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Écrit par Jerome   
18-09-2006

THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND

 

June 27, 2006

 

A. AGASSI/B. Pashanski
2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3

 

ANDRE AGASSI

             

              THE MODERATOR:   Who is first?

             

              Q.   Nice to get the first match under your belt, fairly comfortable in the end?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I was.   I think I was a bit lost out there in the first set.   I think I was a bit too nervous.   But, you know, then I settled in and managed to find a little bit of rhythm, making it a lot better from there.   That's what I tried to focus on.   But it was comfortable in the end.

             

              Q.   Could you speak just a bit about the reception you received both when you walked on court and then at the end.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, it just sort of added to my nerves, to be quite honest.   You know, I mean, you expect to be overwhelmed with the whole situation anyhow, regardless of just how warmly you're embraced out there.   But then to feel that sort of support, you know, it just meant the world to me.   I just wanted to do 'em proud.   You know, so I got a little nervous about trying too hard early, overhit a lot.   Took me a while to settle down.

             

              Q.   What did you feel after the match point?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, you know, it was just nice to win out there, so...   It's been a lot of -- few years now.

             

              Q.   You said that the thing you like best about tennis is that it helps you learn about life's little mysteries, problem solving.   What have you learned about accepting that you're going to be leaving, letting go over these past months?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I don't know.   I don't know if I can speak to what I've learned in reference to the change of life that's going to happen.   I mean, I'll have to go through it to some degree to understand it better.

              I wait with great anticipation to embrace that part of my life.   I don't feel like there's any real heavy drama to this process outside just the emotion of feeling very connected to a lot of people that maybe life won't offer me the opportunity to be around as much.

              But it's good.   That's why it's good I live in Vegas.   It gives people a reason to come.   "I'll come to Vegas, hey, Andre is there."   They'll say hello.

             

              Q.   It hasn't been a difficult process for you at this point?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   No, I think early this year was very difficult on me.   After the US Open, it was very difficult on me.   I tore all the ligaments in my ankle, sort of couldn't compete or move around or train the way I wanted to, which left me clearly not ready for Australia.   I got behind the eight ball there.   Then the process of fighting to still have a competitive, successful year was quite a frustrating process.

              I was in a bit of torment going through that because you never like being out there ordinary.   You're not used to it.   You're not comfortable with it.   There are many times that I was.

              With the time off over the clay, I sort of got my arms around where I was, what I was feeling, what I have ahead of me.   Then it wasn't so bad.

             

              Q.   This might be in terms of your career a retrospective time to look back at anything.   You're maybe saying some fond farewells in the next few months.   How do you feel about the future of the game?   Who will you be eyeing up and who could you enjoy watching?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, I mean, I think Federer, Nadal have captured the imagination of the sporting public, you know, with their rivalry.   I mean, to have a dominant No. 1 player in the world sort of be dominated by the No. 2 player is a bit of a story in itself.   Whenever they come head to head, they've played in so many finals now this year.   Two different styles of games entirely, with two entirely different personalities.   I think that really lends for good theater potentially down the road.

              Just watching the game evolve is going to be a joy for me.   I always felt like going from generation to generation that I had to remain objective about how the game was changing, how the game was sort of improving, getting better.   I had to make those adjustments.   My mindset is one that's going to be willing to accept the game getting better.   As I sit back and look at the youngsters coming up, I'll be able to appreciate what it is they're doing fully.

             

              Q.   Did you have any idea about this guy, a young gun who would have loved to have bagged Agassi?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I didn't know much about him.   Watched him practice a little bit.   Certainly followed his results to know exactly the kind of guys that he beats or the guys that he struggles with to get a sense for the game.   There's a few ways of doing it.   But till you get out there, you're never quite comfortable with how it's really going to play out.

             

              Q.   Did he surprise you with anything?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, you know, he hit the ball flatter than I was expecting.   I figured with some good clay court results, you know, he would play with a bit more spin.   But his ball really came through the court.   He was patchy.   In the times where he played well, he would hit lines on his serve and he would get risky with redirections, first balls back up the line on the rallies.   He was always keeping you sort of guessing, but then he would go through times where he lost concentration or make too many errors.

