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Écrit par Jerome   


June 28, 2003

A. AGASSI/Y. El Aynaoui
5-7, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6

An interview with:


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Andre Agassi for you.

Q. It was fun to watch. How was it to play?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it was a good standard out there. I always enjoy playing Younes. He's frustrating at times, but overall there's a lot of tactics going on out there on the court. You know, so much does boil down to his serve because he can serve big and he can serve high percentages. It was so important today for me to take care of my own. So it felt very, very focused today.

Q. Take us through 5-6, Love-40.

ANDRE AGASSI: I had three chances at 4-All, and he got through that game. Then he served a good game to go up 6-5. Then, you know, he chip-charged twice, just came in off two serves, and it sort of gave me a different look. I didn't quite execute the passing shot, and there he was, you know, all over the net. Then at Love-30, I had a good serve out wide, and he sort of just stabbed at it with a slice. It cleared the net by an inch, then it hit the ground, almost rolled. I mean, it almost didn't even bounce. From that point, you know, I played five good points in a row which came at the perfect time.

Q. Were you surprised that he did not continue to chip and charge at that point? Were you relieved or surprised?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, not really. Some players, it's more their game. But for me, it's my strength to be able to sit and execute a passing shot. He was doing it more as a surprise. Had he continued to do that, I think it would have given me a few easy looks at some points.

Q. That first tiebreaker, that one point that was called long against him, he seemed to lose his concentration for just a couple of points after that. Did you sense that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he made a few errors quickly after that. It was a bit dodgey of a call. I wasn't convinced one way or the other how it was. Had they called it out, he overruled it, said it was in, I would have said that's a dodgey call. You know, overrules are tough because they say only on a clear mistake. Yet the only person that has to think they're clear is the umpire. Sometimes they make as many mistakes as the players do out there. So you just do your best to deal with the tough ones. He hit a forehand up the line. I was serving 30-15 maybe early in the third set, 2-All possibly, and it missed by, I mean, solidly wide. That's to go 40-15 and have a routine hold. There's just no call made. I was so surprised that the call was missed. And I end up surviving a couple breakpoints that game. It can happen both sides.

Q. How hard is it to learn how to survive in a two-week tournament? For a young player like Roddick?

ANDRE AGASSI: To survive? What do you mean?

Q. Keep going, dealing with seven matches in 14 days. The opponents get better as you go along.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I can't say you're guaranteed to have a bad match, but there's no question out of seven matches there's going to be a match that you would consider your least well-executed match. You've got to just do your best to make sure that doesn't happen on the days that you know you can't afford it. You got to hope that it doesn't happen on those days in some cases. In other cases, you have to find a way to say, "Okay, today is a day I have to find a way to pick it up." Today was a good example of that for me. You know, I played two solid matches, felt comfortable getting over the hurdle in both matches, but knew today I had to go out there and really execute because not only is Younes a talented player, but he knows how to win, he knows how to beat the best players, and he believes he can. Today was a day that you can't afford to be the slightest bit off.

Q. Does the same thing apply to Philippoussis in the next round.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I get the hunch it's going to apply the rest of the tournament. You know, some match-ups are just better than others. Any time you're on grass playing guys that can hold serve like Younes and Flip, you know, it's not easy. You have to make sure you take care of your own side of the court and hope that on the few chances you get, you can make something good happen.

Q. Did the crowd lift you? They seemed keen for you to win. Did you realize that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I always realize that. Yeah, it's really uplifting. I mean, I enjoy the energy of people appreciating a good match and getting into a good match. I've lived many years where it wasn't for me, it was against me. I've played Younes many times. He's a very popular player. So I was going out there certainly expecting it to be a bit of both. But I felt like towards the end, they were pretty appreciative of both of us and the standard of the play.

Q. At the 30-minute mark, you played a serve-and-volley point. A few of us were startled, but they thought it was probably a mistake, then you kept doing it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah (smiling). I don't know what got into me there. I probably won't do that again until about 2010. Younes has a soft slice. It's not, say, a knifing slice like Rafter or something of that nature. His slice tends to float. But that sort of works well for his game because when it floats, it doesn't have much pace; then it's hard for you to generate, and that gives him a chance to move around it and use his big forehand. So the one thing I wanted him to sort of feel is that he can't just get away with something really floating up there. I wasn't going to play a match where I have to constantly execute while he just sort of hacks it around because I'd be trying to play better tennis than he's trying to play. Percentages are going to sort of go back to him. I felt like if I could take a few out of the air, let him know he's going to have to start taking those down to hit more of a dangerous slice, he'd be taking more chances. I think it would cause me to relax more and for him to get a little bit more uptight.

