Sunday, January 23, 2005
A. AGASSI/J. Johansson
6 7, 7 6, 7 6, 6 4
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Guy has a pretty good serve, doesn't he?
ANDRE AGASSI: (Laughter).
Q. What's that like, up against the firing squad?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's not fun. You know, it's not fun. It's very uncomfortable. You just have to admire it while you're out there because there's just not a whole lot you can do when destiny is in somebody's hands that extremely.
He tosses the ball and he hits it where he wants, point's not in play, it's over.
Q. Are you reading it and not touching it, or are you just not even able to tell where he's going?
ANDRE AGASSI: There was a good 25 times out there where I felt like I knew where it was going, was leaning that way, and if I jumped and threw my racquet, I probably wouldn't touch it. That doesn't count all the other times where I was actually wrong about where he was serving. And that doesn't count the times where I actually got my racquet on it and I had to actually get it back in the court.
So it was I mean, it's a phenomenal weapon he has, as well as his forehand. He has a lot to look forward to.
Q. You're supposedly or probably are the best returner in the world. Do you take any offense at him setting a record for the most aces in a match against you?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you got to remember, there's $100 to the inner city tennis in Australia for every ace. I'm a team player, that's all I'm saying (smiling).
I won't undermine his efforts and say I let a lot of them go by. I'll just say that all the money's going to a great cause (laughter).
Q. You played against faster servers, though. What is it about this serve?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's the angle. Sort of it's the angle of the serve. When a ball comes 220 K's away from you, and it's coming from somebody who's say five inches shorter, which means the length of their arm is another few inches shorter, which means the trajectory changes dramatically, you can lunge and sort of somewhat still be in your strike zone. But the angle that a serve comes at, you lunge and it's above you, so it's sort of like you're jumping just to be on the same to hit the ball. You're lunging here, but the ball is still up here.
It's the trajectory that makes it exceptionally awkward. But there's no question the power is phenomenal. Not to mention with the height of his reach. It opens up the box for him. I mean, his wide serve in the deuce court and his flat one out wide in the ad court is at a much greater angle than other people who can hit it that big, or even bigger.
Q. All that said about his serve, you're sitting here as the winner, not him. How did that happen then?
ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know.
Q. It wasn't blind luck?
ANDRE AGASSI: The part that's tough in a match like that is that for me is I can go 20 minutes without hitting let's just say a backhand rally shot, and then all of a sudden I have to play a backhand rally shot at 30 All on my serve, down a set. You know, that's uncomfortable. There's no real rhythm. It's not like the strength of my game is really dialing in my shots. When a guy's not letting you play because he has that kind of weapons on his side, it's tough. Because even when you do get a chance, you're not convinced you're feeling it quite as well as you would like.
Q. You said many times that in a difficult match, you have to wait for your opportunities and they will come. But in a match like this, how did you manage to stay mentally prepared to take the opportunities?
ANDRE AGASSI: You're not climbing the whole mountain at once. You're taking a step at a time. I mean, it's the next point (snapping fingers). The most important point is the next one.
Q. Your thoughts are like that even when he won the first set?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. What else am I going to do? I mean, all I can do is try not to be overwhelmed out there. You know, I'm worried about embarrassment when I come out there and a guy can serve 51 aces. I'm surviving.
So it's very important for me to win any point I can, I don't care what the score is.
Q. What about your game? You are always praising your opponent. What about your game today? Why did you win?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, he was living and dying by his shot selection. I mean, he was very aggressive. Along with his winners came a lot of errors. I had to make sure that I didn't give away any points that I did have control over. I felt like I kept my errors down. I felt like I served well, mixed up my serve enough and stayed aggressive on my groundstrokes so I didn't give him as many looks once the point was going.
But, you know, at the end of the day, if you don't take care of your serve against a guy like that, the match is over in a hurry.
Q. Was it a similar match to when you played Ivanisevic in Wimbledon and he scored 37 aces and you won?
ANDRE AGASSI: No. We had a lot more rallies. I mean, Goran was one of the things that helped me in that match was that Goran was trying to establish his back court game. He wasn't just swinging for the fences. He was actually hitting a lot of baseline rallies. So I was holding serve with a lot of chances to hit the ball, which meant that when he was serving and I got one at his feet and he volleyed it and I was ready to hit it, I had a much better rhythm.
I mean, today, I would love to see how many balls were over three hits. You know, I mean, it couldn't have been that many. So that's a little bit different of a match. This is pretty unique.
Q. At the same time, every time a player beats the record of aces, loses. Also in the US Open, Krajicek/Kafelnikov, it was the biggest record. Makes the aces, loses. Is it destiny?
ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know. The three most aces, I think they all lost the match. You know, maybe you're down and you even get more risky, you know. He hit a lot of second serves. He hit one second serve 226 K's. I mean, if you want to hit an ace that bad, you're going to get a lot of them.
Q. Chela got fined $2,000 for spitting last night. Do you think in this day and age $2,000 is a bit of a poor message to send out from the sport?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I didn't to be quite honest, I didn't see the incident, so I can't sort of speak to, you know, how it reflected on him or, more importantly, the game.
$2,000 is a lot of money to a lot of guys, but it's not to others.
Q. You've had two very tough opponents already. It doesn't seem to get much easier for the next rounds. Can having Federer after two games like that be an advantage or would you have preferred to have had easier matches?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I've got plenty of time to be ready. I mean, I felt good physically, which is great, to be in the second week, healthy and ready to go. So that's good.
