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Écrit par Jerome   


September 10, 2005

A. AGASSI/R. Ginepri
6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Tough time with the first serve during portions of this match. I was curious, A, how you were able to overcome it, and, B, what was the problem today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah, no question. Well, I think a couple things. I think, first of all, playing at night, then two days off, it's a whole different rhythm, having the two days off. It's a whole different set of -- whole different environment, playing the day versus night. So I think also, too, the way Robby returns, you know, he stands way inside the baseline. He gives you what seems to be big holes out there, and he sort of teases you to hit the spot. And if you start pressing a little bit, you can get into trouble because he puts a lot of pressure on your second serve. Eventually I started to relax more on the serve. But the match was a bit patchy, but it was a function of who was going to string those points together at the right time in each set.

Q. Considering the three five-setters, considering where you were ten weeks ago, the opportunity to go out there and play in this final, what does it mean to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: How do you find words for what this means? This has been some of the greatest memories I've ever had on a tennis court. I'll have these memories with me the rest of my life. I mean, you know, to be in the finals at age 35 just means you're going to have to put up with me a lot longer (smiling).

Q. Did you request the earlier match? Are you just happy it worked out that way? Can you bring us through how this worked.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, I certainly requested -- everybody puts in their request for what they want. You know, with -- it's a good decision, actually. I mean, I think that two Americans playing, you know, I think it does help to play the first match. You know what time you're getting out there, you don't get so emotionally involved in the other match. I mean, had we played after that, you sit there and you watch it, it's hard not to care, but you guys are distracting me from that now, which is nice. And then, you know, that couple extra hours helps a lot. Plus, too, psychologically, if you're out there in the fifth set and the guy you're playing, the winner of, is sitting there waiting, that's also a factor. I was fortunate to get that today.

Q. You've had three consecutive five-setters. How do you feel physically and mentally going into the final?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I felt decent out there in the fifth. I mean, there was nothing to speak of that was of any concern. I stepped up when I needed to. The fifth set was the best set of tennis the whole match, so that's also a good sign. You know, I feel pretty good now. I mean, 24 hours is not a lot of time. It's not an ideal situation, to play three five-setters going into the finals, especially here. This is one of the reasons why this is the most difficult tournament to win. But it's a great problem to have, you know. I mean, listen, I'd sign up for that any day, to have a chance in the finals, regardless of today. But it's not ideal.

Q. If you could write the script for the semifinal match that's takes place right now, would it read something like, "Extremely long, exhausting five-set thriller, Hewitt takes it in the fifth-set tiebreaker"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, and then, "Stubs his toe on the way out of the stadium" (laughter).

Q. Tomorrow, against a tremendous player like Lleyton or the most dominant player in tennis, is the key going to be strokes, legs, your mind or heart?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you're going to need all of them to win tomorrow, regardless of which one of these guys it is, especially if it's Roger. I mean, it's going to need to be everything. I mean, this is the finals. The best are left so...

Q. You feel you have lots left in the tank and can bring it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I might surprise you a little bit. I might surprise you (smiling). I feel good. I'm certainly going to be looking forward to it. Mentally, you know, just being out there is going to take care of that. And physically, I'll be able to make somebody earn it, that's for sure.

Q. It seems that age is always an issue in sport. It seems then in tennis the age of the players are decreasing. What kind of advantage does it give to you, to be older?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, yeah, I don't know if there's much of an advantage. You get to a point of sort of diminishing returns. It's great to have the experience, but, you know...

Q. Maybe tactics on the court?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think you always learn how to be better. So everybody gets better by the year. More years are better, but you have to physically be healthy, you have to be moving well so you can decide what you're going to do, you know.

Q. Maybe focus, too?


Q. The focus.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, a lot of guys are focused. Nadal is 19 years old and you won't find anybody more focused than that.

Q. What do you remember about 1986 here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, just first-round loss to Jeremy Bates, four sets.

Q. Do you remember coming in? What were your impressions, your first US Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: It just was very distracting for me, you know. Being in the city and then coming out to play the match, I couldn't believe how quick the match went. It was probably close to three hours, but it just felt like it flew by. Almost like the first Davis Cup match I ever played.

