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Écrit par Jerome   


August 31, 2003

A. AGASSI/Y. Kafelnikov
6-3, 7-6, 6-4



Q. Take us through how it was to have the match split up from yesterday and today, how it affected you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it makes for a long day, there's no question about it. It's tough for both players. I mean, we were out there yesterday going on and off the court a couple times. That's not an easy situation. But for the match to get called, and to be the only match that didn't finish yesterday, I think was a mistake, an oversight in judgment.

Q. Because of the competitive interest for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah. I mean, you know, that puts me, or Kafelnikov, in a position to have to come back two days in a row against a match that's concluding. I mean, if truly the only option was to play us today, then the match we play the winner of should have been canceled, as well. So, you know, it's just difficult circumstances.

Q. Did you let that be known to anyone, tournament people?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I sure did. I had a, you know, long conversation afterwards about it. I mean, you know, the decision was sort of made unbeknownst to me or Yevgeny. You know, that's the first sort of issue with it, which is, you know, the two guys that are affected most at least should be part of the process in whatever decision gets made. And then, you know, the decision itself was questionable.

Q. What was the explanation given to you by them?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, they didn't want a situation where me and Yevgeny were finishing the day session, and they have 23,000 people waiting outside for hours to get in for the night session. But that was sort of a moot point because, you know, they could have canceled the day and just got us to start the night, just had Todd Martin and Ginepri to follow. I consider it nothing short of an oversight. Mistakes happen. Brian Earley was great about it, said to me afterwards, "We could have handled that one a lot better." That was good enough for me to say, "All right. Well, let's put it behind us."

Q. Presumably you're glad it went pretty quickly.

ANDRE AGASSI: I certainly think it put us in a position where it could have been a pretty big disadvantage. In this case, it doesn't quite work out that way, which is a good thing.

Q. Could you take us through a quick off-day workout? What would you be doing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Start by changing some diapers, followed by, you know, cooking some breakfast for a two-year-old, followed by a little bit of Buzz Lightyear (smiling) - and then we move to the tennis part, which is just basically about 45 minutes or an hour on the court. Again, you're not preparing during the tournament; you've already done your homework and you're just trying to keep yourself fresh and eager and sharp. So I don't spend much more than an hour on the court on days off.

Q. What is your role when you're playing Buzz Lightyear?

ANDRE AGASSI: Playing it meaning push "play" meaning video.

Q. It's not that much work for you.

ANDRE AGASSI: You've got to explain everything. I try to stay in tune to it.

Q. A while ago we interviewed when you played Connors. During that game, a gentleman yelled out, "He's nothing, you're a legend," to Connors. Now that all this time has gone by, the accomplishments that you made here at the US Open, what do you think that gentleman would say today?

ANDRE AGASSI: He's probably in the 55-and-olders watching Jimmy play still. I have no idea.

Q. How well do you know Taylor?

ANDRE AGASSI: How well do I know him?

Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: Just see him around, played him a couple times. I wouldn't know how to answer that really.

Q. So not that well?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not that well, no.

Q. Andy has had obviously a great early start with Brad as his coach. What are the one or two qualities that are really Brad's best qualities as a tennis coach?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he knows the game. You know, I think, like I always said for years with Brad, you know, his greatest strength was how much he could extract from his game. He's one of those guys that you would call an overachiever and mean that in the greatest of ways - because his abilities were good, but his achievements were great. I think that's sort of an instinct for the game that reflects, you know, knowing it really well. So that's what he does best.

Q. Do you think you're going to see a different Taylor tomorrow than you might have seen last year, the year before?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I got to believe at that age, you're getting better all the time - you know, at least you would expect that. So I go out there expecting him to be playing a great match. Anything shy of a great match, I'm hoping, doesn't get it done for him.

Q. Because you like to play opposition of styles in tennis, is it encouraging to see somebody 22 years old playing serve and volley and succeeding at this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. It's sort of smash-and-volley tennis (smiling). I don't think Taylor's too interested in hitting a volley. While he has good hands, his serve is monster and has a lot of firepower. I think it's a part of the game that is missed. I wish we could see more of it.

