September 3, 1998
FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK
Q. Were you just trying to give us an interesting day?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. That was last thing on my mind.
Q. What happened out there today?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, when he broke my serve finally, I hit a few doublefaults, and I made a couple of careless errors -- kind of broke myself there early in the third, or -- and you know, then we played some good tennis to 4-5 where I stepped it up a little bit, got the break back, which I held to 6-5. I felt like that was an opportunity to really start hitting my shots. Then we get into the tiebreaker, and, you know, he played a good breaker up until towards the end there at 6-All. I had a second serve that was short, and I kind of didn't move my feet on a forehand. I ended up losing the tiebreaker. Then at -- that was at 5-All -- I'm sorry -- 6-All. I switched sides and we had this rally and I didn't hit a forehand that I had an opportunity to hit. Then he hit a winner on that and held out. I was real frustrated at myself for a period of the fourth set for not executing my shots in that tiebreaker, and I lost my serve early. He played well in the fourth. I just had to turn it around there at the end.
Q. He had a breakpoint in the first game and then you turned it around. Was that the turning point where you basically got it to deuce and had a service winner?
ANDRE AGASSI: In hindsight it certainly was a turning point because if somebody gives him a break in the fifth, it doesn't matter if it is 1-0 or 5-4, it is a break of serve and that is a huge advantage in the first set. I hit a good serve out wide to the backhand there and, you know, just felt like I told myself at that point, just execute your shots and keep moving your feet and, you know, you should be all right here. Sure enough, he started making some errors. I don't know if he was getting tired or what, but he started making a lot more other remembers and I just took advantage of that.
Q. Is winning a match like this a confidence booster as you go down the line or would you prefer to go straight sets at this point?
ANDRE AGASSI: I mean, I first prefer to get through it. If you are still in the tournament good things can happen. But I would -- I don't mind it being this way. It wasn't a tremendously fatiguing match, which normally five-setters you worry about just playing too much. So in that respect, I think it was certainly a wake-up call of sorts for me to be up two sets and not to close it out and to find myself in a three-hour battle. So I think that is only going to help me.
Q. Did you tend to relax after you won the second set?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, I just played a loose game to lose my serve. It was like he hadn't really done much damage on my serve and I just got careless. I hit two doublefaults and made a couple of errors and I lost my serve. Then he won a close set. I mean, I think the fourth set was more of a -- of careless tennis. I was really frustrated with myself for letting it get to the fourth. And that certainly, you can't afford to have that happen. You have got to forget about it, move on or else you are going to be in the fifth set.
Q. This tournament so far has been extremely formful. Can you think of any reason why that should be?
ANDRE AGASSI: Formful?
ANDRE AGASSI: What exactly do you mean by formful?
Q. No upsets.
ANDRE AGASSI: Petr Korda lost.
Q. That is the one.
ANDRE AGASSI: No, I mean, good seedings, I guess. I don't know. The guys are playing well.
Q. Are you aware of what Marc Rosset has gone through the last couple of days? He was booked on the Swiss Air, flight 111, and decided not to go and practice for one more day. For players who are travelling all over the world all the time, his story particularly hit home for a lot of guys in the locker room.
ANDRE AGASSI: It sure did. That is certainly one of your biggest fears saying good-bye to your loved ones, to go on a trip and not return. I think anybody can identify with that. It happened to Rostagno. I know one time he actually got off a plane. He was supposed to continue through Mexico city to L.A. He actually got off the plane and decided to play a satellite, 11 minutes after take off it blew; that was it. He got off the plane; he was actually supposed to stay on it. So there have been -- and when you travel the world like we do, I mean, you are bound to have your share of travel difficulties, but you certainly pray to God that nobody has to ever go through that.
Q. Have you had any close calls yourself, any difficulties?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, nothing that I can say -- to the point of us losing our lives, no. I mean, I have been very uncomfortable before, pretty scared at times, but --
Q. Will you consider this a particularly good year for yourself?
ANDRE AGASSI: In some respects, yes. I mean, considering where I have been over the last year and a half, prior to this year, absolutely, I consider it a good year. But my Grand Slam results have been lacking. I think that is just more reflection of me not being in the competitive arena there for a year and a half or more. So I normally would not consider this a good year losing out early of the Slams. But considering where I have been and where I want to go, this year has certainly served its purpose, every bit of it so far. It only can get better.
