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Écrit par Jerome   


September 1, 2005

A. AGASSI/I. Karlovic
7-6, 7-6, 7-6


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Was this a match you would characterize as sensible tennis on your part?

ANDRE AGASSI: "Sensible tennis"? There's no matches you get through unless you're playing sensibly. You have to. Today required a lot of concentration because it only took a mental lapse for one or two shots and the set's over with. So it's really difficult mentally to stay the course.

Q. It looked like you didn't slug with him. That's why I was asking if you felt this was the best way to approach it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it was pretty windy out there, breezy. You know, I don't want to take any unnecessary risk as it is. On a calm day if I'm taking risks against a guy like that, all he needs is one game and then he's gonna win the set. So you want to make him earn it by playing the game he's not comfortable with. If he was getting in too much, I would have hit it a little bit bigger, but I still couldn't afford to get too risky. Points happen too quickly out there.

Q. What was the serve like?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's an incredible serve. I'm trying to figure out where it is I would need to have to stand on the court to have the same trajectory.

Q. How many boxes did you stand on?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, because it's not a function of how fast it is because a lot of guys can serve it 135-plus. The trajectory is the main issue, because you're lunging, but then it's up. You're sort of diving, but then you can't reach it, even if you dive perfectly and on cue.

Q. You've played some tall guys over the years: Rosset, Krajicek, people like that. Is it more difficult than any of those?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's definitely taller than those, but everyone presents their different elements. I mean Rosset was nearly 6'7". For a big guy, he got around and hit forehands unbelievable. You were scared to death to leave any ball hanging so you had to hit, you know, big and aggressively because if you take anything off your shot, he'd make you pay. Krajicek wasn't nearly that tall. He's 6'5, but he'll get in. You have to play him like you're playing a great baseliner because he can just do too much if he gets a look at that ball by either coming in or... Ivo, he doesn't hurt you if you lay off on a few, but he can get that occasional one away, so you sort of live on, you know, walking on egg shells out there because you don't want to lay off too often, because it's just not a healthy thing to do; you want to keep swinging, keep your confidence going. But you're just so tempted to keep the ball in play because you know that's not what he's comfortable with.

Q. Twelfth game of the second set, Karlovic is serving 5-6 down. You hit three return of serve winners to die for. I don't know if you can remember that.


Q. You had a set point but couldn't convert because he served a bomb. How did that frustrate you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, Ivo was leaning backhand on that set point. I said when he tosses it, just slide a little bit because he's been liking to hit that today. I know he can hit every corner. But, still, you're jumping at it. I could have thrown my racquet and probably not touched the ball. I think the most important part of returning in a situation like that is when you do get your racquet on the ball, what do you do? Because that makes your opponent feel like they have to serve close to the lines, and that's what you want them feeling. If he was getting away with just body serves, and I was just missing returns, that's only going to loosen him up more to serve better. I felt like every time he served big, it was big and close to the lines. That's fair enough; that's too good.

Q. The serve was returned and the points were unfolding. Could you talk about the challenge of trying to pass somebody with a reach that big or lob over them? I assume it's a bit more of a challenge.

ANDRE AGASSI: Visually, it appears that way, but not necessarily. It's easy to underestimate in tennis how much movement is an issue. I mean, you could have great reach, but if you don't get down or get in quick enough, there's depths that you're working with, too. So if he's getting in slow, I can then get it down. Like when I did block his return back, he was always playing a pretty low volley. But there are moments out there that are really awkward. You just don't expect somebody to be able to cover that much ground by just sticking out their racquet, you know. That's pretty amazing, to sort of feel that. But you have to stay convicted on your shots and, you know, make him earn it with the quality of his play. Sometimes he does it by sticking out his racquet; other times he lets a good swing go; other times he can hit some balls that surprise you that he misses. So you just have to concentrate and concentrate point after point. You never know when the match is getting decided out there against a player like that.

Q. Fourth game of the second set, first point, he had a 134-mile-an-hour serve, and you were playing a chip-and-charge or push-and-charge return.

ANDRE AGASSI: I've done that occasionally. Sometimes you draw a bead on where they're going to serve. I was against the wind. On that side of the court it's tough because if you're not putting your weight behind the ball, the thing's just hanging there and he's coming in. 6'10", it's not easy. So you want to get your weight through the ball. And if you had a feeling where he was going, I was just moving for it and blocking it; I can play that pretty well if I'm on it. I'm taking a chance because I'm guessing, but it's an educated guess.

