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Écrit par Jerome   
18-09-2006

2006 WESTERN & SOUTHERN FINANCIAL GROUP MASTERS
CINCINNATI, OHIO

 

August 12, 2006

ANDRE AGASSI

             

              THE MODERATOR:   Questions, please, for Andre Agassi.

             

              Q.   You have two tournaments left.   How are your emotions?   How are you feeling?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, doing all right.   It's not an easy time from the standpoint of concentration.   To be out there, to take stuff in sometimes makes you a little late reacting to the ball (laughing).

              But, yeah, just, you know, looking forward to hopefully a couple good weeks.

             

              Q.   Have you had time to reflect on your career?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   No, no, not doing that yet.   That makes it tougher.   I mean, I certainly am forced to every now and then when I get asked certain questions, you know, but, you know, I still keep it at a relative distance, you know.   There will come a time a few weeks from now, but not yet.

             

              Q.   Early in your career you were sometimes criticized for not trying your hardest in certain matches, and now you are praised for going all-out in every match.   How did you deal with that on the bad side, and how do you deal with it on the good side, and do you pay attention to any of it?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, yeah, I think in the beginning I think that criticism was justified on more than a few occasions, you know, but I had my own battles out there inside the lines and it was an ongoing challenge to negotiate my dramas.

              But at this stage of the ballgame, you know, I don't sort of stand on those laurels too much.   I have to earn that every day, you know.   The challenges get tougher and tougher; so does the ability to sort of get through those, those moments.

              I sleep much better at night when I pour myself into it, so experience has taught me to take the short-term pain.

             

              Q.   How are you feeling physically?   Are you feeling better?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   You know, my injections are lasting, you know, a week or two now as opposed to a few months.   So just goes to reaffirm my decisions.

             

              Q.   How do you think you've played this summer?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I played pretty well in LA.   I took my last injection then and then, you know, felt like I was really close to turning the corner, but that didn't last but a few days.

              Now I'm sort of facing just trying to be ready to play some great tennis at the Open, you know, and that's going to require a bit of a physical negotiation and some good decisions.

             

              Q.   When you won here two years ago, how long did you think then you would continue playing?   Did you have any idea?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I didn't know.   I haven't known it for the last five years.   I've been asked that question, you know, since I was 31.   I've been having to deal with that pretty much on a daily basis, sort of updating everybody as to where I was or where I wasn't.

              You know, for me, it was always a year-by-year issue, and then it started to slowly get down to a month-by-month issue.   That's when I knew that it was pretty much time.   It's been an evolution.

             

              Q.   Was there a day or a moment that you realized that, This has to be it?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I suppose there's a point where you really start entertaining it, you know, and that's when you sort of know you have to face something.   That was over the clay season somewhere, you know.   I mean, not to be out there playing again after not starting off the year -- not ending last year the way I want, starting off the year the way I want, to now not playing the clay, to your body forcing you to take two steps back at times when you really needed to be pushing forward.   Then, you know, combine that with the off-court decisions of sort of taking your family along with you.   It becomes a bit more of a difficult decision than just wanting to try something; you have to be clear on why you're doing it and what you're still trying to achieve.

             

              Q.   Do you have a favorite moment in your career, whether it be your comeback or winning the last Slam, anything that stands out to you?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, I feel like winning in Paris was the moment that is sort of the biggest in my career because it entails all that.   It entails falling to 140 in the world, it entails a lot of hard work to sort of climb the mountain.   Then to do it there where it was my toughest surface, down two sets to Love in the finals, for it to be the last of the four Slams, all that probably highlighted the fact that that was my greatest memory on the court.

             

              Q.   At this point how hard is it to play great tennis?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   You know, it feels pretty tough.   I mean, but it's tough because the mental side of it sort of adds to it, you know.   Just the difficulty and the concentration, taking stuff in, at the same time needing to be sort of in the moment, concentrating and focused on the task at hand.

              But it's also a game issue, you know.   I mean, for me, you're playing against the best guys in the world and, you know, you can argue there are times you're feeling more ordinary than you want to, you know.

              But, you know, I just want to have some good days when it matters most.

             

              Q.   You talk about the concentration level, taking stuff in.   What do you mean?   Just looking around, the whole atmosphere?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah.   I mean, you wake up knowing you got two events left, so it's harder to concentrate.

             

              Q.   What do you think you'll be remembered for?   What will your legacy be?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I don't know.   I was hoping when you get done pushing all those buttons, I could read it.

             

              Q.   What do you want it to be?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I want the game to be better off for my time in it.

