September 5, 2003
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
ANDRE AGASSI: Thanks.
Q. In the context of having to turn around and be back out there tomorrow, is it particularly enjoyable to have gotten through this in three straight?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah. At this stage of the ball game, it's gonna be pretty difficult on all the players. Certainly the easier you can make it on yourself, the better off you are. Back-to-back three days in a row, a three-setter comes in handy.
Q. Does this add to the pressure for you: you're basically the marquee name left in the tournament. If you don't stay in it, TV ratings plummet. Does that factor into your thinking?
ANDRE AGASSI: Does it factor into me reacting to a little yellow ball that's coming at 140 miles an hour? No. My concentration is on what I have to do every day inside those lines. That's all I can do at the end of the day anyhow.
Q. At one point you held serve 12 consecutive times and faced only one breakpoint during that span. How critical is it for you to have a good serving day to accomplish your game plan throughout the rest of the tournament?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, to me, serving well and holding serve sometimes are two entirely different things. I mean, it does help a lot to hold serve, serving well. But, you know, for me, today he wasn't hurting my second too much. It allows me the opportunity to go for a few more firsts. I don't mind to see my percentage drop a little bit on the first serve in a case like today. But ultimately, I want to be executing my shots and I want to be in control of the points on my service game. I felt like for the most part I was. So I'm not quite sure that had to do with how well I was serving. It just was more a product of me doing a few things well.
Q. Was there any part of you that felt sorry for everyone who was out here the last few days waiting out the rain delays?
ANDRE AGASSI: We were all feeling sorry for each other, you know. I mean, wasn't easy on anybody - the players, the fans, TV. I mean, it's been a difficult week.
Q. Could you assess your position right now with not having to play yesterday.
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it feels like I hadn't played in a week, to be quite honest, coming out here. The days get so long when you're just waiting for the weather. I didn't think I started off so great, but managed to get my teeth into the match. Then I started playing a lot better. So I feel pretty good.
Q. Is it encouraging when your opponent seems to be bleeding to death and calls for a time-out so early in the match and you know he has a bad hamstring? Does that affect any of your thinking?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, again, it's about what somebody's bringing to the table. What makes it difficult to play somebody who's potentially quote, unquote "injured" is that you're always sort of walking that line between being aggressive and playing your game, but not taking any unnecessary risk, because maybe something less gets the job done. In tennis, that's the best way to play, is to play just a little bit better than your opponent. So in most cases, when somebody's a little bit injured or what have you, it does sort of present an adjustment. But in this case, I had to deal with what he was still bringing to the table. He looked like he was moving great. He looked like he was hitting the ball pretty strong off both sides. I would have cut my finger if it would have made me hit my shots like that (laughter).
Q. At the start he had a couple successful dropshots. You started reading it. Did you feel when you took that weapon away from him maybe you'd blown the wind out of his sails a little bit?
ANDRE AGASSI: I think the first few he hit from an offensive position. He was inside the court. He was sort of cocked back to take a swing at it, then he plays that short, which it's a tough shot. It's a shot that a lot of clay courters sort of develop as a weapon. But I think as the match went on, I was controlling a bit more the points. He started playing that more from a -- of a desperate situation on the court. It gave me more time to do something. Plus, I was starting to move forward on most of the ground strokes.
Q. It was just announced that a member of the Agassi household has been nominated, possibly being elected into the International Hall of Fame. Within the Agassi household, is that a hard thing to live up to? How do you deal with that?
ANDRE AGASSI: I don't try to live up to Steffi's accomplishments.
Q. It does make you feel good. Will you be there next July?
ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, yeah. I mean, it's an incredible honor. You know, we've given our life to this sport. I certainly can't speak for her. I can speak to what I think about it. It's an amazing honor to go down in the history books and to be remembered for something that you gave your entire heart to.
Q. Have you ever been at any other tournament that was as or more frustrating than this? I know you've obviously been to a lot of Wimbledons.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you don't expect it here. So it makes it more frustrating. You know, in London, you have the luxury of when it stops raining, boom, you're back on the court. Here, you know, it stops raining, the court's wet. You got to dry it, takes 30 minutes, 40 minutes to turn a match. Get out there, just starts spitting the slightest bit again and the court's wet for another 45 minutes. That's really frustrating. Certainly nothing jumps to mind that's been as frustrating as the last few days. But you see a lot out here over the years.