Q. How is your back? Did you feel it a little more today?

ANDRE AGASSI: It was a good sign to play a guy where I had to lunge a lot and jump around. It was two and a half hours. I felt pretty good. So I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Q. Where would this guy be if he just bounced the ball and started the rally with that, didn't have the serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: He'd be as good as me if you took away my backhand (smiling). Everybody has -- I mean, it's not even fair to just sort of look at it through that lens because everybody presents their challenges and, you know... The best way to answer your question is to look at stats, you know. How often is the guy breaking? How often is he playing tiebreakers? His game, he plays tiebreakers probably twice as much as the next person that plays the most breakers because his hold game is that good and he struggles that much on the ground game. But if I was coaching him, I'd fine him $100 every time he hit a ground stroke. I would. I'd just -- he'd play like Paul Annacone. Stick your racquet out and come forward.

Q. You said you took some pace off the ball because it was windy and all those things, but, I mean, you consistently took pace off the ball the whole match. Was that a strategy, whether it was windy or not?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, quite the opposite. I mean, I feel like when you play a guy that's not comfortable from the ground, you've got to treat him like he's good because that's what separates, ultimately, my strengths. You know, if I go out there and I think, "Okay, well, you might miss," and I lay off, lay off, then I'm half the baseliner I normally am and I give him more looks than he should have. So you want to play against serve-volleyers when they're at the back as if they were good ground-strokers because it keeps you executing your shots. But in windy conditions you want to keep swinging but you sort of change your margin for error because of the wind. You allow more room to make a mistake and still have the point be alive. That's all I was doing. I was just aiming for bigger parts of the court and playing with a touch more rotation.

Q. Was it awkward trying to break his serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I broke him one time. You come out to a match like this, and you hope for that at least. So you never know what to expect playing somebody you never played before. But he was -- in his most difficult moments, he was more awkward than I anticipated.

Q. You made a decision to start a family and continue this globe-trotting life style. Do you see guys on tour making that decision, and what are the pros and cons of that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, for me, it was -- having a family was something I always dreamed about and looked forward to, certainly to find somebody that you want to have a family with. I mean, that's an incredible time in your life. So to postpone that, for me, I never really considered it. When it was right, I did it. But that's how I do most things, unfortunately. It's just a young sport, so you don't see a lot of guys at that stage of their life mostly. But I think once they do, they have to make that decision personally.

Q. We're focused on tennis here and sports and fun and competition. There is a serious disaster in our country. Your thoughts on that? And if I could ask, have you done anything personally for that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, listen, none of us can leave the TV on very long without -- I have to change the channel after two minutes. You just can't bear to watch it. When I watched 9/11, how long can you watch it for without, you know, truly being devastated? It's a tragedy. It's terrible. You've got families starving, no food, no water, no electricity. You have power lines in the water. Nobody knows -- nobody can be rescued. Nobody knows where to go, what to do. That doesn't even count the potential diseases that are going to come as a result of this and the lives that are going to be affected and lost, people losing family and losing homes. It's terrible.

Q. What part of the relief effort are you helping with? Are you going to do public service announcements?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. Jim Curley just asked me if I would do that. I said I would after this. I know that the ATP and WTA are getting together to put a lot of clothes and shoes and stuff together to auction off to somehow raise money and help. This is going to be an ongoing effort. You look at the tsunami that hit and you think, you know, "Geez, how long does that stay in the news?" Is it how long people care about it? But those lives are still affected. And this is going to continue for a long time. I mean, schools and, you know, hospitals. You know, this is something that needs to be -- we need to stay for the long haul.

Q. What do you think you can do? Can you do something personally in the position you're in, or do you feel kind of helpless, like everybody else?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, certainly helpless is a fair word to use. I hope there's something I can do, you know. I'll be a part of anything that might make a difference. I think it's hard to know right now what to do. I mean, what do you do? What do you tell those people that are sitting there, waiting to be rescued and people can't even get to them?

Q. Have you ever been there?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've been there one time.

Q. Long time ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, maybe two years ago.

Q. Can you compare these three tiebreak sets to the famous match with Pete and the four tiebreaks?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, sorry. We're back to the match tonight.

Uhm, no, it's a different animal. I mean, I had a lot more looks against Pete to break, and he had a lot more looks to break me. So it was -- there was a higher standard of rallies and pressure points, and there was more of them and there was -- it was definitely a different style of tennis. Today was awkward and probably pretty standard for Ivo. He's played a lot of tiebreakers. When you see him go out on the court, you can already chalk up two tiebreakers, minimum it seems. He just plays a lot of them. I didn't expect to escape that.

Q. Did you watch any of Andy the other night? What's the moral of the story, I suppose, for a guy like Andy?

ANDRE AGASSI: In reference to the match?

Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah, it was a tough match, an awkward match. I played Muller twice. Once he beat me in Washington. I didn't quite play him right. He certainly pushed me around the court and outplayed me in a 6-4, 7-5 set match. In LA, made a few adjustments and was able to -- beating him the same score, I was able to be in control of most of the match. That night Muller was bringing his game and Andy was just taking it, you know. He wasn't as aggressive as he needed to be, and Muller was keeping him from doing it, you know. So it was an uncomfortable hole you get yourself into out there when a guy starts dictating to you the terms. That's exactly what Muller was doing, and deserved to win that night.

Q. What adjustments could he make?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm not in the business of coaching my peers, so...

Q. Earlier today Ivan Lendl was here for a promotion. You don't see him around tennis a lot anymore. When you were young, he was a standard for fitness and preparation during his long run. Did he have an impact on you when you later made a commitment to fitness?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he certainly set a standard for all of us. Anybody that plays No. 1 in the world tennis, you can be assured that every other player out there is looking to learn from them and looking to figure out what they need to do to not only beat them, but also get the most out of themselves and to adopt philosophies or approaches to the game. But I've always had a belief in strength and fitness. I just didn't always have the discipline. I just never -- I didn't always have the priority, I didn't always have the commitment to it. But that grew, as I did, and it's become the most important part of my career, and certainly the reason why I still have a chance when I come out here.

Q. Sorry to ping-pong back like this. I'm just curious, why were you in New Orleans? What memories did you take?

ANDRE AGASSI: I was there for one night. I played an exhibition with Andy for Emeril Lagasse's foundation. We had fun. We just weren't there long enough to tap into the pulse of the city but long enough to get to meet a few people and enjoy some entertainment. So that was it.

Q. When you're watching that, when you're talking about watching it, how heart-breaking it is, does it make you think any differently about playing tennis or anything else? Did it change -- is anything in your mind different after something like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: It certainly puts in perspective that we're out here hitting tennis balls and playing a game. It's tough. There's, you know -- I don't have to look very far in my life to understand where tennis fits. You know, I have to look as far as my children. But when you see a tragedy like this, it just really puts into perspective how life can turn in an instant.

Q. Andy looked as devastated as you did in his press conference after you lost in '93 in the first round to Thomas Enqvist. He took great solace from the fact you were able to bounce back the very next year, in '94, and win it for the very first time as an unseeded player, albeit under Brad's tutelage. What would you say to him right now?


Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the same thing I'll say to any player out there that is going through a difficult time, is keep your head down, keep working and keep getting better. That's all you can do . I mean, I was a few points away from losing today, too. It comes down to a few points here or there, you know. You have to assess why you lost, you have to figure out what you can do about it, and then you have to go to work, you know. It's not going to be easy because I know it's important to him, being here. It's going to be disappointing not being here. But in the long haul it makes you better if you use it right.

Q. You were talking about perspective. You mention 1993, '94, it's 2005. Is it more fun, more relaxing, that you feel you're playing with the house money coming into the tournament? You're not the favorite. Is it more relaxing, more fun?

ANDRE AGASSI: I still put myself through the same dramas that I used to and always have. It's not easy to be around me during an event like this, I can only imagine. But with that being said, I think that a lot changed in my career after falling to No. 141 in the world and coming back and winning in Paris. I just have a lot to be thankful for inside those lines; certainly outside those lines as well. So I'm more motivated now than ever to get out there and figure out a way through the battle.

Q. When you fell to 141, did you have doubts? Did you doubt you might come back?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, absolutely. Never considered being able to get back to the top again ever. But that wasn't important to me. What was important to me was to make a decision for a way of life, to get the most out of myself every day. Just to do that, build a little momentum, and refuse to not get a day better each day. That hasn't stopped.

Q. When they opened the National Tennis Center here, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, they had a ceremony and all the past champions were here. I don't believe you were here that night. If they did a replay, would you feel differently about coming?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, for sure.

Q. What are your thoughts about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Just it's more -- I think one of the greatest joys I have now in my career and in my profession is to be playing at an age where I can appreciate it more than I used to. It's a whole different lens you look through the older you get, and to still be out there doing it, gives you an opportunity in a sense to embrace the moments more. That would be a moment I would choose to embrace.

Q. Thomas Berdych possibly in the next round if he wins.


Q. What do you know about him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, we played once in Australia and, you know, we got done with that match and I said he's a Top 10 player. He's a great player. He just seemed to do so many things well. Hit the ball well off of both sides. Served big. You know, he made you work for it every point. Seemed to have a good sense for the court. Since then we've only practiced once together, so I know he's been playing well and he's been picking up his standard. I've got to believe he's only gotten better. But, you know, it is something I'm looking forward to and, you know, good quality match for sure.

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