Q. Are you peaking, and if you are peaking are you playing well enough and do you have enough confidence to beat Sampras if you play him in the quarters?
ANDRE AGASSI: I am playing definitely better now than I have been playing all year, and I feel it progressively getting more and more. I will have to play my best tennis at the right time and it most likely will have to be that much if that match happens. But, yes, I think I can do that, absolutely.
Q. How close are you to your peak, like when you were No. 1?
ANDRE AGASSI: At times I am every bit, if not better. But it is about consistency and really -- things you fix in your game making sure they stay fixed. So if you are struggling with your serve and then you figure out your serve, then you serve well for a few tournaments. That is what I am used to doing. But I have been a little up and down, tweaking -- tweaking the idiosyncracies of my game, and I feel like I am considering ways of tennis that I am still capable of playing, but certainly I have gotten myself in a position where I can still get the job done and that makes me feel good to know that I am here, thinking I can win if I play well at the right time. So that is important. But I am still far from my best tennis. I don't mean my past, I mean, what I can play.
Q. You mentioned your serve. Is there one thing on your serve that you sort of continually have to focus on that sometimes goes out again and again, that you really have to focus on?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think a lot of times my ball toss tends to get low, and it tends to get low because I go from working a point to trying to get some free points and that is more of a mentality. It is more of a physical commitment. When I am playing my best tennis, I really want to pay the price at every point and I want my opponent to pay the price on every point. When I am not playing my best tennis I am trying to go for a lot of cheap points and my ball toss drops and so it is a work ethic and the focus at the crucial times of the match. Hitting the kick serve in the good first set on good point.
Q. You wouldn't be at Davis Cup. It seems that the top players have trouble with Davis Cup. It is really not priority. What is your relation with the Davis Cup, seems like you want to make a statement like you want things done your way --
ANDRE AGASSI: No, no. Not my way, the players way. And it is a player's way, mind you. I don't go out on the limb when it comes to Davis Cup. I talk about things that every player who I know who I have played with feels the same way. I have always shown a strong support for Davis Cup. It has always been very important to me and year after year it never ceases to amaze me. What decisions get made without the players input? To be quite honest, I am very, very tired of it, very frustrated by it, and have no interest in playing the rest of the year.
Q. If you are a fan sitting in Milwaukee and you look at the Davis Cup lineup in a couple weeks and you don't see any of the top American players playing, would you buy a ticket?
ANDRE AGASSI: It depends if they are still as expensive as they always are when they sell them. They sell three-day tickets. Probably not if they are expensive.
Q. There have been so many problems with the Davis Cup, the dead rubber, price of tickets, site selection --
ANDRE AGASSI: Captain selection. Nothing against Gully, I mean, the players need to be able to say, not just give our opinion, I mean, I went through this when we went from Tom Gorman to Gully. But, you know, it is your captain and the players should pick their captain.
Q. Is it more than just coincidence, is it more than just a series of bad decisions or is there something there that is hitting the surface?
ANDRE AGASSI: I would be speculating beyond the obvious which is the desire for USTA to run it the way they want to run it. I think there is probably a lot of fear factors giving up the reigns. That is why John didn't get the job. Here is a guy who has -- who has done as much for Davis Cup as anybody and he didn't get the job because he is going to speak his mind. They'd rather have somebody down there where they know they are going to be, you know, where they can pull some strings and that is what they have. They definitely have that.
Q. You, Jim and Pete have paid a lot of dues in the past, you were critical of Michael, said he had it, three weeks off, but he is still not going to play. Does that bother you in any way?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, sure it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. Doesn't surprise me. Doesn't surprise me at all. Michael is a good guy in many ways, but I absolutely disagree with the way he has handled himself towards Davis Cup. I think it is not right. I think it is horrible for the game. And I think it shows a lack of respect.
Q. If you were voting I assume you would have voted for John as captain or --
ANDRE AGASSI: I would certainly, certainly consider him, but I would have to think about it. I'd want to think about it. But he would be one person that's name should go on the list, no question.
Q. Do you think that US has a great chance or not such a great chance against Italians?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, we still have a good chance, still have a good chance. But it seems like it is getting less and less, and whenever that momentum changes, it is hard to stop it. There is going to be a guy playing there that hasn't played before and we have got to ask Todd to come through with three points and that is asking a lot under any conditions.
