March 29, 2003
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.
Q. Is it possible for, in a match of this magnitude, against an opponent that good, to put your stamp on the match in the opening game, 17 minutes?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that was quite an awkward start. You don't usually start off a match with that sort of intensity. It was a long game, and certainly getting the break was key for that set. But I think, if anything, it just indicated both of our competitiveness and our desire to win every point.
Q. Did it set a tone for you for the match?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, again, it was a break of serve. So had I lost that game, I just felt like we would have been dug in for even more tennis. So for me, it was the tone of the match sort of stamped on by both of us.
Q. At any point did you go, "If it keeps up like this, we'll be playing more than three hours"?
ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't work out the averages there. Somehow I figured that wouldn't continue.
Q. Up until the last minute here, you were questionable for this event. Are you surprised or how do you feel about how well your shoulder has held up and how well you've done?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I have a lot of experience, unfortunately, with this shoulder, and in '99, when I got over the hump and I could still feel it but it would actually warm up when I was playing and I would feel good when I was playing, that was a sign that things were fine. That's exactly what I felt here. Unfortunately, it didn't happen until a few days before the event. I didn't feel tremendously ready, to say the least. I hadn't hit balls in a number of weeks, hadn't done anything with my shoulder for a number of weeks. So I considered every match a bonus for me. So to get through a few, really allowed my game to come around. You know, just one day at a time. You keep trying to get better, you keep trying to make adjustments so that guys have to earn their wins against you. Sometimes it just goes right.
Q. You've won two other events five times, I believe. If you win this one, it will be the most tournaments you've won in one place. How do you feel about that? I know you like this tournament.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it would be amazing. It would be nice because then I can have Steff bring all her trophies home from this tournament. As of right now, she's not allowed to have all of them there (laughter). If I win six, I'll let her bring home the five that she won.
Q. You seem to be both serving and returning well today. Is there any part of your game you felt was stronger than others?
ANDRE AGASSI: I think today is a match where you need to feel good about your all-around execution of the ball. I needed to be returning well. If you don't return well and you give him the short ball, he takes control of the point and then his game becomes much more effective. If I'm not serving well, again, he's going to get into the points and work on you and make you hit a lot of balls. I needed to be executing my shots, dictating points, moving well. I needed to be doing everything well. That's a standard that is necessary to beat a guy like Al.
Q. Tomorrow's final, how do you see that; a similar type of match, another opponent? What are your thoughts on the final?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, I think Moya would have a touch more firepower than Al. With that being said, you know, there are always ways to get to guys. Tomorrow, we're both going to be doing our best to control the point, make sure the other one can't impose his will.
Q. How much is it going to help him with an extra day's rest?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I mean, he's guaranteed to go in feeling great. Me, on the other hand, three days in a row, arguably could be a factor. But I feel pretty good. I'll come out ready.
Q. Was it really important that this match did not stretch into a third set?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think any additional time spent on the court hurts your preparation for tomorrow. But that's the last thing I was thinking about. I had enough on my hands to think about today.
Q. Notwithstanding your forehand, which is pretty good, does Carlos possibly have the best forehand in men's tennis?
ANDRE AGASSI: To me, when I've sort of categorized a shot that is the best in the game, you have to allow for versatility. While he has a big forehand, he tends to play it primarily with heavy spin and he can hit it big, but he doesn't really flatten it out. So, you know, you got maybe some other guys that could play with a bit more versatility. But it's a monster shot, there's no question. For his style of game, it's every bit as big as he needs it to be.
Q. In 1990, we thought Boris Becker and Lendl hit the ball pretty hard. Can you make any comparison with how Moya hits the ball compared with 1990?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's... Well, when I played Lendl for the first time back in '87, he had maybe 17 aces that day. Every time he hit an ace, I looked up, it was 116, 113, 115. That's just the way it was, you know. Now we have the radar gun that can take away any discussion about the pace of the ball. You look up on aces now and they tend to be, you know, 128, 129. So I think it's safe to say that the pace has picked up. But, you know, with that being said, Lendl had a game that could translate very well to now, and same with Edberg. You stick their best tennis now, and they're given worlds of problems to guys. It's not just about pace. But if your question is about pace, yeah, the balls are getting hit a bit harder now.
Q. Have you seen any of Moya's matches during this tournament?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I've watched some.
Q. Was he playing better than he was?
ANDRE AGASSI: I wouldn't know what stage it compared to. I know he's had to have played a lot better to consistently sort of move up to where he is now. It looks to me like he's -- last year, when he won in Cincinnati, you know, played some real good tennis throughout the year, as the year moved on. But he looks to me like he's doing everything as well as I've ever seen him - if not better.
Q. In the second set, you were serving at 2-3, triple breakpoint. Can you talk about those points and that game?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well I was a bit unfortunate to get down there. He had a stick save on the first serve on the first point that found the line. Then he smacked a forehand that caught the tape and bounced over. Those were points that could go either way. You sort of had to grit your teeth and move on. I played some good points down breakpoints. I was down 15-40 the game before. Matches boil down to a few points a set and certainly capitalizing on those opportunities is necessary.
Q. The crowd, obviously, really loves you here. Does that help at all? Or at this stage, do you not even notice that?
ANDRE AGASSI: It depends how hot it is. When it's really hot, you tend not to, you know, you tend just to dig in. But I'm always getting great support, and I think that the fans being enthusiastic about a match always sort of ups the standard for both the players.
Q. Is there any chance you and Steffi will be playing doubles?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, there's a chance.
Q. How hot and humid was it out there?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it was pretty hot today. But there was a nice, cool breeze (laughter).
Q. Any question about your fitness when you hit the winning point?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that was sort of -- they called the ball wide. I actually thought it might have caught the line. I hit the winner anyhow, which felt good. But that would have been frustrating to hear an overrule there, play two.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.