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March 18, 2004

Andre Agassi


THE MODERATOR: Andre improves to 12-2 on the season. He'll take on Roger Federer in the semifinals. Andre has a 3-2 head-to-head advantage. Questions for Andre.

Q. Volleying madman again, Andre. Wonderful.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know, with somebody that quick, it's pretty tough to let him get back into the points too many times. I mean, if it was three-out-of-five, I'm running him left and right, it's one thing. Two-out-of-three set match, when he gets back into those points, he can get pretty dangerous pretty quickly. Took advantage of a few opportunities to close off a few important points.

Q. You said in the past at times when you approach the net, it's not a comfortable place for you. You were 18 out of 25 tonight. I know you've had a long career, but are you actually more comfortable at net or is it a match-to-match situation?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think what I've always sort of said is if I'm volleying to hit two volleys, then it's a whole different set of circumstances for me. It means I'm coming in on the wrong shot. I think it's more a function of how I come in versus once I'm up there. I mean, you'll never see me sort of chip and come in and give a guy a look at the pass, because I don't have a tremendous amount of reach. I sure don't have a lot of experience up there. But when I'm controlling the point, and I got a guy stretched, I'm just sort of coming in for one volley, I think you'd find it pretty clear stat that out of those 18 points, I probably only hit one volley 18 different times. Just come in and knock it off.

Q. Patrick on TV was asking you about how important it is for you to go up against top five players, which you've done all your career. Month to month, you don't have an opportunity every single week. Beat a guy like that who has given you trouble in the past, must feel pretty good about it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no question. I consider him to be one of the best players in the world. You know, with him and Ferrero, they're probably the top two on clay. You have to work hard. You have to get through a lot of matches to get the opportunity to play the best in the world. When you do, I'm motivated to always sort of see where my game is, what I'm forcing somebody to do out there. And tonight was no exception. I gave him a lot of respect. I tried to make him play a great match to beat me.

Q. Looking back at some old film, there were a lot of first serves 88, 90, 91. Now you're cranking that thing in there at 115, 120. What changed for you on the serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I just think I've gotten stronger. I'm a stronger athlete now than I was 14 years ago. My serve -- I've never stepped up to the line and ever thought to myself, "I want to win the point with this shot." I'm always thinking about working it, trying to figure out a way to hold serve. But I think along the way, I've gained a lot more power in all my shots, especially my serve. A lot has to do with my leg strength, my overall strength.

Q. Do you find the players have more respect for your serve now? When you step to the line, it seems your serve is underrated.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think I've tried to focus on not necessarily having a great serve, but having a great hold game. You know, I think that's what players ultimately respect, is how somebody holds serve, not necessarily how big their serve is. I think I've backed up my serve pretty well over the years, and occasionally I've had pretty good serving days where I've probably surprised a few guys. But I don't go out there with the intention of winning a lot of points, free points, on my serve. I go out there with the intention of finding a way to hold serve and just to break as many times as possible.

Q. With that in mind, how would you compare the serves or the holding ability of Andy and Roger and Pete Sampras?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think stats would probably be the easiest way to answer those questions. But I think Andy has the best serve of them. You know, it's just such a weapon. I think Pete and Roger back up their serves two entirely different ways. I'll get more looks at Roger's service games than I would of Pete's. I probably have to say Pete's hold game was the top hold game, but Andy's serve's bigger. You know, Roger still backs it up pretty darn well. Those are three tough ones, but I'd say Pete backed up his serve about as good as anybody can.

Q. How do you stop a guy like Roger, who is playing so well? He hasn't really been pushed that much here, playing with amazing confidence, doesn't seem to be doing anything wrong.

ANDRE AGASSI: You're not trying to help my confidence right now, are you (smiling)? Yeah, I mean, the guy has been playing spectacular tennis, especially this year, even towards the end of last year. His game has a lot of weapons. You know, I'm just going to have to hit my shots. I mean, sort of handling my ball is going to be different than handling another guy's ball. With us we all hit the ball differently. So I'm hoping I can present some problems for him. And that's the game plan. He's obviously playing really confidently. I certainly look forward to the challenge of playing the guy who's by far playing the best this year.

Q. Is playing Coria a perfect warm-up for a match against Federer, since he makes you hit so many great shots to win points?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, two totally different types of players. But it's great in the sense that, you know, Coria is a tough competitor who makes you earn it. I sort of got over the hump tonight of putting that match away. I was up a set and a break, up a break in the first set, gave it back, up a break in the second, gave it back, then closing it out felt pretty good. You know, that's going to only help me to relax and play well day after tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk about what Coria does to you on clay versus on hard?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you notice those shots that he hits that sort of are high, shorter, sort of jump up, on hard court I have the luxury of standing on the baseline, and any time he leaves it short, counting on the bounce, stepping forward and controlling the ball on the rise, and staying in control of the point. On clay, it's jumping more, and the bounce is unpredictable, and the footing's tougher. So when I step in to take that on the rise, I'm committed in the court, I'm taking a chance that the ball's going to bounce the way I expect it to, and then the ball's going to be slower coming to him because it's clay. He's fast enough and moves well enough to where now I'm committed inside the court, backing up as he's sort of exposing me with angles. It's sort of a whole different match-up. I can really step forward and take away his time on a hard court. But on clay, you have to play real deep and wait for one ball, then make sure you put it in the right spot. He forces you to play real low-risk tennis to beat him, basically because of his movement, and the way he controls the ball. He controls the ball really well.

