August 15, 2005
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Why did you withdraw?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's obviously a disappointing thing for me to have to do. I was really looking forward to coming here. This is certainly one of the biggest tournaments of the year that everybody aims to try and win, let alone defend, so I'll express my disappointment with that. But, you know, 10 weeks ago or whenever it was, when I wasn't sure of the state of my health, you know, I made a commitment to not just myself but also to those around me that I would only play under the terms of being 100% physically, because for me that's the only way I can be out there anymore; and I'm not 100%.
ANDRE AGASSI: Physically.
Q. What about mental?
ANDRE AGASSI: Do I seem a little off to you mentally (smiling)? No, no, no. Listen, yeah, I mean, mentally is the easy part out here, you know? Again, this tournament is one of the best and you have all the guys in the world here competing for its title. Mentally, I could have stood to give it a go. But, yeah, physically, just too tough. I cannot afford to take more steps back. As much as I want to get out there and do the best I can, you will not see me on the court anymore if I'm not 100%.
Q. Is it your back, or is it something else?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no, it's the same. It's the nerve that after a number of matches back-to-back, playing two on Saturday, one on Sunday, how it pulls up, how it responds. Unfortunately, I know this process all too well - so well. A year ago or two years ago I could have made the decision to try to push through it, "Maybe it's gonna go away." I know exactly where it leads, and I'm going to have to be a little bit smarter with how I approach all these tournaments now.
Q. Were you feeling it in Montreal, though?
ANDRE AGASSI: Not on the court, but in my cool-downs I was feeling it. And, again, if I have a little pain in my life, that's fine. I just don't want it on the tennis court because I work too hard to get out there and feel helpless - and I wasn't last week, but I would be this week.
Q. Will you play before the Open? Will you be playing New Haven?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, my plan will be just to go to the Open.
Q. When did you make the decision not to come here?
ANDRE AGASSI: Last night. Late last night, as I was cooling down. With the prospects of getting here and playing more matches back-to-back, just wasn't something that I could see through, and I can't start something anymore that I'm not convinced I can finish. I wouldn't be convinced I can be here all the way through with my full health.
Q. When you make decisions like this, how much do you weigh the fact that tournament directors and fans and everybody in the city where you're slated to play is sort of anticipating your presence?
ANDRE AGASSI: Hmm, that weighs heavily, if anything, in guilt, you know. It's a tough feeling to feel like you're letting down a tournament. Paul Flory has done an amazing job with this event over all these years. He's been great to me and is beyond a class act when it comes to living up to his word and looking out for the players and respecting as difficult a decision as this is. The way that he's respected it means the world to me. So all those things make you feel bad, unfortunately. But the question that I have to answer when I start to feel that way is, What's the alternative. And, you know, the alternative is me not being at my best, me being out there in a situation where I can do more damage to myself and not be a part of more tournaments. You know, I'm trying to negotiate a career now and how I'm going to go about my profession, and making the wrong decisions can have big ramifications for me at this stage. But it does feel -- it does make me feel bad.
Q. You mentioned your career. I guess this development sort of reinforces the notion that you're not going to be playing professional tennis forever. Yet still wherever you go, you're the most popular player. How do you envision the future of the ATP Tour without your presence from a popularity standpoint?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think this game has a great future when it comes to its potential growth. I mean, this game has survived with a lot of difficult decisions that's been made. And now, with the likes of the guy who beat me yesterday, Nadal, I mean a person like this is just amazing for the game. It's great to see. I can't be objective as to how I fit into this picture, but I can say that I'll miss it a lot. I'll miss the competition, I'll miss the sport, I'll miss the guys, all the stuff that goes with it. But how it's effected, I can't speak to. What I can say is there's a lot of hope for the growth of this game.
Q. Yesterday you told the crowd that you'd see them in two years. At this point do you still feel that's a realistic goal?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, my plan was to go visit the city of Montreal in a couple of years (smiling). No, I hope so. I do hope so. I mean, it might have been the loudest I've ever heard a crowd after I won the second set yesterday. That means the world. Those are moments that you appreciate more at 35 than you do at 25. So I hope I am back there.
