Wednesday, September 7, 2005
THE MODERATOR: First question.
Q. Andre, at some point did you think to yourself, "I'm 35, I won't have that many more chances out here, I don't want to go out right now"?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I've been thinking that for four years.
Q. During that match?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah, sure. I mean, obviously you never know when it's your last go. I mean, I certainly have no plans one way or the other. But I've been around long enough to know how short‑lived all of this is. And, you know, I was just happy it turned into a match out there.
You know, I was real frustrated. He started off letting a few balls fly. I actually liked the way I was hitting the ball when we started the match. I liked the way I was feeling, got comfortable. But he let a few second‑serve returns fly. Then he started swinging for the fences. I sort of overreacted to that by picking up the pace of my ball too much. I lost my rhythm and started missing a lot.
It wasn't until I was down a break that I sort of settling back down and just tried to at least hit a few more balls.
Q. How hard is it to block out the pressure and play one point at a time and slowly get yourself back into this match?
ANDRE AGASSI: It's a discipline. You know, it's not easy to do that necessarily. I mean, some days it's easier than others. But, you know, when you play a guy that you have to treat each point with urgency, it does make it easier because there's no real option. I mean, it's not like you can get away with less.
So your choice is pretty simple out there.
Q. Have you ever seen Blake playing so well as in the first two sets?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, he was really hitting the ball clean and big and making me feel like I was a step behind on all my shots. And, again, like I was saying, I overreacted to that and I started pressing too much and hitting too big just to try to hang with him a little bit. And I lost my rhythm doing that.
But, no, it was quality tennis, and the tennis stayed pretty high throughout. And it ended on a high note, too.
Q. Three months ago you didn't even know if you were going to be playing. Now you're in the semis.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah, it's pretty amazing, you know. It's pretty amazing. Just feels great. I mean, the time I spent during Wimbledon at home, you know, just not knowing if I'll play again, let alone, you know, be ready in just a few weeks' time.
With the help of Darren and Gil, just made a lot of decisions over the last few months that have really helped put me in this position. I can't thank their support enough. I certainly feel a bit overwhelmed with it because, again, I love this sport and I have a chance to be out here doing this. It's just amazing for me.
Q. When was the last time your adrenaline pumped as much as it did at the end of the match?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, you know, it actually ‑‑ it didn't feel much different, you know, at the end than it did throughout that stage of me coming back in the match. Because I sort of found my groove out there and I just was focused on it. I just didn't want to let go of my rhythm, my timing, the pace I was playing, all of that. I just wanted to keep focused on it.
And it was the same thing at the tiebreaker. You have to sort of show a bit of experience there and tell yourself, "Okay," you know, "Just don't change," you know, "Just keep hitting your shots, take your chance if it's there. If the ball falls for you, then great." Certainly, when it was over with, that was an amazing feeling.
Q. You had the 5‑4 point, 7‑6 point, were you reading his serve by then or leaning that way?
ANDRE AGASSI: I thought he was losing a little legs on his serve. You know, he's not terribly tall, so I was, couple times, giving him the wide serve in the ad court because he wasn't getting up, and that's a low percentage serve if you really don't go up after it.
So I was sort of giving him that one. If he can bang it out there, then good for him. But it looked like the edge had come off his intensity. That's a little easier to get away with a bender up the middle, and I didn't want to give him that. So I was sitting on it a couple times.
Q. At 5‑3 in the third set, is that when you got the sense you could win?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, James is a guy that runs on high octane. You know, he's a fighter jet, you know. He burns the fuel fast and furious. And he's gotten much better with that over the years.
But, you know, he plays so big and so fast that if an edge does come off, it's a big relief, you know, 'cause just he flies around the court. I put him over anybody on the tour in the straight 100 meters. He's the only guy on the tour that actually looks like he's increasing speed when it's time for him to stop. It's just he has to stop, that's why he's not getting faster, you know.
And so when you see a little bit of that edge come off, where he sort of coming down into warp speed, you know, it gives you a little breath of life.
