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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

WESTERN AND SOUTHERN FINANCIAL GROUP MASTERS
CINCINNATI, OHIO

August 8, 2004

A. AGASSI/L. Hewitt
6-3, 3-6, 6-2

ANDRE AGASSI

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Andre, when are you retiring (laughter)?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, man... I don't know. If it's possible, this certainly gives me a new life. I feel, you know, that's all you want to know when you're out there, is that you have the chance to win. And, you know, it's been a great week.

Q. How do you compare tonight, the level of tennis you played, compared to last night - today, I mean?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, my sort of assessment on what level you play is not sort of based on how many winners you hit, how many few unforced errors you hit. It's based on what a guy sort of pressures you to do and what's required to beat any given player. I mean, against Andy I had to do a few things exceptional. I had to really take care of my serve and make sure I executed my shots. But it was much more straightforward from the back of the court, because that's when it was more on my terms. You know, against a guy like Lleyton, he's going to get his racquet on a lot of serves, he's going to get a lot of balls back in play. If you play too aggressive, he uses your pace and counterpunches better than anybody. If you then lay off too much, he has the ability to step up. There's a lot more decision-making going on out there between the points. While the cleanliness of the match wasn't as crisp as last night, it was probably more uncomfortable of a match. So I felt like, considering all that, I did well, played well.

Q. When you hear somebody like Greg going through your laundry list of accomplishments, do you ever feel yourself going, "Who me?"

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, you hear it every time you sort of get on a tennis court to play a match. Most places recite... You know, it's, yeah, I mean, it's an out-of-body experience, no question. It's hard to believe.

Q. You hadn't had a lot of matches, and then today you're playing three sets in the daytime right after three tough sets last night. I mean, you certainly seemed fresh as anything. Is that how you feel, too?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I've trained hard for it. If anything, I've had time to do more training than I would want normally. I'd rather be out there competing. But I felt a touch flat in my -- getting up for my serve, I felt like it was taking me a little bit more work to do that. And getting off the mark on the return, I felt a little bit behind. But, you know, there's an emotional letdown, too, so it's hard to sort of make a distinction between what was physical, what wasn't. But all in all, I settled into the match well today, and I felt great about it.

Q. From an emotional standpoint, what does this week mean to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it gives me a lot of belief going into the Open. And, you know, it's been a long time since I've won.

Q. Is this like the perfect warmup? For you, you won here, now you're going to Washington and you've had great success in your career in Washington, so you must have a good feeling about that event on your way to the Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think this -- well, this summer has a very nice rhythm to it for me. I mean, I've always enjoyed playing in Washington. To get the win here over some of the best players in the world is certainly the biggest accomplishment for me leading up to the Open. But going into Washington, I'll be able to go out there now and really try to even take my game to another place before the Open. You know, with the week off and Washington, week off, then the US Open, possibly it's a great schedule.

Q. Lleyton said he had trouble getting into your serve, especially in the third set. You had 16 aces last night. Do you feel something's really getting sharp with your serve right now?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's a quick court out there. It rewards anybody who can hit the ball close to the line. I mean, I don't serve overpoweringly, but I try to hit my spots. And I definitely have been serving well this week. But, I mean, Lleyton had - what did he have - 16 aces on me today. I mean, he served well himself.

Q. More of your service games, then, just getting tempo.

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it was important for me -- Lleyton's the kind of guy who wants to get the ball in play. He's not looking to hurt you off the return, he's looking to get involved in the point. And if he got his racquet on it, I wasn't as concerned about that. It was more about what I was going to do with that first shot. I've really been doing a good job this week of any time I get a chance to take the offense, I've really been executing well. And that makes a big difference against the top guys. Because if you're not taking it to them, they're taking it to you.