ANDRE AGASSI: Playing.
Q. Can you talk about being back in Cincinnati again after winning here last year.
ANDRE AGASSI: No question about it, winning here last year was one of the best feelings I've ever had on a tennis court. I hadn't won in a long time, it was against the best field in the world, and it gave me a lot of life, to win here. That I'll always remember. I might remember last year more than any of the other years - and I've had some pretty darn good ones here.
Q. It's not often a player withdraws from a tournament and still comes to the city to hold a press conference. You had some meetings with the adidas people this morning. Is that the reason you came to Cincinnati?
ANDRE AGASSI: (Smiling).
Q. How much of that was the reason?
ANDRE AGASSI: Let me put it this way: When I give my word to somebody, it means the world to me to live up to you. So when I told Paul that I was going to play here, it means the world for me to be here. When I told adidas we were going to have a meeting because we need to take more steps towards what we're doing with the foundation, then I need to be here. So in both cases I needed to be here, and would have for either one.
Q. Can you talk about your decision to work with adidas. Was it because of the foundation?
ANDRE AGASSI: It was a tremendous part of it. It meant the world to me to see a company as big and successful as adidas have such a clear perspective on what makes this world tick, you know, and looking out for our children is the single greatest thing we can do. Their realization and vision of that and commitment to what I've given the last 12 years of my life to is something I'm very proud of. To be a partner with them is my gain and a lot of others'.
Q. Did Nike not have the same realization?
ANDRE AGASSI: To the foundation, no. Nike and I reached terms on all my stuff with no problem. It's been a relationship for a lot of years that has been good. But, you know, I'm at a great place in my life; I don't have to worry about me anymore, you know. That's a luxury that most people don't have that I'm well aware of. But I do have to worry about my foundation, I do have to worry about people I look out after. And, you know, they make shoes and that's what they do.
Q. Sorry if you've already answered this. Given your injury, how happy are you with the way the last few weeks have gone?
ANDRE AGASSI: Ten weeks ago I didn't know where things were going to go. I mean, I was home during the biggest tournaments of the year. So to be on the court healthy, being able to challenge myself with my game feels great, let alone for the hard work I put in to pay off so quickly. It feels great just to be out there healthy and hitting and chasing down balls that I know I'm not going to get to, let alone the early success I had this summer and now my hopes for the US Open. So I'm in a much better place right now than I was a few weeks ago.
Q. This sport moves on very fast. When you have a few weeks off like that, do you worry you won't catch up?
ANDRE AGASSI: I worry I won't catch up when I'm out there, let alone when I'm sitting home (laughing). It gets stronger and more powerful. I laughed at the prospect of playing Nadal when I was 19, just his strength and his speed and all that stuff. You watch how the game continues to improve. I've prided myself on my continual efforts to rise to those challenges and to get better. But, yes, the game's going to get better with or without me, so I'd rather it be with me.
Q. I know you talked about Nadal, facing him for the first time yesterday. A lot of players talk about this excessive spin he has. Is that really the most impressive part of it?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he can keep his spin, but I'd rather take away his speed - or make him right-handed (smiling). Any one of those things would change the dynamics dramatically. I'd first go speed, then I'd go right-handed, then I'd go spin. On clay it's different. Spin would probably be right up there with the speed. On hard court I can take the ball early and I didn't have much issue with that, but I did have issue with his ability to use his speed to get a hold of a point and then he wouldn't let go of it once he had it. His defense to offense is as good as anybody's.
Q. What about the timeliness of his bathroom breaks?
ANDRE AGASSI: Sorry?
Q. What about the timeliness of his bathroom breaks? Didn't he take a break yesterday?
ANDRE AGASSI: Nadal?
ANDRE AGASSI: No. Oh, maybe Rusedski, you mean?
Q. Yeah, thank you.
ANDRE AGASSI: Okay, Rusedski did that. No problem.
Q. Does that really impact the game?
ANDRE AGASSI: It prolonged the game, for sure. I don't know if it impacted it.
