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Écrit par Jerome   


August 29, 2005

A. AGASSI/R. Sabau
6-3, 6-3, 6-1


THE MODERATOR: First question, please, for Andre.

Q. Did you laugh when the fan shouted out, "20 more years"? Did you try to contain yourself?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's hard not to react to that sort of thing. But you do your best to keep it about the tennis while you're out there, you know, for the sake of your opponent and the task at hand.

Q. Does it feel like 20 years?

ANDRE AGASSI: It all depends. I mean, you know, some moments it feels longer. Other moments, it feels like it's just flown by. You can't believe you've done it that many times. But, yeah, overall you have a strong sense for the full spectrum that you've sort of traveled. It's the relationship with the people that make it feel so long. There's such a history to it based on how you feel playing in front of these fans. It's a great feeling.

Q. How much, if any, do you remember of your first match here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Jeremy Bates. I remember losing in four sets.

Q. Just a blur after that? Any details of it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I just remember feeling like after the match, it just went by too quick. It just didn't feel like a normal tennis match. Just, before I knew it, sets were getting over with, then I got back into it in I believe the third. It was just -- it happened so fast, you know. Same way I remember feeling when I played Davis Cup for the first time. I couldn't believe how fast it was happening. It's a three-hour match, but it feels fast.

Q. Is it because of the size of the venue or the event? It's a mystery to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I wouldn't know what it is. I think it's just the distractions and the elements, you know, the wind moving around, sometimes one or two points decides a set after you go toe-to-toe for 50 minutes, and one or two points, the set's over with. Things happen in a hurry. Plane going overhead, you don't hear the ball, you don't hear the call. You think you're still alive in the point, but they called it out. Just a lot of stuff going on. At the end of it, you just -- you can't believe it happened that quickly.

Q. Grandstand, Armstrong, do you remember which court?

ANDRE AGASSI: Out yonder.

Q. These fans in New York are very different from fans in most every place except possibly Philadelphia. They will let you know how they're feeling. Can you remember ever being booed, somebody saying something you'd hear at a pro football game or a baseball game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes (smiling).

Q. Elaborate?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I've been -- I've been booed a lot, truthfully. You know, I go back 17 years ago playing in Brazil or Argentina, excuse me, Buenos Aires, against Martin Jaite. They booed for 15 minutes, they wouldn't let us play. They were booing me.

Q. How about here in New York?

ANDRE AGASSI: I know it's happened occasionally. I have selective memory there.

Q. Your first reaction to that was, "I can't believe this is happening?" Did you get to a point where it's, that's just New York, accept it?

ANDRE AGASSI: It took me a while to enjoy playing here the first few years. If you don't understand the mentality of the people, if you don't understand the people, you don't appreciate the city, you don't appreciate playing here. It took me a while to understand the mentality of a New Yorker. They don't have a lot of time to waste. If they're going to do something, they're going to bring it. They expect the same from you. That's something I've grown to appreciate and embrace.

Q. You've talked about tennis being a game of problem solving. What do you think the greatest obstacle you've overcome here in your years at The Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know how many questions I've been asked about the best moment, if there's one snapshot, what would it be. You're asking me to take 20 years and sum it up and sort of say, "This is what it means," or, "This is what stands out the most." You know, you can't really do it. It's the simple things. It's like any relationship in your life. Your life flashes before your eyes, what's going to cross your mind? Sure, there's big moments that you're aware of while they're happening - winning here, losing first round, all that stuff. But it's also the little things. It's also the feel of the air, the smell of the arena when you walk out, the humid nights, the chilly, breezy nights. There's so many moments and they all have their place.

Q. So when you looked up at the beginning of the fourth set against Sampras at 20,000 people, what was that moment like?

ANDRE AGASSI: You mean, start of the fourth set breaker?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: It was surreal. I mean, I really thought for three hours nobody was watching. That's how focused I was. Then all of a sudden you're aware, "Wow, there's 20,000 people here." It's an amazing feeling.

Q. The US plays Belgium in Davis Cup in September. Are your options open or have you closed off and decided what you want to do about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, they're playing on clay, so my history would suggest that I would lose to anybody on clay these days (laughter). I'm not convinced I'd be the best call to go over there, and if I was the best call, I'm not sure that my body can go through that, the practice week and the opening up of the hips, of the sliding, the things I put my back through, the reaching. It would be way too much of a risk for me.

