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September 2, 1999

Andre Agassi


USTA: Questions for Andre, please.

Q. Andre, McEnroe said off TV that looked like a little more than an extended practice session for you. Do you agree?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I guess in hindsight you can look back and say, okay, well it's good it didn't take a whole lot out of me, but, you know, there's always a level of intensity that goes along with a match, especially at the US Open that always makes it feel difficult, you know. And I mean the second set was a lot closer than it seemed. I was down Love-30 the first game, fifth, 30-0, I think twice, I was down Love-40 first and then another game I was down break point. Those are playing the big points well and turning a set that could have been difficult into a 6-2 set.

Q. Andre, you won one game three times. Do you get extra ATP points for that?

ANDRE AGASSI: It felt that way. Was I right about those calls?

Q. Yes.

ANDRE AGASSI: Good. That's good to know.

Q. Does that actually help you keep the concentration going in what could have been a bit of a stroll?

ANDRE AGASSI: What's that?

Q. The bad line calls.

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I prefer good line calls no matter what the situation is. (Laughter) . But, you know, you do have to focus a little bit extra hard when you feel like you have that emotional kind of -- you kind of relax a little bit thinking you won the game. Then when you don't, you have to regroup all over again and that's tough. It only takes a point or two to turn a set around.

Q. Now that you've had some time to think about it, does the US Open this year feel a little bit different with Sampras and Rafter gone?

ANDRE AGASSI: Sure, it does.

Q. The intensity, is it hard to keep the intensity up?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. It's not hard to get the intensity but it feels different. I think they add to the -- add a lot to the game of tennis, they add a lot to the tournament. The tournament misses them. It's still going to be a good Open and I'll do my part.

Q. Even though they're not in your draw -- (inaudible)

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I felt like there's a great chance just being here, regardless if they're in the US Open or not. It's going to boil down to how well you play at the right times. And to be quite honest, it's hard to think matches ahead. I know it's easy sometimes from the outside to think matches ahead, but for the players, it's truly match -- much more than just a cliche. Every match is so important.

Q. Does it change your mindset any though going from one of the favorites to suddenly everybody's got you as the favorite?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not really. Because I mean opinions don't matter a whole lot, you know? They really don't, not when it comes down to getting it on out there on the court. All it takes is for one bad match for US Open dreams to be squashed. I'm not confused as to what's required to win any match, regardless who it is that I'm playing.

Q. How well do you feel you're playing right now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Real well. Real well. Real well.

Q. Have you ever been able to make a correlation between playing real well and winning tournaments?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no, no, it doesn't take much for it to change. Doesn't take much. I don't mean with me, I just mean with sports. A few windows of opportunity, somebody can take advantage out of -- you can have an off day. It's hard to play seven great matches. So a difficult match is coming, and I'm mentally focused enough to deal with that, and hopefully get through it.

Q. Andre, when people comment on your game, a lot of times people will focus on your eye-hand coordination, which is said to be exceptional. Can you talk about that for a moment? Is that something you're born with? Do you work on that or something? How has that developed? Can you talk about a little bit?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think you have to be born with a certain amount of it and then it has to be nurtured, right? I mean you could have great eye-hand, but if your fundamentals don't allow you to take advantage out of the fact that you have quick hands, that's a problem. If you have the wrong grip and you have big swings, just because you see the ball and just because you have quick hands doesn't mean you can stand on the baseline and pick it up. It's a combination of me being certainly blessed with a level of hand speed, but also a lot of other things that have fallen right. I have fundamentals that allow me to show that.

Q. Specifically grip or what fundamentals?

ANDRE AGASSI: I would say starting with grip. I would also say starting with also having a big racket helps a lot. I would also say having short back swings, ability to shorten up my swing. My execution is on the follow-through and my backswing only changes if I have more time. My follow-through always stays the same. So they're fundamentals. I have, you know, good foot work as well, that's also important because, you know, I always seem to -- when I'm around the ball, to put my feet in a proper position.

Q. At the French, you said you came in with lower expectations and built as you went on. At Wimbledon, you never knew quite what was going to happen on the grass. When you come in here after a really solid summer, what kind of expectations do you put on yourself approaching the tournament?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, expectations you put on yourself is one thing, and expecting yourself to win is another thing. You know, I mean I feel like for me I can say that I'll be disappointed if I don't win here because I want to so bad. But you also come in well aware of the fact that you can't expect to win. You have to just expect to control the things you can, which is your preparation and how hard you work out there and how much you focus and how you allow yourself to execute. And those are where my expectations lie. They lie in sticking to what it is I know how to do the best. And so far, I'm very happy with my game and how I'm giving myself the chance here. But it's still early and there's a lot to do.

Q. Do you have a feeling that you're striking the ball as clean or cleaner than you have all summer? It was getting better and better.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, no question about it.

Q. Is it my imagination or are you serving yourself out of trouble much more than you did two years ago?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, serving out of trouble, I'm playing the big points well. I think that's a reflection of confidence and playing a lot of matches. I'm also serving well in big situations and I'm -- overall, my game is just -- it's right where I would like it to be.