Q. Mentally, does it affect it?
ANDRE AGASSI: No. I mean, listen, everybody can conduct themselves however they choose. At the end of the day you have to get it done inside those lines, you know. So 20 years later I'm not terribly affected by that, no.
Q. Do you feel like two weeks off will be enough with your back to go through the grueling schedule you're going to have to face in New York?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I can say that I'm using my experience right now to prepare myself the best I can for not just what's up in the next few weeks, but this is just a part of what I'm going to have to constantly, you know, choose to do over the next however long I decide to play. So, you know, I'm not 100%, which is a given to me that I won't compete under those terms anymore. But if I keep going, I'd be less and I'd be less and I'd be less. I think with where I am right now, I'd be in good position to monitor this - at least I hope; I've been wrong before.
Q. If you do play in Cincinnati next year, will you know which events you will schedule beforehand? Is that something going through your mind as well?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, listen, it's week to week for me, 52 weeks a year. So to plan next year makes no sense, to even plan a year from now. I wake up and make plans for the next week because it changes so quickly.
Q. There may be some people that see you pulled out of a tournament a few weeks ago, you pull out here, think you're on the cusp of retirement. I imagine, starting a new partnership with adidas, you're thinking long term. Are you still looking as long term as you can?
ANDRE AGASSI: Absolutely. I've said for a long time I'm going to play this sport as long and as hard as I can. You know, I don't know how long that's going to be, but I'm going to give back every bit it's given to me, or at least retire knowing I couldn't do more. But my partnership with adidas is long term regardless of what happens on the court. That's the beauty in real partnership - whatever stages you go through, you go through together. That's something I'm very much privileged to be a part of.
Q. Who do you see as a favorite here?
ANDRE AGASSI: Let's see... go out on a limb, I go Federer (laughter). If he doesn't win, I'm going to go Nadal. If he doesn't win, who's the third seed?
ANDRE AGASSI: Hewitt? Huh... No, but I don't know anything more than you guys except what it feels like to be on the other side of the net. Yeah, they've been playing the best tennis by far this year.
Q. Does the US Open excite you more than the other Grand Slams these days, or are they all pretty much a beacon in your mind?
ANDRE AGASSI: You always get excited more when you feel like you have more of a chance. You know, Paris doesn't excite me at all anymore because I just associate it with pain, meaning physical. So you're sort of glad to be a part of it, but you're limited to how much you can really enjoy the experience when you're surviving, you know. But the US Open is different. I feel like there's just a lot of matches I can play on my terms, and certainly the home crowd. Every one is so unique to itself. I do look forward to the Open's personality. It's a great place to play.
Q. Everyone needs a bit of luck. Last year you had the wind with Federer on that terrible day. How do you sort of see the tournament now, two weeks away?
ANDRE AGASSI: In reference to what? What do you mean?
Q. In reference to yourself, what you're capable of doing.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know, I don't know. That's the great part about it. You know, for me, I've played No. 1-in-the-world tennis, and there wasn't a time during that process you could have asked me do I expect to win the Open - or let alone any tournament. I would tell you I don't expect to win, no; I expect to be fighting my way through the first round, and I expect to do that again in the second, and, if so fortunate, seven times. And that's how I feel. I mean, it's no different. I don't function through the lengths of, "Okay, I'm going to win this tournament," or "Do I think I can win?" Every match is tough, and they all feel good when you find a way.
Q. You don't allow yourself to think, you know, along the lines of what happened to Pete a few years ago, how good it would be for you to do that again?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it would be great to win, but I have no interest in putting a nice little bow around my career and handing it over to anybody, you know. I'm going to keep giving everything I've got to this sport. It's been so good to me. I couldn't hope or even expect for it to give me any more. So I go to the Open with the intention of hopefully bringing some inspiration to those who take a few hours out of their day to come watch me. That's what I look forward to.
Q. During the next two weeks, what do you plan for your rehab and so forth, your preparation for the US Open?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the first plan of attack is not to irritate it more, you know, by thrashing around on the court. But I will be in my training under controlled terms, and I have the possibility of considering another injection, which has been discussed, if necessary. A lot of antiinflammatories; they help a lot. So with the rest and medication, we live in a different day and age now.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.