Q. Mentally and physically, are you up to two more days? Whoever you play tomorrow, even if it's three sets, it's gonna be a long, tough battle. After that, it's probably going to be a tough final should you get through that.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, welcome to my world (laughter). You know, it's been this way from the beginning and there's nothing different about winning here. It's not easy. There's four guys that can win this thing, and I'm very excited to be one of them. Go out there tomorrow, work really hard, get through the match somehow and then deal with the next obstacle.
Q. What would you recall was your hardest road to a title?
ANDRE AGASSI: To a Grand Slam title?
Q. A major title, yeah. Paris, '99?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I got to say that every one has its own points of the tournament that get dodgy for you. You know, I mean not being seeded here in '94 left a lot of variables - playing Chang in the Round of 16, playing Muster in the quarters. There's places in these tournaments that get really... Overall, I'd probably say Paris in '99.
Q. Four matchpoints, you didn't convert. Do you have an adjustment to make before the final?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, if I get to matchpoint and have to worry about trying to find a way to win that matchpoint, I'm in a great position. I would have loved to have won it on the first point. But getting nervous on your matchpoints and not playing it the way you want is a great problem to have.
Q. What's the key in a situation like we have now, going from one big match one day to another big match the next day? You've spoken about getting good food. But what's the real key in making that turnaround and being ready to roll tomorrow?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's really just an exaggerated form of what you're used to. It's just one point at a time. Don't get ahead of yourself, don't worry about anything that's out of your control. Get out there and know that one guy has to lose and one guy has to win. Just do your best to make it as miserable as possible for your opponent. Maybe at the end, you look up at the score board and you see that you got through it.
Q. Do you talk to Steffi about this at all, ask her for advice?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, we don't speak in the house (laughter). It's just, I don't know... I don't think it's healthy (laughter).
Q. I don't talk about work with my wife. But if I had to win a major tournament and she had that experience, I might ask her advice on this kind of stuff.
ANDRE AGASSI: I'd love to ask her to play for me, but... (Smiling). We'll find a few things to chat about tonight. I'm sure something will have to do with tennis.
Q. Playing another Grand Slam champion like you're going to do tomorrow, whether it's Ferrero or Hewitt, talk about mentally how much different that is as a battle as opposed to playing someone like Coria who's obviously very talented but hasn't got through in a major?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's potentially different. I've beaten a lot of Slam champions handily and I've lost to many of them, and vice versa with the players that haven't won. It's about what you bring to the table that day. It's fair to say somebody that's been there is going to know how to prepare themselves the best, know how to give themselves the best look at the basket, which is sort of by nature going to make them tougher. But you still have to execute. You still have to get it done. Again, I won't worry about the stuff I can't control. How tough my opponent is is something that is, you know, I'll have to deal with it as I go along.
Q. You mentioned nerves. As you get older, do you get more nervous, less nervous? When you said "kick in on matchpoint," or is it little points during the match?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's hard to say. I think a lot of things get more difficult as you get older. Opportunities get rarer. You're more aware of situations out there. So I think that can affect you in a nervous way on some days. In other ways, it can make you play some of your best tennis at the most important times. So I can't say that overall I get more nervous. It happens just as often. I'm more -- I have more of an ability to deal with it now than I have had, though.
Q. The fact that he beat you at the French, does that enter your mind when you're playing somebody the same season? How is he different, playing him on hard and clay?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it enters your mind so far as you're just trying to sort of assess what he did well the day he beat you and what the factors and elements were. You know, there's no question clay is his best surface. He's really, really good on clay. One of the best. I think he is one of the fastest guys on the tour, but on clay he's the fastest. He defends his forehand much better on clay because he has a little bit more time. That backhand he hits sort of gets up, on hard court I can step forward on it. On clay, the thing's jumping up and my ball is going to have less penetration. So if I step into the court, I commit myself with my position, I hit the ball big, it gives me less time to recover and he just sort of exploits the movement. You know, it's a different animal on clay. That's why it's so hard to win on that surface for guys that don't grow up on it.
