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Écrit par Jerome   



March 24, 2006



              THE MODERATOR:   Ladies and gentlemen, Andre Agassi.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Thanks for coming together on such short notice, guys.

              Q.   How are you feeling?   Not so good, I guess?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, you know, it's been the same story now for a little while.   A couple good days followed by a series of difficult ones.   It's been quite, needless to say, frustrating, as well as exhausting, the whole process of trying to push myself through a few, you know, a few tournaments this year.   It's not right.   I didn't move around a lot last year at the end of the year because of my ankle, and when I got behind the eight ball this year, I just kept pushing and working because it's something I want to do.   You know, I love this game and I want to try and do it, you know.

              But it's just too many little setbacks.   I not only want to play, I want to win.   I am really not in the position to do that, so it's not fair to myself or the fans of tennis.   I'm going to choose to just try to get my body right and keep working, look at the schedule and see what's next at that point.

              But right now, I'm not in a position to be out there.   I'm way less than 100%.

              Q.   You got here early, you put in two hours a day on the Stadium Court working.   Was the back okay then?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, it depends which days you're talking about, to be honest.

              There's issues with the pain levels that one day might be a little bit more than other days, but sort of more specifically, even rotational issues which has affected, to some degree, my ball-striking and the few things I really do count on.

              I had glimpses of really playing a level of tennis that gives me a competitive chance out there against all these guys, but those glimpses were followed with a few days of struggling.   You know, I might be able to put together a good match, but that's not enough for me.

              Q.   So now, if you're not going to play any clay and you do want to play Wimbledon, is it possible, conceivable, you might be able to find even a hard court challenger between now and the grass court season if you're feeling okay?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Listen, I'm not against anything that helps me, you know, do what I love to do.   I love playing this game, you know.   I don't know how possible it's going to be for me, you know.   It seems pretty, dark, you know, at the moment.   But I am an optimist at heart, and I will believe in more moments that I can still have out there.   I mean, when my body is right, there's still a considerable amount left in me, I believe that.

              But I'll have to hope for that, and I will.

              Q.   Is it going to be a question of surfaces, do you think, it's on which surface you think your body can stand up to the rigors that it has to stand up to to compete.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, for sure clay was the first thing I had to sort of come to terms with in reference to really what it offers me versus what it takes from me.   That was a pretty clear decision this year for me.   I've been able to negotiate the hard courts for the last four years, I mean, which is probably the length of time I've sort of been negotiating this issue.

              But I came into it, you know, this year pretty far behind on my movement and sort of what I've asked of myself.   I threw myself in with eagerness and desire, but it was just too much too soon.   I think I just kept working through times when maybe I shouldn't have, you know.   And that hasn't been -- it's been a series of probably some bad decisions combined with an increasing wear and tear issue.

              So I'm going to try to control that, which I can.   Try to make a smarter decision and not be out there, you know, less than 100%.   And I am.   It's just too many tough days when I finally get a good one.

              Q.   Indian Wells, wishful thinking?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I suppose in hindsight the whole year so far has been a bit wishful thinking, but, you know, it is, I do have days, a couple in a row, sometimes three in a row, where I put together tennis and practices that leave me really hopeful for winning.   Then I can go out there the next day, and for a series of days, be less than ordinary.

              And I never know when they're going to come or not, so it's sort of not an easy thing to forecast, but, you know, I've got to stop the bleeding in that respect.   It's not easy for me to care this much about it and find myself this sort of, this sort of, frustrated as well as less than my best.   This doesn't feel right.

              Q.   Can you even picture yourself never playing again, or do you picture yourself playing again?   Can you fathom the idea?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I really, really want to, you know.   I want to.   I plan on it.   I'm hopeful for it.   I'm optimistic about it.   But I have to also call it like it is right now.   Is it possible that I can't anymore?   It's definitely possible.

              But I'll continue to work, and I'll continue to put myself in a position to do this well, and I still think I can if my body responds.   But only time will tell.

