January 21, 2003
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre, please.
Q. A guy picks up a newspaper in the United States, goes way back deep in the paper, small type, sees Agassi 3, 2 and 2, he says, "Geez, that's a soft touch." Wasn't, was it?
ANDRE AGASSI: Score lines I believe can always be misleading. Today was a question of it being a lot tougher than the score. It was toe-to-toe. Yeah, I broke for the first set a second time, which when you're up a break, you let a few shots fly. I did that again in the third. So it was sort of one of those matches that I felt comfortable and I was pleased with the way I was playing, pleased with sort of the manner in which the match was being played, but felt great about putting it away.
Q. How many times did you finish a match from a return to the net?
ANDRE AGASSI: (Smiling). I don't know. I don't...
Q. I never see that anywhere, any other time.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, there was a little breeze from that side of the court, so he was serving with the wind there. It was the second serve. From that side you really want to make sure you hit out on it. It's just a little tougher to control the passing shot. I just took it early.
Q. Generally speaking, in your game you seem to be more aggressive with your serve. Is that right?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm trying to help myself out there. I think there are a lot of times where I can utilize coming in a little bit more, coming in on my terms.
Q. Pretty good play, wasn't it, the second ball? I don't know if you'd call it chip and charge, but a push and charge or force and charge, but charging?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. But the thing is with Sebastien you have to be real careful because he does two things very well. He moves incredibly well and he handles pace, because his swings are very short and compact. He can pull triggers very quickly. Plus, combined with his speed, if he knows that's coming, you'd have to hit almost a perfect shot not to be in trouble there because the quicker you hit, the quicker it's going to come back. That's what he's really good at. It's more a function of surprise more than anything.
Q. After the first game of the -- his service game of the first set, you had many opportunities to break. It didn't work. How did you compose yourself to say, "It will be next"?
ANDRE AGASSI: I just remind myself I'm up two sets and it's 1-all. I mean, I'd rather be me than him. You just -- one thing I always want to do is just make somebody work hard every point, no matter what the score is. I thought he played some great shots to hold that game. So it was easy for me to forget about because he earned it.
Q. From outside, thinking that he came back from two sets to love to win in five sets, everybody was thinking, "Perhaps now he will come back." I thought perhaps you were thinking the same?
ANDRE AGASSI: I wasn't thinking about him winning at two sets 1-all. I was thinking about the next point. Really, it's a function of that. Whether he comes back or not would only have been a result of him playing another two and a half, three hours of incredible tennis. That was my goal, to make him play something very special to win. It was just one game, so you just keep going to work.
Q. A lot of good guys left in the tournament, but yesterday, Lleyton's defeat, were you watching TV? Were you anticipating that this was a match that could be tough?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think everybody has people that are going to give them more problems than others. I mean, tennis is a game of matchups. There's no question that Younes has a game that can give not just Lleyton problems but a lot of guys problems. You always anticipate a good match. But for Younes to find a way to actually put it away, was credit to him. I just got to see some of it.
Q. Does it perhaps make the prospect of the final few days here better for you?
ANDRE AGASSI: I can't really say it has an effect on it. For me, if I'm have -- if I have another match to go, Lleyton still had three matches to win before he was in the finals. I had two matches to win. Again, I would sign up for that final any day just because it would be a great final to be a part of but also it means I'm in the finals. I have one person on my mind now, and that's either Wayne or Juan Carlos. So it's really as simple as that for me.
Q. Just with reference to that, when you come into a tournament and you do your preparation to be there for two weeks, you're in the second week, what's the sort of immediate feeling if you do go out in about half of the tournament? Is there a physical letdown, mental letdown, do you feel like you have tennis left inside?
ANDRE AGASSI: When you lose, you mean?
Q. Yes, when you go out, expect to be there till the end, go out midway through the tournament?
ANDRE AGASSI: That's the great thing about our sport is there's always the next week. That's the way you have to look at it. You have to look at it as a building process. While it's an opportunity to accomplish something pretty great, it's also understandable to have days that don't go the way you plan. So you just try to put it behind you. There's not much more you can do. You come here ready to go, but it's the start of the year, and it's going to be a long year. Buys you an extra week of either rest or preparation, depending on how you feel, depending on where you feel you are, what you feel you need. There are certainly positives you can find in it.
Q. When you play here, compared to other Slams, are you more conscious of making your opponent work harder, not just yourself, but getting them out there, because of the conditions and the physical breakdowns?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think tennis is a very physical sport. I think there are certain arenas that require more physically than others. I think this would be one particular tournament that is more difficult physically based on the possible conditions but also based on the court. You dig into the court, you move. It's not easy to -- you move, you stick, it's more sort of trauma on your muscles when you change directions. So there is more of an opportunity for one to get tired out there, but somebody getting tired against me is really only a function of me working hard myself. And you hope that they're working harder than you.
Q. Has the scheduling been helpful to you, the fact that you haven't had to play a night match yet and been in a day rhythm?
ANDRE AGASSI: Every Slam you play has a different sort of rhythm to it. Some of them are filled with a bunch of curves, nothing feels like it fits, it's constant. You play a night match and you have a long one, then you get a short day and you have to come back and play earlier, it happens to be hot that day. There are a lot of variables that can work in your favor, work against you, depending on how you take care of the business once you're out there. Getting through it is the first priority, but getting through it with fuel in your tank would be the second. That's where I feel like it's been a good tournament for me up to now, is not so much that I haven't played at night, but that when I have got out there, I haven't spent any useless energy, unnecessary energy.
Q. Of all the semifinalists, you have probably been involved in the shortest matches. Is that something that is in your favor, or would you prefer a five-setter?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, I don't prefer the five-setter. I prefer to win in straight sets, ideally love, love and love (smiling). But I will say that a five-setter doesn't necessarily mean you're in trouble. It all depends on what kind of tennis was played, how physical was it, what were the conditions, how long you were out there, you know, those things. And if somebody has the preparation in them, they can overcome that.
Q. Last year obviously the pullout on the morning of the first day, you're in the final four now, is this a feeling of redemption that you've given something back this year?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, that was certainly -- I was certainly nervous and excited to be back here, because it did feel like a long time since I played here. My only -- the only thing I can give this tournament is everything I got when I'm out there and I really can't control how, where the ball bounces specifically. So it does feel good to be out here competing again. But then it also sort of reminds me that it was such a lost opportunity last year. So it is bittersweet. It was not a good thing that happened. It's unfortunate. But sometimes the tougher decisions are the clearest ones.
Q. Two semifinals will be played on two different days at night. Are you in favor of that?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think if the alternative is back-to-back matches like at the Open, I think that's sort of a disadvantage for potentially one player. Two days off for one or one day off for another, both guys go into the finals ready. So that part is good.
Q. Good atmosphere?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it seems to be a great atmosphere. Every time I've been part of a semifinal match here, it's been a tremendous, tremendous atmosphere. So I must say that I've liked it so far.
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