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Écrit par Jerome   


September 3, 2005

A. AGASSI/T. Berdych
3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. What was the key adjustment for you today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I went out there and I certainly didn't have my rhythm. I wasn't timing the ball very well. A little bit had to do with the way he was hitting it. When I did time it, he would hit it pretty well anyhow. I was just sort of out of sorts. I wasn't timing it well. I think I was still in the locker room there in the first set. I knew it could only get better from there as far as my standard went. I think he got a little careless early in the second, allowed me to settle in a little bit more. Then the standard started gradually picking up.

Q. Taking care of business there, closing the match in four sets when he threatened to take you to five. That has to feel good?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it feels good because I was at a place in my game out there where the standard was really high and I was going to make him earn it one way or the other. I wasn't thinking about saving myself from the fifth. I was thinking about every point. I like when I get that focus. It means I'm really doing my job well usually. At that stage I wasn't thinking about the fifth. I was thinking about every point, which is a good sign.

Q. You said on television that you were aware of what James did. Could you expand on that a little bit. You said you also were aware of the draw and the possibility of maybe seeing him in a round down the road.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, we're still a long ways away from it, but, yeah, I was playing after him so it was hard not to take a lot of interest in the match. Try not to watch too closely because you don't want to get sort of emotionally drained watching it, you know, because you got to play right afterwards.

Q. Has that ever happened before?


Q. Has that ever happened?

ANDRE AGASSI: Has what ever happened?

Q. Has that ever happened to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: At Davis Cup it's happened a few times. I thought he played a great match. He played smart. He had to execute perfectly and aggressively. It was great to see him play that way. There's nobody that deserves it more after the year he had last year. Just to see him out here, is a great feeling, let alone watching him play so well. He's truly one of the classiest people you'll ever meet.

Q. Successful players have longevity in any sport, like you 20 years at the US Open, Roger Clemens in baseball. At times they'll change their approach or game in some way to keep that longevity going. Have you changed or approached your game any differently?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, my game had to evolve along with the rest of the game. The game's gotten a lot more aggressive than it used to be. But the most that's changed about my game has been, over the years, my training and my decision-making with scheduling. I can't afford just to go play every week as much as you want to at times. You have to make the decision to not play to prepare, to recover or prepare. I had to get smarter with those decisions to help my body and my mind at this stage. It gets harder and harder. So that part's changed.

Q. You used your dropshot increasingly. Can you talk about that shot and its effectiveness, and can you go to it too often?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think it's possible to go to it too often, but the good news, when you cross that line and you go to it too often, it means you've really established to the guy that he has to worry about it, which means the second you go back to striking the ball, it's going to be effective against him. But a guy like Berdych, I mean, he stands a good portion behind the baseline because he's such a big guy, he can afford to. Takes big swings at the ball. So my hope was to sort of edge him forward a little bit so that his swings became more risky by getting him close to the baseline. Otherwise he just settles into a nice grove and it seems like he'll never miss. He'll just hammer the ball left and right. It's a one-sided breeze out there, so it really lends for -- when you're on one side of the court, it really lends to using that shot effectively.

Q. How significant does your advancing, James' win, just the overall success of Americans to the sport's popularity in the United States?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well tennis has gotten deeper and stronger and more international over the last number of years. So to see guys like Robby or James, myself at that matter, still be sort of into the second week, I think it's a good thing for this tournament being here in America. It's a great thing for the sport. I mean, the American market is a big one, and I think James would be a great ambassador of the sport if he steps up and starts playing like he's been playing. That's a great thing for the game.

Q. Could you talk about the fourth set today. You were in and out of trouble a lot, kind of living on the edge for a while there. What did you rely upon in your experience to get you through the fourth set?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the good news in the fourth set was the standard had improved dramatically. It started to become toe-to-toe tennis, which is what I wanted it to be from the first game. He had chances. I had chances. Then he got the break, only for me to play a good game right after that and break him back. So at that stage I just kept making him play a quality match to win this, make him hit every ball, make him push to the very end. When I snuck back in the second set, you feel like you have more life and it gives you an opportunity. I was only looking at it as that. Had we gone five, I would have still been out there with the same mindset.

Q. When you see someone like Berdych who has the shots, the exuberance, he just maybe needs some seasoning, are you reminded of yourself 20 years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, there's no question I had unrealized potential for many years early on. I had to learn how to play the game. In my mind, as good a player as Berdych is, he can be a lot better, so he still has a lot to discover himself.

Q. When you're down 5-3, what's going on through your mind?

ANDRE AGASSI: In the first or fourth?

Q. The fourth.

ANDRE AGASSI: I was thinking, you know, make him play well to close this set out, and then the worst case you're going to be starting the fifth serving, then go to work again. There's not much more you can do than treat every point with urgency and hope for the best, and that's pretty much what I was doing.