Q. When you came to the net at the end of the match, there seemed to be more than the normal congratulations. A lot of respect between the two of you. Any special words?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I just basically told him that it's always a joy playing against him. I mean, he's a great professional, and even a better person. I have a lot of respect for what he's still doing, how he's managed to push his game even higher so late in his career with children. You know, he's always been a class act. I just think he's great for the game. It's always a privilege for me to be out there on the court with him.

Q. How much harder is it to play once you get children? There hasn't been a father or mom win a Wimbledon in a very long time now.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think a lot of things get harder. I mean, you don't have as much sort of time or rest, sometimes the things that do make the difference. With that being said, you have the benefit of really getting your mind away from the game. And that helps you, too, especially as you get older. But it's not easy. I mean, there's not too many guys that can play that get less sleep than I do. Younes is probably one of those guys.

Q. I believe you made a visit to Wimbledon a few weeks back. Can you tell us when that was and what the purpose was for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: It was leading up to Queen's. Just an opportunity to come here and enjoy my membership that I don't get to enjoy from the other side of the world. You know, being a member of this club makes you consider moving it's so special. You know, so when I am here, I do enjoy the opportunity of taking advantage out of it, practicing here, having a cup of tea (smiling).

Q. Was it maybe to do with mentally trying to prepare yourself for it, too, or was it just social?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, yeah, it's more about just getting in good work, enjoying a very, very sacred opportunity.

Q. How do you rank his forehand? How is it different playing against it on grass versus the hard court?

ANDRE AGASSI: His forehand is one of the best in the game. I mean, he hits the ball big. If it's up high, if it's down low, if he's getting around it and he happens to catch it close to his body, he still manages to execute it both directions. If you hit him wide to his forehand, and he is anywhere near position, he can rip it back cross-court or hit it up the line. The versatility of his forehand, it's a great shot. Anybody would be proud to have that forehand. The best weapons he has are his serve, his forehand and the way he's able to move and get around his backhand. Now he's learned how to use his backhand in a way that really neutralizes guys' ability to play against him. I mean, he hits the low slice up the line, forces you in pressure situations to draw it cross-court, and he's on the full move taking a cut with one of the biggest shots in the game. He's a difficult player to play against. He's managed to maximize his game as well as anybody.

Q. What is your feeling now about Mark Philippoussis at this stage of his career? Do you think he's as much of a threat as he was three or four years ago? How do you intend to overcome him in your next match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, he's every bit as much of a threat. And I don't know (laughter). I don't know, I might not do it. I'll work hard to figure it out when I'm out there.

Q. Steffi was watching with a young friend. Is that a friend of yours or hers?

ANDRE AGASSI: Her nephew. Spending the summer with us.

Q. The experience of winning Grand Slam tournaments, what point do you think, "Yeah, I can win this"? Does there come a point?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's a good question. Every Grand Slam sort of has its different vibe, if you will. You know, I've come into Grand Slams believing my game was a total wreck, and I just watched it come all together. I was so relieved when it came together, I let everything fly and felt great by the end of the tournament. Other times I've gone into Slams feeling like I couldn't be better off, and I just threw in a shocker. So while you might get one feeling or another, I found that through the years you can't put a whole lot of relevance on that.

Q. Can I ask you how you feel now?

ANDRE AGASSI: There's not going to be much relevance put on it. If it really matters, I mean, I felt great today. I needed to step up today and taking care of the business at hand is ultimately what you need to do. So based on how it felt today, I felt great.

Q. Kids helps you get away from the game. Are you surprised that the Williams sisters have all these outside interests like fashion designing, interior designing, yet play at the level they are?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't know what their interests are, sort of how they spend their time. I can tell you that I think their tennis in so many cases is a testament to how physically demanding a sport is. They're just better athletes. They're phenomenal athletes, the way they move, how fast they are, how strong they are. The sport of tennis is a demanding sport - physically and mentally. Physically they had it from the word "go." Ever since I first saw them. They've only put it more together in their minds. I guess if you have those kind of weapons, sometimes it doesn't matter how you spend your time.

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