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Écrit par Jerome   


January 21, 2004

A. AGASSI/T. Berdych
6-0, 6-2, 6-4


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Must have felt pretty good.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I thought that was a high-standard match. Sometimes the score line is not reflective of the work that's going into a match. And that was a match where we both were striking the ball very cleanly. I was coming up with the right shots at the right time.

Q. What do you think of him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Like his game a lot. He has a lot of potential. You know, he's going to be a real good player.

Q. What particularly?

ANDRE AGASSI: First, he's a big guy. He's probably still going to grow. Moves pretty well for his size. Has a big serve that's only going to get better. Big forehand and backhand that he hits both directions, cross-court and up the line. He's not scared to take chances. When he came in, the few times he came in, he looked like he knew what he was doing at net. You know, he's only going to improve. He has a lot to look forward to.

Q. Seven Americans in the top half of the draw, one in the bottom. Any thoughts on how that's shaking out?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sort of one-sided there. I don't know what to say. That's the way it goes.

Q. Can you talk about the potential clash between Roddick and Taylor, two young guys who may go at it in the next round?

ANDRE AGASSI: Is that right? There's a lot of tennis right now. I think Taylor is a set apiece, and Andy is just starting. But two guys that I'm sure know each other pretty well. Two real big games. You know, Taylor has a lot of firepower off the serve. His groundstrokes, he's very athletic at the net, has great hands. Taylor is a guy you only expect to get better. You know, he has the potential of making anybody uncomfortable out there, even somebody with the serving and holding ability of Andy. Andy is going to have to make sure he takes care of his serve. That's what Taylor has the ability to make you feel because he's pretty explosive. You have to have some good interest.

Q. He had a pretty strong fall season. Do you think he's really sort of come around in the last few months?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think he's come around with a lot more in front of him. Again, he's an uncomfortable player for anybody to play against, just because he plays the game like very few players can play the game. He can get in, put pressure on you on every point. He can go through stages of a match where he takes care of his serve effortlessly. You feel a sense of urgency on every point against him, and he has the ability just to let it fly from the back of the court. So really, you know, if I had his game, I'd be thinking about getting a lot better.

Q. Do you have a theory why you have won four times the Australian Open out of eight participations?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, like I said before, I think there's a lot of variables that come together for me here because I have the time at the end of the year to train and prepare, for my body to feel good. I come here ready to go, so that always gives you a better chance. I like the surface. The surface allows you to play different ways. You can play with spin, you can step up, hit through the court. I like the conditions: hot, a little windy. You know, it's an environment that I enjoy playing in. What is your theory (smiling)?

Q. The theory is that if all the players go six months in a desert island, the one with more talent after would beat everybody else. And you have more talent than everybody else if they don't practice as much.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, thank you (smiling). I agree with you.

Q. A historical question. In your experience of Grand Slam finals, not only as a player but as an observer, is there now one of the four Grand Slams that has a reputation for producing classic finals more than the others?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would have to say in my experience, throughout my career, that Wimbledon has had the most, it seems. I'm speaking a bit off the top of my head. But, you know, I remember some five-setters with Goran and Pete; Rafter and Goran was a classic. There's always that element at Wimbledon that anything can happen; you're never really out of the match. You know, other places it seems like you can get -- have been more sort of -- you don't really remember too many straight-set victories, the finals of Wimbledons, at least as many. But you just have to look at the history to sort of answer that question. I would be interested to confirm that.

Q. There haven't been any five-set finals here for quite a while. There's been some good matches, but no five-setters. Do you think that is an indication of how tough it is to get through the seven matches?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think any time you're dealing with extreme conditions, there's a huge mental advantage to a lead in a match. So that might be part of it. Somebody gets up a set and a break, you feel like you got a big mountain ahead of you if it's 40 degrees outside. So maybe that could play a part. It would be hard for me to speculate beyond that.

Q. What are your thoughts on another old guy that keeps going, Todd Martin, winning again today?

ANDRE AGASSI: How many sets?

Q. Three tiebreaks.

ANDRE AGASSI: Three tiebreaks. That's a shocker (smiling). Karlovic playing tiebreakers. Didn't he have three in the first match, I think, too, against Fish. I think TM has one of the best games on tour. He can take care of his serve. He returns incredibly well. He has a real good break game. He hits the ball flat and hard from the back of the court and doesn't give you much time to sort of open up his movement. He can come in. He plays like he's 6'6", which is a big advantage. So I like his game. I've always liked it. He's very efficient. He's a guy that can beat you a number of different ways.

Q. A different issue. What's the situation at the moment with yourself and the Bushrangers, Victorian cricket team?

ANDRE AGASSI: Like I mentioned earlier, Darren was contacted, for me to go speak to the cricket team, which is something I've never sort of done. I've never quite considered myself one to give advice to anybody. So I've never done it. But with that being said, I expressed an interest if the athletes themselves wanted that. You know, nothing has been sort of arranged. It was leading up to the tournament, so there's still some possibilities, I guess, for later. But hasn't been worked out.