              Q.   Is that something that's difficult to accept, the possibility that it might not come together for you?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, it's been difficult.   It's time for me to be honest about where I am, you know.   I mean, you get real tired of talking about your issues, and you try to pull short of them ever sort of undermining the competition that's out there, you know.   But I've gotten to a point where there's no sort of getting around my limitations at the moment.   I just don't want to play, I mean -- I want to win.   I can't deny that.

              So it's been -- I've been somewhat stubborn about it over the last four years, but I think every month I find myself probably in a different place.   I'm hoping that the decisions I make over the next few months will put my body in a better place, and then everything else can follow.

              Q.   How different is it to fight back from this than it is to fight back from being healthy and not playing well?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, you know, I've been through not being at my best a number of times.   There's been a few times it's been physical issues, it's been surgery or it's been physical setbacks.   Other times it's been just a disappointing stretch of time where I was, you know, 140 in the world.   So I know what this is all about, and I'm willing to deal with it, and I plan on dealing with it, but I've never been, you know, 36 before so I can't tell you that the playing field isn't different.

              But I can promise you it's still important to me, and I can promise you that I'm going to respect this game and the fans of it by not being out there unless I can, unless I can really go out there and try to win.

              Q.   How much will the chance of playing Wimbledon be an incentive to you?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, it's always an incentive to me.   Listen, I brought my family here, my coach and his family.   We've been working hard every day, and the reason I've done that is because it's all important to me.   Wimbledon, even more so because of just what it means.

              But I'll have to be realistic about that, too, when the time comes I'll have to assess it.   But it is certainly a motivation.

              Q.   Have your doctors told you from a medical perspective there's nothing more they can offer you in terms of treatment, or is there something you don't want to go to?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I haven't really pursued or considered surgery.   I don't know what the hopes would be for it anyhow.   And I don't know if I would make that decision.

              But, you know, I haven't rested it, I haven't -- it's been, you know, when my ankle was -- when the ligaments were gone in my ankle over the fall, I didn't move around a lot, so you're under an illusion, you're feeling pretty good.   Then when you start the year behind the eight ball and sort of throw yourself into it, not moving around for a little while, it's a shock to the system.

              I'll have to see how just real basic rest helps me with a plan of getting into the tennis and the demands, and a bit more of a realistic time frame and then see what it is, you know.   I mean, it's a tough process.   I know it's not an easy one to go through.   But at the same time, I have a lot of support from my family and I enjoy doing this and I don't feel compromised in my life with where we're all at, so everything I'll address fully and completely.

              But I can't say where it's going to leave me.

              Q.   After the US Open, were you feeling like, "Hey, look what I just did"?   Did you feel recharged, then was it just that ankle injury that's to blame for this?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   No, no, this has been something I've dealt with for four years now.   You could probably even go back to the tapes of the ceremony and you'll see me, as I cool down, stand on one leg and start to lean.   I almost put my arms around Roger, you know.   I mean, it had been two months, two and a half months since my injection.

              But, you know, the ankle injury certainly got me to not run around.   I still tried in Shanghai, but then when I jumped back into it, it was just too sudden.   There was too much urgency to play the hard courts, to be ready as soon as possible, and, you know, it's going to take me some time.

              But, you know, for me, it's not going to be a function of my ranking.   It's not going to be a function of, you know, of anything except being out there with a real competitive chance, you know.   I love doing it, but only if I can win.   I mean, that's the fun of it.   The fun is the competition and the challenge.   When you feel like you can't live up to that, it's not fair to me after 20 years and it's not fair to the fans of this sport.   I won't put myself or anybody else through that.

              Q.   Are shots not an option?   The injections don't hold up for you?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   It's a guess as to which one lasts longer, you know, but I'm also dealing with spasms that restrict my rotation from my shots.   As a result of those moments, I don't hit the ball nearly as clean as I'm used to and, you know, I don't have a lot out there but I have my ball-striking.   When that's compromised, it really, really becomes a problem.

