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August 30, 1999

Andre Agassi


USTA: Questions for Andre.

Q. Looked pretty simple out there. ANDRE AGASSI: Well, then it looked easier than it is because it's never simple. There's a lot of work that goes into making yourself play good tennis or focused tennis. I felt like I was adjusting to the conditions rather quickly, was moving well, and fortunate to press a little bit, and was returning really well too.

Q. Can you talk about your focus coming into this, your whole mind set. ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. You know, it's like this is the place to be. You know, this is the place that so much great tennis this year is coming down to for a few players specifically. The energy of New York is something that has added a lot to my career, something that I love. It brings focus of its own being here.

Q. Do you have any objection - I don't know that you do, I'm just asking - to Pete Sampras getting a Wednesday start?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, not really.

Q. What do your spies say about the extent of his back injury?

ANDRE AGASSI: I haven't heard, you know. I haven't heard anything. Just kind of spasmed up a little bit. I'm sure it's something that can be addressed in a few days. I wouldn't know. I wouldn't know. I haven't seen him.

Q. Can you talk about the atmosphere of playing at night? Is that a big difference compared to a day match for you?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think that there's a couple factors. There's the actual difference, technically speaking, that the game is quicker in the day, the sun is beating down, the ball is moving quicker through the air. Generally speaking, it's more windy in the day, but today was a little bit different. There's also just the element of the day crowd versus the night crowd. It all depends on how you respond to those conditions, if you have lights and so on. For me, I've always enjoyed playing at night. I'm used to it. I play it a lot during the year. I love the energy of the crowd. It almost feels like theater out there. They're just to be entertained an enjoy.

Q. Is that unique to this tournament in particular? Is a New York US Open night crowd different than any other?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's the single greatest tennis atmosphere for one match that I'll miss the most, is playing night matches at The Open.

Q. We've often talked about how good your eyes are on the court, how good you see the ball. Does that give you a competitive advantage in the evening where other players might not get as good a look at the ball?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I mean, I don't necessarily believe I actually see the ball quicker than most people. I believe that I have -- my game lends for me to take the ball earlier. I think there's a difference there. I think guys can see the ball, it's just that their swings or the fundamentals of their game might not allow them, their hand speed, the way they hit their shots, might not allow them to pick it up. Although I see the ball well, you still have to have the ability to take it early. That's, I believe, more of a factor in my game than actually seeing it. But at night, you know, some people do struggle with the lights. I don't. If somebody doesn't struggle with the lights, no, I don't believe that there's an advantage for me over them.

Q. You've talked about how hard you've worked in the last few years, mentally, physically, to bring yourself back. Was there a certain point that we didn't see the right progress but you thought, "I'm really on the right road back"?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I'm very detailed in my approach to something that's important to me. Every step is an important one. If I can get a day better in one day, that's good enough for me. I never try to get two days' better in one day. I never settle for less than one day better. All along the way, I felt like I was making progress. But I have to say that last year was a difficult year for me, and I probably had more progress last year than maybe people realize. Just because I didn't do well in the Slams doesn't mean that I wasn't, you know, playing some great tennis at different times of the year. I just wasn't doing it in the biggest of situations. I was hoping that could turn around this year, and it has.

Q. Somebody said to me today that the reason you're playing such great tennis right now - maybe the best tennis of your life - is that you've come to the realization that tennis is your best friend, that all the people and all the things you've known over the years, you come back to tennis and find out this is the thing you get closest to. Can you comment on that?

ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I don't know if I can compare how close I am with tennis versus other things. I mean, tennis has added to my life a lot. But I think above anything, you know, I'm certainly more appreciative now of the opportunities that are in front of me and the fact I've got another shot at some dreams. I think, you know, tennis is something that means a lot to me and certainly has my focus, and will until I can't do it anymore. I wouldn't say that I see tennis differently as much as I'd say that I think I just appreciate it a lot more, appreciate it a lot more my life, period. Tennis is one of the many things that I enjoy now a lot more than I ever have.

Q. Just back to the night match. Is there any one that stands out in your career?

ANDRE AGASSI: Night match that stands out?

Q. One moment?

ANDRE AGASSI: Probably playing Becker in the semis of '95 was a pretty intense match. Lots of energy, a lot of excitement with Pete waiting in the finals.

Q. It was harder than it looked maybe, but you must be feeling awfully good getting one out of the of the way in an hour and 15 minutes. Do you feel like you're off to a great start here?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I'm off to a real good start. You can only hope after the first round that you make it to the second. To make it to the second feeling comfortable with your game is good. I've played enough matches this summer to not worry about needing to be pressed. I feel like I'm match sharp. When I'm pressed, I'll be ready for it. So I feel great about how the first round has gone.

Q. Watching you practice last Friday, I was struck by you seemed to be completely happy, totally having a great time just having a hit, joking, bantering, working hard. Are you completely at ease with your life right now?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's a commitment by the day to keep things in perspective and to continually count your blessings. But on the court, I love playing. This is what I do, it's what I love. I truly am enjoying it at this stage of my life. I really thank God that I have the opportunity still in my career to be out here enjoying it this much because I feel like I've spent many a times fighting myself, fighting a lot of pressures that I put on myself. And now it's different. It is nice for me to go out there and feel what I feel. I allow it to be seen in many situations, not just when I'm playing matches, but when I'm practicing, when I'm training, when I'm in a city I might not normally want to be in, I'm going out to dinner getting ready for the next day's business.

End of FastScripts….

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