             

              Q.   After the first set, certainly you were thinking you could come back.   Were you also thinking that this might be your last match here?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I was thinking to myself after I lost the first set, I can't believe I lost this set this Championship.   Can you believe this?   I wanted to win the whole thing without losing a set (smiling).

              No, but on a serious note, yeah, you feel like there's this critical point where if you don't do something, it's going to become sort of desperation.   To be down a set, to be facing breakpoint at Love-1 in the second, the match is really quickly going to get away from you.

              So when I settled in the second set, I relaxed a lot.   But I was a bit uptight.   I went from nervous to slightly embarrassed to digging in and getting more comfortable as it went on.

             

              Q.   Speaking of young players, you had a chance to spend a few days with Sam Querrey getting ready to come over here.   Did you see enough of him to render an opinion on what his future might be?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, well, I practiced with him.   He's a real good player.   He has a lot of room for improvement.   You can't teach being 6'6".   The guy is a big guy who actually moves well for his size, has a real nice two-handed backhand, certainly a big serve.   Once he starts learning how to play the court a little bit better, he's going to be a big factor down the road.

             

              Q.   Knowing this is your farewell tour, are you going to be less demanding on yourself on the court?   Is this going to be a sweet serenade at the end or is it the same Andre that is going to go out there and say, I expect to win matches that are within my control?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   You know, I always approach every match hoping I'm not unnecessarily hard on myself.   That's always been tough for me to do over the years.   I've been pretty critical to the point sometimes where I probably have hurt myself with that perspective.

              But other times it has brought out the best.   I mean, no matter what my approach is going out there, it always seems that once I'm in the situation, I do expect a lot.   You know, I sort of just have to accept that at this point, that I'm going to get discouraged or I'm going to get excited, you're going to know what you're dealing with when I'm out there.   It does feel the same to me.

             

              Q.   Did you feel the clock ticking today when you were out there?   This is the first Slam, at least - and you probably knew at Queen's that you were going to go - but this is the first time you get out there and say, Okay, now I know there's a real limit on my play, so these matches take on a different significance.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   What do you mean, "limit"?

             

              Q.   You know the end is there.   Today you're out there thinking, I don't get a chance to come back here next year.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah.   Yeah, it's true.   I don't need this Championship to give me any more than it's given me.   It's already given me so much.   I'm not out there trying to extract more from this tournament.   I'm out here giving it everything I've got.   That's my mentality.   I'm just going to do that till the end, you know.

              I don't know if the end will be day after tomorrow or much later.   I need to see that through.   That's what kicks in with me when I get out there.

             

              Q.   Will it be a relief when you do stop?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Certain parts of my heart and mind will feel a sense of freedom in my life.   I mean, life changes.   All of a sudden you don't have to have your bags packed and zipped.   You're not working with all those parameters that sort of exist in your daily life.   You work out from 10 to 12:30, then you're with the kids, then if you have to do some business, you do some business.   The next thing you know, the day's over with and it's on to the next.   Every day has limitations based on what I have to rest, how I have to prepare.

              So I'll feel good about being able to breathe a little deeper initially.   But I won't do well bored, so that's not an option for me.

             

              Q.   How long have you been wearing the "daddy" rocks?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Since he made it for me.

             

              Q.   Who made it for you?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Jaden.

             

              Q.   If you were a gambling man, who would you put money on in the women's final?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Who is going to be in it?

             

              Q.   Well, who do you think it would be?   If you were a gambling man, we gave you good odds on Clijsters or any of them, would you put money on any of the women?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Oh, no.   I would never bet on tennis.   I don't do stuff like that.

             

              Q.   This is not only the end of your career, but you were part of an incredible generation of players, the fab four, if you would.   Could you comment about what it meant in your career to be part of this incredible quartet of players or generation of players?   Secondly, if they said you would outlast the other three by a long stretch at the beginning of your career, what would you say?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, the answer to the second part first, I never would have believed I would be in the game as long as I've been and to do it as well as I have.   I just never could have believed that years ago.