Q. How important is it for you, because you've not only gone through a lot of top guys, but a lot of guys with a variety of games this week, so you proved that you're handling them all?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it seems like you have to, to win tournaments these days. I saw a great stat in the paper this morning; talked about the amount of players that served over 120 miles-an-hour in 1992 versus the amount of players that do it now. And, you know, the discrepancy is huge. It was 50-some-odd players in 1992 served over 120. Now there's 174 of them that can do it. So the game has elevated in pace and power and athleticism, and it forces you to not just be able to beat a variety of players, but to do it at a high standard.

Q. Does your consistency this week surprise you at all, or did you feel this was coming or could come on?

ANDRE AGASSI: Listen, I came into this week with a lot of questions. And, you know, you have to answer them when you're out there. There's no other way of doing it.

Q. You still enjoy playing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sorry?

Q. You still enjoy playing? What else are you playing for, to accomplish for the rest of your career?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's a challenge. I mean, it's not easy to go out there and do that. You know, it feels good (smiling).

Q. Your contemporaries that you came in with retired long ago, most of them. You're still here. Do you reflect on that, think about why you're still here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Everybody has to choose their own road, you know - what they're committed to, what's important to them, what their strengths are, their weaknesses, their abilities. I mean, if I couldn't do it, then I would be left with a different choice. But the fact that I felt like I can, now it's just a function of work ethic and commitment and focus. And, you know, that allows me to bring out, you know -- that allows me to feel great about the journey that I'm on. I mean, that's what it's always been to me. It's the same challenge at 18 as what I'm feeling now except it's different and in some cases it's even more. But you miss the guys that you came in with. You miss them, but you have to choose your own road. And I'm trying to -- I'm still trying to do this.

Q. Was this week, the match against Chela, where you felt things were clicking together?

ANDRE AGASSI: That was the first clean match I played really start to finish where I felt like I had to step it up or else I was going to have problems. And I did from the beginning and then I finished it off that way. And then the question was, well, I've played some good matches, but can you follow it up. And the next match was that much more important. And then so on and so on. So they all sort of have a very significant place, but that was definitely the start where I felt like I was playing real good tennis.

Q. How much does this week and this match cost you physically?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I don't feel too bad. I've worked hard for this. I mean, I haven't felt anything in my hip, thank God. You know, again, today was I think a bit of a -- it's just a tough 24-hour period - to play until 10:30 last night and sort of to not be done with dinner until, by the time you get out of here, go have dinner, you're not in bed until one o'clock and that's if you're lucky enough to be able to fall asleep - to come back and play a guy like Lleyton in the middle of the day. So it's been a tough 24 hours, so it's hard to make the distinction between physical and emotional. But my body held up great, I'm very pleased about that.

Q. Will you give yourself a day or two off when you get back home to recover?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, definitely. I don't think there's any reason to get out there and work on anything at the moment. I feel pretty good. And, you know, we'll go back to work in a few days.

Q. A lot of people this week have been talking about your efforts off the court with the kids and school and things like that. What do you see five years from now when you're not playing?

ANDRE AGASSI: As far as my foundation goes?

Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the goal right now is to finish the charter school, the college prepatory academy. We need to build a high school phase. We have an endowment fund that will fund it forever, so we need to get the school built. So my first goal is to finish that project.

Q. And how involved with it will you be down the road when you have more time?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, as much as I can be. I mean, right now I'm giving everything I can to it. It's a $35 million project. You don't raise that by not being involved. But, you know, the more time I have, certainly the more opportunity I'll have to be involved. It's very rewarding. It's amazing things that are going on right now in the inner city.

Q. A couple things with Darren. First, did he have any insights, having coached Lleyton, about what you guys wanted to do? Then obviously you addressed him in the crowd afterward, just talk about sort of what he's meant to you and keeping the faith.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, it's a lonely world out there when there's no one to sort of pass the ball to. And any of your doubts, any of your questions, you get exposed if you don't believe in what you're doing. You can't hide when you're out there. And we've seen that over a number of months with me. And I came into this week, like I said, with a lot of questions. But, you know, he stood right by me. He's had a lot of belief at times where I found it actually comical - where he's telling me that I can turn this around and start winning these tournaments and beating the best guys. And there were times where that even sounded comical to me, just because I felt that far from it. But, you know, I've kept trust in him, and you need excellence around you to succeed.