You know, looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity of playing Roger. He's been playing the best tennis in the world for a while now. I mean, somebody has to beat him sooner or later, right (smiling)? I hope it's Tuesday night.
Q. Has anybody served better against you? Would Pete have served better sometimes, that 2002 US Open?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, there's a difference between sort of serving big and having a great hold game. You know, I broke him three times in the match.
Q. 3 out of 10.
ANDRE AGASSI: No, can't be. Because 51 aces is almost 13 games in aces alone.
Q. 3 out of 10 breakpoints.
ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, breakpoints. I thought you meant service games. Sorry.
So three times I broke him. Like when I played Pete at The Open, we played four tiebreakers, 7 6, 6 7, 6 7, 6 7, and there were no breaks of serve. While he probably served the best against me, I think there's been other times where I've been in that very familiar feeling of, "Oh, my God, how am I going to find a way to win this match?"
Q. A lot of people compare Sampras and Federer. What is your thought?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, the difference between them right now is 10 Grand Slams. That's a lot. But Pete was a great champion, and Roger has proven that every day. They have a way of the great champions have a way of making you appreciate what it is they do out there on that court. They have a way of making you feel like if you don't play a perfect match, you're going to lose. They both do that. So that's similar.
But I don't they're both very relaxed on the court as far as how they play the game. They both play it very easily. But I don't feel like their weapons are the same.
Q. And the difference between Agassi and Federer is just four Slams?
ANDRE AGASSI: And he has hairier legs, too, sure. I play the game much differently.
Q. These kind of victories prove to you that you can still be playing for a long time?
ANDRE AGASSI: I try to assess that sort of every point, you know. It's why somebody beats you. It's not a function of winning or losing. I could have lost today probably just as easy as won. I mean, tiebreakers, sometimes you flip the coin.
But the question is: Why do you lose the match? That I need to have an answer for. I need to feel like, Okay, these are the reasons why I lost, and these are what I can do differently.
If you're out there and you literally believe there's nothing you could have done because you can't compete at that level, that's different. So it's not winning this match that makes me feel that way; it's going out there and making him play a great match start to finish for him to win.
Q. The way you survived that one, do you think that gives you a little bit more of a mental edge against Roger? Do you think he'll be thinking you're pretty hot right now?
ANDRE AGASSI: I think he has enough experience to deal with each person on the merits of that day. I mean, it's what makes sports so great. You know, you can't phone in the result. You got to show up and you got to tee 'em up and you got to find a way to get it done over and over again.
We both have to figure out how we're going to do that on Tuesday.
Q. The flipside of the question you were asked earlier about Chela and the fine, the on court antics of Hewitt. I just wondered if you had any view whether or not what we're seeing at this tournament is any different from what you guys are used to playing against Hewitt for a long time, and probably more importantly where you draw a line between what's just part of Hewitt being a very good player and any sort of unsporting conduct that might creep into any of his behavior on court?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, listen, I try to keep it pretty simple out there, which is watching the ball and moving my feet. The energy you spend on anything else is sort of energy lost.
We all make choices every day on how we choose to conduct ourselves. It's never been something that I've cared to control how somebody else chooses to conduct themselves.
What I do watch and admire is his competitiveness and his game. And I find that when I'm out there against him, I need to step up because of what he brings to the table, not because of how he chooses to conduct himself.
Q. So when you're preparing to play him, that stuff is completely peripheral; you don't take that on as sort of making sure you don't get involved in whatever he's doing inside of the net or get sucked into that side of things?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I'm responsible for how I choose to go about my business, absolutely.
Q. Are you excited about playing Roger? You played him last year at the US Open. You played Pete in the quarterfinal. Are you nervous? Are you excited? What exactly do you feel going into a big match like this?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I'm always nervous. I'm always nervous against there's not a match I play where I'm not nervous. But, yeah, I'm excited. I mean, this is what I prepare for, you know, to play the best in the biggest of situations. It's why I do this. You know, this is Roger offers me the opportunity to push myself more than I've been pushed in a long time. That's a great feeling.
Q. You didn't have that many Grand Slam quarterfinals where the majority of people see you as an underdog. How do you feel in that position?
ANDRE AGASSI: I suppose it was a matter of time (smiling). Roger's earned the respect he deserves. I want to make him go out there and prove it to me again. That's what it's about. So whatever the seedings are, whatever the expectations are, it's more important being the favorite when the tournament's over with.
Q. Jim Courier said it's easier to beat Federer in the earlier rounds than in the finals. Do you agree on that?
ANDRE AGASSI: Last time I beat him was in a final, so (laughter). I'll have to, at the moment, disagree with that.
Q. You talked a lot about this kid's serve. Were his groundies pretty astounding?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, big. That's the thing, you know. His forehand is as large of a forehand as you'll ever see. And it's hard. It kind of has rotation on it. It feels like it just looks like he's never going to miss it when he winds up to hit it. When I watch him play others and when you're on the other side of the net, when he goes to hit it, you feel like it's going to be a big shot.
You know, his backhand is certainly not as much of a danger as his forehand, but, you know, it's such a long swing that all he really needs is to get a decent amount of depth and then he can get a bit of a short ball. He doesn't need much of a short ball. Because when you're sort of that tall, being five feet behind the baseline is like somebody my size being five feet inside the baseline.
You just need a three quarters court and it's considered a short ball.
Andre Agassi forever