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Écrit par Jerome   


May 2, 2005

A. AGASSI/A. Di Mauro
7-5, 6-2


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. What did you like the most and the least today in your match?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I felt good about my -- as far as my game?

Q. Your game.

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt good about my ball-striking. I was getting the lead in the point very aggressively, and then I just wasn't finishing the point - a little bit of, you know, first match on clay. And sometimes at the end I would press too much or not enough and I would let him back into the point. I think I was hitting the ball well, but I could have closed some points, important points, off a little earlier.

Q. Did you think about not playing clay this year, given that you have to ration your energy that much more efficiently?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I did that last year, so it sort of taught me really quickly that it's not the best preparation for me. I mean, if I wasn't to play the clay, I would have definitely not played in Paris because it's impossible just to show up there and expect to be ready. I just think that clay is a good foundation for me for the rest of the year, you know. If I can work through it and find a high standard of tennis, I know when I get to the grass and the hard courts I will be even more confident in what I can do.

Q. Did it ever cross your mind, the fact that a few years ago here in Rome you lost to an Italian player, Stefano Pescosolido, today when you were in troubles?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think about that match all the time, to be honest, not just out there (smiling). Yeah, listen, never playing somebody before, it's always a bit difficult, you know. He didn't make many unforced errors in the first set, was moving very well, and I just needed to find my range on closing out the points 'cause I wasn't choosing the right shot at the end of the point on a lot of important ones. So I was trying to stay focused on the ball, but I remember this very well.

Q. In the next round you may have to play Richard Gasquet. Did you watch him at all on TV recently?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I got to see him play a little bit in Monte-Carlo.

Q. What did you think about him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, he's playing tremendous. He's a very talented player and, like so many of the French, has such a nice backhand. It's great to watch him come through. The match he played against Roger was very high level, and he's obviously playing well.

Q. You played against him two years ago in Kooyong. Do you notice any change in his game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's hard to say, because it was clay court, watching. I don't know how comfortable he is normally on clay. I played him on maybe my best ssurface, so it's hard to say. But I'm sure as he's gotten older, he's gotten better. I'd certainly expect that.

Q. You have been many times now in Rome. Did you notice any difference, did you see anything changing?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not from my balcony. It looks the same, you know (smiling). For me, the courts look the same and so does the airport. So this is unfortunately the three places I spend the most time. The food is still good (smiling). More traffic for sure.

Q. You always have an interesting take on other players. Nadal probably comes in here as the hottest guy on tour. His game doesn't seem real derivative, doesn't necessarily remind you of people. What do you make of him and the way he plays in general?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, it's hard to have too sort of clear of a perspective on somebody's game when you've never played them. So much of it is feeling it firsthand, you know. I can obviously speak to what he does well, you know, which he has a phenomenal forehand when he's set, moves unbelievable, is a great competitor. I think his backhand is deceptive; it's better than -- it looks like he's sort of trying to survive it, and he defends it really well.

Q. What about the lefty look?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, lefties, you name me a sport where it's not difficult to compete against a left-hander. You just don't see it as often. You know, everything is backwards. He hits the inside-out lefty forehand nasty. He obviously enjoys clay, and he's proven he can be dangerous on the hard court. So, jeez, that's a lot of good signs that he's only getting better from here.

Q. Remind you of anyone?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's hard to say. You know, he plays a real physical game, similar to how Muster used to play, but defends the backhand way better, passes much better, you know, and while his serve doesn't seem to be tremendously effective, it is, it is a left-handed ball that sort of keeps moving on you, so it seems like guys are having a hard time just taking a big swing at it. He seems like a dangerous player but, again, I'm only going on what you see and never feeling it.

Q. Do you still have fun out of these 15-, 20-, 25-stroke rallies then having to chase a dropshot, or is this the real grind of tennis now, just starting to lose its traction?

ANDRE AGASSI: To me, losing its traction? Well, I've never enjoyed that, running for dropshots, so that hasn't changed over the years. But, you know, ultimately those points are an important part of trying to figure out a way to compete and win a match on your terms. And that's the part I enjoy, is if that happens once to me, to keep it from happening again. You know, while it gets harder, it gets more challenging, which means it gets more rewarding.

Q. Since his first hip surgery, Gustavo Kuerten, Guga, has said a few times he sees you as a role model as far as how to keep competing as the years go by. Given his game relies that much on power, do you think he's able to compete for four or five years more, even with that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think health is crucial to anybody out here playing, certainly to anybody's longevity. If his hip is okay, I think he has enough weapons to avoid too much wear and tear on it. You know, he still can serve well. He still has arguably one of the best one-handed backhands in the game. You know, when he's playing his tennis, he's very difficult to beat. He plays on his terms, so that helps him. But you have to be lucky, you have to be healthy. And, I don't know, two surgeries now, it's not easy. But he definitely has the ability to play much longer if it responds.

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