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June 29, 2006

Andre Agassi


THE MODERATOR: Who's first?

Q. How do you feel you were playing out there today?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, that was a considerable improvement. I felt much better today. Felt pretty good.
I mean, you know, the game was -- I was in a better rhythm. The game was a lot slower. It's always a good sign when you're seeing things unfold and playing at a tempo that you feel like you're dictating.

Q. When you walked on the court for your first match, you said you were a little nervous because of the ovation. How about the second time around?
ANDRE AGASSI: Today was just nervous wanting to play well. I mean, you know, it's been too long, as far as I'm concerned, since I've just felt good and was in a place where I could at least enjoy what's going on out there, the competition and the focus. So that's been my goal, just to find my game so I can at least bring it. Today, I was a lot closer to that.

Q. At this point we don't know who your next opponent will be. But if it's Rafael Nadal, what sort of matchup do you think that is in terms of style? What do you take from your experiences last summer against him?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's a whole different set of environment here, circumstances. I mean, in Montreal, it was a very fast, high-bouncing court, you know. His ball was just ugly. I mean, it was -- if you weren't stepping forward and timing it well, it was all over you. It wasn't comfortable at all. Here, you know, obviously the ball doesn't bounce as high which hopefully will allow me to set a little bit more my ground strokes.
But, listen, he's very confident, great competitor. Needless to say, very talented and fit. So it's gonna be a hard match.

Q. What do you think about Seppi and his game, his attitude on the court?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, well, I thought it was a high standard match. He has a very good backhand that he can hit in both directions. He can keep it really low so it's difficult to, you know, do a lot with his backhand. He moves very well on the court. He competes hard. The third set could have got away from him but he stayed in there and he made me have to finish it out. I'm sure this isn't his best surface, or most favorite, but I thought he played really well.

Q. Do you know anything about Robert Kendrick?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, just the little I've seen him play, I know he has a pretty big game, lets it fly. Coming through qualifying here, he's obviously going to be confident if he can find a way to get over this finish line, which is probably still a mile away.

Q. I was talking to Pete the other night on the phone and he said, If Andre wins a couple matches here, that's a good sign for him, that means watch out, he'll get his game back in gear pretty quickly. How do you feel about that?
ANDRE AGASSI: For me, it's never been about the movement -- I mean, sorry, about the ball-striking. It's always been about the movement. If I have the rotation in my back and I'm turning and I'm giving myself a chance to generate without having to be on top of the ball, that allows me to sort of watch what's unfolding and then sort of dictate from there.
But if I don't have that, I mean, not only is it a much lower standard of tennis that I'm playing, but the bottom falls out of me mentally, too, because I just don't have much interest in forcing everything out there. That's not the way I've known the game, you know?
And today was a great sign for me, you know. The game slowed down, I was turning. So if I'm doing that well, then it gives me a chance to execute what I can do. That's what I hope to bring. I just hope I'm able to make somebody deal with what I can do well. Today was the first sign that I've actually had that it could come around.

Q. Few other players have seen more changes in the game of tennis. You said the other day that you had to make adjustments over the years. Could you step back for a moment and talk to us about what adjustments you have made since the early days of Jimmy and John and Ivan?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think, first of all, just a fitness level. I mean, that has only increased over the years. I mean, you know, Jimmy Connors was 5'9". Now you've got guys routinely that are 6'3" and above. It's rare that you play somebody under that to be quite honest. The physicality of the game has changed dramatically. Compare Nadal at just turned 20 to me when I just turned 20. It's a sport that has started to figure out that the stronger and more physical you are, the more capable you are as an athlete, you know.
So I sort of was on to that probably earlier than most in reference to building my strength and the base that sort of was the foundation of my game. I think as a result of that, I served bigger than I ever used to, I'm able to handle pace better so as the game got faster, I could just shorten my swing a touch. I got smarter with my shots. I've had to get more aggressive. It used to be where I could just sort of run people around until they fell into the ground, until they physically -- but guys are just too strong now. They can keep you from doing that because they're gonna take their chance, you know.
It's a different game than it's been in the past.

Q. And for the fun of it, how would Andre Agassi of today handle Andre Agassi as a 20-year-old? Would it be a pretty fast match?
ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, you know, I want to hope so but, you know, you make me not be able to rotate or lunge or give me some of the ailments that I've had to deal with over the last few years and you stick me on the wrong day, and it could be pain for Andre - whichever one you're talking about. Depends what day I'm having, you know. It's been a lot of that for me. Today was much better physically, and it allows me to move and to get to more balls and to make my opponent feel good. But I want to believe that I've gotten better over the years. This year is a bit of an exception. I haven't found my best, that's for sure.

Q. How much were you hurting at the end of the match the other day?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's not just necessarily pain. It can manifest itself there. There's a limit to the range I have now. The tightness, you know, can build and then it limits my ability to turn, which means I have to sort of catch everything in front which means I have to sort of lean and start guessing and I start looking very slow out there, you know.
But when I can sort of rotate and hit a few balls open stance and still generate something on the ball, it allows me to sit on my heals more, have better balance, wait to see what's gonna happen, and it's a whole different experience for me out there.

