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Écrit par Jerome   


August 26, 2003

A. AGASSI/A. Corretja
6-1, 6-2, 6-2


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. We've seen two of your contemporaries retire, Pete and Michael. You've been referred to as the last of the old guard. What are your thoughts on that nomenclature?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's a weird feeling. You know, you feel like you just sort of expect to leave the dance with the ones you came with, you know. When they decide that it's time for them, it's a sad feeling. You know, there's no two ways about it. I don't look at Pete being gone as anything good for anybody, excluding maybe him. Same with Michael. Just great competitor. I'm certainly proud to still be doing this this long and at this level. But sometimes you just wish things would never change.

Q. Not only are you doing the dance, you're doing the jitterbug.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I feel pretty good. Every day is a different challenge that's asked of you. Today was certainly that. I felt great about the way I was playing, the way I was hitting the ball, the way I was moving, the way I played the bigger points. A lot of crucial points that could have made that match a lot closer. So I felt pretty good.

Q. In the past people played to an older age, now 32 or 33 is Social Security ages. Is that your perception? If so, is there a reason for that?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's not perception. I mean, there's just not many 32 -, 33-year-olds out there playing. If they are, the question is where are they playing in reference to where they played in the past? I think a lot of athletes have shown you can be at your best through your 30s.

Q. In other sports, maybe.

ANDRE AGASSI: It's a young sport. You come into it young. A lot of wear and tear, no off-season. You travel the entire globe. It's just mental, physical demands on your body, your joints, elbows, shoulders, knees, back. There's no time, no off-season to rest, then prepare, go again. I think the body takes a pretty good beating.

Q. Was there discussion of you taking part last night physically in the ceremony, being on the court?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Pete didn't ask me to do it. I mean, if there's anybody that knows what it's like the night before you play, it would be Pete.

Q. Did you watch it on television?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, yeah. Sure, I did.

Q. What was your quick reaction as you watched?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, how do you find words for that, you know? It's a special time to be here and to watch it happen. I mean, I've had the privilege of watching him from the other side of the net so many times, to compete against him, to be pushed by him. So many memorable matches. He's truly deserving of everything that's come his way, especially this, enjoying his family and moving on from the sport. But, you know, it's sad for me. I've been with him a long time.

Q. What is your impression of how Roddick has played this summer and what Brad Gilbert's influence may have?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's played great this summer. I mean, it's hard for me to say exactly where Brad has sort of made a difference, but I can definitely assure you that Brad will make a difference. Brad's a great coach. You know, Andy just seems like a lot of things are coming together for him. He is a young kid who is getting older and getting better by the month. You know, that's going to happen if he stays in bed every day.

Q. People are talking about you and Andy as being the two guys drawing the interest in this tournament. With Sampras and Chang gone, most of your contemporaries, do you like the fact at 32 you're still being asked to carry that load?

ANDRE AGASSI: 33 (smiling). You know, I enjoyed carrying the load with Pete. Now, to still be here doing it, is certainly something I take a lot of pride in. But, again, for me it's about what happens inside the lines. Every day is a new one. I don't think much about that.

Q. Is there any chance that in not having Pete as a foil, that could hasten your departure?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I would like to believe that my decision sort of would be independent of that. I mean, you know, I don't think any athlete really has an idea of how things are going to end for them. For me, like I've addressed before, you know, I feel a strong sense of obligation to this game for everything it's given to me. I feel like there are thousands and thousands of children in the inner city of Las Vegas that benefit from the fact that I still am out here trying to be the best at this, at tennis.

Q. Benefit financially?

ANDRE AGASSI: They benefit every way. They benefit through the money that we raise for the foundation, through the school that's been put up, through the Boys and Girls Club, Assistance League, we clothe 3,000 children a year plus. There are a lot of great things that have come from it. For me, I want to give everything I have as long as possible. How it comes to an end is going to be news to me as well.

Q. But that's all financial. I'm wondering, when you say the obligation to the kids, is it for them to see you fighting?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's part of it. I also would think the biggest part is just the awareness of what these children's lives are like. To be able to bring hope into a child's life is one of the greatest differences we can make in the world. I believe the awareness to it is every bit as important as the monetary contributions and time that people have given.