              But growing up with those guys, we've known each other since we were eight years old, playing in Southern California, against Michael, Pete, Jim in Florida.   You know, we knew each other so well.   We were playing for not just to see who is better than the other one, but we're playing for titles, we're playing for championships, we're playing for No. 1 in the world.   I mean, in some cases you liked one of them more because they were going to beat the guy you didn't want to play on that particular surface.   It was like we all helped each other, we all interfered with each other along the way.

              It was I think rivalries that existed that brought out the most in each of us and, you know, gave us something that you could never ever be guaranteed.

             

              Q.   Have you heard from any of them?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Jim I do a lot.   Me and Jim have sort of stayed pretty close.

             

              Q.   What is the daily therapy you have to go through to get ready for the next match or the next day?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   It varies.   Some days I feel worse than others.   Sometimes it's just putting my feet up and having a big meal.   Other times it's getting my back loosened up so it doesn't tighten up on me and make me come back worse the next day, you know.

             

              Q.   So massage?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah.   Well, deep work.   It's not quite as comfortable as you're making it sound (smiling).

             

              Q.   The prevailing opinion is that your leaving will leave a big hole in terms of the interest of tennis in the United States.   While I'm sure that's a compliment, do you have concerns about where tennis will be and how popular it will be once you depart?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Sure.   I mean, I have concerns of it when I'm here.   I mean, it's important to me, the growth of this game.   I think we've got to -- we're at an interesting time now with tennis.   It's certainly a transition time, but I think it's a time where a lot of good things can happen.   We got a lot of young great guys out there with personalities.   You know, I don't know what shoes need to be filled when I go.   I look around, and I marvel at some of the talent I see out there.

              So simple answer is I'm always concerned about it, but I have a strong belief in what this sport offers a person's life.   It's one-on-one combat.   It's a sport that forces you to problem solve by yourself.   It's a sport that somebody can play their whole life, keeps them healthy.   You can get scholarships.   It's a vehicle for education.   It's a great thing for somebody's life.   That message just needs to be sold better.

             

              Q.   How were you feeling physically at the end of today's match?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I've had years where I felt better.   Sort of don't want to harp on any of the negatives.   This is a challenge for me in more ways than I probably ever communicate about.

             

              Q.   Do you think Nadal, it's going to take a lot for him to be able to challenge for a title on this surface, or do you think it shouldn't be too hard for him?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, it takes a lot to win out there.   There's no question.   Especially with the surface where you've got the different styles of player with Roger sort of doing everything.   Then you got a guy like Andy with a big serve.   That's such an advantage on this surface.   You got guys like Lleyton who can really sort of hit the ball low, take the ball early, move so well.   He'll have his hands full trying to accomplish that, no question.

              This surface takes an edge off what's happening with his ball on the other side of the court.   It's slightly more difficult for him on his side to get under it and hit it how he normally does.

              You can say on paper it's not ideal for him.   We've also seen the way he competes.   We've seen what I never thought would be broken in all those sort of matches on clay, the kind of strength that takes mentally and in your heart, it's incredible.   If there's somebody that can do it, it can be him.

             

              Q.   In the last couple days, James Blake and Andy have talked about the unsolicited help you've given them when they were much younger.   We haven't always had veteran players that have been mentors.   Something in you wants you to do that.   What is it?   Can you define how it began, why you feel that way?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   You know, actually Andy asked me that one time when we were traveling together, playing some charity events.   I was talking to him about his game.   He says, "Why are you telling me those things?"   I said, "Because I want to beat your best.   Your best is what challenges me, it's what pushes me, it's what adds to me."

              To get over a line because somebody loses doesn't feel as good as getting over the line because you step up and win.   If somebody can be better, I want to see it.   I think the game deserves it.

