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Écrit par Jerome   


September 2, 2004

A. AGASSI/F. Mayer
7-5, 2-6, 6-2, 1-0 (ret)


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. When they introduced you today, they said this is your 19th US Open. That stunned me. Does it seem like that many to you? I was just shocked.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, I mean, I suppose so. There are a lot of times where it sort of hits you when you don't expect it, how long you've been out here doing the same thing, you know. That's certainly a stat that jumps out when you hear it.

Q. Does it make you feel old? I mean, you're not old.

ANDRE AGASSI: I just don't want to play old. That's what I'm concerned about out there. You know, I feel like if I can still, you know, play my tennis, then I'm proud of that.

Q. When you hear guys like Wayne and Todd retire, does it make you think any more about your own future, make you feel lonely at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, listen, you miss a lot of the guys you grew up with, your peers that you competed with in some cases since you were eight years old. So you do miss them. You do feel like the game misses them. The challenges are still the same out there, though. You got guys that have a lot of weapons they bring to the table. I feel like that distracts me from getting too lonely.

Q. How surprised were you when you saw Florian walk towards the net shaking his head?

ANDRE AGASSI: I sort of feel like I've seen it all. You know, I mean, you don't come to expect anything one way or the other. You just sort of deal with what's going on out there. I definitely noticed the edge come off his game a little bit, and he started living more dangerously on all his shots. I settled into my game after playing not a good second set. So I felt like I was only thinking about improving and finishing the match off strong. I still felt like I had a good 40 minutes of tennis left in me to finish that one off. When he said that was it, I just shook his hand. Wasn't a whole lot of thinking I was doing at that point. But, you know, you never expect that. That's for sure.

Q. Ran the young guy into the ground.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't know what his injury is, but it didn't sound good. He said he had that before.

Q. Last year you didn't play between the end of The Open and the Masters championships in Houston. At Wimbledon, Perry said you were considering playing a couple tournaments after The Open. Are you rethinking that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't make any plans after The Open yet one way or the other. I mean, I think it's very possible I'll play a full fall schedule. I think it's possible I won't. It's all sort of new to me right now. I have no specific game plan. It's a delicate balancing act through the year. I ask a lot of my family to be able to still be out here giving myself a shot. I also feel like I do much better when I make sure I'm doing right by them, as well. So my priorities have shifted over the last few years. It leaves me to make decisions a little bit more on the go. You know, I'll have to wait and see on that.

Q. The importance of the question was if you play after The Open, it would be a signal that you're certainly not considering retiring at the end of this tournament.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, let this be a signal: I'm not considering retiring at the end of this tournament (smiling). Let that be a big flare.

Q. It's been noted that you have this extraordinary recall of virtually all of your matches. Can you think of the most bizarre ending in your matches, where it ended in a bizarre way?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, there was like 200 some odd times where I lost (smiling). It just shocked me. I mean, I was blown away by it. No, I really don't even -- I really wouldn't even know how to register that question. What's bizarre? To me it's always bizarre when a match doesn't finish. You can't run out the clock, you got to get past the finish line. Like today, it's a strange way for a match to end. I've seen defaults out there. I've been on both ends of that. So it's a lot of strange stuff.

Q. How important is it for you to get through the first week, the first three matches, relatively easily given that your last four, should you make it, will be extremely tough?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you don't want to spend anything unnecessary, that's for sure. Certainly I don't. But I've always taken that approach: get off the court as soon as you can. Don't mess around out there and don't take a three-set match and turn it into a possible five-setter by getting a little careless. You never want to do that. But you have to approach it as one match at a time because you never know when, in hindsight, that match won you the tournament. You know, you can look back at a lot of different matches where somebody wins a second round, and they just get through it by the skin of their teeth, save a few match points. The next thing you know, they find their game, they get the easy match after the tough match, so their body recovers, they're in the semis playing for the championship on the weekend. You never know when that match is going to happen, when it's important to play your best. You always sort of got to prepare yourself for that. So you hope things go a certain way. And I certainly hope that I don't play too long out there the first week. But I'm out there with a plan of getting through it any way I have to.

Q. You've been through one season of the US Open Series. Can you assess it from a player, fan, overall sport perspective?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the US Open Series is a win-win for everybody involved in the sport of tennis. It's a win for the players because it gives us something to really focus on and to care about, to be motivated by. I think it's great for the fans because they have a way of understanding what tournaments we're playing, what importance they do have. It's a great thing for the fans as far as that goes. It's a great thing for all the governing bodies of the sport to send a signal that we can work together. If we actually use each other, the sport benefits as a whole. It just gives us a bigger pie that gets divided up as opposed to thinking that we're, you know, stealing from each other, even recognizing the other one. So for the US Open to sort of step forward and say, "Let's do a series which highlights all these other tournaments in lead-up to the US Open," it takes a lot of integrity and a lot of class. I think the other Slams would be remiss not to follow in those footsteps.