Q. Aside from Robby's physical arsenals, his forehand, serve, ability to cover the court, in your opinion, could you assess the intelligence he has on the court at age 22.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he's come a long ways. You know, if anything, I used to say that he was irresponsible with his talent because he would pull triggers that, you know, that he should have showed more discipline on. But now, you really see his patience, his thought process out there. He's taking calculated risks, you know, and he knows when to lay off the ball, when to work it, when to step up and take a chance. He's playing a lot smarter, which doesn't give you those free points that make the difference. At the end of every set, it used to be his downfall. I played him three tough sets here last year, but just a few bad decisions sets things away. Now he's not giving you those.

Q. During the fifth set, what mental adjustment did you make?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I just tried to keep working and just, you know, just keep executing. You want to step up. You want to hit your shots. You want to, you know, hope the ball bounces your way, really. I mean, I got that break, which was key. I played a good game to break him there. Great service game straight after that to consolidate, 5-2. Made him work to hold serve, 5-3, then served a good game out so...

Q. Do you think respect of the opponent or respect of you matters in the fifth set against young players?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, respect isn't something you demand, it's something you earn, you know. My goal is to earn the respect in the fifth set and from my opponent, and that's a daily effort.

Q. What do you admire most about Federer's game? And if he is the opponent tomorrow, what's your perspective on the challenge that he presents for you that maybe nobody else does at this stage?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the challenge is real simple, you know. Most people have weaknesses and most people only have one great shot. I mean, Federer doesn't have weaknesses and has a few great shots. So that equates to a problem (laughter). I mean, I could lie, I could say something else, but... But he's earned that respect. That means you go out in the match and you address it with urgency and you have to play well, you know. He's not the first guy to make you feel that way, but he's certainly the guy that's doing it better than anybody now.

Q. Do you know what it takes to beat him? Is it a matter of executing it? Or are you still looking for answers?

ANDRE AGASSI: You hit it in that corner and that corner and that corner and that corner over and over again, and you beat him. But you got to do it. I mean, listen, there's no weakness to speak of, but it is -- sports is a function of executing, you know. The guy plays great defense, plays great offense. He has a great hold game and he has a great break game. You play a bad match against Pete, you lose 6-4, 7-5. You play a good match against Pete, you lose 6-4, 7-5. You play a good match against Federer, you lose 6-4, 7-5. You play a bad match against Federer, you lose 1 and 1.

Q. I believe you said you continue playing for the competition itself, your love of the game. You have not been fixated on the end result, the trophies and adding to the titles. Now that you're this close to that possibility, is it important to not think about the title? Does your motivation change at all, mindset?

ANDRE AGASSI: Winning is a by-product of doing a lot of things right. That's decision-making, scheduling, training, preparation, fitness, all of that. And it's also about, you know, every point inside a match. So for me tomorrow, it's not going to be about the trophy until I'm holding it. It's about, "What am I doing the first point, second point?" It's a challenge and overcoming all the obstacles that are required to get through a match. Certainly winning is something you always want and always strive for. But you can't lose sight of the Xs and Os and the execution of every shot.

Q. Three years ago Sampras won this tournament and then we never saw him again, as you remember the final. Would you rather tomorrow win and say bye-bye to all of us, or lose and play all next year?

ANDRE AGASSI: (Smiling). I'd rather win and play all next year (laughter).

Q. Too easy.

ANDRE AGASSI: That's what I'd like to do.

Q. If you should be really honest, what do you think your chances are tomorrow if you're playing Federer in the final?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, you could ask any sports bookie and they're going to tell you what the odds are. But for me, it's about keeping my head down and focusing on the things that I do well and things that have gotten me here. You know, making him do everything he does as good as he can. So I don't know what my chances are, we'll find out tomorrow. We're only 24 hours away from that.

Q. If you play at your top level, the level you played in the fifth set today, the match against Blake, can you push him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, we'll find out. I certainly hope so. I will certainly hope so.

