January 25, 2005
THE MODERATOR: First question.
Q. What was the most difficult thing?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose -- I suppose the most difficult thing and frustrating thing was the only chance that I had was actually break back to get into the set. I mean, you give a guy like that a lead and, you know, he can stretch it pretty quick. I wasn't picking up his serve well tonight. He served close to the lines, so you get a lot of free points there. You know, I mean, he just outplayed me. It was too good.
Q. Is this hard to swallow?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yep.
Q. Any consolation, I don't know if you heard him on court afterwards, he said he thought you played better from the back of the court than he did?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, only chance I have is backhand to backhand with him. But that's a small place to hit the ball to with a guy that moves that well. And when he's serving that well, it gets a lot of free points. So you just can't get the match on your terms. I mean, I would love to play my strength to his less-than strength.
Q. Where would you put his level of play right now?
ANDRE AGASSI: Way better than mine tonight, way better than mine. That's a hard game to stop for many reasons. We've seen it for a while. I certainly didn't do anything to make a dent in that.
Q. What is the sort of difference between his game and the rest of everyone else's game, just in percentage terms?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he does everything well and a lot of things great. I mean, his movement is probably the most underrated part of his game, and that's right up there with the best of them. His forehand is one of the biggest. His serve is very accurate, great hold game, gets a lot of balls back in the court in return games, puts pressure on you, plays with versatility, comes in, slice, high topspins and drives through the court. So there's a lot he does out there. I mean, you know, I preferred him slicing to me, but he has other options.
Q. So what's your advice to his next couple of opponents?
ANDRE AGASSI: I would suggest that his next opponents don't look to me for advice. That would be my advice (smiling).
Q. Good Open for you?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yes, you know, it's disappointing. I've spent a lot of years coming down here and having some real memorable matches and leaving with the trophy, you know. But I wanted tonight to be memorable. But it's one I'd probably prefer to forget.
Q. What are you most disappointed about in your play tonight?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I don't know. I guess I sort of need some time to make sense of it. I wasn't -- yeah, I dropped my serve early in each set. I mean, you're just asking for pain. And I felt like I got what I deserved in that regard. If he's serving down three, four breakpoints, just to not lose a set, it's a big difference than the position he was in, just sort of always up. I mean, that makes your job even tougher out there - not that it's not tough enough. So I was just disappointed with not executing good shots early in the sets to give myself sort of a chance to settle into the match. I never got my teeth into it. And when I don't get my teeth into a match, you know, I can look pretty ordinary.
Q. You've seen a lot of guys in your career. People are starting to talk about Roger as somebody who's going to be an all-time great. Where do you place him right now in the experiences you have, Sampras, the end of Connors, Edberg, these kind of people, Becker? Where do you place him right now?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's not something really that's fair to do, to compare sort of greats. Everybody brings to the table their own strengths and weaknesses and how they match up. There's a lot of times on given days. But he plays the game beautifully. I mean, the expectation for him to be one of the greats is certainly understandable.
Q. Do you have any inkling right now whether you'll be back here next year?
ANDRE AGASSI: No. That would be my plan, but a year's a long time.
Q. With your weapons, what can you do to try to beat him in the next couple of months?
ANDRE AGASSI: Listen, I need to be controlling the points from the back of the court, which means I need to get the chance to do that, which means I need to get more returns in play. It means I need to serve a little bit better to start the rallies off. You know, tonight I started off missing a lot of serves. When I lost my service games, couple careless errors, a lot had to do with the pressure he puts on you. You know it early in the set, you can't afford to make mistakes at the wrong time. So I got to get myself into the match and then make him feel my game. But, you know, tonight -- tonight he was playing with a nice cushion, you know, and he's set. He's too good of a player for that.
Q. Would you say that on clay you'd have more chances against a player like him with a game which is probably slower or not?
ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. You know, past few years on the clay haven't been terribly kind to me. I've done this a long time, and the clay seems to be the toughest as I get older.
Q. You've had to get your eye in against some pretty devastating servers over the years, not least in the last round. Where would his rate there? How difficult is it to pick and how much has it improved over the last, say, four or five times you've met him?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, his serve has improved dramatically. I'd say his movement and his serve probably are the two things that stand out to me as what has improved over the last couple years. It's not just about the serve; it's about what you have to do with the return. You know, I mean, he has a great hold game. If you don't put that return in the right spot, he's going to punish you with the next one anyhow. So it's not just about the serve; it's sort of his all-around versatility that makes it hard to break him.
Q. The hiccup at Kooyong, did that play into this at all? You missed time; you had the problem.
ANDRE AGASSI: Listen, I came in tonight with the full expectation of being at my best. While I can say the leadup to here had a few more curves than I would have preferred, getting through that was good for my spirits. I felt turning the corner to the second week I was now in position to hopefully start raising my game to the level that's necessary. And tonight I didn't do that, but mainly because of him.
Q. What's your upcoming schedule, what do you think?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, hard to say right now. You know, we're going to sort of -- you know me. I have to play it by ear and make some good decisions. But my schedule at the moment is San Jose, Dubai, Palm Springs, Key Biscayne.
Q. His movement, is he surprising you where he shows up? Is that part of it? You think it's going to be somewhere and he's somewhere else.
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's got anticipation. But it's more about his ability to make a court a lot smaller. Because he can cover so well to the forehand, it really allows him to sort of stay at home in the backhand corner. So that backhand corner gets smaller and smaller, sort of dares you to hit it to that forehand. There's a lot of times you do and you're thinking that's a good idea, then a second later you're going, "Why did I do that?"
Q. He dares you?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, because he can cover so quickly, and not just get there but do something when he gets there. A lot of guys move well, but if they're not really set to hit, they can't generate a lot that he can generate on the full stretch. So he leaves an impression on you if you leave any ball hanging pretty quickly. You know, you got to play one heck of a match right now to beat him.
Q. Do you think he'll win the tournament?
ANDRE AGASSI: It would be silly not to favor him. But, you know, that's why we're all here, right?
Q. Can you give us any insight into what your conversation with Patrick McEnroe, how it went?
ANDRE AGASSI: I haven't spoken to him yet. He sort of decided to leave it till after the tournament.
Q. You had a little conversation with Roger at the net. You say anything special there?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, I just congratulated him. I told him, "Too good and good luck." I hope he has good luck the rest of the way. No, he just said he enjoyed playing against me and hopes that happens more. I said, "That makes one of us."
Q. Was there a moment where you thought you cannot win the match anymore today?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, you always leave room. Experience tells you that things can change quickly and you have to get your teeth into it. There's just -- I would have loved the opportunity to break, to be at 5-All and, you know, who knows how it can go from there. You get into a tiebreaker. But there was still a lot I needed to establish. I knew I was a long ways away from that. But matches can always change.
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