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December 3, 2000

Andre Agassi


MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Can you tell us exactly what you think of Kuerten's achievement, what he's just achieved?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, like I was just saying a little bit ago, there's really only a few great things to accomplish in this sport: winning all the Slams, Davis Cup, the gold medal, finishing the year No. 1. Today he accomplished a truly great thing.

Q. Yourself personally, what memories will you take away from your few days in Portugal?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I think it's been some uplifting tennis, certainly a level of tennis that has made me realize that I can get a lot better. You know, some nice memories here. It will hopefully be a good stepping stone to a good start next year.

Q. Apart from a rest, what is your program going into the Australian next year?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, nothing really except for the event that I always play before in Kooyong. You know, it's the time of the year that guys use it hopefully to recover. You know, I'm in a different position. I feel ready to go. I'll do some good training this December, hopefully go down to Australia ready to go. I mean, that's certainly a place that I play well, the court and everything, the conditions suit my style of play. I'll be looking forward to that.

Q. What happened today? Yesterday you looked a lot faster. Was there some physical problem? Was Guga too strong?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, apparently so. What am I supposed to say, he wasn't too strong? You know, when somebody gets a lead first game of the match and it allows him to hit out on their shots, he was playing very aggressive, keeping the points from getting too long. The opportunities I had to get into the match by either breaking his serve and going up in the second set or by breaking back in the first set Love-40, I mean, I don't know, eight or ten breakpoints, and I think he missed one first serve. I think I got one ball in play on my opportunities to really make the match close. Once the match tightens up, a guy can't just swing for the fences anymore; he has to really think about what he's doing. You know, that would have given me a certain boost, too. I was trying to stay tight on my game and make sure I didn't give him too much respect with my shots because I didn't want to just start making mistakes. But in hindsight now, I should have played a lot bigger. But a lot had to do with him. He got the lead and he executed well. His backhand was getting out of my strike zone. The only way to really adjust to that would have been to pound some forehands. But I tried to stay disciplined. My game never came alive because the opportunities I had never -- I never converted.

Q. The guy is obviously playing hurt. He played hurt against you in the round-robins. Big treatment on court in the semis, back brace, pain killers. How much of an achievement is it for him to come through in those sort of circumstances?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, to beat the best players in the world hurt, he is very good.

Q. Do you think we're maybe heading next year for a golden year on the tour in as much as you have obviously exciting players like Guga and Safin, and obviously this week both yourself and Pete have shown that there's still plenty left in your lockers, as well, to have sort of four of you going at it like that might be something that we've not had for a few years?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I think time will tell ultimately. I think what Safin and Kuerten have accomplished this year; they have established certainly a level of accomplishment that makes them a threat in a lot of years to come. You have to execute it, you know. I think, you know, time will tell on that one for all of us. I like both their games. They both have real good games. I like Hewitt's game, too. I think he has a real good game. I think there's a real opportunity for some great tennis next year. But when, you know, a younger player steps up and starts doing it year after year, then you can say he's there. But right now, it was an outstanding year for Guga. He's going to be a threat going into Australia, but he's going to have to step up. You know, I think he can. But only time will tell.

Q. Did you call Steffi to tell her these results?

ANDRE AGASSI: Are you being serious right now? Do you actually have like a journalist license? Do you actually write?

Q. What impressed you most in Guga's game?


Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I thought he served incredibly well on the biggest of points. I mean, he served well the whole match. When I had him Love-30, he came up with some big serves. When I had breakpoints, I mean, I haven't seen the stats yet, but out of eight or ten breakpoints, he missed only one first serve. On that point, he hit a backhand that I thought he missed, and it hit the tape and came over. If you don't get the ball in play on the few opportunities you have, it's hard to really -- it's hard to win. A lot had to do with the way he stepped up and went for his shots. I mean, he not only served well, he took his chances. That you've got to give him credit for.

Q. Did you feel surprised with the reaction of the public at the end of the match, they all step up and applaud you? Did you feel surprised?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I think it's always overwhelming when you feel that kind of support and appreciation. You know, you just never know how many times you're going to be out there playing. You certainly don't know how many times you'll be back here playing, especially. It's always a special moment when that happens.

Q. As far as you know him, could you tell us how is he as a person, in the lockers, between you players?

ANDRE AGASSI: Who is that?

Q. Guga.

ANDRE AGASSI: He's a good guy. I mean, he's been nothing but nice to me. He seems very easygoing. The rest is his business to share.

Q. Certainly Kuerten has picked up the year-end world No. 1 ranking now, but if you were to select a Player of the Year, who would it be between Kuerten and Safin?

ANDRE AGASSI: There was four Grand Slams and four winners, so that's the first criterion you've got to start with. You have to put us on an even playing field, all of us, myself, Kuerten, Safin and Pete. Then you look at -- you know, the stats don't lie. I mean, he probably played a little bit less than Safin and finished No. 1, by winning in a situation where he had to, and by beating Pete and myself, and by losing the first match. I mean, we both win four matches this week. He just lost his first one and won the next four. That's a good one to do it. When you size all that up, it's well-earned on his part.

End of FastScripts….

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