Q. Todd Martin was talking about as he got older, he got more cognizant, almost more nervous, of last chances, being No. 1. Is that something that even comes into your mind?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think it gets harder as you get older for a number of reasons. I think between your body and your mind, your heart, the energy, the focus, the determination, the eagerness, the freshness, all those things get tougher. Then you have the asset and sometimes the liability of pretty keen awareness as to what's going on out there. A lot of times it helps you. And there are some times where it's a liability.

Q. Do you have those "this could be my last" thoughts? Or because you're No. 1 in the world...

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I've thought that for going on three years now, every time on the court, "This could be the last." I'm very well aware of it. I don't know how it's going to end. I just know that it's not now. You know, I can't speak to where I'll be a year from now. I'm out there every day with an appreciation for how rare this opportunity is.

Q. Among other things, you're known for your memorable ads. The American Express ad on air now is fabulous. Where does that rank in terms of all the ads?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I mean, great creative work by American Express. You know, I had to sort of okay it. I'm glad it sort of turned out to be as entertaining as it seemed like it was on paper. Yeah, I think the one I enjoyed filming the most was probably street tennis with Pete. That was just a lot of fun. I think that's certainly my favorite. But this is up there. I mean, this is cute.

Q. Did the crowd get going in San Francisco when you filmed that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, they were pretty good.

Q. It was a California Street, Knob Hill?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't remember the exact location, but it was in San Francisco, yeah.

Q. You had a great first four months of the year. The last four months haven't quite been up to your standards. Any explanation for that? Do you feel like the next four months, particularly here, you --

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, the explanation is clay and grass. I mean, it's surfaces that are a lot more difficult, at least for my style of play, that I have to make adjustments to. You know, they're both only going to get harder as sort of it goes on. But the summer, you know, it's been a busy time. You have to balance your life. Things fall into place. You have to know what you're shooting for. This summer it's been important to me to be here in New York, ready to go. I played enough matches this summer to feel good about that. Now it's about sort of turning the corner and playing the best tennis at the right time. If I can find a way to get the job done this next week, this is an all-time great year.

Q. Do you think what happened last night, there's such late night sessions here, does that hurt the competitive integrity of this tournament, especially compared to other Slams?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the standard of tennis is compromised by TV having such a say so in scheduling. With that being said, it's an additional part of what makes this tournament so difficult to win. I've been a part of three losing finals here at The Open. I felt in each case I paid a good price for the match that was played the day before. The two times that I won here, the matches in the semis tended to be a little more uneventful. There's a big factor to what happens on Saturday to your Sunday match. That's what makes it tough; that's what makes it rewarding. But it definitely compromises the standard of tennis that you could see.

Q. How do you feel physically right now? The retirement of Sampras, how did you feel when you found out about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I feel great now. Nothing to speak of that's of concern. You know, I mean, the longer it took for Pete to make his decision, the more obvious it was becoming that his decision was going to be to retire. You don't have to play this game very long to realize how difficult it is to be away a month or two, let alone six months, nine months, you know, a year. It was getting more of a remote possibility for him to continue playing. You know, mixed emotions about it.

Q. Did it bother you? I know when Borg retired, Connors said that was a devastating blow to the round-robin type of thing that was going on. Is that the same type of thing you may have had with Pete?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think there's sort of a piece of history that is over now, so that can never be replaced. I mean, I think new situations, new rivalries will possibly grow, things will happen. But it will never be the same as what it was because things are different now. You sort of accept life moving on. I don't know if it's devastating. I think that in many ways I look back with the feeling of, you know, that I got to experience something pretty special. Along the way, hopefully, so did a lot of other people.

Q. The other night Ljubicic complained afterwards about Andy's on-court behavior. He said that he thought Roddick was too demonstrative on the court, affects the umpires, if he had played anywhere else but the United States, he would have won. Went on and on for a couple days. Can you talk about Andy, the idea that a player would say that he's very unpopular among players because of the way he acts on the court. Did you ever experience that, did people talk about you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Listen, I'm sure there's been a lot of people throughout my life who have thought less than fondly about me. But, you know, I can't really speak to what 126 other guys feel about Andy or anybody else. Based on what was said, I can only say that we know how Ljubicic feels about him.

