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March 24, 1998

Andre Agassi


JOE LYNCH: Andre Agassi moves into the quarterfinals here, improves his record for the year to 22 and 3, tied with Marcelo Rios. Will face Jeff Tarango on Thursday.


Q. Not bad for a 29th seed?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, not bad. I'm still in the event. Not bad.


Q. What are your thoughts overall on your play tonight and getting to the quarterfinals? I know your goal is much more than just the quarterfinals.

ANDRE AGASSI: Sure. But these matches are important, you know. You know, tonight was difficult. I played two guys back-to-back who hit a very flat ball and hit a very hard ball. Then Al Costa hits a lot of topspin on it, moves well. I wasn't reading it early. I started off a little flat. I wasn't on top of the ball early. It was jumping at me, serve was getting away from me a little bit. I had to just stay focused and try to step it up at the right times, and managed to do that well in the third, in the tiebreaker and the third.


Q. Andre, were you playing more percentages? In the third set, five unforced errors, 44 in the match. Did you start playing a little safer?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. Actually, there's a fine line between playing safer and then hitting a shot that, you know, you allow the guy to take control of the point. Then obviously there's another fine line between playing aggressive, but yet not crossing that line and taking unnecessary risk. It was just a balancing act out there, trying to find my swing, trying to get on top of his ball without taking too big of a risk, but still staying in control of the points. Took me a while to dial that in. When I got to the third, I felt like I started hitting the ball cleaner, putting some pressure on him at the same time.


Q. You didn't seem disappointed at all in the beginning of the third set, but did you think you should have won in two?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, he played a pretty good game to break me. I mean, he felt like I could have won in two. By the same token, I was down a break in the first. You know, if you're going to ask for things to go your way, you've got to obviously think about the fact that they could have gone the other way, too. I could have lost the first set. I'm just glad to get through it. I felt like I stayed focused, raised my level of play at the right time. That's the most important thing. Two sets, three sets doesn't matter as much as making sure you play well at the right times.


Q. Kind of an intriguing match-up, Tarango and yourself. How are you looking forward to that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I'm very much looking forward to it. Jeff has been playing extremely well. He presents different concerns than my opponent tonight. He doesn't move as well as Al Costa, but he certainly hits a big ball both sides. Being a lefty, he hits a flat ball. I've got to be willing to, you know, step it up against him. You know, it's nice to see him doing well. He's been working hard. You can tell it's paid off.


Q. Why do you think you have such a great camaraderie with Key Biscayne? We're so behind you here, don't you see?

ANDRE AGASSI: I feel it. I feel a lot of love. I love it out there. It's a great environment to be playing in, good environment to be relaxing in. All the way around, nobody can complain.


Q. Were you surprised at all at Pete's results yesterday?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's tough to say. I mean, I guess -- it's easy to say that you expect him to win. But, you know, he won 6-Love. I would suspect Wayne was missing a lot of shots. I don't know if they held serve up till that point. Once you get to the tiebreaker, anything happens. A couple of match points there slipped away. Then if you're questioning yourself at all, you get to a third, after beating somebody 6-Love, you kind of had them on the ropes, weird things can happen. Wayne had to step it up, and did. Not surprising when you look at it in between the lines, but certainly before the match, you wouldn't have expected that.


Q. Andre, we're all very interested right now with the No. 1 race between Pete, Rios and so on. Are you interested by that, or do you feel the media puts too much importance to the No. 1 spot during the year?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the Grand Slams are the most important, and the end of the year No. 1 is the most important. Certainly it's a big accomplishment for anybody to get to No. 1. I know that Rios would be very thrilled to accomplish that. You know, I have to see it the whole year. You know, as of right now, I'm stepping on the court feeling like I should beat these guys. Whatever the ranking is, if you feel that way, it's a good thing. You know, it certainly makes it interesting, though, in the meantime to watch players and how they respond to the pressure of possibly accomplishing it.


Q. Yourself, when you became No. 1, what was your feeling? Was it an accomplishment?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it was big for me, just because I had so many ups and downs throughout my career. Had it happened when I was just on the move up and I get to No. 1, you know, I think it would have felt differently. But it was such a turnaround in my career that it was hard not to be very reflective about it and to just sit back and be overwhelmed, you know, with the distance that I covered in such a short period of time. So I was very -- it felt great. It felt great.


Q. As you said, you've had a lot of ups and downs, so you kind of know how to make an up again. Pete, this is really his first kind of down. Do you think he's going to have trouble after so many years working it out? He admits that he's down, he seems kind of shocked by it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think we all are a little shocked by it. Just because when you're used to something, it's weird when it changes. He's gotten us used to him being the best. You know, I don't count him out. He's proven too much to me for me to think for one second that he's going to, you know, let things slip. Besides, if he starts dropping too far, I'll start giving him a hard time (laughter). That will get him back into it again. He has no business to have no confidence. The guy's a great player. He can turn on at the right time. I'm interested to see -- if he doesn't post well at Wimbledon, then I'll say, "Okay, something's a little off with him." But the guy can go right back to Wimbledon and, hands down, win it. Until I see the year unfold, I'm going to give him the respect he deserves and say he's going to be fine.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Andre before you make the last deadlines? Thank you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Thank you.


End of FastScripts....

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