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March 28, 2003

Andre Agassi


THE MODERATOR: With the win today, Andre moves into his ninth semifinal here in Miami. He takes a 3-1 lifetime up against Albert Costa tomorrow. Questions for Andre.

Q. We asked him, and I asked him, when a match like that is going on, so superb, do you have a feeling that it is so superb? Or are you just thinking about getting the ball and not being a critic at the time when you're on the run? It was a splendid match.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, thanks. I think you're more focused on the standard that your opponent's playing, so you're sort of, for me, I'm always assessing, you know, what has he done to keep this match close right now, or to keep himself in a winning position? And you start realizing that he's serving pretty well, he's moving pretty well, he's hitting his forehand pretty big, he hasn't made a lot of errors. You start assessing your opponent's standard and you just know from experience that if you're still up in the match or close, that you must be playing pretty well. But you're not thinking about it in those terms. You're thinking about, "How do you sort of get him off his game? How do you get to him? How do you break him down?" So the focus is much more there and less about being aware of the standard.

Q. Did you have to go to the reserve tank late in the second set when he got his rally back? Was there a sense that you had reached down for something extra that, normally, you wouldn't be using out there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, again, you know, it was 4-2 serving 30-love. I just missed an ace up the middle. He hit a second serve backhand return up the line winner. Then he pounded three, four hands, one of which eventually was a winner. Then he came in and hit a backhand eye-dropper volley that was a beauty. Then he hit a running forehand top lob. I sort of said, "Well done." There's just nothing you can do there. He played two more good games after that. So getting to the third, my goal was just to make him sort of keep that standard up, and I was hoping for more looks, I was hoping he was going to miss more first serves, which I think he did in the third. And for me, it was about sort of knuckling down more than it was about stepping it up.

Q. He was applauding some of your good points. He hit that winning half-volley off the frame and was apologizing for it. Are you cognizant of that in a match? If so, does it make it more of a joy to play someone who shows that kind of sportsmanship?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think it's a joy to play Younes for many reasons. First of all, he's a great talent. I think his style of play is phenomenal. The way he plays the game of tennis, it's a pleasure to watch because you're convinced he's not going to be able to do it. There's no way somebody 6'5 can run around and hit forehands all day, and he does. The way he serves, it's so effortless. He can really serve to a dime. He's also truly one of the best guys. I mean, guys don't get better than that. He's always a pleasure, on and off the court.

Q. Tonight, Moya, Srichaphan. The winner will have tomorrow off. Meanwhile, for you to get to the final, you have to play Friday, two hours today, tomorrow and Sunday. Are you okay with that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I'm fine. It's two out of three in the finals this year. So it's -- that won't be very relevant. I mean, I suppose if it was three-out-of-five in the finals and you had two monster days in a row, going into three-out-of-five, it could be a disadvantage. But, no, I think under the circumstances, that won't be an issue. Somebody's going to have to win this tournament.

Q. Considering the strides Younes has made over the last year or so in terms of the fact that he's playing his best tennis now, can he get better, in your opinion? Could he win big tournaments?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I tell you what, it felt very uncomfortable today playing someone who had more experience than me (laughter). He knows how to use his game, and he's learning that more and more. His body seems to be holding up, which is amazing, because he's a big guy. His game is going to give a lot of guys problems. He would have bad matchups against only a few players. So, for him to have the hope or the expectation of winning big tournaments, I think, is realistic.

Q. I caught on the TV feed just after the match, you were saying about the elements here. Could you expand a bit more, why the elements are favorable to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the surface itself is a medium-paced hard court, it allows me to work my shots or hit through it when it's time to step up on a ball. It gives me options of what I'm trying to do out there. It always tends to be breezy here. Some people fundamentally are designed better for wind than others. If you take long swings and you need, you know, a lot of time to hit the ball, it means you don't make those little adjustments quickly and the wind's always moving the ball around. If you have a high ball toss, it's going to affect your second serve on a lot of big points. Those don't apply to me. I make a lot of little adjustments; if the ball's low, if the ball's high, I'm always playing different shots. I'm not as frustrated by the wind as others might be. And then you throw in the heat equation. There's a good chance if I'm playing my game well, I'm controlling most of the points, whether I'm winning or losing, I'm dictating what's going on out there from the baseline. That means my opponent is working harder than me if I'm playing my game right. And if you add heat to that equation, it's gonna help me. So it's just a good place for me to play.

Q. The tiebreak, three or four really spectacular points in there including a pretty good lob. From your perspective, can you take us through what you saw in the tiebreak?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, a tiebreak is always a bit of a toss of the coin. You know, I got up to mini break, 5-4 serving. He played a good point, I played a good point. I had a look at a backhand pass that I didn't quite hit as well as I should have. He closed it off and, you know, played a good point. You know, I don't even recall the specifics of the points. I just knew that once he missed a first serve, I was telling myself, "This might not happen again for another hour, so take advantage of it."

Q. To get over him with a lob, 6'4, whatever he is, he wasn't that close to the net, had to be perfectly...

ANDRE AGASSI: He's 6'4 if he's standing in a ditch (laughter). You know, not really, because, you know I passed him a couple times early in the set with short angles with my forehand. So he was looking to close and I was against the wind. So I had a lot of room to work with on the backside. It was not much different than the lob he hit on me to break me in the second set. It was a pretty routine shot. You have to execute it, but if you do put a good cut on the ball, you're gonna get it over him. It gets over him in a hurry, then the wind can stop it, so...

Q. To get through a tough match like this, what does that do for you mentally, for your next match and, hopefully, the next one after that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, for me, coming into this tournament, it's been such a bonus just to be out here playing, you know. I wasn't expecting to, coming in. So each match was truly a bonus for me. But now I'm at a stage where it's about executing my game and finishing the match and getting used to the feeling of closing something out. So that's key, when it comes down to trying to win a tournament.

Q. You had a short conversation with Bill Norris early in the first set. What was that about?

ANDRE AGASSI: Me? He was inquiring about ice towels and stuff. I said maybe take it up to Darren because I don't need it.

Q. Back at that second set, 4-all you were serving there, double-faulted there. Do you still get nerves?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he just sort of established himself. He raised his level those last two games to get to 4-all. I was serving against the wind and he was stepping up -- he was taking some chances on his returns. So he earned at least one of those double-faults. And, you know, it happens. You just try to get it behind you and, you know, make some first serves. But I do still get nervous - very.

Q. Briefly on Al Costa?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's obviously been playing well. You wouldn't peg him to be a great hard court player, and he's learned how to win on this surface. So it's been great watching him adapt his game. I'm going to have to be executing my shots and taking it to him and try to take him out of the equation, try to make him see no daylight, first point to last point. Hopefully, I can dictate the match.

Q. How hard is his backhand, particularly down the line?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he's one of the best one-handed backhands. He can hit it both directions, he can play it with spin or he can step up and take it on the rise and punch it up the line. He hits his forehand well, especially when he has time. He has a lot of margin for error on his shots. In the windy conditions, that's a good thing.

Q. On a lighter note, how are the practice sessions with mixed doubles going?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, Stef is hitting balls, which is a good thing. We haven't quite had any dry runs yet, no.

End of FastScripts….

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