Q. Has this soured you for future Davis Cups?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yes.
Q. Do you expect that you won't play again?
ANDRE AGASSI: To be quite honest, I am choosing this stage of my career not to think about it. I mean, to give what I have given to it and then to see that as we get down to the home stretch, you know, that we don't have any say so in where we play, and we have to end up reading about it, I mean, it is not like I haven't been vocal, not like I haven't expressed it a thousand times through the media and also directly. I mean, I talked about this directly with Tom in Indianapolis, it is just -- it is not right. It is just not right.
Q. Do you think your message will ever be heard?
ANDRE AGASSI: It certainly doesn't seem like it. You know, I thought I had some good points, but apparently they don't think so.
Q. Not to take this too far, Andre, if Gully were sitting here -- I think he said that, well, you knew the Davis Cup schedule before. I mean, it's a fabulous event that you do, but before you scheduled your event, any comment about that?
ANDRE AGASSI: Absolutely. I mean, first of all, nothing I have said here I wouldn't say without Gully. I would say it if Gully was here. There is two sides to that. There is first and foremost which is the charity, the foundation that I have and establishing the arena that I didn't have the say. So when I didn't have the arena, let us start with that. We get the arena certain days and we get talent on certain days and that is the only way it is going to happen. Even with that being the case, I was very willing to play in San Diego, very willing to play on the West Coast. I was very willing to spend the whole week with the team, play Friday, come back, not be there Saturday evening and then be back in pocket for Sunday. I mean, we could have played in Vegas, we could have easily played in Vegas, give me three phone calls, I will get it done. But, so I mean, you know, at this stage of my life I know what I can and cannot handle. And the Davis Cup has been important to me and my foundation is important to me and it was all workable, very workable.
Q. You don't really think that was Gully's decision obviously it was the higher ups, he wasn't in the mix there for Milwaukee?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I mean, if it is not Gully's decision, then what is his job? What is his job? I mean, I wouldn't want to --
Q. To be the captain of the team and not say where they play, what I am saying is don't you think the powers that be in the USTA picked Milwaukee because it was probably financially --
ANDRE AGASSI: I am sure that is why they picked it. The whole point is that the captain needs to have certain responsibilities and looking out for the team doesn't start and end with the tennis that happens that week. It starts with talking to the team and having the team make decisions that are -- that are directly related to our ability to win. Where we play? What surface we play on? I mean, they are all important. If Gully doesn't have the power to make that decision or to step up and say these are the terms of the next tie, then I wouldn't want his job.
Q. Let's say that United States lose against Italy, do you think this could have an impact that makes things change or not, the elimination against Italy, do you think this case would have the impact to change things?
ANDRE AGASSI: If we lose?
ANDRE AGASSI: No, we lost to Paraguay, it didn't change anything. We lost to Australia first round, it didn't change anything. We lost to Germany in the relegation match and went down to the second, you know, group and it didn't change anything. We got more money. I guess that is -- I guess they value that, but we don't play for the money.
Q. If US wins, would you play -- consider playing in the finals?
ANDRE AGASSI: No. No.
Q. Andre, even if the match was in Spain on clay where you know you are one of the top clay-court players in the States, would you still let it go?
ANDRE AGASSI: If it was in my backyard I wouldn't walk out the back door.
Q. Even if they said, Andre, sorry about September, let's have it in Vegas?
ANDRE AGASSI: I have heard a lot of apologies in the last number of years, including the recent one and I mean, apologies are great, I mean, I am the first one to say, hey, if you are really sorry about something -- but be sorry enough to change things.
Q. Definitely not this year?
ANDRE AGASSI: No.
Q. Andre, football players aren't given any voice in where they play; basketball players aren't, why should tennis players be given a voice in a matter like this?
ANDRE AGASSI: If we don't have the choice to play where we play -- let's all play by the same rules. Every other country plays wherever they want to play, and if it is our say so, it is our right in Davis Cup, home court advantage, to play where we want, and that is the rules. Change the rules, that is fine. But don't tell me that is the rule and then tell me I can't have it that way.
Q. Kafelnikov didn't want to play in Moscow.
ANDRE AGASSI: Then, you know, he should have a problem with that. I don't know what the terms of his situation was. This one is very clear. I could play if we played in the west coast.
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