Q. Do you find this day format with a day off better? Is it better to have the day?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I prefer that. You know, I feel like I can go every bit as hard and every bit as long as I ever could. But playing matches back to back to back, they can take their toll. Sometimes it's mental, as well.

Q. How much of a consideration is the fact that the final is after the semis with no day in between?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's always been difficult. It makes winning it a little bit more special. But it's something you wish you didn't have -- the standard of tennis is compromised for it.

Q. I don't know if you know about this letter that John McEnroe and Becker sent to the ITF saying the new racquets are making the game one-dimensional. Do you know about the letter? Do you agree with that in any way, the technology has changed the game to its detriment?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know about the letter. You know, these guys are the best in the world. You can give them anything and it would still be the same people out there competing for it. Yeah, I think equipment does get better. There's no question about that, which picks up the speed of the ball. The last two years, Hewitt has been No. 1. I mean, that's a guy that is 5'10" and runs from the back of the court, you know, keeps the ball in play. Whenever somebody has a strength, there's a way to oppose it. The idea is two people going out there and getting the job done, whatever rules you throw in the game. That's what I believe makes tennis so special.

Q. Do you think fan-wise some people don't want to see guys slugging it out from the baseline, they'd rather see more serve and volley, and that's kind of being lost?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know if the game would be necessarily affected that way. If you put a wood racquet in my hand, I don't think I'm going to be coming to the net - unless I was shaking hands or something. Yeah, no, it's hard to say how the game would be affected. I know today we were playing a lot of rallies from the baseline. It will be that way probably in my next match. So you get a wide range of play. I think the versatility of the different kinds of players is what makes tennis interesting. It's what was nice about me and Pete playing. It was two different styles. I could sort of -- I was challenged by the way he played the game and he was challenged by the way I played the game. It's important to see all parts of the game.

Q. What does Alex not do so well now that he used to do when he was No. 2 in the world?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's hard to say. Obviously he's a little low on confidence. He's still a good mover and striker of the ball. Windy conditions, not having a lot of confidence, it's easy to miss a few shots on crucial points. I don't think the score was as reflective as how close some of those sets could have been.

Q. Many of us marveled at your ability to recall so many matches in your career. Michael brought out of the blue a match the two of you played when you were Juniors, when he was 11. He said that you gave him a bum call on a sideline call. Do you remember that? Now is your opportunity to respond.

ANDRE AGASSI: I remember when we were little giving him a number of beatings. I don't recall any of them being determined by a line call, no.

Q. Do you realize you scarred his childhood?

ANDRE AGASSI: He was a year and a half younger. He had to take it. He was always playing up and always deserved a little bit.

Q. At the end he said maybe the call was out after all. Maybe he had a revisionist thought on the whole thing.

ANDRE AGASSI: The thing is, I think we probably played just a few times when we were younger. He was a lot like Pete in the sense he was always playing up in his age group, which meant he was pushing himself but not getting very far in the tournaments.

Q. It's amusing to see the pictures as youngsters. Who was more amusing as a junior, Pete with his two-handed backhand, or Michael running all over the place?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think Jeff Tarango wins that. When it comes just as straight amusing, I don't think it's changed much. No, Pete and Michael were pretty similar in the way they played. Both ran well and push the ball.

Q. When you were watching Pete last night on TV in the ceremony, hearing his comments, could you relate to what he was saying about, "I know in my heart," he told us he was trying to train for Wimbledon, just didn't have it in him? Have you ever had any of those feelings? Could you relate?

ANDRE AGASSI: I feel that way most of the time. That's not a joke. Most of the time I feel like, "Today's the day I can't do it." That to me is the challenge. It always has been. I certainly identify with it. I understand the decision to not do it anymore. But, you know, my choices are different right now.

Q. Where do you want to go out? Pete chose here. Where do you want to say farewell?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't have any thoughts towards that at all.

Q. Steffi said, "See you," never allowed for anything like that. Would you?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's possible. It's all hindsight, isn't it? Does anybody really know? I don't sort of speculate. It wouldn't be my style to sort of carve something out, do a farewell plan. That wouldn't be my thing. You know, I'm ranked 1 right now. If we sort of want to keep the conversation more present.

