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March 25, 2003

Bill Norris


THE MODERATOR: This is Bill Norris. Bill is going to explain the situation with Marcelo, then Marcelo will come in after. Any questions for Bill? Or, Bill, you want to make an opening statement?

BILL NORRIS: Yeah, Marcelo came to us yesterday with back pain. We had some tests run on him, an MRI, scan run on him and detected, because he had pain in the lower part of his back, it detected a small herniation between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, small herniation. As we know, all players have different levels of tolerance to pain. His, because, in his movement, when he plays, his body mechanics require him to twist and to move a lot differently than maybe some other players. In practice and everything, he had a lot of pain from that. It was just too much for him to tolerate. So he decided to talk to us, the training staff, and our medical doctors. It was a tough situation on his part, but he made this with a view towards the future. So I think that's his choice. That's what he's doing today.

Q. How long is an injury like that likely to keep a player out for?

BILL NORRIS: With spine pain, some days you're going to have good days and some days you'll have, especially if you've played a lot of matches in a row and you haven't had a lot of time to rest and get treatment on this, it's hard to say how long this type of pathology, this type of condition will bother him. Eventually, you know, he could play a year with this. It depends on the spinal column and the canal in the spinal, where the nerve root comes through. It's pressing up against more the fourth lumbar vertebrae, nerve there. But with treatment and things like that, if we had more time after he complained, when I say "more time," if we had three or four days to really work on him before this match, probably we would have -- he probably would have been able to play. But we didn't have that luxury of time, which is unfortunate in this case. His style of play lends itself to a lot of twisting and moving, and he found that on rotations, any time he would rotate to the left or the right, he felt the pain. Also, bending forward, he felt some pain, like a pinch, almost.

Q. Have you recommended a time he should stay out of competition?

BILL NORRIS: We're waiting for the -- what they did, when they did the MRI yesterday, they did a preliminary evaluation. We're waiting to see the rest of the film work. Then, probably we'll sit down with Marcelo and really map out some further strategies as far as rehabilitation protocols. So really we're in just the immediate stage of this condition, so... We really don't have a strategical plan yet, but we will have one this afternoon.

Q. You spoke with Rios today, in the morning?

BILL NORRIS: Yes, he came in when I got in this morning.

Q. He already had the decision made?

BILL NORRIS: No, he didn't really because he wanted to get treatment. I treated him. I gave him some electrical stimulation, some massage, some heat treatment in hopes that -- you know, make it a little more comfortable for him. And then we talked this over with the doctor. It wasn't just one decision, we did quite a bit of consulting with him. He wanted to see how it would be in practice. So we did a lot of treatment with him this morning, and then he went out and practiced and it just wasn't up to the standards that he needs to play.

Q. Did you see him last year when he withdrew to Agassi in the semifinal?


Q. Is this similar?

BILL NORRIS: This is different.

Q. Different?

BILL NORRIS: Yeah. This is a different pathology completely.

Q. Did he say how long his back's been bothering him?

BILL NORRIS: He's had, like a players -- I mean, this game, it demands a lot from you. It's very physical. He's had problems before with back pain, as a lot of players have. It's just that sometimes you get to a point where it's more than you can handle, so...

Q. How about this particular incident?

BILL NORRIS: This particular incident, he's had other spinal injuries before, but never really this low. He's had other injuries to his groin and adductor muscle groups. This is a pretty unique one, right here.

Q. This started bothering him his very last match, when he first started the tournament?

BILL NORRIS: It was coming on the last match but he thought he could have overcome it. He thought it was one of those days; he woke up and it was a little sore. But it continued. So that's why we really pursued it further yesterday with some diagnostic tests.

Q. Do you know the reason he has that kind of pain, that injury?

BILL NORRIS: Like I said before, I think because he's a very physical player, and I think the bending and the stretching and everything, it's probably been one of attrition, where it's continually built up to a point where he's having more wear and tear on that particular joint in his spine.

Q. For how many weeks will he be out of action?

BILL NORRIS: Well, I'd like to see him take a couple weeks off, along with treatment. This is our suggestion. So we'll see if that works out for him. Hopefully, he'll be pain-free after some reasonable time off.

Q. You will keep treating him today?

BILL NORRIS: He'll be treating -- we'll be giving him treatment as long as he's here in Miami. Then we'll be working with his physical therapist back home in Chile.

Q. To have two weeks off, you mean to do nothing, absolutely nothing?

BILL NORRIS: He'll be able to do some other things, once we get through this acute phase of, you know, of treatment. Hopefully, he can get some -- build off that, and eventually get back to a rehabilitated state that he can probably get in the water and he's non-weightbearing in the water; get a wet vest on him so he can still use his legs and use his upper-body strength and basically try to work on his core stability. That's where he's probably deficient, in that area. Having said that, with a spine condition, you basically want to get through the inflammatory stage, quiet it down, and then work on the muscles around that area just to support it. I don't think that he's contemplating any spinal surgery or any discoctomy or anything like that right now, any operation on a disk. Although I can't say that that's not, you know, down the road. I don't want to project in that area, because we really don't have documentation to prove that right now. But we do know that he has a lot of pain in that area, so we just want to make him comfortable right now.

End of FastScripts….

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