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Écrit par Jerome   


September 11, 2005

R. FEDERER/A. Agassi
6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Obviously, this isn't the result you wanted. There was a moment out there when you were up on the Jumbotron, crowd was going crazy, you had your towel over your head, then you lifted it up as if to take it all in. Talk about the outpouring of emotion from the crowd out there, what that meant to you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, over the last 20 years I've come full circle, you know. It's been an amazing journey and discovery of each other as I've grown up out here. You know, to be here at an age where I can take in that sort of love and be at an age where I can embrace it is a tremendous feeling. I'll never forget this. It can't take away from me ever what I'm leaving here with, and that's the memory of thousands of people pulling for me and showing appreciation for something that I care dearly about.

Q. Does the joy of being out there today and what's happened these past couple weeks outweigh the sting of losing to the world's best player today?

ANDRE AGASSI: It does, yes. It does. It's disappointing to lose, but the first thing you have to assess is why did you lose and, you know, I just lot to a guy that's better. I mean, there's only so long you can deny it. But, you know, he's the best I've ever played against. There's nowhere to go. You know, there's nothing to do except hit fairways, hit greens and make putts. I mean, every shot has that sort of urgency on it. And if you do what you're supposed to do, you feel like it gives you a chance to win the point. That's just too good.

Q. Andre, are you saying you're leaving, meaning this is your last Open, or do you just say -- you took the microphone and said, "I just want to thank you guys for the last 20 years." Is that because you're unsure whether you'll be back here next year or not?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm unsure about what I'm going to do in a month, let alone a year from now. But as of now, my intention is to keep working and keep doing what it is I do. You know, only thing better than the last 20 years will be the last 21 years.

Q. Was that the best you've ever played and lost?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I can't assess my standard right now, it's a little too soon. I had 4-2 -- I had a set apiece, 4-2, 30-Love serving, he had an inside-out backhand miss-hit that found the line. Then I hit a net cord to set up. That's the thing, you know, it doesn't take much with him. He can break a match open, or he can get back into it right away. But I would say that normally if I play that way against anybody, I would be favoring myself.

Q. Is he the only guy who puts that much pressure on you where every shot is at a premium?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yes. I mean, you know, there's other guys you play, I've played a lot of them, I mean, so many years, there's a safety zone, there's a place to get to, there's something to focus on, there's a way, you know. Anything you try to do, he potentially has an answer for and it's just a function of when he starts pulling the triggers necessary to get you to change to that decision. But, yeah, he plays the game in a very special way. I don't think -- I haven't seen it before.

Q. That being said, though, you were in control of this match when you had broken him at 3-2 in that third set. Had you been able to maybe hold, who knows what would have happened.

ANDRE AGASSI: I like the way you think (laughter). Make sure you write that tomorrow. I was that close... Yeah, no, no listen, you still got to earn it, you still got to do it. I'm just speaking of the standard and the options and the talent and the execution that he shows in all the biggest matches. It's crazy. What has he won, 24 straight finals, something like that?

Q. 23.

ANDRE AGASSI: 23. You know, that's... I'd be hard-pressed to think of anybody that's ever done that.

Q. You said you thought he was the greatest you've ever played against. Did you think that before tonight or was there something about tonight specifically that pushed you over the edge of thinking that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that's a great question. This is playing him in the finals of a Slam, you know. I've seen a lot of people play special matches arbitrarily, you know, just out of nowhere, just played a great match. He certainly has done that a number of times against me. But when you play somebody in the finals of a Slam, you can assess it pretty effectively. And I've never seen that.

Q. Do you think Roger is even better than Sampras at his best, and he could maybe break one day the record of Sampras?

ANDRE AGASSI: Pete was great. I mean, no question. But there was a place to get to with Pete, you knew what you had to do. If you do it, it could be on your terms. There's no such place like that with Roger. I think he's the best I've played against. But I also think the accomplishment of winning that many Slams requires a number of things, including a little bit of luck to make sure you're healthy, nothing goes wrong.

Q. He only lost two sets going into the match. Those two were both lost - one to Lleyton, one to Kiefer - in tiebreaks. He took them 6-2. He said he played better in this match than the whole tournament. I know you haven't had much of a chance to reflect on it, but can you look back and say that's a hell of an accomplishment, to take him 6-2 and take him to a tiebreak, considering the level he's playing at?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's a challenge to, you know -- he's the only guy I've ever played against where you hold serve to go 1-0 and you're thinking, "All right, good" (laughter). And I'm not just making fun of it, I'm literally telling you the way it is. He can hurt you at any point. You're serving 30-Love, he wins the point. It's 30-15, the pressure you feel at 30-15 is different than anybody else. So there's a sense of urgency on every point, on every shot. You know, it's an incredible challenge. You know, I certainly didn't have enough today. I know, you know, three five-setters doesn't help. But it's still a standard out there that you got to exceed yourself all the time.

