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September 8, 2002

Andre Agassi


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. What are your thoughts?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, just was a tough day for me today. I mean, on top of him playing well, I just got off to a rough start. You know, I just was flat, and I tried to get myself into the match and had to work pretty hard just to give myself a chance. Just was never quite enough.

Q. Drained from yesterday?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose everything has a factor. I mean, I think the way he played is also a factor, so...

Q. What did you say to each other at the end?

ANDRE AGASSI: "Congratulations." Just wished him well.

Q. Do you think in a sense when Pete was at the top of his game, he wasn't the crowd favorite that you have been at times in your career, maybe Patrick Rafter was. Do you think he had to go through a period of not having success before people embraced him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think a lot of people get support towards the end of their career. The difference is they thought I'd been at the end of mine for eight years now (laughter). So I think he's getting his just support. He's given a lot to the game. He's meant a lot to the game.

Q. Did you sense that today, there was a fairly equal pull?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, yeah. I was expecting that. This is the US Open. You got two Americans that have been doing this a long time.

Q. How would you rate his serving in the first two and a half sets?

ANDRE AGASSI: I was having a hard time getting on to it and getting off the mark and making any sort of impact at all. I think he sensed that, and I was allowing him to play pretty loose in his return games. He played a couple good break games. At that point, he was solidly better than I was today. And then managed just to kind of keep my nose in front in the third. Had chances in the fourth, as well as he did. He just converted and I didn't.

Q. If you had been able to get it to a fifth set, who do you think would have had the advantage?

ANDRE AGASSI: I wanted it to go longer. I mean, because that's the only chance I had, was to get it to a fifth. But I think there's a lot of momentum coming from two sets back if you can get to the fifth. But that was a long ways off in hindsight.

Q. Your greatest competitor. What are the two or three qualities that make Pete Sampras such an outstanding champion.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, certainly his serve. He's a good pressure point player. He senses the important times of a match and puts pressure on you, then elevates his game. So, you know, he can play for an hour where you don't even break a sweat sometimes because he's just taking the rhythm out of the match. He's playing quick points, getting in, missing a few. Then all of a sudden he plays a good game and he's off.

Q. Do you think he played today much better than before?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I don't have much objectivity on that right now. Every day's a new one. It's hard for me to assess that.

Q. When the third set finished, what was your feeling at that point?

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt like I still had a little ways to go to secure the momentum. I felt like now I had a chance to do it. You know, serving first was important. I had a couple break points in the third set and I didn't convert those. That turned out to get me.

Q. You played a lot of great matches in your time. Played a lot against him. When you walked out on court, how special did it feel today?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, not -- I wouldn't say I was really thinking so much about -- I was thinking a lot more about the Xs and Os today, what I needed to do and how I felt personally and what I was trying to accomplish out there. But it was special; you can't get around that .

Q. Was there anything particularly different about this Open for you than previous Opens?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think it means a lot more to me this year after what took place a year ago. You know, I think the world has seen what a great city this place is, and the heart and spirit of the New Yorkers is something that gives you a lot of hope.

Q. Is that part of the reason why you circled this -- you said yesterday that you circled this day earlier in the year. Was that a part of the motivation, because of September 11th?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's always important here, but I just think this year was extra special.

Q. If you and Pete don't meet at this kind of a level again, is this good enough? Can you leave it at this?

ANDRE AGASSI: I could have left it before today. You know... I mean, I take what I can get. Hopefully it will happen again.

Q. We know it's not gonna change, but do you think -- would you prefer if there was a day off between the semis and the final at the end of a Grand Slam?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think that that lends for the highest standard of tennis, and ultimately I would believe that that's pretty important to a Grand Slam. But that's one of the things that makes it difficult here and one of the things that makes you feel so good when you do win it.

Q. You said on court that it was so great to hear New Yorkers cheer again. What are your feelings of being this elite performer who can touch so many people and really lift people's spirits?

ANDRE AGASSI: What does it feel...

Q. What does it mean to you to be in that position?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I don't think of it that way, you know. I have -- I feel like I'm out there and people are giving to me. It's hard for me to have a perspective on what I'm offering to anybody, but I certainly am glad to be a part of it.