Q. You came back against Medvedev Roland Garros final, so obviously that's the final, a special moment. Just talk about this coming back from two sets down, US Open, Wednesday night, you know, hitting outright return of serve winners, then even to win the match. Pretty special stuff even for you?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Pretty amazing. I don't know if I can put in context how this compares with some of my greatest experience on the tennis court, but I know it's right up there because this is what you work so hard for, you know.
To be honest, with the way a mentality like mine sort of works, is this means as much to me as doing it in the finals. This is what it's about. It's about just authentic competition, just getting out there and having respect for each other's game and respect for each other's person and letting it fly and letting it be just about tennis.
It's, you know ‑‑ unfortunately it doesn't happen as often as you'd like. Two guys need to play well and then the balls need to fall at the right place at the right time to create that sort of drama. And it all came together tonight.
Q. Did you learn anything about yourself tonight?
ANDRE AGASSI: I have more of a knack of getting myself two sets in a hole than I want to have (smiling). You know, I don't know.
No, you know, listen, it's just ‑‑ it's hard for all this to sort of settle in that quickly.
Q. Were you surprised, going into the fifth set? Did you think maybe you had him beaten, or were you surprised he came back strong in the fifth like he did?
ANDRE AGASSI: You never know how somebody's feeling physically. You never know how somebody's feeling mentally. You don't know if he's going to be disheartened and disspirited that it's now tied up or you don't know if he's going to go, "Here it is, it's a sprint to the finish and I'm going to bring it now." You always leave room for how somebody might respond to it. You expect the worst, hope for the best.
Yeah, I expected him to be tough to beat in the fifth. And he was. When he goes up tempo, you know, he can really, really surprise you when you're not expecting it.
Q. Do you ever surprise yourself with the stuff you do?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, it's all a bit surreal. You know, I just ‑‑ I get out there and I try to work and, you know, I come off the court and many times in my career I just feel like it's been a dream, you know. And that's the way it feels here. It's a dream for me to be doing this. I feel the same way with my children. I feel the same way off the court. Yeah, it's all surprising to me.
Q. Right now you probably believe in tiebreaks in the fifth set, but before tonight, do you believe in tiebreaks in the fifth set or do you think they should be played out?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, if the match isn't decided by then, you know, what are we waiting for. Let's get on with it. It's a long time to be out there to feel like the match should end differently than a bounce here or there. That's what a tiebreaker is. But that's ultimately what a match like that is, it's an even battle.
The great thing about tennis is it doesn't matter what the rules are. You still got two guys that have to deal with it; you have two guys that have to figure it out; you have two guys that have to somehow get the most out of themselves when it matters the most. And it's a great sport because of that.
Q. You're still putting on performances like this. What goes through your mind when people ask about the "R" word?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I've been asked so much about it, I'm sort of ‑ I don't want to say callus to it, or numb to it ‑ I just don't know how to answer it that it answers the question, you know? I mean, I suppose I'll have to keep answering it, which is fine if, you know ‑‑ I'll gladly take somebody along the ride with me. I don't know for a long time how my career is going to end. I don't know what I'm going to do, how I'm going to do it, when I'm going to do it.
When I get asked that question, it's sort of ‑‑ I'm just a bit numb to it really. I mean, all I can say is what I feel, and it's been the same, it's been no different. I don't know what's going to happen.
Q. An artist is judged by his greatest paintings. How does this incredible performance, incredible event tonight compare with your other highlights, the Olympics, the French Open?
ANDRE AGASSI: If it wasn't so late, I'd be excited to read about that tomorrow (laughing). But I know most of you probably missed your deadlines...
Q. Having said that, I know you just came off the court, but can you compare it with your other performances?
ANDRE AGASSI: Again, there are a few moments on a tennis court that are that special. You know, and there's different reasons why something can be that special, you know. It's winning the last of the four Grand Slams, the one that you could have won first a decade earlier; coming off a divorce in your life, a shoulder injury, not even knowing if you're going to play the tournament; coming back from two sets to love. It's like a fairytale, a situation like that.
Tonight it's the same thing. You've got two Americans in the quarterfinals, a night match at the Open, two guys that respect each other's game and person. I did interviews before I came here, people said, "It's your 20th Open, do you have 20 minutes for you?"
"Sure. What do you want to talk about?"
"What does the Open mean to you?"