Q. Do you think this working together could start a trend instead of all the Balkanization that is common to tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think so. I think it's a clear sign that if we all work together, the sport benefits, which benefits us all. And that's the important part. I think that's the part that has been tough over the years. You know, ever since I've been a part of this sport, it feels like one governing body feels like they have to look out for them self and they don't want to sort of support something. The Grand Slams are the pillars of the game. Nothing's ever going to change that. They're not going anywhere. They are the sport. But year-round, we have these tournaments that are important for the players and are important for the fans. It's a sport that gets to be brought to the world all year round. If we can somehow work together, it just reaches a broader network of people. It makes it a bit more of an understandable sport from the average sport fan who sits in the bar trying to figure out, "Okay, how important is this tournament? One is going on in LA, one is going on in Washington, Indianapolis." There's so many, that you sort of need a measuring stick. The US Open Series gives the sports fan a chance to understand it. I think it reaches more people. I think it's more exciting. I think the whole sport needs to keep taking these steps to become unified, so we're all about the one product, because it's one heck of a product.

Q. When you look at the horizon, the younger men, obviously there's good tennis there, but do you see anybody who is ready to be sort of a statesman of the game, ready to speak for tennis off the court also?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, that's hard to sort of put your finger on. It's a learning process. You know, it's understanding and having the desire, the motivation, the capacity to sort of look at the sport through the lens of many different needs. You know, I think Andy's been great. I think a guy like this has come in with a lot on his shoulders. I feel like he always gives back. He always leaves his heart out there on the court, which is where it needs to start. He always has time for the fans. I've never seen him not have time for people, which is also a great sign. And he has a good heart. He seems to care about a lot of things passionately. So you see that. You see the way Federer goes about his business. You see the best in the world. You know, there's a lot to look forward to.

Q. Can you talk about how well he played against you, considering he actually hurt himself the first set? Were you surprised at the unorthodox shots?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he's an awkward player. He's a player that plays real awkward shots. The way he delivers his backhand, you're convinced he doesn't have time to bring the racquet head around and hit it cross-court, yet he can hit that thing like a fireball cross-court. But sometimes when you have something ailing you, it gives you sort of a green light in your own mind to take any opportunity you get. And sometimes it actually helps you as far as living on the edge. I felt like he was playing dangerously and coming up with a lot of shots that you would bet over the course of time one can't continually pull off. But he was doing it for a stage there. It's very possible that the fact that he was feeling handicapped, he knew that he had to. Sometimes it's harder when you're trying to make the decisions out there.

Q. How aware are you of the raucous crowd? Does it affect you? Did you enjoy the cow bell?

ANDRE AGASSI: The cow bell? There was a cow bell out there?

Q. The Net Heads.

ANDRE AGASSI: The Net Heads.

Q. The guys that the USTA pay, red, white and blue nets.

ANDRE AGASSI: There was one particular fan that was getting in my kitchen a little bit. She had a big fan. She was sitting right in the middle behind the court, going like this (waving). As the ball goes up, I see this fan as I'm trying to watch the ball. It was right there. I just felt like going, "Would it be appropriate to ask her to stop cooling herself? We're all hot out here."

Q. Are you aware of everything? Everybody is obviously in your court.

ANDRE AGASSI: I am aware of the support, no question about it. You can feel it. Sometimes you feel it more when things aren't going well. When I lost the second set, you would have thought that we were in the middle of a changeover. You didn't hear anything. I sort of went, "Well, that's nice." There was a lot of support early in that third to get me settled in. That I appreciate and I feel, no question about it. You try to block out the stuff that's potentially distracting because at the end of the day you've got to watch a ball and you've got to move your feet and you've got to make contact and you've got to know what you're trying to do out there. That requires focus. That's why this tournament, they consider it the hardest tournament in the sport, because of all the elements that exist when you're out there, between the wind and the sun and the clouds and the shadows and the crowd noise, the airplanes, depending on the wind shifts out there, we get planes. That's what makes it good.

Q. Is it fair to say that Andre Agassi is still having a heck of a lot of fun?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think there's -- yeah, for the most part. I mean, things I'm having fun with, I'm having more fun now with than ever. Some parts are tougher than ever. It's fair to say at this stage of my life, the scales are still balanced, and that I appreciate.

Q. Have the fans here ever treated you to some remarks that they might have treated a Yankee or a Met to if they'd given up a Grand Slam Homer, committed a really bad error in the ninth inning?

ANDRE AGASSI: Have I ever been?

Q. Have you ever heard any fan just rip you from the stands like they might have ripped a Yankee or a Met on a bad day?

ANDRE AGASSI: I have to go back 14 years, 15 years, maybe 19 now. I don't know. I don't know. Hell, how old am I? First few years, you know, you got to earn your stripes here. That's the thing that's great about it.

Q. Do you remember any particular remark that you heard?

ANDRE AGASSI: I have selective memory, so...

Q. Seemed like you were rushing even a bit, not wasting any time between points out there, quick to the line, ready to serve. Is that unconscious, conscious? Keep your rhythm, not let him have time to think about it between points?

ANDRE AGASSI: In today's case, it was more about, you know, me finding a rhythm. I felt like he was getting -- he was doing more running than I was. So when a point sort of transpired, I felt the sooner I could get him up to the plate to have to do it again, the better off I was. Plus, too, he was going for such big points. There were a lot of points where I wasn't getting a chance to take good, clean swings at the ball. Sometimes that means you can go three or four points without having any rhythm. So it sort of helps to keep the pace moving, keep your mind from getting too hung up on the fact that you haven't hit many balls in the last three or four points. I enjoy playing fast. Then there are times where I certainly take my time. But I try to make sure it's always for a reason.

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