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July 17, 1998

Tom Gullikson


Q. Christophe said he was very impressed with your play. How did you rate your play?

ANDRE AGASSI: Certainly good enough. Certainly good enough today. I'm a harsh critic of myself, so I definitely go to the points of the match where I felt like I lost a little focus and concentration. But, no, I was playing well.

Q. He said he hoped you were playing well.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I mean, you know, I probably had a little bit more in me, if I was faced with it. I felt like I was having to just kind of stay, you know, on top of him, stay controlled, stay inside of myself. But sometimes that's a tough thing to do. So that is playing well.

Q. Could you sense he was overwhelmed? He obviously was, he said he was.

ANDRE AGASSI: I've played too many matches to know that guys have beaten me feeling overwhelmed, you know. All of a sudden, it's just I've got a little loose concentration, get a little discouraged on myself. Then, you know, they step it up. Next thing you know, they've changed the momentum. So to me, at this point of the ballgame, it's so crucial to really work hard every point, every point. As I get these matches under me, it will get easier and easier, and then I can start admiring a little bit. But right now, I was very unsettled when I lost my serve to get back to 3-2 versus 4-1. I didn't like it. I started thinking to myself, "I don't want to be out here any longer than I have to. I want to get the job done." I wasn't really thinking about him and how he was feeling.

Q. Did you notice much of an advantage with the hard courts, since the Belgians are so used to clay?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, their games aren't ideal for hard courts, no question. But they're good competitors. Certainly, you know, they can make some shots. They have a hard time stepping up to the pace of the ball on the hard courts because they have big swings, and they hit the ball very aggressively. You're going to make a lot of mistakes if a ball that has pace is coming at you quickly, it's taking off on the hard courts, they're swinging big. We definitely picked this surface for a reason.

Q. Statistically you only came to the net seven times. Was this your game plan or just the way it came out?

ANDRE AGASSI: I beat guys differently in a lot of cases. Some guys are less power hitters than he is, but quicker. I would work him left right, left right, get the short ball, then I would finish him off at the net. He doesn't move great, he moves well, but he hits the ball big. It was almost like, you know, there's no reason to give him a target if I knew just a few more balls and he was going to make the error or I was going to stretch him to the point where I was going to win it.

Q. How much momentum did it give you that Jim had started you off with a 1-0 lead?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, certainly it's more in hindsight now that it's great that he won. For me, I had a job to do. It definitely, I think, hurt my opponent more than it helped me. Me, I was very focused on what I had to do today. That's the way I'm going to need to be the whole summer and the rest of the year. But I will say that it definitely had an impact on just momentum for my opponent. There's always that element that if you're down, how are you going to deal with it? I felt like I would have dealt with it fine, but it's nice to be up 2-0 now.

Q. From a team standpoint, does it put more or less pressure on the doubles combination tomorrow to finish it off?

ANDRE AGASSI: You definitely want to be up 2-0 versus down or tied at 1-All. I think 1-All is probably the most pressure that a doubles team can feel. Down 0-2, it's almost like you can't even afford to think about the pressure; you've just got to execute and hope things go well. 1-All, there's a lot of pressure. 2-0, there's a certain margin there. But everybody wants to do their job. I think if you're experienced at Davis Cup, it's not about pressure; it's about what you've been working towards all week and all year really. Tomorrow will be just that, regardless of what the score is going into tomorrow, Richey and Todd are extremely experienced players in Davis Cup, and they know what they need to do.

Q. You broke a tie with Tilden. You need one more victory to tie Ashe for second on the all-time US list of Davis Cup wins. Do those numbers mean anything to you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, of course they do. They need mean a lot to me. Davis Cup has been a big part of my career. It's something I've been very proud of and have enjoyed playing over the last dozen years. But, I mean, honestly, it's less important to me than winning this tie right now. That's kind of the attitude that you need to do, to even have a chance at those kind of statistics.

Q. The ATP Tour is experimenting with coaching in matches. What are your thoughts on coaching in Davis Cup versus the regular tour? Do you think that experiment should continue?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I think ideally for the sake of the game, there are some great positives in coaching. I don't think a coach should be out there full-time. I think that's one of the things that separates Davis Cup. When you really have the intensity of the crowds, the nerves and the pressure of the situation, a coach on the court at all times is quite important and effective in Davis Cup. But on the regular tour, I'd like to see just a little bit of coaching. I've enjoyed that part of it. I think it's great for the game. I think it offers a couple things: The times where you see guys who kind -- who are talented who just lose bad, you know, who just kind of lose it mentally, next thing you know the match is over. I think from that standpoint, coaching will elevate the standard of tennis. I also think from the standpoint of hopefully if they have coaching, the TV can be aware of what's being said from the coach to the player. I would like to see the public know more about the game, that it's not just a reaction, hit-the-ball-as-hard-as-you-can sport, that there's actually a lot of thought that goes into it. I think another benefit to that would be the opponent and the players learning and hearing what's being said. I want to know how somebody thinks they're going to play me. I don't care if somebody knows how I'm going to play them. It's about getting it done. So I think that would also elevate the standard of tennis. I think that's only good.

Q. Coach Gullikson, game plan, you said yesterday that you wanted to come out here, be strong, win. How did the team serve up today with the game plan?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Obviously, Jim and Andre both got the job done. They dictated play. Andre certainly in his match dictated the entire match basically, and returned serve unbelievably well, played his service games very smartly, using his serve to set up his first shots. Jim, he was up a break in the second set. He played a good first set, up a break in the second. Kind of relaxed a little bit, played a bad game, all of a sudden he's set point down. He goes from set point down to winning a tiebreaker 7-1. That was a key part of Jim's match. The third set, he kind of fell asleep a little bit, lost his intensity. He really let Dewulf dictate to him. In the fourth set, he kind of got it going, got more energy, started to dictate the pace of the play a little more. Our guys are No. 1 players in the world formerly. Certainly looking to play good tennis again. You know, they like to dictate. Hard court players like to step up and dictate the play. That's what they did today.

Q. Filip Dewulf seemed to indicate today he was less interested in playing doubles tomorrow. If he's substituted, does that change your strategy?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: No, no, it doesn't change our strategy. We play whoever is out there. Like Andre said, our doubles team has a job to do, that's to go out there and play well and win this third point. So it doesn't change it at all.

End of FastScripts....

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