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September 4, 2002

Andre Agassi


THE MODERATOR: First question for Andre, please.

Q. Obviously, Max just played phenomenally out there and brought the best out of you.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I thought it was a high-standard match from start to finish. Thought the first set I let slip away. I had a couple opportunities. And then the second set, though, he donated a few opportunities back to me. So once we were a set all, I felt like I even raised it from there, which I needed to.

Q. Dangerous player. Taking a lot of risks. Coming in on everything. Did he have you a little bit out of rhythm?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, rhythm, I felt like I was striking the ball well. He's a tough player. He's a big guy who hits the ball big off both sides, and then he can change the pace and use his size by just getting you in and forcing you to do something special on any given point. Just overall, he's just -- he's a tough player. I had to play well tonight.

Q. Difference between tonight and Los Angeles?

ANDRE AGASSI: Los Angeles, once I started seeing the ball well, I felt like he pressed a little bit and he double-faulted a couple times in two different service games in the second set, which he was really going for it. Tonight, I felt like he served bigger, and he volleyed very soundly - dug out some incredible volleys. I thought overall he just played a much better match tonight.

Q. Did you think in the first set, as well as he was serving, did you think you were in for a long night, a tough night and/or even exiting this tournament? Were you concerned at that point?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, you don't think about losing or winning a set up or a set down. You think about, "What do I need to do here to get my teeth deeper into this match?" I felt great about the first set - outside the fact that I didn't win it. I think overall, I was playing a better set than he was. I felt like I had more chances than he did. But then at the end he raised his game and won the right points. So I tried to stay positive with the fact that I was making him play a high standard to be up a set.

Q. Last three times against Lleyton he's won. What can you do? None of them went to five sets, but three sets. What can you do to change that around? What about him makes him so difficult a task for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he's difficult for everybody (laughter). He's No. 1 in the world now, been No. 1 in the world now for almost a full year. You've seen him play as much as I have. You know his strengths. He's just a tough player. He makes you play good tennis, makes you play a good match, makes you play a great match to beat him. You just got to come out there and do it.

Q. When you first played him in Adelaide, can you go back to that match, what do you remember about it?

ANDRE AGASSI: I remember that he was wearing a safety pin in his shorts to hold them up (laughter). I'm not kidding.

Q. Which side of his shorts was the safety pin in?

ANDRE AGASSI: I actually think it was one on each side. I didn't know, at that point, what he had looked like. I just -- I didn't believe it, that that was my opponent. He just seemed like he had a couple strings hanging in his shoes and I didn't -- he just was very young, went out there and ended up playing a great match.

Q. All Agassi watches are talking about the Davis Cup. Every American tennis fan wants you to play. You went from, "I've addressed that already," to, "I'm focusing on this now," with the reports coming out...

ANDRE AGASSI: I've addressed it. I've been pretty clear about it. I'm sure you've heard it 100 times.

Q. The reports out are not true?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know what reports are out. You've heard it straight from the horse's mouth. It's not something that I've entertained the thought of.

Q. Going back to the match in Adelaide, apart from the fact that he was young, I believe it was a hot day. Did you just think you were essentially going to take care of this quickly and get inside?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know how quickly I was going to take care of it. I was coming back from 140 in the world at the time. That was my first tournament in 1998. I think I was 110 or something. I was pretty nervous just to be back in the semis. It was a tough match. I was like 0 for 17 on break points. We didn't break each other the whole match. He beat me 6 and 6. It was a hot day and it was good tennis.

Q. What do you appreciate most about Hewitt's style of play, and what similarities do you see between his game and your game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I suppose just his overall movement and shot selection. He's a disciplined tennis player. He makes good decisions out there. He moves really well. Those are probably his two biggest strengths. Similarities to me, that's hard for me to be objective about that. I would have no idea. He has two hands on the backhand, one hand on the forehand and he likes to hit the baseline.

Q. How would you rate the quality of your game right now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Pretty good. Tonight was certainly an opportunity for that to be tested. Felt like I ended better than I started, which is a good sign against a guy that's playing the way Max was.

Q. What do you think of the matchup of Sampras and Roddick tomorrow night? What do you think it will depend on?

ANDRE AGASSI: I know they've played a couple times, but I think the biggest advantage that Andy has is his second serve. His second serve is -- gives Pete a lot of problems because it's big and Pete's never really been -- that's never been Pete's strength to his game. You know, how it goes is tough to say. Pete plays -- he's gonna play the big points well. If the sets get close, I think Pete will say daylight. But Andy has the game and the guns to keep that from happening. So it will be hard to make a prediction. Your guess would be as good as mine.