Q. It also seems a little bit, early in the year you were missing some shots by a couple inches and now you're just making them by a couple inches. What accounts for that?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, when you're moving -- when I'm moving well, that allows me options and allows me margin for error because I don't have to play so big and so close to the line. And a lot of times when I hit the ball an inch from the line I've missed the shot a little bit. I'm not aiming for the line, even though that's why I put them there. I'm giving myself margin for error knowing even if the guy gets there, does something, I'm still moving well enough to stay on the offense and keep control of the point. If you do that long enough, if you're always taking quality shots, you're going to make a lot. It's like the open three, if you just keep shooting it and letting the shot go, you're going to start hit a lot.

Q. Rios is on your side of the draw, you could potentially face him in the quarters. Is he still a player to fear? He's played well today but he's been on the shelf most of the year.

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he's a really talented player. He can certainly put together some great tennis. A lot of guys are to be feared, you know. To me, that's all part of the respect that goes in to playing great tennis, given the respect where it's deserved. Everybody has their strengths, and Rios is talented and has a lot of ways to hurt you.

Q. At one point on the baseline you were right on top of the ball. Do you think there's any place for instant replay in tennis?

ANDRE AGASSI: I didn't follow that.

Q. The one you were right on top of you, you went up and argued with the umpire, you were looking right over top of the ball. Is there any place in major tournaments for instant replay?

ANDRE AGASSI: They would need a stationary camera on every line. On TV, everything looks closer than it is. If the ball is an inch out, it actually looks good on TV. If it's four inches, it looks like it barely missed. So they would need one of those, you know, what do they call them, Mac Cams or something, just on every line. And then, you know, that certainly seems like it would get it done, but you have to experiment with that.

Q. Back on the Rios question, when you lost an important match to a player in a major tournament, maybe not a Grand Slam but a super nine, is that match out of your mind? Are you drawing some sort of motivation from the loss when you play a player again the next time?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, more than the loss or the win, it's about matchups and how you play it. And what you're capable of what you did. And I'm certainly a different player than I was a year or two years ago. There's no question about it. So in that respect, it doesn't really matter a whole lot. You know, I feel like with the way I'm hitting the ball, the way I'm moving, if I continually execute my shots that anybody's going to have to play -- somebody's going to have to play a pretty good match to beat me. That's what I'm hoping for.

Q. What do you think the difference is -- you were playing pretty good tennis at the Lipton. What do you think the difference is between now and that point?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, I wasn't playing good tennis in big situations last year. I wasn't at all. I was a lot more tentative when I needed to execute, and I don't think I was moving as well as I am now.

Q. To get to the final at Lipton was, like, smoke and mirrors a little bit?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. No. But I wouldn't call, you know, semifinals of Lipton, the quarterfinals of the Open. When you're on the verge of winning a tournament, it's different, you know, the Finals is bigger than the semis. While I was hitting the ball well and working hard, there's still something to be said for those moments that you get that really separate yourself from other players who are playing the best. He was playing the best in the world at the time, and I played like I just respected that a little bit too much.

Q. Andre, can you talk about your next match, maybe your preference of which of the guys and why?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'm always a little biased to the American players, but, you know, it's going to be a good match. They're both -- they have the same, similar kind of game so far as they look to come in and, you know, they have good hold games. But, you know, I probably would like to see Justin because I'd like to see him win. As far as my actual matchup goes, I'd be ready for either one of them.

Q. What particular point in the past year, one particular match that made you suddenly turn it around? Did you start play -- that you started playing so well?

ANDRE AGASSI: Tough to say. Because everything builds, and then you do get to a point where something does kind of happen in a match, which probably would have been my match at the French: Down a set in two breaks, and I started letting a lot of my shots fly. You can't just do that out of nowhere. You have to have a lot of preparation in your game. You have to have a lot of matches. You have to be in shape. You have on -- it's a lot of hard work that puts you in position for something like that to happen, and that's probably where I turned a pretty good corner.

Q. Most tennis players move around quite a bit in terms of their residence, whether it's going to Monte Carlo or Florida or whatever. You've stuck in Las Vegas your whole adult life. What are the one or two things you really like about Vegas that keeps you there?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, you know, I think anywhere that you're brought up you have an affinity for. I feel like, you know, Vegas is misperceived in many ways. You know, it's a beautiful surrounding areas. We're surrounded by mountains. It's nice to have your family and friends there. You know, it kind of offers me something rather familiar.

Q. Do you get to the mountains much?

ANDRE AGASSI: I enjoy them mostly from afar, but I have gone out there. (Laughter.)

Q. During the tournament, the days you are not playing, do you watch tennis? Do you watch your possible opposition?

ANDRE AGASSI: Usually your opposition is playing when you are, if not before; so sometimes it's difficult to actually watch who you're going to play. But I enjoy watching tennis, just long enough to assess kind of how things are taking place, who's playing well, who's not.

End of FastScripts….

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