Q. Did you feel he was a little bit erratic off the backhand at times during the match? You seemed to be exploiting that.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, it was a bit breezy. When I got on top of him, I could get to that. I certainly like my backhand to his backhand, or I certainly like that as a better option than his forehand. But, you know, with that being said, he hit an inside-out winner at 30-Love, 4-2 in the third set that found the line. He hit a few up the line. He hits that short chip, moves you forward, moves you back. He uses your pace against you. If you take pace off, so that he can't use your pace, he can step around and hurt you with the forehand. Just the amount of options he has to get around any particular stage of the match where maybe something's out of sync is -- seems to be endless. His success out there is just a mere reflection of all the things that he can do.

Q. Did you ever think that you'd see a player like him who moves so well, whose mental game is so well, serves so well, it seems like he hits every ball clean, every ball seems to hit the line. You said with Sampras, there was a place where you could be safe. With Roger, it seems like he's off balance and still hitting crosscourt winners and shots with a lot of pace on them.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, the only thing I could conceive more difficult than that is everything he does and make him 6'5". He's, you know -- he does things that others just can't do.

Q. It seemed like going to the tiebreaker you were getting into his backhand with the kick serve, especially into the ad court. Fourth point of it he finally hits the big backhand down the line. Return of serve winner. After that, two unforced for you. He flew to the title. Did it surprise you, and was that more or less the turnaround right there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he always elevates, you know, in tiebreakers. You'll always see that when he plays, he takes his chances. But I was using the kick serve effectively against the wind -- I mean, sorry, with the wind. In that particular stage, I was serving once in the tiebreak I was against the wind, and it was a second serve. You know, that's my point, I was safe for a long time out there just hitting a dumpy second serve to the backhand and getting into the point. Then at any point he can decide, "Well, I want to make you worry about that." He had the breeze on his back. He just stayed through that ball and hit it up the line. It was pretty much by me. You know, and then the next couple points, because he has -- you know he's going to step up, you have that little extra pressure to do a little bit more with the ball, to push it through the wind, and to get it deep because you don't want to leave anything hanging against him on either wing. And, you know, you make a couple errors because you're trying to play too good. And then just for good measure he did it at 6-1 in the tiebreaker. So anything that you're trying to execute out there only lasts for a period of time till he makes the adjustment. Then you have to change it. All the while, everything you're planning on doing, you have to do well and you have to do it start to finish. So that's, you know -- you can only say it so many ways. You know, that's too good.

Q. Is it hopeless, or do you believe he's a challenge that eventually can be figured out?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, something needs to be off one way or another. You need to play the craziest tennis you've ever played or he needs to be doing something off because, you know, you have to do it for such a long period of time. And while I believe I can do that, you always got to look at it for what it is and you say, "This guy's won that many finals for a reason." I mean, that stat alone is pretty crazy. I mean, you're talking about the best that are left in the tournament and he's winning that many times in a row, you know... It is what it is but you do step on the court feeling like you have to play a perfect match. He has to execute. I mean, he has to do what he does. But if he does, you have to play a perfect match.

Q. Do you have plans to get back on the court at some point the rest of this year, or are you going to take the rest of the year off and just kind of get rested up for Australia in 2006?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's a little soon to be able to say what my plans are. I mean, I certainly don't like to make plans before the tournament's over because you don't know how it's going to go. But I'll sit down and have a good talk with Darren and Gil and figure out a plan that makes sense for what our goals are, and we'll start by figuring out what our goals are and then work backwards from there.

Q. Was there anything different going into this final, a different mindset or approach to what was about to happen?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's a bit of survival. You're playing five sets on Saturday and, you know, you got less than 24 hours to be ready to potentially have to do that again. So, you know, you're just negotiating everything that you have inside of yourself just to be ready to go. When you sort of wake up in the morning, you hope you wake up and feel good, you know. But mentally, I was really looking forward to it and enjoyed it, you know, for all it was worth. That fourth set getting away was really just a testament to his standard and how he can raise his game and why you can't give him the lead. All the great players, you can't give them a lead. They stretch a match open quickly. And, you know, he's definitely one of those.

Q. Emotionally, is this run more satisfying than '94, '99 here?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm at such a different place in my life and career now, so at this particular time I can enjoy this as much as I've enjoyed anything on the tennis court with the support and the appreciation of the fans and the classic, you know, night match against James. There's a lot that I can enjoy now that before you're too busy worrying about winning, you know. You know, I've worked long and hard to be in a place where I can come out here and enjoy a sport that's been so good to me. And to be able to actually put that into a fact is a great feeling. I stepped out there and I looked forward to it and I did everything I could, and I do feel good about that.