Q. You said it was a challenge every day. You made it sound like it's almost agony.

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Well, it's a challenge. You know, it's hard work. I was making reference to what Pete made comment to, which is it takes a lot of work. There are a lot of questions that you have to get answered. You have to have reasons to find those answers. Once you lose your desire to find those answers, "Can I get through this again? Do I want to get through this again," then you make your decision. But for me, I have to answer that question a lot. "Is this still what I want to be doing?" I ask it every day one way or another. Everything I do, I'm always asking if this is where I want to be, if this is what I want to be doing. That's what makes it good.

Q. What is the one quality that has both kept you going as an athlete and given you such excellence over the years?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I'm very detail-oriented. I don't think much about planning to win this tournament, planning for this year, planning. To me, you know, it's about getting better every day. I think keeping my goals in such the short-term have allowed me to build a lot of momentum for myself.

Q. You were asked earlier about Andy being coached by Brad. Was there anything you playing Andy in the past or watching, when you heard they were getting together, you said, "Brad can help him with this, it will be a good pairing"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Good pairings, you never know. Andy is a good player, Brad is a good coach. That always lends for great sort of productivity in any relationship. That was my assessment. Andy's young, still learning how to get the most out of his game. Brad will be able to help him take steps closer to that. How far one can help somebody, there's a lot that goes on in between the lines. That's sort of more on the personal side, how things work out, how one likes how the other one deals with the coaching or with the playing. I can't speak to that. But Brad -- I certainly knew Brad would help him.

Q. Do you take it as a challenge, "Andy is playing great, this is his US Open," where you can be sitting here saying, "I'm the No. 1 seed"? Does that go into your motivation at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. It's with sports. Regardless of what the odds are, you got to go out there and execute. You got to go out there and get the job done, doesn't matter if you're favored or not. I think Andy has played incredible tennis for the last number of months. I mean, he deserves every bit of props he gets for that. He's still got to go out there, punch in on the clock and get the job done. Regardless of how well I'm playing, how well I'm not playing, I look at it the same way, which is I have one job to do today, which is to find a way to beat this guy. That's why it's sports. You can't phone in the result.

Q. You spoke earlier about a lot of crucial points that could have gone either way. In this match, the stats other than winners, were very close. Can you talk about whether knowing what to do on those big points and how to do it has come with 33 years or somewhere else along the line?

ANDRE AGASSI: Alex has close to that, too, mind you. It's about executing your game to the best of your ability in any given situation. It's not that you need to play a point differently. Quite the opposite: you need to make sure you play it the same way you're playing the others, which is taking the chance on the right ball. I just think on big points it's easy to make worse decisions because there's more on the line. Experience definitely helps me to stay more relaxed and to continue to play the game I'm trying to play out there, regardless what the score is.

Q. Why do you still feel a passion for tennis after so many matches? Pete was saying he just lost it, it was gone. What is it about going out there and playing tennis that you enjoy?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I enjoy the challenge of it, first of all. A person needs to work. This is what I do, this is what I've done my whole life. But I think it's also a function of what I feel the game's given me, what I try to give back to it. There's only so many ways to do that. One of the ways is to get out there and keep working, keep trying to be at your best. Like I mentioned before, my foundation, the children of Vegas have benefited a lot from my work, and continue to do so.

Q. Getting older isn't just about physically aging, it's also about moving on in life. Do you think moving on, becoming a husband and father, can encroach on your ability to perform at the highest level. If so, being married to the best female player in the world, how much support does she offer you?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it helps being married to the greatest lady in the world. That's how I look at it. You know, it's all a function of what kind of support you have around you. That starts at home, starts with your wife, in my case. I get a lot of support, partly because she's aware of what goes into what I need to do in order to have a chance at any of these accomplishments, but also because she cares about what I care about. Also those around me, from my coach to my trainer to my friends to those that help make decisions every day that balance my life. You know, all those variables are hugely important. I believe you can do both, but you can't do both if you're compromised. Everybody has to sort of be on the same page. I have that luxury.

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