Q. Have you been genuinely taken by surprise at the emotional reception you've had in your two matches here from the crowds?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, it means the world to me. I mean, I have. I missed three years early on, and when I came back I was very sort of overwhelmed with the way they received me after, you know, me not playing for three years. Then to miss it for the last two and to come back, they haven't changed. I want to get out there and do something special for them, you know. I want to play well. I want to be my best. You know, that can bring out the best in me or sometimes it can make me struggle a bit more than I want to.

Q. After both matches you've been signing autographs. You can see the sea of faces around, people obviously making comments to you. Have there been interesting ones? Is it nice, what people are saying to you as you're signing the autograph?
ANDRE AGASSI: "Don't retire" has been the common one. I keep telling them, "Talk to my family about that." "Talk to my body about that," too.

Q. You talked in the past about regretting not going to Australia earlier. Does the same sort of thinking apply to the early years here at Wimbledon?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, there's big regrets. You can't win if you don't play. You know, I've missed out on a lot of chances. Down in Australia for nearly the first 10 years, you know, and it's turned out to be probably my most ideal surface, especially as the years went on, you know.
And here, I mean, I wouldn't have realistically been in the mix those three years that I missed, but you never know. That experience could always help you to win more, you know, and I didn't have it. So I do regret it.

Q. How are you recovering between matches?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, so far good, you know. I haven't had to go back-to-back days, which is always nice. Yeah, I felt great coming out here today. I'm gonna try to repeat everything I did and hope for the best.

Q. What are the most impressive aspects of Nadal's game to you when you see him perform?
ANDRE AGASSI: His speed. The way he moves on the court really forces you to -- he's always playing with high margins because he can cover so much, you know. He's very aggressive, too, but he's aggressive with considerable margin because he doesn't have to end the point. If you get one away, he's gonna track it down. If you come in, he's gonna get it down knowing that he's gonna cover your first volley. His movement is probably his greatest asset. And his mind, you know, I mean, his concentration, his determination. That is a big weapon, too.
When he gets a hold of a point, he doesn't let it go, you know. You see a lot of great players that once they take over a point that it's good night, point's over. You'll never get the point back from me. That's what he does really well. Once he gets on top of a point, he squeezes it every time.

Q. What do you see as the biggest challenge in him in becoming a stellar grass court player?
ANDRE AGASSI: Anything I would talk about would sort of be just on paper stuff because I haven't really watched him play here and see what he's struggling with, see how he's setting up the point, see his shot selection, or to see the difficulties he's having hitting his shots or the result of his shots, if they have the same impact or not, in which ways he could sort of make up for that. He's 20 years old. I mean, you know, he has some time to figure it out. The fact that he's called this the tournament he wants to win just speaks volumes for his mindset.

Q. Could you discuss Kendrick. They're in the fifth. He's a guy who's really an outsider, serve and volley player.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I don't know a lot about him. I'm counting on Darren's assessment here as he watches this unfold.

Q. You were just asked about whether you were surprised about the response here. Looking back over the career, in terms of surprise, is there an element or development or result that you were most surprised by in all these years?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I've had my share of victories here and losses, you know. I mean, feel like I've had a full spectrum of them. I had two matches in the semis, one against Boris, one against Rafter where the match was well in my control that sort of got away from me. Those I look back as disappointments. My first-round loss on Court 2 I look back as a disappointment. The opportunity to be in the finals those two times, two more chances to win.

Q. Not to be a downer, but do they equal the loss to Courier at the French, or is that still your most...
ANDRE AGASSI: That was -- that was -- I forgot about that and 1999. But if I hadn't won in 1999, it doesn't equal that, no.

Q. Your back today, it sounds like it feels better, it's less tight than it was in your first-round match. Is that progress, or you wake up every morning and you don't really know what to expect?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's sort of what I've been talking about this whole time being here, you know. It's been a lot of two steps forward, you know, one step back. Sometimes vice versa, you know.
So, yeah, there's an accumulation factor that I always have to worry about. The same time, if I build it properly and I get the right breaks, I don't put too much wear and tear too early, I can nurture this along. I haven't played a lot of matches yet, three out of five. I mean, to come into the grass court and to play three out of five, this isn't -- I don't expect it to be easy, and it hasn't been.
But I want to get through this with playing my best tennis, you know. Just as long as I can do the things enough that I can concentrate on what I'm bringing to the table, and today I could do that. So I do have high hopes for my next match.

Q. Was there a sense that you didn't really want to lose on Court 1 today? If it is going to end whenever it does end here, you really want it to be on Centre rather than No. 1?
ANDRE AGASSI: I'm not thinking so much about this being the last time as much as that's got me even more focused on hoping I get my game together and play well, you know. That's been my worry, is playing well. I want to play well. I always want to play well, but especially now. I want to -- I still want to win, you know. I still want to be out there giving people something to root for.
So today my nerves were that, you know. I wasn't thinking about losing, I was thinking about how I was gonna win.

End of FastScripts...

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