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Écrit par Jerome   


November 13, 2003

A. AGASSI/D. Nalbandian
7-6, 3-6, 6-4


THE MODERATOR: This is Andre's sixth semifinal in the year-end championship. Questions.

Q. How good does that feel, to be in this position right now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it feels great. I mean, it feels great for a number of reasons. First of all, just to beat a top player in a highly competitive match, and to get over that sort of hump that I didn't get over in my first match, it feels great. It feels great to get in a number of tough matches, because that's what I was really looking for here, is to settle into my game and at least feel like I'm competitive out there. I think it puts me -- gives me just what I was looking for sort of going into next year, which is not just the matches but also the confidence. It feels real good.

Q. What was the turning point for you? A lot of ups and downs in that match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know, it's always a bit precarious for both players that haven't played each other. I think the first set, while it was highly competitive, I think it was sort of a really function of us figuring each other out in some pretty tricky conditions. I mean, it was cold. The wind was blowing. It wasn't very predictable wind. Sometimes you had it on your back. Sometimes you're on that same side and it was sort of coming at you. You never quite knew what to expect out there from who you're playing, also with the conditions. We both were trying to figure that one out. And, you know, that breaker is just one of those breakers that, obviously, can go either way. After the first set I felt like the quality of tennis picked up. He raised his game. Broke me off bat. But I felt like I played a good set. You know, excluding dropping my serve, it was quality tennis, was good. I felt like I was in a lot of games. I took care of my serve. Going into the third, I picked it up from there and jumped off to the lead, which eventually helped me to close it out.

Q. Is there something deceptive about his backhand down the line?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. It's the fact that he can hit it short cross court so effectively. You got to respect that. When I hit a backhand cross court, hard and punishing, I'm used to being in a very offensive position. He established really early that he has the quickness and anticipation to move over there and comfortably play it up the line. So now when I go over to hit my backhand cross court, after I hit it, you know, I got to respect that shot up the line. But then he was quick to show me that he can just, you know, go all day back short cross court. So then it was sort of choose your poison, you know. Am I gonna stay at home and hit my backhand cross court and stay at home and make him do something special? Or am I going to occasionally try to take that away and sometimes get beat with an average ball backhand cross court. That has a lot to do with his versatility in his backhand as well as how well he moves on the court. He gets that ball pretty early.

Q. Was it difficult to maintain your composure, especially in that first tiebreaker when he was constantly yelling at the umpire?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, listen, I've been on both ends of that before. So I certainly understood the emotions of being frustrated with some calls. I looked up to the TV box because nobody wants to see bad calls, especially when the first set's gonna be decided on one shot possibly So... I looked up. There was confirmation at least through the television, I don't know what they call that thing, the computer graphic, that said the calls were accurate. So, you know, I felt good about that. Then sort of gave him his room to vent 'cause sometimes that's what you need to do.

Q. Closed with a Max Mirnyi flourish in for the volley.

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, yeah. Again, David uses his speed so well that a lot of times when you hit a punishing shot he can just play it soft and just straight back to the middle of the court knowing that no matter what you do on the next ball, he'll have a chance to recover. Then if you don't do quite enough, he's quick to turn the point around. So he was playing that safe sort of chip, and when I hit that first punishing backhand short and I saw that he was going to the chip, I was pretty sure he was gonna float it. I just moved forward and it was the right call.

Q. Both Nalbandian and Ferrero have proven themselves to be very, very good high-quality hard court players this year. Is it especially rewarding to beat them back-to-back?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sure, it is. They're great players having great years. Again, coming off two months of no competitive tennis, it gives me a lot of confidence to go forward from here.

Q. You said you'd seen him a lot when we talked last night.


Q. Being on the court with him now, does that give you the feeling he's going to be a really good player?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he already is.

Q. Yes, but I mean beyond that.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he's gonna beat a lot of guys. He'll beat a lot of guys because of his skills and his competitiveness. He's a good fighter out there. You never feel like he sort of lets go of the match. You know, even losing to Federer 3-love, he wasn't watching balls go by; he was making Federer do it, and Federer did. That's a great sign for his future. You know, anybody that returns well and moves well and, you know, has such a feel for the ball, he really moves the ball around with great feel, playing topspin lobs just inside the baseline, hitting returns at your feet. He has a great feel for the game. I mean, I think his body will take a good pounding because he relies on it so much. So it will be important that he looks out after himself.

Q. What about Schuettler?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, he's one of the quickest guys in the game. Very solid from the back of the court. Obviously, having a great year. It's gonna be a real similar match in a sense that I'm gonna have to execute and take care of my side of the court effectively or else he can create a lot of headaches for you.

Q. Do you find it at all disconcerting that the promoter of the event was outwardly supporting one player over the other? I mean, obviously, he's an American and you know him well. But he's kind of invited all the players here. Some of the players seem to be bothered by that.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't know exactly what you're speaking of, so... He suggested support for one or the other?

Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know... Yeah, that's... You know, he's done a lot to help the game of tennis. He's given tens of millions to the sport. So I believe if there's anybody that should be showing support and nurturing a generous person to the game, it should be the players. Maybe my choice would be different if I was him, but we need to look out for the game as well. I can assure you the best way to start is respecting what he's done.

Q. Talking about Schuettler, do you think his game and mental attitude, is it miles above when you played him at the beginning of the year in the Australian?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah, he was obviously playing well down there to get to the final. So, you know, I can't speak to how different environments affect his game. I mean, he beat me in Canada. So I go out there every match expecting a dogfight, expecting him to play well, expecting him to play better. I'll make him play a great match to beat me; that's for sure.

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