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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

2005 TELECOM MASTERS ITALIA
ROME, ITALY

May 4, 2005

A. AGASSI/R. Gasquet
6-2, 6-3

ANDRE AGASSI

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. After a match like that, if you were his coach, what would you tell him? What would you have him working on?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, this is the first time we played on clay, you know; we played a long time ago on hard court. I was taking away a little bit his time with the pace of the shot, so this was something that just maybe he wasn't as used to. But his game is very nice. It won't be long before he's comfortable against this.

Q. The forehand?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's hard for me to say on clay because this is, you know -- I don't know if this is his best surface or not. Maybe on hard court he moves well there. But there was a lot of unforced errors that he had, and some important double-faults. That's free points, you know. I did this, too, a long time ago - sometimes even now.

Q. Do you find it easier to motivate yourself to play someone who's that much younger, or is it just an opponent?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, for me, it's just an opponent. I mean, I don't really think about the age unless I'm off the court and we're sitting down at the bar and he can't sit there because he's not old enough (smiling). Then I think, "Oh, I'm much older than you." But on the tennis court I feel it's always about the game, you know. Age helps when you're younger and there's a lot of eagerness every day; but when you're older, some more experience. So you try just to focus.

Q. Did you feel he was nervous at the beginning of the match?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he started with a lot of unforced errors and then it got better as the match went on, so my guess is he was nervous in the beginning. But when you haven't played somebody, it's the same for both players. I made some errors in the first game, I almost lost my serve Love-40. But I'm sure it wasn't his best match. As the match went on, it got higher quality.

Q. As a student of the game, are you curious about an opponent like this? He beats Federer, are you thinking, "Gee, I wonder what this is all about"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I watched some of that when I was home, it was on TV. I know his game from watching him. I mean, he's incredibly talented, and especially off the backhand side. So I expected him to be very dangerous today. You go out there with a healthy respect for your opponent, which helps your own concentration and standard. So, you know, I always enjoy watching players develop as it goes along. To have a good win here or there is one thing, but then to build on it is the enjoyable part from my perspective, watching somebody build on good results and turning their game into one that doesn't have many holes. It's a nice thing to watch.

Q. You saw it on television, but did you have that feeling, "I want to get out there on that court and see what he's about"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not when I was watching it, no. Not that day, no. To be in the south of France is nice, but on the court on the other end of the way he was playing there, that would have been pretty tough. But there always is a curiosity with how your game will match up against theirs.

Q. Do you remember what was your own state of mind when you were young and you were ready to play someone like Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe? Was it eagerness?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, with McEnroe I was pretty nervous. It was when I was 16, quarterfinals, and it was his first tournament back from being No. 1 in the world. I never felt like I relaxed on the court. With Connors I didn't feel this way because it was -- I felt like he couldn't take me out of my game, you know. He was giving me a lot of chances to hit the ball. He hit the ball right where you want it. McEnroe can keep you uncomfortable if you start nervously. Plus, I had already had a few more years experience by the time I played Jimmy.

Q. I had the feeling from the first point on you decided to hit very hard. Did you try?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah, I knew that if he has time, he can really do a lot of damage with his shots. So, for me, I wanted it to be very straightforward, toe to toe, you know, take away his time.

Q. What did you say at the end?

ANDRE AGASSI: What he said to me, it was very nice, that it was a privilege for him to play against me and that he wished me luck in the tournament. This was -- he seems like a very, very nice guy.

Q. Did you say that to John McEnroe the first time?

ANDRE AGASSI: Ah, no (smiling). No.

Q. Every place you go has a distinct flavor. Does this place have that for you, too, with the pines overhanging the stadium?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's a great stadium. I tell you, it's one of the few that we have for a big event that is just about the right intimacy. You know, there's a lot of people, so it has a good electricity in the crowd, but yet it's not so big that you feel connected to everybody. It's one of the best facilities in the world to watch tennis if you're a tennis fan. Just to walk around the outside courts, I could just only imagine if I grew up being able to have this opportunity to come here and watch this tennis on these grounds.

Q. Why do you think we see so few Americans here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it's just not easy for an American to compete with guys that specialize on this surface. Growing up with the footing is an incredible advantage, if you know how to move. You grow up on this surface, and your shots develop to this surface. No different than watching Henman play, who grew up in England and plays very flat and low and comes to net, because as a kid that's how you win matches playing on the courts, as an example, that he grew up on. Or the hard courts for Americans, we all tend to run pretty hard and not slide so well and hit the ball to finish the point in three or four shots. This surface, more than any others, has really developed a lot of specialized players. You won't find any surface that has this many guys that can possibly win the tournament. I think that's sort of a testament to how the game has evolved and the quality of ball-striking and the athleticism of it, the movement and the speed and the power.

Q. Shouldn't the Americans be braver and try to come over and find out about it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think it starts at a young age. I think to get Americans here, we need to start by learning how to recreate this back home. Nobody's been able to really pull it off yet. That's where you're going to learn it, you know. If you come over here to learn, you're just taking painful lessons, you know. You're not building on anything. You're sort of revealing where you are more than building unless you have a chance, you know, which not too many Americans have ever gotten too comfortable out there - including me.

Q. You said that you like the stadium, but you also have a special relationship with the public. They were very happy for your victory when you went out.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, very much. It's an amazing feeling for me at this stage of my career to feel the support. I remember 15 years ago worried about getting hit with coins, you know (smiling). So we've been through a lot in our journey here together, but it's nice to feel this kind of support certainly. I probably deserved every coin that almost hit me (laughter).

 
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