Q. Do you feel you will be doing it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I mean, I'd have to hear firsthand from somebody who would want that. As of right now, it's a pretty tragic situation, and one that I think is going to take a lot of time for us to get over.

Q. Does that provide you with any sort of spur, obviously becoming aware of your own mortality, a spur to the tournament at hand?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think as you get older, you become a lot more aware of it. As you have children, you worry about it. Certainly senseless violence and tragic endings to one's life is never something that makes you feel very good. It brings to light a lot of things you wish were different in the world.

Q. You didn't play here for the first time until '95. Why exactly was that? In retrospect, do you wish you'd played here a bit more?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I do wish I'd played here. I wish I'd played here every opportunity I had. Beyond the fact that this has turned out to be one of the greatest venues for my tennis and my career, I enjoy it here so much. You know, I think I didn't play at the time for reasons that were questionable. You know, I was young, wanted time off. I didn't have the same sort of respect for the traditions of the game as I probably wish I would have earlier. I did the same thing at Wimbledon, as well. You know, those are just times you can't get back.

Q. Two-part question, a little bit off the wall. Have you ever been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn or a king? Second part, each time you find yourself flat on your face, do you just pick yourself up and get back in the race?

ANDRE AGASSI: You have a way with words.

Q. I know that song is one of your favorites. Would that sum up Andre Agassi in some ways?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I suppose I leave that for others to read into more than I ever have. I just have a strong sense of appreciation for anybody that has experienced a number of areas in their life, lived it, learned it, gotten themselves through some tough times. That's why I've connected to the song. I'm not quite sure I would flatter myself with the power of those words. But you certainly strive for that.

Q. Given the recent events, do you have any concerns about what you're drinking during games?

ANDRE AGASSI: Absolutely. Everything you take. I mean, to give you just a bit of an example, I had a number of days ago what I think to be sun poisoning on the back of my right hand, some sort of irritation that was leaving me with some swelling. I needed to put some sort of lotion on it to help it feel better. In order for me to put on a basic skin irritant cream, I had to fill out three pages of forms and get them faxed and sent and confirmed that it was okay for me to put cream on my hand. And that's the tough part about it. That's the reality of the tennis player's life. You know, that's how we're tested. That's how we're looked at. It's so intense how not only we just feel, but the reality of how we have to live, of taking basic aspirins, by no means any sort of cold medication. None of it's allowed, none of it's tolerated. We've seen example after example. But yet we wake up to headlines suggesting that our sport is lacking in its ability to deal with the potential of drug cheats. It's just not the case. We can't have both those. Either I don't have to worry about the cream on my hand, and we have potential for drug cheats, or I do have to worry about the cream on my hand, but then I certainly would want to live with the respect that that's how we do have to go about our profession now. It's a concern to everybody.

Q. What is the answer to it, do you think?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I don't know what the answer is. I know we're asked to go out there in extreme conditions and play three out of five sets, in some cases week after week, in some cases continent to continent. You know, the answer we're getting at this point is, "Drink more water." We're all working together for the sport to be a great product. So somewhere along the line, there needs to be at least some options for us to look out after our own basic needs of losing the basic things that we all lose when we go through that sort of drama. I mean, taking electrolytes and vitamins, this is a natural part of everybody's life. But there's always a concern of the cross contamination that happens in what seems to be more cases than one would believe when these companies make different products at the same laboratory, at the same factory, and all it takes is a trace of something. And that scares everybody. Ideally, you'd like to see players get supplied officially with the things that are sort of deemed okay. But it's not an easy situation, but one that I believe the media has a responsibility to lay out accurately, which is the reality of a professional tennis player's life is you can't take anything, including lotion for a skin irritation.

Q. When everyone has to be so ultracareful, do you think the rules are too strict?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it's a serious enough issue to make sure that you're not erring on the side of compromising the integrity of our sport. We definitely don't want to err on that side. But, again, I just don't want to see this level of scrutiny exist in the reality of our lives, and then on the other hand hear the integrity of our sport being questioned. You know, those two things, they're not compatible. They can't exist at the same time. What I've seen over the last number of weeks is that we have a real concern that leaves us only drinking water or certain bottled products, but yet we wake up to the integrity of our sport being questioned. And that's the shame in it. That's the unfortunate part. The reality that we have to live with, we've got to do, it's our generation, it's our time to figure out how we're going to handle this game during our opportunity to leave it off as a better sport. That's on our shoulders to figure out and to sort of tolerate and to bear. It's definitely a burden to bear. It's not easy to do what we do, especially with those sort of strict regulations. But that's what we have to do. I just want to wake up and know that the integrity of our sport is getting its worthy respect because we're working hard - all the players - we're working hard to make sure it's that way.

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