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Écrit par Jerome   
20-09-2006

PACIFIC LIFE OPEN
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

March 9, 2003

An interview with:

ANDRE AGASSI

MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Tell us what happened.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I was experiencing, leading up to Scottsdale, some strong discomfort in my shoulder that was getting worse by the day. It sort of led me to where I am now, which is in a place where my muscles have constricted around a nerve that sort of runs through them. The nerve's being impinged. Every time I hit forehands or serves, I'm getting a strong sort of electrical nerve pain that shoots through my shoulder. I had an MRI done. I've been getting it treated pretty intensely, hoping to be ready here. But it's just not to be. It needs more time.

Q. What is the prognosis for Miami?

ANDRE AGASSI: Hard to say. Certainly I would be extremely disappointed for it to continue long enough to jeopardize Miami, as well. This is disappointing for me. But you're talking about something that arguably you can't really do a lot about. It's not as if you can get in there and sort of work it out because there's sort of a side of it that says if you're digging into the nerve itself, then you're irritating it further. You know, strong antiinflammatories and rest is the best I can do for it at the moment. And I hope to be ready. I have strong hopes. But this is exactly the same thing I had in 1999 leading up to Paris. Through the clay season, I had to miss because of this sort of pain that I was having; never quite could figure out what it was. So I'm pretty familiar with it.

Q. Did this happen with one swing? Do you remember one feel or just cumulative?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, both really. I mean, it's cumulative, but it gets to a point where you start feeling it on every swing. There's enough room where if your muscles tighten up, there's some freedom in there. But when it keeps tightening up and keeps getting worse, eventually you cut off the amount of room that the nerve has. So that's the cumulative. Now I'm sort of in a state where I'm needing it all to sort of settling down, or else I'll be dealing with this for a lot longer than I need to. I'm running at about 60% of range of motion and power. It's not good.

Q. How far back did you first feel it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Probably a week before Scottsdale, leading up to Scottsdale.

Q. In practice?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah.

Q. Are the doctors quite confident it's going to quickly resolve?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I took the injection deep in the shoulder joint to get the MRI as clear as possible. The MRIs really suggest that it's hard to believe I've even been playing tennis because of sort of how good everything looks. My shoulder structurally is in good shape. But, again, the muscles have sort of constricted around the nerves that are creating the problem. So other things are starting to have to make up for that. You know, if I continue to play right now, a few things can happen, and they're all bad.

Q. Were you alarmed during your first-round match at Scottsdale?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I sort of went out on the court needing a few more answers. There was always the, "Okay, is this something that's going to warm up when I play and the next day not be worse?" Those are sort of the two things you look for: "Will I be able to play at my fullest? If I do, what will it mean tomorrow?" The answers were pretty clear. I was a bit limited in how I could push through it. I was definitely getting further behind, as far as recovery, went the next day.

Q. When did you have the MRI?

ANDRE AGASSI: Straight after my match in Scottsdale. I played Monday day, so Tuesday, last Tuesday.

Q. Is it a question of being very patient? Tim has found he wanted to get back, of course. Then he struggled a bit. I know it's not quite as severe as his. Is patience the most important element now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I think sometimes the clearest decisions are the most difficult. You know, this is one of those that it's not an easy decision, but it is clear to me because these are the exact decisions that have allowed me to play for 17 years. I need to make sure I keep this all in context of what it is I'm trying to accomplish in the bigger picture. So it's a frustrating decision, it's very difficult, very disappointing. I love being here, I love playing here. I think it's a great opportunity for me to be out here on the hard courts. But there's not enough you could throw on the line for me to risk not being able to do this longer. But it's not an easy one.

Q. In '99 it worked out okay.

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it did. But it was a long time. A lot longer than I wanted it to be. Happened in Hong Kong, I pulled out of the Tokyo event went to Monte-Carlo, pulled out of Monte-Carlo. Took injections around the shoulder then. But the good news in all that is it's taken four years to come back, so that I try to stay positive about. If I can treat this right, I know I can rid myself of it for a while longer, which would be great.

