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April 7, 2000

John McEnroe

Andre Agassi

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, A. AGASSI/ S. Dosedel 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

USTA: Questions?

Q. Andre, what was the story of the match from your point of view?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, Slava's a very talented player and explosive player and likes to certainly take you out of your rhythm. I knew he'd come out there and try to take the first ball as early as possible, go up the line, get in, and get me a little on my heels. I knew I had to remain solid, especially from the get, and establish a good work ethic out there that he was going to have to work hard to win the points and he's going to have to hit more than one good shot to win the point. On top of being able to do that, I just managed to get the break, get the lead, stay in control of the match, start to finish.

Q. Did it feel any different having to go in with Pete having lost than what you probably expected, him to win?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it certainly feels different before I get out there. I mean, you know, you never like to be down 1-0, but you got a job to do and it requires complete focus. And so I just kind of found myself trying not to think too much about Pete's match and click over to the golf in there and get my mind off of it.

Q. You're undefeated playing for the current captain. What's it like playing for John, and is it a help in your game?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I'm not playing for John. We're playing for the country, you know. We're out here doing something together, and it's just a great opportunity to be first-hand with a champion who knows what it's like to be in the thickest of situations in the Davis Cup. A lot of confidence I have in him; he knows how to stay out of the way if things are going well, he knows how to get me refocused if things slip a little bit, and certainly has an appreciation for exactly what's happening out there with no mistakes about it.

Q. Andre, since you've been in somewhat of a slump the last couple of months, what elements of your game were working today that might not have been working over the last couple of months?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, explain to me about my slump here. (Laughter.) Not winning everything? You know, it's not easy to be at your best week after week after week, and I'll tell everybody right now it's not going to happen that way. So you have to make sure that you are in position to be at your best for the times that you want to really -- where you really need it. And Davis Cup, certainly, is a high-energy environment, brings out the best in you, and you can't afford to be the slightest bit off. But it's not about caring. It's not about trying. It's about being fit and ready and fresh and rested, and that's not easy to do in a sport that doesn't have an off-season, and there's a lot of times you're not at your best. You saw me last week beat up after three days in a row in the sun; it didn't take but a little bit to be off to really feel embarrassed on the court. You saw it today with Pete, it doesn't take much. There's big problems. It's the nature of the sport.

Q. John, could you take us through the lows and highs of today from your point of view?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think it's pretty clear. We potentially could have gotten off to a real good start. Pete started out reasonably strong, had some opportunities in the first set, 15-40, Love-40, you know, easily could have won the first set, and even into the second had Love-40, but from then on it went downhill. But the good news is that Andre was really focused and ready to go and had a lot of energy, and that's, you know, one thing I'll try to talk to Pete about obviously, is to try to get the energy up. Particularly when things are going poorly. You know, myself included, to try to figure out how I can do better. It's a similar situation. It's the first time I had the opportunity to sit with him in a different position than being a doubles player or an opponent, and it was difficult to know what to do. It was shocking, a shocking situation. It wasn't expected, and I didn't, you know, perhaps I should have expected Novak to play that well. But I didn't foresee that, and we'll just have to -- there was a danger of me actually relaxing a little bit if we had gotten up 2-Love. So that was quickly dispelled. They want to make sure I don't sleep a whole lot.

Q. Was there a change in strategy in playing, knowing you're playing down?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: No, not at all. Andre's been there since the beginning for me, and he comes out when he plays with a lot of intensity in practice, and in particular when he's around people here. And he just felt like he was just chomping at the bit when he got out there finally, and, technically, he was really, really good today. And Dosedel played well. I mean, Dosedel has really -- is a weird type of -- you know, he does some strange things that can cause you to be off balance. But Andre adjusted very well, and now the focus is on trying to get these two other fellas ready for the doubles and Andre ready, and then if need be, have Pete ready for the fifth match.

Q. Andre, is that your best performance since Australia?

ANDRE AGASSI: I felt -- considering the situation, you always want to go out there and be rock-solid in an environment that potentially can get uncomfortable quickly. And so because of the arena that I was in there, being Davis Cup, I feel like that was the best I've played. I mean, I've played some good tennis at certain times, but start to finish, since Australia, that was the best. You know, my game is built around my work ethic out there and my discipline and really hustling, because when I'm in position, I can then bring out the variety in my shots. And if I can do that point after point after point, it's -- it really -- it really is difficult for my opponent to stay with me after a while. But if I'm a little not-so-confident or if I'm a little on my heels or a little flat or not moving well, I mean, I take way too big of a cut not to be in position and I can make some errors, and that's a big problem. So today was a great way for me to get back to the meat and potatoes of my game.

Q. Andre, you talked about being physically and mentally fit for a match. Is that part of the reason, your preparation, of not coming out for the opening ceremony - you had to really concentrate? Or did you get to see them at all?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, what opening ceremony are you talking about?

Q. The fireworks and all that kind of stuff.

ANDRE AGASSI: They had fireworks today? (Laughter.) What is she talking about?

Q. When they announced the players coming out, you didn't come out.

ANDRE AGASSI: Before the match?

Q. Yeah.

ANDRE AGASSI: How the hell did I play if I didn't walk out there?

Q. Before Pete's match.

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, oh, oh --

Q. The opening ceremony.

ANDRE AGASSI: I wasn't aware that -- I thought that all happens on Saturday. Did we change that?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: What happened was that there's a ceremony on Saturday, but there was something Friday. But this was --

ANDRE AGASSI: I had no idea.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I had no idea. So... Blame it on me. Certainly don't blame it on Andre. I was told about ten minutes before, then they're like, "You mean Andre's not coming?" If anyone's at fault, it's me for not knowing this beforehand that there was actually something where they were going to announce all the players. At the same time, I wouldn't have recommended Andre being here for the very reason you stated, to focus on the match. He's practicing from 10 to 10:30, he shouldn't wait another hour and a half, then go back and wait another couple of hours in the locker room.