Q. When you get the shot, are you in a lot of pain, do you try to avoid that, you push it back, and then you get the shot and is there a process where you just start feeling better and better and better? When you take your Cortisone shot?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, oh, the shot, okay.

Q. I mean, obviously, nobody really likes to get those shots.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, they're not fun.

Q. But can you just talk about the progression.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's nine minutes of agony, and then when you're done there's a numbing agent so immediately you're going to feel better, immediately you're going to have no feeling but you've got to resist the temptation of continuing on it for a few days. Then when you start up again, there's a dramatic difference. You can tell right away, you know. It could last a few days, it could last a few weeks. In my case the first one lasted three months. The next one only lasted a few weeks. Then this one's lasted since just after LA, so we're going on, I don't know how many weeks that is, maybe six weeks, yeah. Six weeks now. So I think it varies depending on exactly how close they get, depending on how you're impinging it, the wear and tear on it. Yes, right after the injection it always feels great. Sometimes for a very short period of time. Ideally you want to be able to get a few months out of it.

Q. Right now there is no problem?

ANDRE AGASSI: Cool-down I feel it. Cool-down. Again, I know this process all too well. I feel it on cool-downs and then that pain increases, and then that pain gets to a point where I start to feel it on the court, and then once I'm feeling it on the court, it escalates very quickly because it's irritated, it's telling you it's irritated and you're continually doing something to it. So it's a process that you can't guarantee how long that's going to take. But once I feel it on the court, it is a quick escalation.

Q. In the early '90s, did you imagine you'd be doing this in 2005 or sitting on an island with a frozen drink?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. No, I did the island/frozen drink thing in '97, so... (laughter). So that was out of my system. No, I never thought I would be doing this.

Q. Have you been able to sit back and smell the roses at all during this run, or is it just all about winning that next match and the next one?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's -- that's a great question, Peter, because I really feel like I've taken this in, you know. I haven't sort of stressed myself out with all the preparation that does go into it. I haven't ignored it. But through it, I've enjoyed being in the city with my children and wife and seeing some shows and taking in some good dinners. You know, I feel very removed from the pressure of it all, or from, you know, the demands of it all. I think that's allowed me to enjoy it even more.

Q. Do you take pleasure in defying what most people think of a 35-year-old athlete should be doing?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I don't know what that would be. I tell you what I do take pleasure in is accomplishing things that I question myself. That's what I take pleasure in. You know, I've been asked for a long time now well, "When are you going to stop? When are you going to stop?" Had I stopped, I wouldn't be here, you know. So for me, it's about pushing yourself and pushing yourself, and I know there comes a time and a place when you have to decide that that's it. I don't know when that's going to be, and I certainly don't even know, you know, what the reasons are going to be for that. But, you know, I need to work, and this is my work. This is what I do. I'm a tennis player, and I'll do it as hard as I can as long as I can, from how I see it right now.

Q. Speaking of fitness, you're an inspiration to all of us older people. I just wanted to know a little bit about your fitness regimen.

ANDRE AGASSI: I wouldn't know how to answer that, you know. It's been, you know, 35 years, my strength coach, Gil, has studied and become the greatest at what it is he does. And all his knowledge has led to a series of decisions over the last, you know, 20 years that have kept me able to do this, you know. So to say I could write down on a piece of paper what my routine is, it wouldn't be worth the paper it's written on. It's not about a routine, it's about a way of life, it's about a commitment, it's about knowing where to push yourself and when to cut yourself slack, you know. And if you miscalculate those decisions, you're in a crash course -- you have a recipe for disaster. There's nothing worse than somebody who has the heart and the mind to accomplish great things physically, but don't have a plan that works for them so they never see the results. Then you see others that get the results but it leads them right into a brick wall where they burn out and crash, you know. I mean, both those are, you know -- both of those are crimes, you know. When you have somebody that wants to do it, you need somebody that can help make those decisions that leads you down that road, and that's what Gil's done for me.