Q. The kind of psychological distance that might have existed between you and him before he beat you at the French, he admired you and so forth, does that spell get broken with a win or do you still feel like there might be something there you could exploit?
ANDRE AGASSI: I've seen -- I've played many people that have grown up watching me and that sort of look at it as a symbol of their achievement just to be out there. I've seen that bring out the worst in some players, and I've seen that bring out the best in some players. So I feel like I've been bitten by that just as much as I've been rewarded by it. You know, when guys go out there with a healthy respect, it's a good thing because it brings out the best in their tennis. That's how it always should be. You should always have respect for what your opponent can do. I don't think it's about the win or not the win. It's about getting out there and stepping up to the occasion. I think he's proven that he has a good ability to do that. I don't think it was nerves that played a part of any of my wins against him. I played well against him. He certainly earned his win in Paris. So here we are again.
Q. Is there anybody you feel that way about? Is there anybody currently playing that you feel that way about?
ANDRE AGASSI: In what way?
Q. With that sense of a healthy respect.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I respect everybody's game. I can't tell you how sometimes I wish I could find the words to express how dangerous I feel every match is. That's just the way I think. It's the way I choose to go about preparing.
Q. Which player do you feel used his admiration of you when he was a youngster to the greatest effect, and which player seemed to have a problem with that?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's not necessarily youngsters. It's the first time you play somebody, you know. I mean, it's happened a number of times. You just look at the tournament histories. Go through my losses of the guys I played for the first time and you'll find them.
Q. It seemed when I look at your history, it's sort of a Ryan Walters syndrome. When you step up against a young American in particular, do you want to really make a statement, in particular that you're still the ruler of the roost, so to speak, in terms of American players?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, I don't really think about that much. I think, again, for me, it's an equation. It's what does a guy have? What's his game about? What do I need to do? It's really objective. It's not sort of personal. If anything, I think you play an American and you wish a little bit more well for him. Certainly not when you're playing him, but just overall in their careers. So I don't think it has really an effect on your match, though.
Q. Not knowing who you were playing until last night and having several days to anticipate who that might be, was that difficult? Did that affect the way you prepared?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that's not comfortable. You want to just sort of zero in on what you need to do. It's a little hard. You're sort of up in the air, in limbo. I had four brutal days in a row with scheduling issues, and when my match finished, and sort of the number of days I've been out here on and off the court. I went through all that for four days. Then I got pretty fortunate. I got my match in. Then I've had the last couple days. While it hasn't been easy, I've been better off than most of the guys and the fans here that have been waiting all day for the last two days.
Q. Just as a follow-up, when Jennifer was asked, I heard on the broadcast after her match with Schiavone, if she thought Schiavone was at a disadvantage because she had to play earlier, Jennifer felt that maybe she actually herself was at a disadvantage because she had to wait so many more days, where Schiavone was hot. Your thought on those that had to wait versus those such as yourself?
ANDRE AGASSI: Right, right. You always want to be through the round. So it's always an advantage to be waiting, to be in the wings sort of. But three days off is definitely out of the ordinary, out of the normal routine and rhythm of what it is you're used to for so many years. But, again, it's what makes tennis so great, is how each individual sort of deals with their own obstacles. I think any situation can be a negative or a positive. I think it's all about sort of the confidence you bring to the table and the way you deal with your circumstances.
Q. Are you hoping Hewitt and Ferrero go five sets?
ANDRE AGASSI: I can't -- I don't have the heart to will that on them but (laughter)... I will say that I hope the better man wins.
Q. You take a pretty business-like approach to matches now. Can you still get pumped up, will you still get pumped up on court tomorrow, "Super Saturday," Lleyton or Ferrero? You still get that real big charge?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, yeah. Sure I do. This is sort of what you're here for. I mean, this is what it boils down to. Especially here at the Open. It's where I'm from and it's what I've loved and memories are endless here over the years. So this weekend will be one heck of an opportunity for pretty special memories. I go out there with great excitement.
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