ANDRE AGASSI: I was here from 10 to 10:30, went back, got ready, did what I thought was my only responsibility for the day.

Q. John, in terms of getting a player's energy up, motivating a player, is it harder to do that with a great player like Pete or Andre because you're always sitting there expecting them to suddenly turn around and play the way you expect them to than, let's say, a guy like Woodruff in Zimbabwe?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think you're right. I mean, I think when you're talking about players such as the two you mentioned, you're talking about two of the greatest players who have played the game of tennis. That's one reason why there's pressure on these guys, because you expect them to play as well as they can play, or you're at least hoping. It's not easy to know how to motivate sometimes when you're around them all the time, and particularly when you're not around them that often. As I said, the first time I've been -- that I sat next to Pete as a coach was today. It was a situation where certainly I feel like I could have done better. There's no question. I feel similar, in a sense, to what happened when Chris was down in Zimbabwe. It's more surprising than even that. But having gone through it, I should have been more prepared for it, you know, because I've sat and talked with you guys. We sat around a table and said, "One of the reasons why Davis Cup is so great is because weird things happen." Well that was a, you know, to me, a very weird thing. You know, it was unusual to see that happen. It really was. I didn't expect that to happen. And I don't think anyone expected it to happen, to be honest. But that's why sports are so great.

Q. Andre, it's beginning to seem as if your match against Novak is going to be pretty meaningful this weekend. Do you have much of a history against him, and if you do, how have you fared?

ANDRE AGASSI: Played in Australia in 1998, I beat him 6-3, 7-6, 6-0, then we played last summer in Cincinnati, and I beat him 6 and 6. So we're pretty familiar with each other's game and I certainly have a healthy respect for how solid of a player he is, and I think he proved that today.

Q. John, were you more surprised by Novak's ability to sustain a high level of play for three sets, or Pete's inability to really get himself into the third set?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Andre made a great point before, if you have an off day when you're playing players that are even 40 in the world, that's -- it could be problems. Having said that, I was surprised he could sustain that. I haven't seen him. I know he's dangerous. See, what he did was what I -- the one thing that I was afraid of, is that he sort of goes around and doesn't -- his effort level is there, but it doesn't sort of appear that it is. Sort of just floats around and slaps at balls and Pete, at least probably 20 times, where, you know, he hit a ball and maybe thought, like, Novak wasn't even going to get to it, suddenly a real difficult passing shot came back. I think if he had just been a little bit more prepared for some of those balls, he would have done better. I mean, for example, at 4-1 in the tiebreaker in the first set, Novak hit a shot that just, like, a floating backhand-like angle, and I don't even think Pete expected it to come over. I think that was the nail in the coffin for that set because instead of being 4-2, changing sides, maybe a little bit of momentum, if Pete had stuck with that, but I think he was surprised that it came back, number one, and that he had to stay with it a little longer. I mean he just -- I think we were both caught a little bit off guard. So we're not going to make that mistake again. And, you know, I certainly -- you know, I got to say, this guy here, I appreciate this guy because so much is being asked of him, and people act, like, surprised. I mean, he came off the Australian Open, won that, we were down in Zimbabwe. I mean he's just, you know, it's from the -- it's like the schedule's insane. So he just has to sort of -- people have to sort of realize that this is the type of situation that brings out the best in Andre. You know, he's saving himself for me and Davis Cup. (Laughter.) The hell with those other tournaments. (Laughter.) I'll let him win the other majors, that's okay.

Q. This is for both you guys. Is there a dynamic to playing on a team that some players are just better at anyway?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: There's no question. You know, Andre is --

Q. What is that then?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: If I knew the answer to that, I'd pick the perfect team every time. But one guy's this guy, I can guarantee you that. Because he's a team guy in addition to being a great player. And he motivates the other players. So we're going to find a way to win this thing, because I think at the end of the day it's, you know, it's different. You know, being here is great. On the one hand, it's great to be in LA, but also it's -- people are sort of a little bit more spread out than perhaps you are when you're in Zimbabwe where you have to stay in Room 1004 the whole time you're there.

Q. Can Andre answer that, too.

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't actually follow your question.

Q. Is the dynamic of playing for a team different, and are there some players that are just more suited to being on a team than others?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, I think really at the end of the day, we still have to go out there and play the same individual one-on-one sport that we've played 52 weeks a year. So the question really isn't, you know, how we necessarily respond with each other as a team, it's how you step up when you're asked to do what you do. Now, there are added benefits to a team environment which go way beyond your match, and I think some people, like I'm sure peers in your work, are just more enjoyable to be around. (Laughter.)

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Want to name names there and help us out? (Laughter.)

Q. John, how much does this change the dynamic or the burden on the doubles team for tomorrow to be 1-1 instead of what you expected

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: That doesn't take Albert Einstein to answer that. This has obviously become -- every match is going to be a lot more important. But, you know, that's what it's all about. I mean, this is why Davis Cup is different than the tournaments. I mean, you've seen -- you're seeing that once again. Here it is, we're expected to be up 2-Love, we're in a dogfight, and we have to try to figure out a way to bring out the best in these guys and we have to make sure that Andre's ready to step it up first match on Sunday and, if need be, Pete to do it in a fifth match. So this is -- this is -- you don't need any more explanation than what you witnessed today. Who would have thought that Pete would have lost the way that he did? I really am really surprised that that happened.

Q. How are you going to repump Pete?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Give me a couple days. I'll talk to you then about it. It's a big secret. (Laughter.)

End of FastScripts….

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