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Écrit par Jerome   


November 15, 2003

A. AGASSI/R. Schuettler
5-7, 6-0, 6-4


THE MODERATOR: Andre advances to his fourth year-end championship final. He's attempting to become the oldest player to win the year-end championship. Questions.

Q. How you can play very good here and there and what is your secret?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's never been anything more than hard work and smart, smart training and preparation. Trying to keep yourself healthy and feeling good.

Q. What was going right for you in that second set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I picked up the pace of my shots a little bit in the second. You know, first set it was pretty humid out there. The balls were pretty heavy. I was a little reluctant to be too aggressive because, really, with a guy as quick as Rainer, the last thing you want to do is settle into a match where you're the one taking all the chances. You know, I was working the ball around. Trying to make him earn his points; and he did. In the second I just felt like I had no choice but to try to step up a little bit on my shots. You know, he seemed to come down a notch himself.

Q. When he came down a notch and got a break in the third, you got the break in the third, he came back again. Were you surprised he didn't stay down?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. No, I mean, at some point, you forget about what you're complaining about and you start thinking about the fact that, "I'm about to be off this court if I don't do something different." So, you know, we all go through frustrations out there. Some days you deal with it better than others. But I knew it was gonna be hard to close that one out.

Q. Did you understand what he was complaining about?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know if he was complaining.

Q. He seemed really distracted by something.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, did you ask him? He was just in here (laughter).

Q. Seriously, he wouldn't say. He said he shouldn't tell us.

ANDRE AGASSI: (Smiling). He's probably showing good judgment then. Yeah, I'd just be guessing.

Q. When you look back on your record, from what Shark has just said, do you think it seems a bit strange you've only actually won the season-ending championship once back in 1990?

ANDRE AGASSI: "Strange"?

Q. Not more, when you look at the rest of your record.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's not an easy tournament. I mean, I don't know what to say. There's been, you know, a lot of years where I've sort of come to this tournament a bit more spent than prepared. And, as you get older, the end of a long year becomes sort of more of a factor. I've spent sort of the better part of my career being older (laughter). So it's never really lended for necessarily a great environment, but for me, a great platform for me to be at my best. With that being said, you got to beat the eight best players in the world. It's not easy. Two months off, I came in here with some questions. Am I going to be ready? I felt good, but there's a lot you still have to get through out there on the court. It's turned out to be a pretty good decision, one that I probably should have made more often the last few years.

Q. How long ago does it seem, that 1990 victory in the tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: A lifetime. Lifetime.

Q. Against either Andy or Roger, do you think you'll have to be a little bit more consistent in the match tomorrow?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, certainly every match presents different scenarios. I mean, a guy like Roger doesn't allow you to just lay off shots. I mean, he has firepower from a lot of different points. And so does Andy. So, you know, I got to step up on the shots that are there for me to step up on and not hesitate. Execute my game at the best level.

Q. As an athlete, you can shut off the crowd when you want to. Maybe feed from the crowd when you want to. How often did that happen today?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, today it was sort of pretty workman-like. I had to sort of stay very focused. I guess in the middle of the third when he broke back and held to go 3-2, it would have been an easy time to get a little discouraged. But the crowd probably came into helping me there. You know, but for the most part, I was thinking about Rainer and what his game was doing and what I needed to be adjusting to.

Q. Were you satisfied with your serve? It looks like you picked up your serve in the third set or were going for more on the first serve anyway.

ANDRE AGASSI: When somebody gets a little bit more tired, they're not quite as ready to pounce on certain shots. So as long as I'm getting away with my second serve, I can take more chances with the first. I felt like I was getting away with my second serve.

Q. Gil Reyes is important in your tennis life?


Q. Why?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's kept me out here for -- we've been together 14 years. You know, he's kept me getting better as an athlete, consistently. He's helped me through some pretty difficult times. He's the reason why I'm still here.

Q. You seem very comfortable in your role as the kind of elder statesman. Are there times when you don't want to hear you're the oldest this or the oldest that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, stats are stats. My age is irrelevant to me when I'm on the court. When I'm off the court, I don't really think about it until you sort of hear those things. That is sort of less frustrating than the questions of, you know "can you still do it?" When the age is brought up from the standpoint of where you are now with the game of tennis, it's like, listen, the tennis speaks for itself; there's no guesswork out there. You can't bluff your way through anything. So I can't get around being 33 years old. You could say it one time or 100 times; it sounds the same to me.

Q. How important is Brad being around Andy in this year for him, do you think, in your opinion?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't know about their relationship. I know literally nothing about it. But I would imagine, and I would be assessing it just from the standpoint that everybody else does, which is certainly Andy's results, he's come a long ways. He's won a lot of close matches that maybe in the past he hadn't got over that hump. Look at his tiebreak record. You look at how many close sets he's played this year and how many of those he's won. Sometimes that's what it takes, just that little bit extra.

Q. Details?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean... You know, only Andy can say if he gives the credit to Brad. No, not me.

Q. How do you feel today physically and about your game compared to when you walked off the court as a champion in the clay courts here in April?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I was heading into the clay court season, which is always difficult for me. You know, I feel good. I feel like I've done some smart things since the Open, and I feel after this tournament I'll be in a better position to make some more good choices in preparation for Australia. Hopefully, I can have another good year.

Q. How long did you lay off completely after the Open? Or you really didn't do anything physical?

ANDRE AGASSI: Anything physical at all?

Q. Tennis training?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, on the court, you know, I was struggling with my hip for a long time throughout the year. So I needed to give that rest from any trauma to it at all. That was probably a good four weeks of not being on the tennis court.

Q. You worked out with Gil a little bit?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I was always training.

Q. When did your hip start bothering you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Long time ago, back during the clay season.

Q. Taking your talents into consideration, if you hadn't chosen tennis, is there another sport you think they would have translated well into for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: I suppose anything that was a function of hitting a ball - and probably, ideally , that the ball would be moving, not sitting on a tee (laughter). You know, I'm not sure about catching it and throwing it, but, you know, I'd be able to hit something. Maybe you could give me some suggestions, which sport I could play (smiling).

Q. Hasn't Darren got you out to the golf courses enough yet?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've been out there, but it's a lot more difficult to hit something that's not moving.

Q. Considering that No. 1 really isn't a priority and the Grand Slams are, how important is this tournament to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, this comes at a time that's very important for me. It's been an opportunity for me to get in some great matches in between ending a year and starting another one. Not to mention the sort of confidence that I can gain from knowing that I'm doing some things right still and have a lot to still look forward to.

Q. So you want to get some sets under your belt, a little more than you bargained for at this point?

ANDRE AGASSI: I came here expecting it to be tough. It's tougher every year.

Q. How much has your game changed since the first match against Federer, do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it was actually a quality match Roger and I played. The difference is sort of how you play those real crucial points. I think a good example of that was when Nalbandian was serving 4-5 matchpoint to me, 30-40. He missed the first serve. I hit a quality return on the second serve as opposed to just dumping it into the net like I did against Roger. So I think that's just a function of playing some matches and staying relaxed at the time when you need to really execute your shots.

Q. If it ends up being you and Andy, who do you think Mac is going to cheer for?

ANDRE AGASSI: That doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that an avid sports fan of tennis has the platform and the right to express his enthusiasms for the game. And if it requires him to go sit up in the top row like he did with the real tennis nuts, you know, tennis fans that come out, then God bless him. I think tennis is served for him participating not only financially but also with that kind of spirit.

Q. What do you think of the crowds here?

ANDRE AGASSI: They've been great. Obviously there's a strong support for the American players. We travel the world and we play everywhere, so it's nice to be home.

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