Q. Andy called him that night at 1:30 in the morning because he was so troubled by it. Called him in his hotel room to talk it through. Have you ever had a situation like that? Would you ever call an opponent after a match to talk about something like that? Do you think that's unusual?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I mean, in an ideal world, you always hope that somebody addresses issues face to face. So I would hope to respond to any issue that I'm going through, to respond to it straight up and straightforward, to at least live up to the standard I try to set for myself.

Q. Presumably, traveling with two kids is going to be more complicated than one. How much is the family being able to travel as a unit going to affect your decision in terms of your schedule?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know (smiling). Can you tell me? Does anybody know? I don't know, I don't know.

Q. Your ability to travel, do you think that would factor at all? Would you be willing to leave them at home if it's too much?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know where sort of that line will get drawn, where I say, "This is too hard on the family," or, "This is too hard on the kids, us." You know, I know we can all speculate as to how things are going to play out. I certainly could sit here and guess all day long. But that doesn't really get us anywhere. I think I'll have to see how it unfolds, but hope that we can organize it a little bit longer because I'm still out there doing this, and trying to do it well.

Q. Mary Carillo said today that you know something about hitting a tennis ball that the rest of us just don't know about. In that context, what do you think the keys are to your incredible groundies? Was it your early practice and training?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's really twofold. You have to have the fundamentals that allow you to swing at a ball effectively in a number of different ranges. You need the fundamentals that allow you to do it. If the ball is low, since we're talking about Connors so much today, you take Connors, he had a certain grip, he would struggle with the ball being too high. You take other guys, like Borg's forehand, would struggle with the ball getting too low. I think there's certain fundamentals that need to exist in order for someone to have a wide range of strike zone. I think you need to nurture that by forcing yourself to execute in every situation. I think it's twofold: you got to be able to pick the ball up, you got to be able to see it early, and you got to have the fundamentals that allow you to swing. You can't get in your own way. For me, I feel pretty comfortable with the ball at my shoulder, my head level. I feel pretty comfortable, you know, if it's around my sock line. I'm going to take a good cut at it.

Q. Do you feel equally comfortable on both wings?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. The toughest shot in tennis is a backhand above your shoulder. There's no question that certain ones are a bit more difficult. With that being said, I still expect to hit it well.

Q. Are you ever bothered by players who are too demonstrative? You played Jimmy, Lleyton, Andy. Is it pretty much about whether or not you won or lost when you come off the court?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, when you're out there on the tennis court, it's highly emotional and highly competitive. You get into a different frame of mind. You're in an environment that sort of brings out - with some people - the worst of them. In some people, it brings out the best of who they are. I think we can sit here in our own minds and have many examples of how many times we've seen competitors on the court inspire us and other times disappoint us. I try not to sort of value it one way or the other when I'm out there. I try to sort of stick to my job and do what it is that I'm asked to do. I can clearly say it's very understandable for situations to affect your respect for people when you're off the court. The respect factor will vary, but hopefully the way I conduct myself or the way I compete will never vary.

Q. As the tournament is unfolding, anything that surprises you in the rest of the draw?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I haven't sort of been grinding through it. I've been trying to take care of the one ahead of me as well as my family in between. You know, every match can be an incredible one. I certainly watch each match with anticipation of something special happening. You know, this year is no different. We've seen some great matches.

Q. Surprised to see Ferrero, Coria, Moya in the second week?


Q. Are you very focused on the tension of the string? Does the quality of the string job and shape of the racquet make that much of a difference in the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: The racquet's an extension of your arm. It's truly something that has to feel right for how you play the game. For me it's vitally important. When I go to new balls, I go to new strings because I want the tension to play the same. If the ball is going to play faster, I want something a little tighter. I feel pretty sensitive to my own awarenesses out there. You know, ideally you want all your equipment to be the same. If everything is the same, you can only blame yourself. That's why I've counted on the people I've counted on over the years. Everyone is the same.

Q. Are there really that many toys on the floor in your house?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, there's not quite that many, no.

Q. Are you using a smaller racquet in this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Like I've said before, you know, Head and I have always made adjustments with the frame throughout the course of our time together. This particular is a touch smaller. It's nowhere near midsize, but it's a little less circumference.

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