Q. Could you clarify that on the second serve, I didn't understand you?

ANDRE AGASSI: His second serve will be a huge weapon against Pete. Pete's never been known to be a great returner. That's -- Pete looks to put pressure on your second to impose himself, and that's going to be hard for him to do. But it could be one of those matches where two guys are taking care of their serves for three hours. Then each set boils down to some subtleties that you could flip a coin.

Q. Greg Rusedski the other night said Pete's return of serve was much, much weaker; that there wasn't a fear factor towards Pete and he had lost a step and a half. Pretty much a feeling that Pete was no longer an elite-level player who could win this tournament. Could you reflect on those comments?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I think those are bold statements coming from a guy that's lost nine out of ten matches against him (laughter). I don't quite assess it that way.

Q. Greg also said that he, himself, needed to add arrogance to his game. That was the key for him to have more success. How can he add that to his game?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. We all have to make choices in our own lives to how we want to conduct ourselves professionally and personally. If arrogance is what Greg's focused on, I'm not sure I hope he accomplishes it.

Q. What have you seen from Pete's run here so far?

ANDRE AGASSI: What do you mean?

Q. So far at the US Open, given his poor performance this year, what do you think he's been showing at the Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think the first few matches he was a lot more tentative but had the fire power and the matchups to get through a couple matches. I noticed him really start to execute his shot andd not be scared to go for it. Against Greg, I thought he stepped up at the right times and took his game at his opponent. Then last night with Tommy, it was the same thing. He wasn't waiting for Tommy to miss a ball; he was taking his first opportunity and exploding on it, whether it be with his movement or getting in or letting it fly with a forehand. He was taking chances on the second serve. I think that's when he's playing his best.

Q. How will you spend the next couple days?

ANDRE AGASSI: I haven't really worked that out yet.

Q. Are you likely to go to Ground Zero? How are you likely to generally figure it out?

ANDRE AGASSI: Probably feed Jaden a couple times, change his diaper, look after him a little bit, give Stef a break.

Q. Will you be inside mostly?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. I don't know. I'll get out here, practice and try to enjoy myself and not forget that there are two days of my life that I don't want to just let go by without enjoying.

Q. If you run out of safety pins changing diapers, are you going to ask Lleyton for those old safety pins from the old match?

ANDRE AGASSI: You're asking that question for your sake, right (laughter)? You don't really want an answer, right? You just wanted to hear yourself ask that (laughter).

Q. On a related theme...

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm just giving you a hard time (smiling).

Q. I'm sure you know and probably read, Lleyton as a young player, you were completely his idol. He tried to emulate you in every way he could. Is that a strange thing now, because you're still out here at an elite level athlete, to have a young kid playing you in the semifinal of the US Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sure, it's a big compliment. Whenever I go out somewhere and I hear somebody tell me that one of the biggest compliments I could get, as well as one of the biggest shockers I can get is when somebody tells me, "I've been watching you my whole life. I grew up..." I'm like please stop right there. I don't need to hear anymore, how long I've been playing. But, yeah, it's always the ultimate compliment when your peer has a certain amount of respect for what you've done and what you're doing. But I look at Lleyton not through those eyes but through the eyes of a professional who has to address him as a professional. He has a lot to respect out there. So I need to pay attention to that.

Q. Considering the year he's had, Pete's run here, does it surprise you? Were you waiting for this to happen?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think in this sport any time you go a period of time without winning, it gets harder and harder and harder. So I think it would be an accurate statement to say that I'm surprised with how he's turned it on here, or impressed. But maybe surprised is too strong of a word.

Q. Against Lleyton do you think you'll have to take more chances in your game in terms of stroking?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you know, it's a fine line you walk against somebody like Lleyton. Because you want to certainly take some chances, but you can't afford to take unnecessary risks. I think that's the balance that you always try to walk when you're out there against these guys. You want to control points, but you don't want to press and it's about playing the right shot at the right time.

Q. You pride yourself on wearing people down in matches, making them move. Can you do that with someone like him, where he doesn't seem to get tired? He seems to run everything down.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I don't know. We've never played for four hours. I'm not worried about his side of the court as much as I want to be making sure I'm executing my game the way I can.

End of FastScripts….

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