Q. How much unease is there to have any kind of injury at this stage of your career?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, it's not ideal. But, again, the fundamentals of it look good - the structure of the shoulder, the rotator cuff - everything's in order, with relatively little wear and tear. So there's been some positive sides to it. Again, you know, everything sort of tenses up when you fire that muscle over and over again. There's just not a whole lot of room in there for the nerves side of it. It's frustrating, but there's also some good news, you know, that I can get over this.

Q. You don't sound particularly worried about it.

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I want to be here playing. I wouldn't say I'm worried long-term, but I'm not worried long-term because of the way I'm deciding to approach this.

Q. When you felt it just before Scottsdale, did you say "This feels like '99 "?

ANDRE AGASSI: I did. I did. I caught it a little earlier, but it was very familiar to me. When I hit a forehand, it was a certain kind of pain. When I hit a serve, it was sort of a different kind of pain. That was familiar. Weather has a big impact on it, too. When it's cold outside, it's not as warm, it's even worse. So this would be the place that it should feel its best right now. The fact that it doesn't feel good, I just can't take the chance.

Q. In terms of weeks or months, how long was it affecting you in '99 when it originally came? Was there a time where it wasn't a problem any more?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, you'd have to actually run the dates for me to know. I can't remember the weeks in between the tournaments. I missed a number of tournaments. I only played a couple matches in Rome leading up to Paris that year. This is one of those things where sort of if I can get in it a position where it's only bothering me 20%, 30%, you can keep it at bay and still make progress while you continue to play. You treat it properly, you warm it up properly, you ice it down afterwards, you get work done on it. But if it's not sort of quite under that hump, you're a little on the other side of that hump where now things are just tight enough, where there's continual aggravation, then it's not a function of keeping it at bay; it's a function of it getting worse. And right now that's where I am. When I'm on the court, I'm handicapped and I'm worse off for it the next day. That's what makes it a clear decision.

Q. How does it affect your overall fitness regime and the training you're going to do? Will you do a lot of footwork or will you totally take time off and rest?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. This is just a function of making sure that sort of rests. The good news is, when it's time to get on the court, I can be ready to go fitness-wise, because obviously I can run and I can train other parts of my body. But this affects your mind, it affects some of your training. You know, it has an impact. But it's something that I can get around and still keep myself in position, just as long as I don't have to deal with this for a long time.

Q. Did you practice today?

ANDRE AGASSI: No, yesterday.

Q. Yesterday you made the decision?

ANDRE AGASSI: A 30-minute hit with Kafelnikov and I just had to walk off the court. This morning I thought it was a little irritated from all the work I've been getting done. This morning I woke up to it being a little worse off. It's unrealistic for me to think about playing and taking care of it at the same time. It certainly affects my enjoyment of the game when I'm out there.

Q. All things being equal, have you sorted out your schedule for the spring, the clay season? Do you have it in your mind exactly where you were going to play?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I had the plan of winning here, winning in Key Biscayne, then continuing that throughout the clay season, sort of parlaying that straight into the grass (smiling).

Q. All right.

ANDRE AGASSI: So on and so on.

Q. Your schedule is what at the moment?

ANDRE AGASSI: What's on the schedule is, to be honest, somewhat not a factor when it comes to the decisions that I have to make at this stage of my career. My plan was to be as healthy and as strong for every tournament as possible, knowing that my goal is to be at my best for the biggest ones. Now I need to sort of take a step back, regroup, get ready for Key Biscayne. Hopefully I'll be ready to go there. Then depending on how things go there will determine how much I play over the clay, so on. It's an ongoing balancing act.

Q. You don't really know when you might be ready for Key Biscayne? You just wake up sometime or does it take thorough examination?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it's a pretty significant, alarming sort of pain. You know, when you have a nerve, it's something that when it does release, you realize that it's gotten considerably better. I'll be able to tell that, to be honest, swinging a racquet. Getting on the court, pain is your body's way of telling you where you stand. I'll be able to make that decision as I go along.

 
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