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Écrit par Jerome   


August 28, 2003

A. AGASSI/A. Vinciguerra
7-6, 6-1, 6-4


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. In the last three years, apart from the Australian Open, would you say you've underachieved in the Grand Slams in the last three years?


Q. Last three years.

ANDRE AGASSI: Last three years? That would be -- I'll have to replay it. Do you have my results there?

Q. You won Australia 2001 and 2003, four finals, the French.

ANDRE AGASSI: I know, a couple wins, that's pretty good.

Q. Is it your best level you're playing now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, tonight was a difficult match because we never played each other before, so it always takes a while to settle down. I felt like once I settled down, I started hitting my shots a lot cleaner, then felt really good about it.

Q. Talk about the transition you made in your game from the first and second sets?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, we took a while to sort of get a clear assessment as to what his real strengths were. Obviously, his forehand's a bigger shot, but which way he sort of likes to hit it, sort of his serve. I wasn't picking up his serve very well the first set. I felt like I started moving on the serve a little better, started reading his serve a little better. I thought my backhand up the line started getting a lot more direct, with a lot more purpose, which allowed me to stay in control of a lot more baseline points, then I started loosening up on my forehand and started hitting some big forehands. It was like a four-point swing.

Q. Did you practice against a lefty, speaking of serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yesterday, I had a hit with a lefty, just to get used to the different spin.

Q. Did it help? Did you still need a set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it helps. But, you know, there's a lot of subtleties involved when you play against somebody, especially never playing them before, sort of how to read their serve. Everybody has a different motion, everybody has a different place of contact, everybody likes to hit different serves at different times. So all that still takes a while when you never played somebody.

Q. The learning process of it wasn't just so much him being a southpaw; was it more just learning his serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it was a combination of what his strengths are. You know, he can slide his serve around, and then he's quick enough to get -- to turn the next balls into forehands. So he has a good one-two punch. It's a good lefty serve, spinny serve, which sometimes it's hard to hit cleanly. If you leave that short or leave that hanging, he dances around and he can jack the forehand either direction. You know, once I got it to his backhand, I was in control of the point. There were just a lot of games where he was serving where he was getting the first crack at the first shot.

Q. When you play someone like him, do you have like a tactic or do you say "I play my game, that's enough"? You said you never played before. Did it just develop?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the idea is to make your opponent deal with you. See, in tennis it's not so much about exact strategy as much as about imposing your will. So you need strategy sometimes in order to do that. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes you're strong enough against a certain type of player where you can just lean on all your shots and control everything. But today was a day where I needed to make sure that I was hitting the ball deep at certain times so he couldn't get around it. Other times I needed to hit it short so he couldn't get around it. So my strategy was to control the point. The way I needed to do that was I needed to get to his backhand first.

Q. You're playing Kafelnikov next round.

ANDRE AGASSI: It's going to be a good match. He has a lot of experience. We've played some great matches in the past. You know, we're both going to be looking to do the same thing, which is control the baseline.

Q. Do you like playing against him?


Q. He talked about retiring in the last year if they won the Davis Cup. Changed his mind. Are you surprised to see him out here at a high level?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm not surprised, no. I think he's very talented. You know, I think had he gone about his career, say, more by investing in himself a little bit more, by choosing his tournaments, by trying to peak for the right tournament, I think he could have accomplished a lot more than he has. But he's still out here because of his game. You know, he does a lot of things well out there.

Q. Would anything less than winning this tournament be a disappointment for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's always a disappointment to lose. It's always a disappointment. You know, I'm here to win. Ultimately, you just want somebody to play a great match to beat you because it's a lot easier to live with that.

Q. How much easier is it to play in front of the home crowd here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's great to have the support. I always love playing here in New York, especially in the night. You know, it's just a great atmosphere, unlike any other. You know, they pull you through. After 17 years, they don't want to see a fourth set with me, which is something I appreciate (smiling). For a good stage of my career, they supported me. Going too smoothly, stay out here a little bit longer. You know, they really were giving me a lot of support out there.

Q. You and Todd are two months apart, both 33. When did you first meet? What kind of connection do you have now?

ANDRE AGASSI: First time we played? I think we played in Indianapolis the first time. I didn't really know Todd as a junior. Been on tour a long time together. Certainly a respect I have for him as a player, the way he conducts himself on the court and off the court.

Q. You withdrew from the Cincinnati tournament. Did the rest help you to prepare better for the US Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think so. I had enough matches over the summer. It's very important for me to choose my tournaments wisely. I don't have energy to burn anymore, certainly mentally as much as physically. It's important for me to come here fresh, ready to go. I feel pretty good. I feel like I've done it right to give myself the best chance.

Q. You feel totally fit; no injury concerns whatsoever?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's correct. I feel real good.

Q. You have many Grand Slam titles, all surfaces. What is your motivation to continue playing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think, you know, for me it's never been about winning tournaments; it's always been about trying to get better as a tennis player. I think it's important for every athlete, when their career is done, to be able to say they got the most out of their tennis, out of their game, that they got to see their best level, whether it's for a week or whether it's for, you know, five years. I want to always push myself to get better, and I want to feel like I'm playing tennis I've never played before. That's my motivation.

Q. Pete was talking about you had a talk before about retirement. I don't see that coming for you. What did you think when he was telling you what he was thinking about doing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't really care to sort of share our conversation because I think I'm not at liberty to do that. But, you know, I will say that it's easy for me to identify with what has motivated Pete in the past, and what's motivating him now, and what's not motivating him now. It's easy to understand. It's not easy to do this, travel the world all year round, when you've done it so many times, the work that you have to put into it constantly. You compromise everything in your life on a daily level, not just today because I was playing, but all the weeks leading up to it, all the weeks of training, the weeks of preparation, even the weeks that you get to rest, you have to rest. Sometimes your family pays the price for what you have to do to be at your best. There's a big price tag that's involved. Certainly the longer you do it, the harder it gets. It's easy to understand.

Q. Talking about the development of the game, would you say Andre Agassi from 2003 would beat the Andre Agassi from 1995?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would hope so. That would be my hope. You know, we can talk about all sorts of champions playing champions. If you compare Pete with Borg versus McEnroe.

Q. Do you think you play better now than you did like five years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I want to believe so. Yeah, I want to believe so. At the end of the day, all I'm doing is looking at myself trying to assess it, so it's not easy.

Q. What's the shift in your racquet size?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know exactly. I mean, constantly with their continual efforts to make a better racquet, have done a great job throughout my career to make adjustments that help improve my game. Sometimes it's weight, sometimes it's balance, sometimes it's size or length. In this case, there's been an adjustment made that makes it maybe a touch smaller, but not enough to even feel a difference.

Q. Your biggest tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's for you to decide and you to write. I look forward to reading it. For me, I have one person to think about, and that's Kafelnikov.

Q. When you're preparing for a big tournament like this, what importance do you put on skills training and strength and conditioning?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's an ongoing balance. We have no off-season, so you're always negotiating your rest versus your preparation and how much time you have, where you are, where you want to go, how realistic it is to accomplish certain things. In this case I had a couple weeks before the US Open. It's enough time to get a little bit stronger, to get a little bit fitter, but to make sure you come in here fresh and eager. A lot of little decisions. It's not always the same.

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