Q. Can you comment on Malisse's game.

ANDRE AGASSI: We played a few times. He's a talented player with a great flair for the game. He has a big forehand and solid backhand and moves incredibly well. He has a deceptive first serve and it can get very streaky. It's always a tough match when we play, it's always toe-to-toe tennis.

Q. You prefer that kind of game, those kind of matches?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know really. I mean, sometimes you prefer contrast, you know. There's a lot to -- playing a guy like Malisse gives me the chance to settle in a little bit earlier because we're going to hit more balls. That's always a bit of a relief when you go on the court. But by the same token, he'll make you work harder for it. Even if you find your range, it's going to take you longer to accomplish the job. You know, other times I've always enjoyed playing a guy like Rafter, or somebody like this, who plays completely, completely different.

Q. Most would say of you these days that you're thoughtful, respectful, committed to your community and of course your family. Yet the phrase, if I'm not mistaken, in the commercial is "once a rebel, always a rebel." Could you comment on that?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's the tag line, and I didn't say it (smiling). Yeah, I mean, I don't know what to really say about that, to be honest. I think that there's a lot of things I've been a part of in the past that have probably changed. But there's a certain -- there are certain parts that have been such an important part of my own evolution, you know, and I'm just not so eager to let that go.

Q. I got to ask. What's that little rebel still in you? What part of your personality?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know (smiling)... Yeah, I always feel like I'm itching to do something I shouldn't be doing, you know. So I'm not sure what it is. It's a good thing I don't recognize it so well.

Q. Could you maybe speak a little bit of the difference of your approach to what you wear on the court according to your early years where you were known for the very flamboyant image. Now you're more conservative maybe.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, the beginning I, you know, sort of wanted to bring something to the game that would maybe impact those that don't normally watch it, maybe to draw interest to the game, to the fans out there that might not necessarily ever have taken the time to appreciate the sport of tennis. You know, now, I'm at the stage where I've just thought to myself, "If I dress like my wife, maybe I can play like my wife" (laughter). Been working, by the way.

Q. Do you sometimes feel nostalgic to wear any of your legendary outfits you wore?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. That's like my hair, it's all gone (smiling).

Q. Jeans pants and stuff like this?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no, that's gone. It served a purpose, and hopefully parts of it served good purposes. But, yeah, no, I like to -- I don't like to dwell too much on that.

Q. You had to reach a lot today, lunge a lot again. Did the back hold up again?

ANDRE AGASSI: It did. It felt good, you know. It felt good. We were out there for two and a half hours, just over. So that's good news.

Q. You've said you'll continue playing this game as long as you feel like you can step on the court and bring your game. More recently you said you will a continue to play as long as people are entertained and you can put on a show. Looking at that second answer, is that realistic enough to keep you in the game, or is it being out there and getting to the second week of the tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it's one in the same really. I don't think you really inspire and entertain unless to some degree you're competitive and a threat. So, you know, listen, you're discovering this with me. I should say I'm discovering it with you. I don't know what my mindset is. I don't always understand what my motivations are. I know what my responsibilities are, and I know how those responsibilities motivate me, but, you know, I've never been through this before. I've never been 35 years old before. I've never, you know, never played 20 Opens before. This is the first time. So I'm sort of wondering about all that myself, and I have for a number of years now. So while I appreciate the respect of my words and the attention to them, I caution you to take them too literally when it comes to me trying to get a feel for what I'm looking for at this stage of my career, because, you know, I take it one day at a time, you know. I take it -- so it's hard for me to be totally clear myself.

Q. When you're able to hit a dropshot from the baseline like you did to force that tiebreak, does that ever grow old to you, or do you feel as, you know, good about that as you might have when you were 12 years old and pulled off a shot that you hadn't, you know, before? I mean, does this ever get old for you? Do you take your shots like that for granted ever?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no, when he's hitting a forehand to the corner and I'm running there knowing I'm not getting it, that gets really old, I assure you (smiling). But, no, I think a perfectly played dropshot is one of the prettiest shots to watch in the game, next to the topspin lob. In order for the dropshot to work, somebody has to be respecting what it is you might do besides that, and you've earned the chance to execute something at that moment that, when it leaves your racquet, you know if you've done it or not. So when you do it well, the second it leaves your racquet you get about a second and a half to be a spectator and watch it.

Q. You were just talking about your wife a few moments ago. Are there things you learned from her about tennis either on or off the court?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I suppose watching her going about her life is the greatest lesson I could learn. I mean, in tennis, when you evolve as a person and you're more disciplined in your life and more commitment and passion and focus and intensity, it all translates into the tennis court, and vice versa. When you start showing more discipline on the court, then your life starts to reflect that. So seeing how Stef went about parts of her career, most of it I wasn't anywhere near seeing close up, but more importantly how she goes about her life. It's pretty clear focus, every day reflecting her values and priorities. So I aspire to that. Tennis is still a big priority for me, so I try to make sure it has its place every day.

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