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March 24, 2003

Andre Agassi


THE MODERATOR: With the win today, Andre moves into the Round of 16 and will take on the winner of the Thomas Enqvist and Mark Philippoussis. Also with the win, he improves his record to 51-11 here in Key Biscayne. Questions, please.

Q. You've had two fairly comfortable wins so far. Would you rather have more of a test to see if the shoulder is okay, or are you happy moving through without too much of a fight?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm happy to get through, starting with that. The next thing I assess is how I'm getting through based on my game, based on how I'm executing. Today it was a function of me really hitting the ball cleanly. You're glad when you see yourself hit the ball well and the result is comprehensive. It makes you feel like things aren't too far away.

Q. To catch two baseliners in the first two rounds after a 19-day layoff, is that particularly good for getting rhythm back, or does it really matter at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, it does matter. I think, ideally, you want to play somebody that's going to give you an opportunity to have a say in most of the points. If you play somebody that plays aggressive, serve-volley quick, big tennis, then you have to deal with that differently. There would be more urgency that your shots are on. Playing baseliners allows you to work on into it, which I think was pretty key for me.

Q. You've got a pack on your shoulder there. How is it feeling? Did it cause you trouble today?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. For me, it's whether you're injured or sick or if every time you step on the court, you're deeming yourself ready to go. A lot of guys out here aren't at their 100 percent, but that's part of the sport, you know. You always have the dings and stuff like that. This is more preventative than anything. I'm sort of dealing with the remnants of something that hopefully I took care of once and for all.

Q. You play in the next round the winner of Enqvist-Philippoussis. They just split tiebreakers. Can you talk about each one? I think Enqvist maybe is one of the only players that leads you in matches.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, they're both powerful players. Thomas is a great striker of the ball, big serve, great competitor. So we always have good matches. Win or lose, it's a lot of explosive tennis out there. You got to make sure that you're on your game to beat him. Mark is basically the same. He's a powerful player who's going to take it to you if you're not hitting your shots perfectly. So it's time to step your game up as you hit this stage of the tournament.

Q. Can you talk about playing Enqvist in Scottsdale two weeks ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he played better than me that day.

Q. Were you hurting at all or you weren't? That was pre-shoulder?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, again, regardless what's affecting you or not, when you step on the court, you're deeming yourself ready to go. So he beat me. That's the end of story there.

Q. The schools that you've got going back in Nevada, how grandiose could that become? Could it become a world-wide thing some day?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, we would hope that it would become a model for many charter schools throughout the country. When you take the children that are written off the most, like these children in Las Vegas are, the worst neighborhood, the worst high school drop-out rate, the worst teen pregnancy rate, the worst drug problems, the worst suicide rate, I mean, we lead the stats in so many areas. When you take those children and you turn their lives around and you show that it can work, you would only hope that that could become a model for many schools throughout the country.

Q. This tournament's lost Lleyton Hewitt and Juan Carlos yesterday as well. Do you look at that and think, "This gives me a better shot at a third title in a row here"? Or do you just concentrate on playing your own game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know, if it was like golf, where you sort of match up your every days and take the cumulative, then I would say it has a factor. You never know if you'd play them anyhow. You both have to get there. That's late in the tournament. There's a lot of guys that are interested in beating you in the meantime. It's hard to have your mind on anything but the job at hand.

Q. You can only beat who's in front of you?

ANDRE AGASSI: That's right. It's not like you can build yourself a five-stroke lead over the whole field. You wish it worked that way in some cases. Some days you're glad it doesn't work that way.

Q. When you see the guys ahead of you, does it help you sort of to refocus when you see some of them are losing early-round matches?

ANDRE AGASSI: Seventeen years helps me focus, seventeen years of that happening to me.

Q. Are you at all surprised there aren't more athletes in a position such as yourself to do good and that don't really take advantage of the stature and the means to really do what you've done in Nevada? I mean, it doesn't have to be with schools, but, you know, we look at you as a rarity. Why is that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, I'd be sort of interested to shine the light on everybody in this room and ask what it is they do. My experience is, is that everybody can change this world. I don't sort of make a distinction between athletes or celebrities or musicians or, you know, anybody in the public eye. I mean, certainly the more access you have, the more you're able to do. But it doesn't necessarily change your responsibility to do something. So I found myself disappointed quite frequently in people on a general level, and I've seen myself pretty motivated and inspired by people on a general level.

Q. I have one question for Mrs. Agassi, if I might. In 1992, did she think Wimbledon behaved fairly in singling out Monica Seles for her grunting, when there were so many players before and after, including former Wimbledon Champion Jimmy Connors, who grunted?

ANDRE AGASSI: You want me to speak for my wife?

Q. Or else you could come back to me.

ANDRE AGASSI: You have to take that up with the right channels there. She gets enough of that. She doesn't have to worry about coming home to more questions.

Q. You wouldn't like to ask her to answer it?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I don't. No, thanks.

Q. What do you think is the key to be so competitive at your age against so many young, talented guys that are coming, you still being in the top?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's twofold. It's your body and your mind. You have to be physically there, ready to do what it is that's required, and you have to mentally be eager to do that. For me, if you're healthy and you're eager, you know, age is irrelevant. It's about X's and O's and executing your game against guys that have weapons you need to worry about and weaknesses you need to get to.

End of FastScripts….

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