Q. Can anyone change their style of play in a match more easily at the moment than Federer? He seems to be able to adjust whatever he needs to do.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, that's what I've been saying about him for a long time now, which is, he's the kind of guy that can really win a lot of Slams based on the fact that his game has the ability to be played different ways. And that's what you need when you're playing seven different types of players in four different arenas around the world. When he plays somebody that is great from the back of the court but doesn't return that well, he just serves volleys. When he plays somebody that returns well and is more aggressive, he can just tighten things up and make a guy play from the back of the court. He can play with a lot of spin. He can hit through the court. He can play low slices if somebody struggles with the ball low. So basically he just plays the game superbly. That's just full credit to his ability.

Q. How difficult is it to find a weakness in that sort of style?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you can't really call -- you know, it's a bit like Pete. I mean, you say, "Is it really a weakness?" I mean, you find something that is less of a strength. I mean, that's what the best in the world force you to do. It's no different the year Guga finished No. 1, Lleyton finished No. 1. I mean, all these guys force you to play great tennis from start to finish. I go out there with that expectation. I'm not discouraged by his standard of play. I'm sort of inspired by it. It makes me have to play better.

Q. This is a feel-good evening, so apologizes for asking such a question. The British court just ruled you would have to pay a percentage of your endorsements based on the notoriety or fame you gained. I think it was almost 50 grand they were asking for. What are your feelings about that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, at the end of the day, it's nearly a dollar-per-dollar wash on the taxes you pay here. You're paying taxes there, you're paying taxes there. I don't really begrudge them for it. No financial cost to me.

Q. What was the experience like of having President Clinton come to your academy?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, that was pretty amazing. I was walking around with President Clinton through the halls at my school. I tell you, to see him interact with the children, these children that wouldn't even normally have an opportunity to have a high-standard education, not just having a great education, but they're talking with the leader of the free world. I mean, it's an amazing thing to witness. He walked into a social studies class. They were talking about a person in history. One of the things that the class was doing, a child would do their homework on a person in history, then the class would interview this person, so they would sort of take on the identity. He was listening so intensely for about 10 minutes. When they were done, he proceeded to tell them how the person they were talking about was a friend of his, and how he knew his story personally. He started telling stories about this person that they were studying in history. Like bringing him to life in front of the children's eyes. It was a pretty incredible thing to witness. It was possibly one of the first times I ever wished I was in school (smiling).

Q. So the kids were pretty wide-eyed? Do you remember what person in history he was speaking about?

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't remember. I didn't even recognize the name, to be quite honest. The kids were pretty darn excited, got to ask him all sorts of questions.

Q. You didn't flashback to your Grosjean match when he walked in, did you?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. What connection is there?

Q. French Open, he walked in in the middle of your match against Grosjean.

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, he was there? He saw that (smiling)? He didn't bring it up either, which is good.

Q. On the tax issue, you were very kind to our inland revenue. Is it do you think possibly something that's going to discourage athletes like yourself, high-profile athletes, from coming to the UK for events?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't think so. Unless there's something that I'm overlooking here, it's not an expenditure that you wouldn't incur otherwise. These are taxes you pay when you earn money in a certain place. I think we're pretty experienced and familiar with that being the case in other parts of the world. We get to write off nearly dollar per dollar back here in the States. So as long as that's being honored, it doesn't seem to be neither here nor there for my concerns. I can't imagine it being that much of an issue.

Q. Not to say you're overlooking something, it doesn't bother you you might be putting $50,000 into British taxes rather than maybe $50,000 into the US, which might put roads around your charter school in Las Vegas?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, if I could make the decision, I would choose to take that money and take it straight to the kids in Vegas, there's no question about that. But I got to play by the rules. I can't sort of arbitrarily decide when I like something and when I don't. You know, there's a lot of issues out there that go far beyond my understanding, and you wouldn't want me in a position of making those decisions.

Q. Was the case about an endorsement or something else?

ANDRE AGASSI: Are you asking what it's in regards to?

Q. I thought it's endorsements.

ANDRE AGASSI: What they're saying is, when I perform over there in England, that because I'm wearing Nike, I play with Head products, that these are revenue sources for me. In England, I'm going to get a lot of TV time, it's Wimbledon, they deserve a percentage of what sort of prorated my contracts are with Nike and with Head. When I'm there for two weeks, they prorate it down and figure it's worth about $50,000. I'd be paying that one place or the other. There's a lot I enjoy about England.

Q. Do you think it's going to cost them more in bookkeeping?

ANDRE AGASSI: I suppose it's a bit of a precedent. They're probably looking for somebody more like Tiger Woods, you know, than me. You know, it's a precedent they feel they need to set. It's not going to stop me from going back there to play.

Q. Do you need the name of an accountant?


End of FastScripts….

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