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Écrit par Jerome   


March 27, 2004

A. AGASSI/M. Zabaleta
6-0, 7-6


THE MODERATOR: Andre picks up his 56th career match victory here at Key Biscayne. He'll take on Max Mirnyi in the third round. Questions for Andre.

Q. How do you feel after this win today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think it was a real good match tonight, especially considering the conditions. Doesn't matter how much better you're playing than somebody, to win 6-0, you need to have a lot of things go right for you, too. I think winning 6-0 was -- left me a little bit concerned. You don't want, you know, a few things don't go right, you know the match is very close to being difficult. Sure enough it turned into a dogfight and it was good to get through it.

Q. Can you talk about your opponent, Zabaleta.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he's a tough fighter. It's not easy to have a first set like that and be down a break and to still work so hard and, you know, he fights so well. He has a good game. He has a big forehand and he started taking good chances with his backhand up the line. He has a very dependable second serve and a dangerous first serve. And he moves really well.

Q. After this match, do you think it's possible to repeat a win of this tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, that's why I'm here. I'm going to sure try.

Q. What allowed you to breeze through that first set, 6-0?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, we had windy conditions out there. I missed one first serve in the first set, probably had one unforced error in the first set. I mean, I don't know the stats, I'm just...

Q. That was it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I wasn't making any mistakes. I was hitting the ball well. A couple times he made a few big first serves, I stuck my racquet out and the ball shot off my racquet and went close to the baseline, and he was immediately sort of in trouble. You know, again, to beat somebody 6-0, you need a little bit of that luck. It is luck. I was playing well, but it's not easy to have a first set go that way for you.

Q. (Question referring to the most important match of the tournament)?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. The next one is always important - the next one.

Q. In the second set, Zabaleta improved his game, or what happened in that second set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, very much. I mean, I think I played a little bit tentative at 1-0 serving to go 2-0. 15-30 he hit a slice. I ran around with my forehand, I had a lot of time to hit it and I just missed it in the net. At 30-all I could have hit an overhead out of the air but it was moving around so much I didn't take the chance. So I let it bounce and I got into trouble. And I lost my serve. That was the only time it was, I believe, my fault. Then he picked up a lot of confidence. He started hitting his backhand up the line incredibly well, taking a lot of chances in very windy conditions and coming up with the better shot.

Q. You've cut your schedule back in recent years. Is that because of family, age, a combination?

ANDRE AGASSI: Probably a lot of everything. I mean, my goal is to try to be the best I can every time I'm on the court. You know, it's just not as easy to play as much these days for the reasons you mentioned. Also, training time is more important probably for me now, to make sure I'm at my best.

Q. You're the only one of your generation still playing. Do you think what you've done throughout your career has allowed you to still enjoy tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think it's about the accomplishments that keeps me out here. It's about pushing myself to get better and still feeling like I can do that, still feeling like I can win if I play my best tennis. That's important for me, you know, to stay motivated. I've stayed healthy over the years, which makes it all possible. Put a lot of emphasis on training, which has paid off in a big way for me.

Q. Could you tell me your opinion about Rafael Nadal.

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know him so well. I've seen him play a little bit. Seems like he's a very talented player. Very fast. He has a very big forehand. Seems very confident.

Q. Strong for his age, 17, physically also?

ANDRE AGASSI: Looks that way, yes. Looks that way. Until you play somebody, you don't know so well, but he looks like a very good player.

Q. Are you surprised at almost 34 to get cheers when you take your shirt off during a changeover?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I don't know if that's sort of sympathy applause or what, but I'd just as soon go back in the locker room and change and come back out (smiling).

Q. Do you think Nadal is playing better than you were when you were 17?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I haven't played him. I don't know. But I think the game always gets better. It's what sports is about.

Q. How important is this tournament to you, in your career, this tournament in Key Biscayne?

ANDRE AGASSI: This is a tournament that most people consider the biggest besides the Slams, so it's always meant a lot to me to play well here. I'm very thankful for how well I have played over the years.

Q. You say the game has changed in the years, in the '80s, '90s. What specific changes do you see?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think there's a lot of great ballstrikers now, guys that can hit the ball very clean, very big, from a lot of parts of the court. When I came out, they considered me the hardest-hitting player. I hit the ball so hard. Now, it's -- that's not what makes me better than some guys; it's other things. Because everybody hits the ball so well. I think guys are bigger, guys are stronger. The serve has improved tremendously. To play somebody that doesn't have a big serve is pretty rare.

Q. In your game, what can you change to continue playing for years?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think I've gotten to be a better athlete. I've gotten stronger. I think I've had the ability to handle the pace of the game and the improvements in the game. I've always had the strength of being a good ballstriker. So as the game has improved, I've managed to improve as well. So it's kept me close.

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