Q. You said in order to beat him, something needs to be off. Was something off in his game at one point tonight?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. You just got to do it for a long time. I mean, you know, this is not -- a match is a complicated thing. There are a lot of ebbs and flows in it. There's a lot of -- but ultimately, the person that brings the most the most amount of times, you know, is going to win that. He just brings a lot all the time for all the options he has. And while there are periods that you can have him on the fence, his options when he's on the fence is better than most, better than most. You know, I had him -- I had his back against the wall to some degree at one set all, 4-2, 30-Love serving, but he just figured that to be a cue for him to do something else.

Q. He's been beaten in Grand Slams this year. Safin got him in Australia. Nadal. How do you see that in perspective?

ANDRE AGASSI: How do I see what? He won Wimbledon.

Q. He's beatable. Is it a matter of time, or is it a matter of player?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, everybody's beatable, I mean, on any given day. How many matches -- what's his record this year? He's lost three times?

Q. Three times, two Grand Slams.

ANDRE AGASSI: He's lost three times. He's probably won 70? Yeah, he's definitely beatable (laughter). I just don't like those odds (laughter). But, I mean, in sports you have to execute, you know. You can't phone in the result or else everybody could have just stayed home and barbecued this Sunday, you know. You can't phone in the result. You have to show up and you have to do it and that's what he has to do. So you can't just say he's full of talent, you have to give him his respect for hard work and discipline and commitment and the mindset that it takes to step on the court being the favorite every time, to step in the finals hoping today's not the day that something goes wrong, like you're talking about. And he does it over and over again. So there are a lot of things coming together for him, and deservingly so.

Q. I'm not saying I don't want you to continue to play. But can you imagine a better moment here at the US Open, you lost in the final against the No. 1 in the world?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, beating the No. 1 is better (laughter).

Q. In a word, what has Gil Reyes meant to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, Gil is the reason why I'm still out here doing this. You know, all the decisions that have been made over the last -- especially the last decade, but even the last 17 years. But especially this summer, you know, when you have real medical issues that you can't seem to address, you know, and you have real-life decisions that need to be made because it's not just you riding on it, it's all those that are along this journey with me, you know, including him and including my family and, you know, there's a lot of people that have to sacrifice for me to still do this, and there's a lot of trust that goes into the decisions that are made. He's helped me to make decisions that have put me in position to be out here letting my game be the most it can. And to feel that being appreciated these two weeks is priceless to me.

Q. One more thing about Roger. He was always a big shot-maker already from the beginning. Were you surprised at some stage how consistent he got, or you'd expect him to become like that one day?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I saw Pete hitting balls one time when he was 17 years old and he was missing everything. I remember actually telling somebody how bad I feel for certain players that will never have a chance (smiling). And the first time I played Roger was in Switzerland, and the nice things I said about his game had to do with the fact that I was playing another Swiss guy in the next round. So to watch him evolve has been amazing, and you never know, you know, never underestimate a champion's heart or their abilities. He's grown into his game in a way that's great to watch.

Q. He's shown a toughness, obviously, over this stretch of finals that maybe somebody wouldn't have expected early on. Were you surprised by that aspect of him?

ANDRE AGASSI: A toughness by him?

Q. Yeah, the match toughness and the conditions last year. There was a time people thought Roger would have to play in perfect conditions. Obviously he's gone way beyond that mindset where he really toughs it out.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you have to respect not just his abilities, but you also have to respect what goes into all the pieces that make him the factor he is, you know. I mean, and that's the mindset. It is the focus. It is the, you know, the knowing when to play, when not to play. It's pulling out of tournaments as you prepare to peak for other tournaments. You know, he's made a lot of good decisions, and he certainly is maximizing all the arsenal that he has. And I can't say it surprises me because I don't know him, but it certainly amazes me.

Q. When you make that decision to put the racquet on the wall and walk away, whether it's six months from now, five years from now, whatever, what do you think will go into that for you? What will be the factors? If it's not fun anymore, that your body doesn't hold up, your family needs you more? What do you think will go into that decision?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, based on all those points would be a factor if I felt those things, if I felt like it wasn't fun, that's not good. If I felt like, you know, it was compromising my family too much, that would be a factor. If I felt like physically I just couldn't come out here with the hope of making the best play the best, that would be a factor. I don't know all the pieces that will be a part of it. I don't know what will be most sort of pronounced. But I do know that, you know, when I know, you'll know. That's, I mean, that's the most I can say.

Q. Did you speak with your wife after the match? What do you say?

ANDRE AGASSI: We didn't have time to chat yet.

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