That's what it means, what you just saw out there. There's no place like it. It's 1:15 in the morning, 20,000 people out there, and tennis won tonight. That happens here in New York.
Q. Have you been attacked in a similar way by a devil‑may‑care way, for that length of time?
ANDRE AGASSI: Sorry? I didn't understand that.
Q. I mean, the way he went at you with his shot‑making for such a length of time. Have you had that kind of experience?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I've been...
Q. You've been attacked by a lot of people?
ANDRE AGASSI: I've been bombarded before. I've been the reason for a lot of it sometimes, sometimes you can really make somebody look that good. Other times you can't live up to the standard they're playing.
Tonight that first set, he was untouchable. I felt pretty good, but he let it fly. Second set I felt a bit more like I rushed that set, I let it get away. But he was still playing the same standard. I just felt like I should have made some adjustments that would have made it a little tougher for him.
But, no, like I was saying, his upside is as good as anybody's when he uses his speed and his power like that, no question about it.
Q. Jimmy set a pretty high bar here. Is it possible to go through a run like this without thinking about him or even to feel like your business is finished here without making a run that absolutely rivets New York?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I always have wanted to do that, you know. I hope for that every time I play here, you know. I mean, certainly what Jimmy did was incredible. I wasn't ‑‑ when he was 35, or 36, when we played, you know, I don't know if I was old enough to really understand what it meant for him to be doing what he's doing. And certainly that year he got to the semifinals, I lost first round. I didn't have a chance to really absorb what was actually happening in a first hand sense.
I know, I've heard him talk about it as if it was the most meaningful thing to him. So that certainly speaks volumes with a career like that. I know that a match like this tonight can add to your life regardless of the titles on the line.
Q. You've had Slams that were just surprises to everybody: Your first Wimbledon, '94; Open, '99. Now this one. Do you feel this coming, or is it a surprise to you when it happens? I mean, you've had it over and over again.
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I've gone into Slams with so many different feelings. I've gone in times feeling great and sort of dominating, you know, just sort of taking care of business, and it only gets better and you're wondering, you know, "Well, when am I going to feel the slightest bit uncomfortable," and it never happens.
Other times, feeling great and just get uncomfortable and something shocking happens. I've felt bad ‑‑ I've worked myself into tournaments. I've felt bad and I've gotten treated like I felt bad.
So I've sort of been on all sides of it, you know, obviously doing it so many times.
But in this particular case I came in feeling good. I mean, I've made a lot of good decisions with my body this summer, trained hard, hitting the ball great, you know. Won in LA, was playing well in Montreal and nearly won there. So I knew I could play well here, I just was hoping for a few good things to happen because, you know, the older you get, the little things get harder.
Q. And '91, when you saw Connors making his run, did you think, "39, 35, whatever, you're not gonna see me doing that at that age, I can't imagine doing that"?
ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah.
Q. At the time, when you saw him doing it?
ANDRE AGASSI: Well, yeah, sure. I mean, yeah, I never ‑‑ you can't. You see ‑‑ I mean, you see all these guys, what's Federer, 23, 24, you know, Hewitt 23, 24; Roddick, Ginepri, James, all these guys, add 12 years and stick them out there. It's a hard thing to imagine. That's 12 years of wear and tear. That's 12 years of a lot of miles. It would be a big equalizer for sure.
Q. What's your secret?
ANDRE AGASSI: Secret for what?
Q. Still at your age, 35.
ANDRE AGASSI: Surround yourself with good people that know how to help you and make good decisions, and train and work hard.
Q. And what about Ginepri, since you have to play him now? I mean, is he very different from Blake? Do you expect him to be very different, the way he plays?
ANDRE AGASSI: You know, we played a few times, but he's obviously playing way better than the times that I've played him, just like James.
So I really don't know what to expect. I didn't spend a lot of time watching the match today, so ‑‑ I know Darren did, so we'll have a chat about that and see what he's doing and all that.
But regardless, you know, it's going to be an opportunity for both of us to go out there and play some great tennis and to make hopefully some magic happen this weekend.
Q. What did you say to James at the end of the match?
ANDRE AGASSI: Just a few kind words that were just meant for each other. That's all.
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Andre Agassi forever