             

              Q.   Going to James, after the incident with Hewitt at the US Open several years ago, essentially telling him, I like what you did, handled it perfectly, what would have inspired you to go to James at that time?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, listen, James is an easy guy to like on and off the court.   I think everybody -- if you want a role model, you look at a guy like that because the way he conducts himself on and off the court, the way he competes, the respect he shows others.   You know, he never demands respect; he earns it.   That's something you only appreciate.

             

              Q.   Did the body tell you to stop or did you tell yourself mentally you just couldn't do this any more?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I think they go hand-in-hand.   The body loses an edge throughout the demands you put on it.   You respond to that by pushing.   Your body responds, it doesn't.   It gets tiring mentally, too.   It's hard three days good, two days not good, one step forward and two steps back sometimes.

              I just -- I can't do that.   I can't do that.   I have to be moving forward.   I have to feel like this is a process that's taken me through something.   It just hasn't been that way.

             

              Q.   One too many cortisone shots?   You were thinking how many more times you could go through that process?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, right now I'd go through it once more (smiling).   I think so many of us -- I know with my wife it's been the same way.   She looks back and thinks there's a lot of things I can't believe I put myself through, things I did to try to...   But you do, because this is the nature of the sport.   We're competitors.   We try to get ourselves to be the best.   We try to be the best we can.

              Then when that fight stops, you sort of start to realize the things you did.   I'm sure I'll have a list.

             

              Q.   Will you need more shots before the summer is over?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I hope not, Bud.   I hope not.

             

              Q.   It's possible you won't?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   It's possible, yeah.   You know, we'll see how I pull up after a few weeks on grass here.   See how long I can go out there.

             

              Q.   You're one of the very best tennis analysts in the world.   Probably Pete and Roger are the two best players you've ever faced.   If they're playing against each other in a US Open deep into the first set, how do you see a match like that coming down?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Oh, I mean, you know, I've addressed this from a number of perspectives.   I don't know how many times they played years ago.   What I can say is if we haven't seen it, we haven't seen it.   I've been privileged to play both of them.   I've never seen what Roger brings to the table.   It's a pleasure to watch when you're in the thick of it with him, which speaks volumes for just what he's able to do on the court because you don't -- you're not in the mindset of giving somebody unnecessary credit when you're competing against him, you know.

              But what he brings to the court I've never seen before.

             

              Q.   I imagine it's hard to see into the summer much.   Do you have a sense of how much US hard court season you'll get in between now and the US Open?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I hope to play at least three events, maybe four.

             

              Q.   Did you find yourself when you were coming out here today trying to hold on to certain moments or places more because you know it's the last time or do you not do that at all because you're so focused on playing and acquitting yourself well?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, that's a good question.   I suppose I did that walking out today, sort of that first look when you come out, you can see only part of the crowd, only part of the crowd can see you.   As you walk out, more of the crowd can see you.   You sort of feel the support or the cheer sort of roll across the audience, across the crowd.   That sort of was something I took a little extra notice to today.

             

              Q.   Did you consider not having a farewell tour?   Pete never had a formal farewell tour, Michael didn't, Jim didn't.   Pete came back for the Open.   Did you think, I'm going to go to the Open, play my heart out, then stop, none of the pomp and ceremony?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   First of all, I never even considered it a farewell tour.   My approach to this has been pretty clear all along, which is I'm going to try to do this as long and hard as possible.   At the same time when I knew I promised all of you that I would tell you, end of story.   I could sit here and pretend and hold on to this thing that I know I have.   Why would I start to do that now?

              I've laid it out for 20 plus years.   You've seen the best and worst of me.   That ain't going to change.

             

              Q.   Are there things you want to do with your charities you knew you could only do after your retirement from tennis ?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I don't know to what degree I can grow the foundation faster or better than we've been doing it now.   I have so many incredible people, have such a great team around doing so many great things.

              The one thing I can say is it will give me more time to enjoy to me the best part of it, which is actually seeing those children and their lives change.   That part I'll get to enjoy a lot more.

             

              Q.   You have a lot of fans back in Denmark.   Is there any chance you would visit us after your next match?   You haven't been there yet.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   There's always a chance.   That's why I'm here competing.

 
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