-of-three is relatively a sprint. There's nothing really about it that you worry about getting through it, so you just focus on executing opportunities that you do get and try to create as many as possible. But you do hope that you don't lose that edge to your game, that snap in your legs, that little bit extra that does make the difference.

Q. Were you expecting a tougher fight out of Moya today?

ANDRE AGASSI: I thought it was a high standard. I mean, he missed a few -- he likes to slam his serve and get away with a few cheap points. The ones he would sort of slam, he missed a lot of those. But it was windy conditions. Hard to just throw it up and sort of chuck it. I got into the points and made him work. I was letting my game go. So I don't think it had much to do with his competitiveness or his fight; it had more to do with me sort of converting on opportunities I got and making some things happen at crucial times.

Q. He thought he served and returned poorly. Did you sense that during the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've seen him serve better. But I felt like I served well today.

Q. Can you talk about why -- you talked a little about it the other day, but why this tournament suits you, why have you been able to do so well here?

ANDRE AGASSI: I just think there's a lot of elements that I don't mind playing in: Hard court, medium-paced hard court. The wind, the heat, those are all sort of, through my history, been assets for me.

Q. This is a two-part question for you. Randy Johnson recently paid $55,000 for a private lesson with you and Steffi. I was just wondering what your reaction was to that. Also, can you imagine standing on the other side of the net from a 6'10 presence?

ANDRE AGASSI: Did he do that? All right, I look forward to that.

Q. You thought Younes was big across the net.

ANDRE AGASSI: I tell you what, I'd rather be across the net than standing over the plate. There's no question about it, he'd be my worst nightmare. I was watching him throw a ball that starts out behind my head and ends up in the wheelhouse; I'd be running towards third base.

Q. You weren't aware that he had won that bid?

ANDRE AGASSI: I actually wasn't, no.

Q. He says he didn't return very well. It looked to me as though you just kept him guessing. He never knew what was coming.

ANDRE AGASSI: I served really well today. I think, in time, when he assesses that match, he'll realize I served pretty well. But his return is a factor on the second serve more than the first. He's a guy that drops back and really gets a lot of action on the first shot. But he doesn't drop back on the first serve, he sort of looks just to get the point in play. Today, I took advantage of that.

Q. You are leading now, you won three tournaments this first part of the season. What kind of goals are you setting for the year? For example, Grand Slam, do you think is a possibility? Or is it something you are thinking about?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I'm thinking about preparing myself properly to be at my best for Paris; to make somebody play a great match to beat me. It's as simple as that.

Q. Does Steffi get to bring her five trophies home now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, she does, she does. She can put them wherever she wants.

Q. Can you talk about your clay court season? Moya said if you played a lot on clay, you'd be a threat at the French. If you didn't, he wouldn't necessarily consider you one of the favorites. What's your thinking on that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I actually disagree with that approach. For me, playing more on clay is not the answer. It's going into Paris fresh and ready and strong and physically ready to go and to lay it on the line and to make somebody play a physical match to beat me. You know, playing on Monte-Carlo is different type of clay, and it's early in the season. Playing in Hamburg is a different type of clay, it's heavy. Playing Dusseldorf is a different type of clay. Really, Rome is as close as you get to Paris and that's still not the same. So my experience tells me to make sure I'm ready physically and to make sure my game's sharp, and then to be out there, able to pay the price. That's what gets it done.

Q. After Australia, you said you were over the moon. What part of the galaxy are you in today?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's been incredible. It's hard to believe it's all still possible out there.

Q. You made so many big plays today during this match. The match wasn't really that long. The final dropshot, was that like the punctuation point on what you've been hitting today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I was against the wind there and I ripped a couple balls pretty deep and hard and he was sort of in the defensive position. It was a relatively basic shot to play, so far as I just needed to execute it. Any time you just need to execute the shot and you know it's gonna work, then you keep your head down more and you put a better cut on it. So I didn't second-guess it at all, and yeah, just showed that I was seeing the court pretty clearly.

Q. You made every point when you came to the net.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, I enjoy coming to the net on my terms. It helps with your stats, when you're up there.

Q. How big is winning this tournament to you? Is it kind of the next best thing to a Major?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no question.

Q. You're arguably playing your best tennis, about a month shy of being 33. Have you found the fountain of youth and are just not telling us?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, it's hard work and it's a lot of luck and staying healthy. I mean, I can't tell you how important that is. So I've been blessed with the body that's holding up and I'm still eager and hitting the ball as well as I ever have and moving well. Now I can bring my experience to the court. So there's a lot of things going right when it's going right.

Q. The slice serve to end the first set, down the middle, did you see where exactly that hit?

ANDRE AGASSI: Just inside the line.

Q. Inside?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. The wind was sort of tailing that way, so it was a pretty effective serve, if you swing it, it keeps moving. It was a lot like El Aynaoui's serve on any day. Never stops moving away from you. It was a one-sided breeze, it sort of leaned across the court, so it was a big advantage serving from that end.

Q. For the clay season, would that be then Rome before Paris or...?

ANDRE AGASSI: Will I play in Rome?

Q. Before Paris?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, that's my game plan. I don't know yet. As of right now, I feel all options are open to me. I've got a few weeks before Monte-Carlo, so sort of see how everything's feeling, see how my training is going. You know, if I feel like jumping in the mix, then I will. But if not, I'm not going to rush myself. I'm going to make sure I'm ready in Paris.

Q. It's to your credit that this match was so short. If you had been a fan who had paid from $50 on up to watch this match, how do you think you would have felt when it was over after an hour?

ANDRE AGASSI: Glad that I won (laughter). I would have given an extra $50 walking out, just because I won.

Q. Would you bring Steffi down to hit...?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it wasn't. How long was the match?

Q. 70 minutes.

ANDRE AGASSI: There's a lot faster matches, but it was a high standard. I converted on opportunities. Certainly, the finals here is pretty used to three-out-of-five. I think out of eight finals that I've played, or I think six of them, have been three-out-of-five. So it's gonna be potentially short if things go well for one player. But I think it was good playing three days in a row, for me, that it wasn't three-out-of-five today. Although I did feel pretty good at the end of that.

Q. You mentioned the fear of facing Randy Johnson before. Have you ever spent time in a batting cage or hit against a professional pitcher?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I never have. I never have. If I did, I'd choose my tennis racquet (smiling).

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