Q. The other night, James said it was the most fun he had losing a tennis match. Robby today did not seem to be having that kind of fun. When you look at both of these players, you're talking about smelling the roses, do you want to give them some advice about taking the time and smelling the roses?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not -- I wouldn't make the assumption that I do it better than them, to be honest, you know. I really wouldn't. Especially James. I mean, here's a guy that every time I see him, I aspire to his perspective on life that, you know -- I've never seen him -- I've never seen him not rise above --

Q. I was referring to Robby, I'm sorry.

ANDRE AGASSI: I couldn't speak to Robby either. The standard of the match that was played today was more patchy than James. I mean, there's a lot to be said for a match where two guys feel they've played as well as they can and it was what it was. But, yeah, I wouldn't -- I couldn't assume that it's lost on Robby. I mean, he's a guy that has had a great summer and he's looked like he's found something he can rely on now from here on in.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, the last time you were in the final here was against Pete. Obviously the crowd there was split 50/50 that day. Tomorrow, no matter who you play, they're pretty much all going to be rooting for you. How much will that help, particularly with how much they've been behind you and carried you along throughout the tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, that's going to help a lot. It's brought me this far and it's helped me get through three five-setters. You know, it's invaluable, sometimes, what the crowd can offer to you as far as inspiration and motivation to just reach a little deeper. So, you know, it's going to be a great day. It's a lot to feel good about, and certainly a lot to look forward to.

Q. Like you say, you've zoned a little bit out of your career at times. When did you fully become comfortable with saying, "I'm a tennis player, that's what I do."

ANDRE AGASSI: When I was 141 in the world. Just check dates for that. I think it's somewhere at the end of '97, is that right?

Q. What have you been told about how much Cortisone your body can take? The fact that you have to go through that, how does that enhance feelings that you're on borrowed time?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, in this particular case, the doctor is comfortable with four injections a year. Because we're not injecting tendon or joints, you know, this is a nerve that's through bone so there's not a lot of deterioration or downside that happens as a result of it. It's not a way to live as a way of life, but if I didn't thrash myself around on the tennis court with 22-year-olds... (laughter)... I wouldn't need it, period. I mean, I would be fine. I'm not sort of disabled in my everyday life, but it's when I demand what I demand out of my body that I fall shy of the standard that's needed to be at your best. So I can do about four a year, but not as a way of life, for a few years.

Q. Does it enhance the feeling you're on borrowed time?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, listen, who knows what the reason is for what you can do or not. I mean, I have seen guys healthy that just run out of something and their career changes, you know. I'm certainly not above that. So I feel like I've been on borrowed time for a while.

Q. As much as I love the game, what's happening for you right now with your family, as well as the drink on the island, I want to go back to the rebirth of the man himself. I've been watching you a period of time. You've gone through a rebirth. Can you talk about that a little more, and why? What came upon you to bring that on?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, talking about my career in...?

Q. You as a person. I noticed something totally different about you, Andre Agassi, and how it's reflected in your game.

ANDRE AGASSI: Listen, I feel like my life has been an evolution by the day. I mean, I don't know if I could point to a specific moment, you know. I feel like I continually learn and make mistakes and learn from that. So I don't know about one moment that my life changed. I feel like my life is always in the process of changing, and it's my choice if it's going to be better or not.

Q. We've heard of you and Steffi as an item in New York. If your romance started in New York, is there something special about coming back to New York with your wife and children?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no, my romance started with her 12 years ago; she just didn't know it (laughter).

Q. Facing a Grand Slam final, as a husband, a father, how different is that than, say, when you were younger, 1992, when you were playing more for yourself. Now you're a family man.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I would say ultimately I just take myself a lot less seriously now than I ever used to. You never -- things aren't in perspective until you see a child treat your good day or bad day with the same spirit, you know. And I'll never have more pressure on me than I have when I clip my little girl's fingernails, you know. So for me, it's about perspective. It's about what life has been about now for a number of years. That's a great feeling. It doesn't make me -- doesn't remove any sense of professionalism or commitment to my career. If anything, it's just given me a great place to have those moments of escaping it. And so when I go home tonight, I'm going to enjoy myself, and then I'll come back to work tomorrow.

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