January 23, 2003
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. You said to John McEnroe after the game you feel that you're better now than ever. I'm just wondering how many years you think, realistically, you can go on sort of being this good, being Grand Slam champion?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I don't know is the simple answer. It's my motivation that I can always improve. That's where I'm sort of fueled by. So I want to believe I'm better, you know. Again, like I said, it is hard for me to be objective about myself, but I'm always striving to improve - and hopefully I'm accomplishing that. Things do get more difficult the older you get in many respects. But overall, I do feel like I have gotten stronger. I feel like I've gotten -- move better on the court. I don't know, as long as my body and mind hold up, I don't know.
Q. Your body language after the match was showing a great happiness to be in the final. Is it like that?
ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, sure it is. It's a great thing. I mean, this is what you play for. You play to be here on the big occasion. These are the moments you remember the most, so it's very special for me.
Q. This is 13 Grand Slam finals now. Does it get sweeter? Do you appreciate it more than you did at the French in 1990?
ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, no question about it. I think you appreciate everything in life more. I think everything has deeper roots in your own heart and mind. Opportunities get fewer, so they become more special. They become more disappointing, they become more enjoyable.
Q. You might have said the same thing maybe five years ago, but the opportunities don't appear to be fewer, do they?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, experience tells me that not a single day's promised to us. So they do get fewer.
Q. Was tonight just about getting something done that just had to be done?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, we both went out there to get something done tonight, to control the match, to make things happen. It went well for me tonight. I feel like I was hitting the ball cleanly, moving well, sort of making good decisions out there with my shot selection. Everything was firing.
Q. Will you watch the match tomorrow?
ANDRE AGASSI: Sure. I'll enjoy parts of it. That's for sure.
Q. Have you got a choice?
ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, how can I say it? To me, I've seen too many guys work too hard, get into the semifinals. I have a soft spot for everybody that's worked this hard to get here.
Q. To show people that nothing comes free, I've heard you've been working even during Christmas, in the situations where people are having parties, knowing that you were coming here, you were preparing yourself?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, but I had parties as well (smiling). First I had to get some work in. You know, it's not easy to come down here very prepared, but it sure beats the alternative. That's what I always remind myself. It's not easy what we do; it's not easy what any of us do. As hard as it is to be prepared, it's a lot harder to come down here and not be prepared.
Q. Were you surprised that Wayne didn't play to his full potential?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you always go out there expecting a battle, and today was no different. I'm always surprised when I go in three sets with two breaks each set. It's not easy to do. A lot of things have to go right.
Q. How do you go away for a tennis match? Do you get toey when you have a day to spare? Can you fill your time in with other things? Take us through what the next couple of days are going to be for you.
ANDRE AGASSI: What would "toey" mean?
Q. Nervous, a little bit anxious.
ANDRE AGASSI: Sure, you can't help but be nervous and anxious. To me, that's all part of what makes it so challenging. I think I've learned through the course of time that you can't control anything till you get out there, then you can control it. So think about the match as long as you have to think about it to know what it is you got to do and make sure you're always ready to do that in your own mind. But there is a line there where you sort of don't allow yourself to think too much about it, especially when it's a couple days away.
Q. Will you do that two whole days or one day will you force yourself not to think about tennis because you know you have a whole other day to get your head around the match?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I can always think about tennis, that's what I do. So the match is tomorrow, I'm going to be practicing tomorrow, I'm going to keep my routine going, talk it over with Darren, figure out how hard we're going to go over the next couple days, talk to Gil and go from there.
Q. Whose game do you know better?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I've played Andy maybe three times. Rainer, if I can remember, once. I'm not sure if I've played him more than that. But I've watched them both play a lot, so I would say it's pretty -- they're both pretty familiar to me as far as the styles of play.
Q. Have you seen the match, Roddick against Younes?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, I saw it until about 10-all in the fifth, then I just forced myself, just tore myself away from the TV and went to sleep.
Q. What does that mean when a guy like that, Andy's age, breaks through in a match like that? Could that be pivotal for him in years to come?
ANDRE AGASSI: First of all, I think it's a great thing for tennis. I think Andy is a great competitor for tennis, certainly America and the hopes and expectations on him and the way he's handling it these few weeks have been great to see. I also think that coming back from two sets, and I heard a break, I wasn't sure about the break, but is also sort of a milestone in one's career. It makes you realize that you're dealing with another human being on the other side of the net. If you fight hard enough, things can happen. So I'm sure it's gonna help him to even become a better player.
Q. Having been there so many times, Grand Slam finals, two guys who have never been there before coming up against you, an extra boost of optimism?
ANDRE AGASSI: Listen, it would be an unfortunate thing if you could sit in your home or your hotel room and phone in the result, because sports wouldn't be what it is if you could do that. You got to come out and play and you got to come out and earn it, regardless of how many times you've done it, how many times you haven't done it, it's a job that still sort of needs to get done. I don't think about it from that standpoint. I think about it from me trying to win a tennis match.
Q. What does it say about tennis that Rainer's the only guy that stands between All-Americans in both finals?
ANDRE AGASSI: It says that we have 300 million people in our country, first of all. But I think countries go in cycles. Plus we've been sort of blessed with a phenomenal generation of tennis players from all of us sort of on the men's side to now on the women's side. But times change. You never know when that is.
Q. Do you think one day we'll see the Moroccans and Thais and those smaller nations getting through to the last stage?
ANDRE AGASSI: I think it starts with the likes of Paradorn and what he's managed to accomplish, things that you see happening from South America to the Far East, to Korea. I mean, it's incredible to watch sort of the game expand on the grass roots level that allowed these different players to come through. Again, I think America always has the luxury of so many sort of -- there's so much opportunity for so many there that you're dealing with percentages and numbers. But anybody can come through and dominate and win.
Q. You mentioned on the court several wagers in your camp. Is this a new thing?
ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. We always sort of talk about things. You know, if we are in the trenches together, then we're in the trenches. We got to all pay the price, so whatever that might mean, any given week.
Q. Is there another side of the bet? Have you put anything on the line, if you don't, did you promise them something?
ANDRE AGASSI: That's my point. I've spent two weeks down here with a lot on the line every day. We need everybody to have something on the line.
Q. What did Steffi say when you first mentioned mixed doubles?
ANDRE AGASSI: She's a team player. She's a team player.
Q. What's on the line for Jaden?
ANDRE AGASSI: We haven't discussed that one. I've shaved his head three times. It's definitely not going to be that.
Q. Is it a real ruthless streak in closing out matches. Even though you played so well last year, you didn't add a Grand Slam title. Is that something you can add to this year?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's certainly something I want every year. I wanted it bad last year. I had one opportunity for it. To me, getting to the quarters of a Slam gives yourself a look at the basket. You know, you're sort of about to turn the corner for the home stretch. In Paris, I felt like I was really close to having a lot of things come around but it was still a long way off. To lose the finals of the US Open was definitely disappointing, especially with the way I was playing leading up to it. Obviously, it would be important for me to find a way to win on Sunday. But I got to say, being in position to give myself that opportunity is something I also value.
Q. You've had the three straight-set matches, the retirement from the second set, how much more extra training do you do now over these two days?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, every Grand Slam sort of throws curves at you one way or the other. This is sort of my curve. I need to sort of figure that out. I guess I would be hesitant to make the plan on my own. I've counted so much on Darren and Gil and all the decisions they make in my preparation, and this is certainly as important as it gets.
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