              So shots can help for a period of time.   I'm restricted as to how often I can get them.   You know, this is the last tournament before the clay starts, and I'm not a 100%, so I'm not going to do it.

              Q.   Do you have any regrets about playing in Dubai, considering all the criticism that's come out about that tournament?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   What criticism are you referring to?

              Q.   Well, Peter Bodo and Jon Wertheim from Sports Illustrated said there were two problems.   They said the problem with the tournament was twofold.   People in Israel wouldn't be allowed to enter the country.   The second issue was some of the tennis writers thought you took appearance money.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   What was the second issue?

              Q.   The second issue was that appearance money was offered for you to come, that had nothing to do with the prize money.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, those criticisms have -- certainly, that one has been a part of many different tournaments at different times.   Listen, I wasn't aware of that, and still not aware of it so...

              Q.   How is the pain in your general life?   Is it more when you're on the court or does it affect you playing with the kids?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   If it gets bad from the court, it will transfer.   I mean, my wife can hold the kids longer than me, for sure (smiling).   But I suppose most women can, too, it seems.

              But I struggle.   I struggle with, you know, standing for a long period of time.   That's when it's bad off the court.   But in everyday life, it's okay if I'm not putting a toll on it.

              Q.   What are your therapy alternatives?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   You know, they all tell you the same thing, certain stretch routines.   I have what they call a spondylolisthesis, which is the vertebrae has moved a little forward, which limits the room in there anyhow, combined that with a bulged disk, and there's not a whole lot of margin for error.   So my situation is pretty exaggerated in that respect.

              Q.   Do you feel as though your eagerness to get back on the court is compromising what you should be doing in the therapy in order to get rid of this?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I've made a few bad decisions because I want to be out there.   You know, I'm trying hard to get things right and to feel comfortable and to just bring what it is I've done for so long, you know.

              But I'm definitely guilty of that.

              Q.   When did you make this decision?   When did the light bulb go off that you can't play here?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I pushed through until yesterday.   You know, my practice, the way I felt later in the evening and the realistic possibilities of how I can perform here was pretty clear.   It was a couple good days followed by the last three being very difficult.

              Q.   Are you taking yourself off the Davis Cup list?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I think Patrick did that for me, so I don't blame him (smiling).

              Q.   Yesterday's practice particularly painful?   Was there a moment where you said...

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, my rotation was real limited.   My back had spasmed.   Muscle relaxers and anti-inflamatories it's common, commonplace for me these days.   You know, my rotation was an issue.   Hitting and striking the ball well, and certainly movement.   Then it gets to your mind.   You know you're not happy.   That shouldn't be the case.

              Q.   Can you talk about the disappointment of not being able to play here specifically.   It's been your 20th year in a row, six titles.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I've always loved playing here.   I mean, the only thing that I love equal to Miami is this tournament.   I mean, they're both just great places to be, a lot of memories, a lot of great matches, certainly one of the best arenas for me to be at my best.

              But this is disappointing.   Twenty years in a row at the Open, it would have been nice to be here.   But that's not worth being less than my best.

              Q.   Do you have a time frame in your mind, how long this is going to take, even in the back of your mind, or is this a day-to-day thing?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I don't know.   I don't know.   I'm, you know, going to get back to the drawing board with some doctors and some programs and see how I pull up over the next few months and see if I can progress in a way that allows me to get out there and do what I love, you know.   I'll be open and honest about that whole process, because there's not much other choice for me than to just look at it objectively.

              Q.   What are the chances of seeing you next year here?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   (Smiling).   I don't know.   I'd just be speculating.

              Q.   Do you think much about life after tennis, and how do you see that panning out?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I've only known tennis in my life, so to sort of think of it without would be an adjustment, and I'm not doing that yet.

              THE MODERATOR:   Andre, thank you very much.

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Thank you, guys.

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