Q. Have you made that clear to Patrick?


Q. You won very handily tonight. This might be an absurd question. Do you ever feel bad for an opponent? This was the guy's first time at the US Open.


Q. It's just like a game, you respect him?

ANDRE AGASSI: You don't cheat anybody out of their experience, whatever it is. I promise you, it's all part of what makes you who you are down the road. And if a match is getting blown out one way or the other, you got to learn from it and you've got to understand it for what it is. I've been on the other side of that. I wouldn't want to cheat anybody out of that experience.

Q. Was that an extension of the way you've been playing all summer? First serve, 87%.

ANDRE AGASSI: I never walk on the court and think, "I want to serve well tonight. I want to hit aces. I want to win free points." My serve comes around when I'm doing a lot of other things well because a guy's feeling a pressure of having to hit a good return or I'm going to get control of the point. Occasionally they start to lean. As the match unfolds, I start sneeking a few aces. But my game isn't built around my serve. My serve sort of comes around if my game is in a healthy place. That's how it's been this summer. I think I've been playing pretty well, and as a result have been very relaxed on my serve, getting a lot of good ones away.

Q. Did you have to make any major adjustments with this guy tonight?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's always awkward playing somebody for the first time. So, you know, I just tend to go out there and stick with my fundamentals, prepare myself to make adjustments if the match is suggesting I need to. But, yeah, tonight I just stayed with executing my shots and stayed pretty comfortable.

Q. You also have never played Karlovic before. At this stage, would you prefer facing an all-court player or do you like the guys with the big serves?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think there's anybody on the tour that enjoys playing Karlovic. He's unique to the game based on his size and the way he plays. I don't know what it's like to face it, but I can only speak to what it appears. A guy like that is really awkward. It's an odd trajectory that the ball's coming down from. It's not even so much the pace; it's the trajectory as well.

Q. Some people have pointed to him when they talk about the future of the game. Do you see that as a possibility in the future, a lot of tall guys with serves that are blasting?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think that's a great asset to have. There's no question. But I think one of the things that makes tennis so unique is it's such a healthy blend of athleticism, you can have it with power, you can have it with speed, you can have it with size. But with every sort of strength you have, there's also the potential weakness. There's always options and ways to get to those weaknesses. Never playing him, I couldn't assess what that is or how it's all going to play out. But there's going to be a lot of times out there that I'm going to wish I was 6'10", and there's a lot of times I'm going to thank God that I'm not. I just hope there's more of those times.

Q. You said that you were nervous because people had taken a day from their life to see you. Do you feel your gratitude for the fans has grown?

ANDRE AGASSI: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Q. Is that what kind of keeps you going, is entertaining them?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, paying back the sport as much as I can is a great motivation for me. It starts with the people. And just respect for the game. You know, if I can still do this by just punching in the clock and going to work and finding a way to stay committed to what it is I do, then I believe I'm obligated to do that. It's all going to come to an end at one time or another. Until that point, I want to be committed to this and see it through. Also my foundation back home, all the children that benefit from my efforts, all the awareness and monies that have been raised, the lives that have changed as a result of me just going to work. There's too much good going on for me not to go out there and appreciate it.

Q. Many people feel there have been a lot of improvements here at the US Open. Patrick McEnroe has gotten a lot of props at Davis Cup coach. When we look to the USTA over the years, do you think they've improved greatly in their job in getting it and their performance?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think the best indication of any sort of Federation's job is how they get the game into more children's hands, how they get the grass-roots kids playing, how they set up programs to put the racquet in the hands of athletes that might otherwise never play tennis. I think as of recently especially, they've taken some real good steps in accomplishing that.

Q. Can you talk quickly about your back. You mentioned something on court about not really having a lot of time to test it tonight. Where would you rate it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I feel great. I don't feel it. But with a nerve, the problem is when it comes, it comes. I mean, there's no -- it's not like you're nurturing a muscle or a tendon where you sort of understand the state of it along the way. It can literally be potentially anything that sets it off. It hasn't been that way now for a while. I've done a lot of right things over the summer. But I also haven't played five sets. Haven't been out there for four hours. That's potentially a different battle altogether. I'm only going to know that when I cross that bridge. As of right now, I have every reason to be hopeful that health is not going to be an issue.

Q. What's your pink drink?

ANDRE AGASSI: Kool-Aid (smiling).

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