Q. How does reaching the finals of a Slam impact your motivation for the future?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it was close, you know. But you certainly come here to try to get the job done. Felt like I had a good opportunity to do that. But, you know, I know my game's there. It's a difference of such subtleties that makes you win on a day like today. So this assures me that I have some more to look forward to in the upcoming year.

Q. I know there's a large part of you unhappy to have lost today, but there's got to be part of you that's happy for Pete. Can you let the happy for Pete part talk, and why you would feel good, just what he was able to do today.

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't think happy for Pete is quite the way to put it (laughter). A lot of respect for the work he's put into getting himself this opportunity and in the way he went about today, it's great for him. I think it's a great thing for him. If I was him, I'd even feel better.

Q. Given the adversity you experienced and came back from, what is your sense of appreciation for Pete doing something similar?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I know it might feel probably more special to him than any of them just because any time you ask more of yourself, more of yourself's out there. It feels that much more of an accomplishment and means a lot more to you.

Q. Was there ever a time where you didn't think Pete could still do this?

ANDRE AGASSI: I've said the same thing for years now, that his game is able to raise itself at the right time. While the discipline and the daily grind of what it takes to be at the best -- at the top has obviously gotten tougher for him, there's still a danger in the way he plays and how good he is. Anybody that says something different is really ignorant. They don't understand the game of tennis, because Pete has a lot of weapons out there. I'm well aware of that.

Q. Would you say this was your sort of worst performance of these two weeks in your matches? Are you disappointed a little bit in yourself?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose that when you win six and lose one, you have to point to that one. But, again, you have to say, "Well, why is that?" You got to point to the way he played. But I did find myself probably not as sharp as I wanted to be. But you still have an opponent who has a responsibility of keeping you that way. And just, you know, never quite got over the hurdle.

Q. Was Pete sharper this year than when you faced him last year?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think last year was a higher sort of quality of a match as far as consistently speaking. But every day's a new day and it's hard to play that sort of level of tennis against somebody else who's doing the same thing all the time. Today he played the big points really well.

Q. You can't make excuses, but is the playing field level for the person who has the second match the day before? Especially if it goes long?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, more hours you get to recover, the better off you are. There's no really two ways around that. But you could play first and play five sets and play second and play three. So... You know, again, it's one of the things that makes it so difficult to win here, but it's also one of the things that makes it so special to win here.

Q. Yesterday you said there would be no loser today. Do you feel like a loser today?

ANDRE AGASSI: I feel like a first loser, if that makes sense - came in second. You know, it's disappointing, there's no ways around that. I think I've been more disappointed in my career, so... Put it in perspective. It would have been nice to win it again.

Q. Were you nervous in the beginning?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think just the normal nerves that always take place. But more just a little flat.

Q. A couple of times the cameras cut away to Steffi. She seems to turn around a lot, not want to look at the points. Is she that nervous that she doesn't like to watch you play that much?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I don't know what she's doing when she's watching. I'm concentrating on the ball.

Q. What does it say about the sport that two guys in their 30s are not only in the finals of the US Open but have captivated the crowd as you two have?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. You have to answer that one for me because, you know, I'm -- we're still out here doing it and it's hard to get around that fact.

Q. Did you sleep well last night, knowing you were going to meet Pete? Does it make any difference?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's important to get rest when you're about to play the finals and you're just coming off three and a half hours of tennis. I did sleep well.

Q. What are your plans for the rest of the year?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose I'll sit down and assess that. I mean, I'm obviously scheduled to play the big tournaments that are still left, so I'll go from there.

Q. Is it possible to put in perspective, get far enough away from what you just did, and talk about how you might remember this day.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I wish I could help you out there and answer that. I'm not quite sure.

Q. Is there ever any consolation in considering who your opponent was in a loss, or is a loss just as painful no matter who it is?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the loss is only a function of what you thought should have happened out there. Again, I was -- I felt pretty outplayed for the first two sets. Even the third, I wasn't convinced I was playing a notch ahead of him. Then I felt like I started to, but that's when he stepped up and answered with some big shots. So it doesn't matter, not necessarily who it is, but how it is.

End of FastScripts….

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