             

              Q.   Is it hard to concentrate because it's nostalgia or because you're sad or excited for it to be over?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I think there's a combination of all of the above.   That's the part that makes it so hard to get your arms around.   I mean, listen, I don't need sympathy when it comes to how difficult it is, there's a lot of great feelings associated with what I'm going through - or this part of it.   There's real excitement.   There's sadness in knowing that a big chapter of your life that you've poured yourself into is coming to a close, and there's excitement for the future, for the next stage, the next adventure.   You're saying good-bye to a job, you're saying good-bye to people you've done it with, but you also are in position to take the next plunge in life.   And, you know, I've just never done this before.

             

              Q.   How much do you think you'll continue to stay involved in tennis?   Will you follow the game closely?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I hope so.   I really enjoy watching the game.   I enjoy rooting for its growth from a public level as well as a performance level.   I don't know how I'll be involved with the game or if there's anything I can still add to it, but I would definitely want to.

             

              Q.   How do you think you're leaving the state of American tennis right now?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, we've seen generations now of real great American tennis.   I mean, championships - nearly every championship - being decided by an American; sometimes two, you know.   Connors, McEnroe, all the way through to -- really even before Connors and McEnroe with Stan Smith and the likes.   And now with Pete, Jim, myself, Chang, you know.   A lot of Grand Slam titles in those groups, so there's a big expectation on the shoulders of the ones now.

              When you look at a Federer or Nadal, you know, you realize there's not a whole lot of room up top.   So we're certainly leaving it in talented hands when it comes to Andy or James, but at the same time it just seems like you need more than talent against the standard of the top, you know, one or two in the world.

             

              Q.   Is that the problem or the crisis that it's made out to be, or is it just reality?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, the reality is is that between Federer and Nadal there hasn't been a whole lot of room for anybody else to win.   That's the reality.   I don't think it's a crisis.   I still think we have 290 million people in our country.   I think if we can get the racquet in the right hands, that can change quickly.

              But there needs to be focus on it.   There needs to be a plan.   There needs to be good direction, coaching, facilities, all of the above, that access that allows for great athletes to have the chance to play this sport.

             

              Q.   Since you made the announcement, have you heard from any of your contemporaries, Chang or Courier?   Have they given you tips on how to handle the last two events you'll be playing?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, I went out with Jim the other night.   He came to Vegas.   But, you know, I mean, I live with a person that's been through this, you know, and at the end of the day it's a very personal experience that is unique to every person.   Pete decided to retire after his last event, you know, so it's a whole different experience than that.   My wife decided to retire after, you know.   Me, on the other hand, I told you I would tell you when I knew, and I knew.

             

              Q.   Have you thought about any kind of dream sequence that would happen at the Open?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Hmm, let me see.   What would be a good ending (laughter)?

             

              Q.   Aside from the obvious.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   You know, it's gonna be great for me regardless.   The more matches I play, the longer I get to be there in that environment.   And regardless of how it ends, it's going to be great.

             

              Q.   You've been practicing with Andy Murray.   What do you think of his game?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, he's a real talent.   19 years old.   Still has a lot of improvement to go through, which is, you know, which says a lot for what his capabilities are.   Does a lot of things well out there.   Knows the game real well.

             

              Q.   Going back to the question about your legacy.   Not many athletes of your stature in any sport have the charity component that you have.   Isn't that going to be part of your legacy also, and is that something that you're particularly proud of?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, to me, that's more important than anything I've done inside the lines.   But that's ongoing.   The lives that we affect are less today than there will be tomorrow, and that's an ongoing commitment that, you know -- I wish I would have started it earlier, you know.   That's how I look at it now when I look back.   I hope more athletes do it because it's something that you carry with you for a lifetime.

             

              Q.   With Federer and Nadal, that rivalry, does that remind you at all of what you and Sampras had?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, it certainly has all the components that would capture the imagination of the sporting public.   It's No. 1 and 2 in the world who have two entirely different games, play the game entirely differently, personalties are entirely different.   You know, those are the layers sort of needed to have that great rivalry.   And they're playing in all the finals.   I mean, you know, they have separated themselves from the field, you know.   Something tells me that they'll be deciding the Grand Slams for the next few years.

             

              Q.   You've talked about some of the great victories that you've had.   Do you ever think of any of the losses?   Do any of them bother you?   Do you ever think, I wish I would have won that one?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   No.   Yeah, when I won in Paris, I knew that I wouldn't have a regret inside the lines 'cause every decision made lead me to winning there.   From that point on, the rest was more.

 
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