Q. Any insights from him on what you guys wanted to do against Lleyton?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, sure. I mean, everybody has a book on him. I mean...

Q. He's got to have the best book.

ANDRE AGASSI: (Smiling). Yeah, it's been a few years now, but people's games evolve and change. But he definitely has some good insight on all the players, to be quite honest. You can watch tennis matches and learn, you know. It's just I feel like Darren's had a lot of experience with Lleyton, but more importantly he's had a lot of experience with me now, and he knows how to get me to be playing my best which ultimately is the only way you can win.

Q. Was there a match this week when some of those questions were wiped away, when you thought, "Yeah, I'm pretty good again and I can possibly win this"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, like I was saying earlier, the Chela match was the big turning point this week because it was sort of the first time where I felt real clean on everything and everything was starting to come together. But then you're still looking at Moya, Roddick and Hewitt. So while you're starting to play better, the challenges are getting stronger. So for me to end up winning was beyond what I could have expected starting this week.

Q. Looking ahead to the US Open, how much more dangerous do you think you will be for that tournament now than you would have been if this week hadn't happened the way it has?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I feel a lot more belief and conviction in what it is I'm doing out there, so that's only going to help me. Three-out-of-five, there's more time to settle into what it is you do to make a guy play a great match start to finish. It's harder for guys to do that. So that helps me to sort of relax and look forward to it. I mean, I certainly have more confidence now than I've had in a long time. And I probably came into this week arguably at my lowest point, you know. Just it's been so many months since I've put together a few matches in a row, and now I'm looking forward to getting out there and reaping the rewards of the work.

Q. How much did knowing that you've been in that position before - maybe when you were younger, but you've been in that similar position and you've come out of it - help at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, your mind tells you a number of things that are important to remember, you know - what you're capable of doing, your practice sets against other guys, how you're hitting the ball, how you're playing. But sort of your heart can speak a whole different language out there. You know, I'm dealing with questions I've never had before, you know: "Why can't I get over the hump?" "Why has it taken me longer than I would want it to?" You can't get around the fact that the challenges are different at 34 than they are at 24. So those leave, you know -- it's unchartered territory for me every year now so, yeah...

Q. Andre, few players who won this championship, for example, Patrick Rafter and last year Roddick, they go to New York and win the big one. You seem to be on the same path.

ANDRE AGASSI: I hope so.

Q. Would it be safe to put my money on you, that you will follow through and win the title in New York?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, if you believe in statistics (smiling)... You know, sports, you got to get out there and you got to play. So I'll go into the US Open feeling good, but it's a long ways away.

Q. Are you still working with Gil? I haven't seen him around.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah. He was last week with me in LA. He'll be with me in New York.

Q. Do any of these other players refer to your age? Do they call you "Old guy," or "Pops" (laughter)? You're still very young to me.

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Don't give them any ideas, please (laughter). No, not quite. I think there's a -- you know, I don't sense age when it comes to these guys until sort of life throws you those curves. You're having dinner and you want to order a glass of wine and you ask and then you say, "Never mind," because they can't, they're not old enough to have a glass of wine (laughter). You know, and then when I see some of them preparing in front of the video games, that also sort of reminds me that, you know -- of my age. But other than that, there's a healthy respect for what goes on inside those lines, and that carries on in the locker room as well.

Q. Is there a sense of age when you think about your roommate at Bollettieri's just played his senior tour for the first time this week?

ANDRE AGASSI: Who's that?

Q. Jim Courier.

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, he did?

Q. Or would you prefer I didn't tell you that.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah... wow. There's not much to say there. I mean, you know, yeah, this is all new for me. So I never -- the last few months have been a lot of disappointments, and I don't find myself, you know -- during those disappointments, I try to remind myself why I'm doing what it is I'm doing. And when you have these weeks, you have something tangible to remind yourself.

 
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