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April 24, 2004

Rainer Schuettler


Q. Rainer, is it going to be a nice 28th birthday for you?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: If I win, it will be the perfect one, yes (smiling).

Q. How did you play today?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I think in the beginning, both of us, we made a few mistakes. We wanted to see how the other one is playing. Yeah, then I started to play very good, I think, especially I was happy about my serve again today. And I made an unbelievable passing shot in the tiebreak to lead 3-Love. That was very important, that I won the tiebreaker. Then in the second set I felt more comfortable. I was putting more pressure on him, and, yeah, I think I played a pretty good second set.

Q. Do you think it's a surprise that you're playing this final on clay?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I never did it in my life, so I think it's a surprise, yes (smiling).

Q. You did it in Munich.

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, you mean on clay. But I never played a Masters Series - not even on hard court I played a final. So of course it's a surprise, yes.

Q. What about this surface? I read in the Media Guide that you think you can play well on all surfaces, but what about clay?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I played well on clay. I played last 16 of Roland Garros last year, I played quarters in Rome, so I know that I can play well on clay. What surprised me the most is that I beat, in this tournament, three former No. 1 players. This is what really surprised me, that I played the whole tournament very, very good. And, yeah, that I'm in the final, I was surprised, too.

Q. You didn't beat only former No. 1s, but two guys, Kuerten and Moya, who have won here in Monte-Carlo and in Paris. What has changed in your game? How can you explain that at 28, one day you wake up, and you beat these guys (laughter)?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I did beat them before as well - not on clay court, but on hard court.

Q. Yeah, but is different.

RAINER SCHUETTLER: It depends. I mean, I knew that I can beat them. I felt comfortable this week. Everything was going my way. I was little bit sick in the beginning of the week so I didn't expect too much and, yeah, I was just fighting round by round. And maybe that's -- sometimes it's easier than to go in a tournament and to expect something.

Q. Do you think it's better for you to play in five sets against Coria? Is it fairer for you?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I think it really doesn't matter because he's very fit, he's very quick, he's fast, he's in good shape. Yeah, I feel pretty happy with my fitness, so I think it really doesn't matter if you play best-of-three or best-of-five. It will be a long match anyways, and we're going to have a lot of rallies. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to the match tomorrow. I mean, I'll wake up and I'll try to win; he does the same. So at the end, I think we'll be very long on court tomorrow.

Q. You made 28 winners today and Carlos Moya, only 19. Do you think that made the difference today?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Every point you make makes a difference, so... I don't know how many unforced errors I did, I don't know how many unforced errors he did; I didn't see the statistics. I wanted to play aggressive, I wanted to attack him on his backhand; that's what I did. If I made a lot of winners, I'm happy about that.

Q. What was it like two years ago, Roland Garros, Coria, wasn't it?


Q. What do you remember of that match?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I think I lost in three sets. But I don't remember too much about my games in the past. So I know that I lost in three sets, and I have to play better tomorrow to win. I have to play better tomorrow to win the match definitely. But it's a long time ago. Really, he was a different player, I was a different player. To me, it doesn't matter what happened two years ago or three years ago.

Q. You are a different player, but can you try to explain to us what is the biggest difference. The legs, you always had. The mind, maybe? The forehand, backhand, volley, whatever?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: No, I think it's just a matter about the confidence. I mean, when I played final in the Australian Open, I saw that even if I have to play best-of-five that I can beat anybody in the world. And that was the -- I think maybe it clicked a little bit, and I was sure that I can beat everybody, even if I have to be four hours on court. And that's the only difference. I think it's a mental thing. I always played well. The year before I was No. 20 or 23 in the world, so I was -- I think if you're Top 100 in the world, you're a good player. Everybody - you see - everybody can beat everybody. So you have to be a good player to be there. It's just a mental thing. Maybe the important points I just -- I take the risk, I am not trying to hold back, I just go for the shots. And, yeah, if you do that and if you play well, then suddenly the balls are going in and you don't know what you changed.

Q. Are you still working part-time with Castellani or no?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Of course. I did in the past, and I will also do in the future. He is a good friend of mine, he helps me out a lot, and it's very important to, yeah, to work your mental side as well. So I will work with him, I guess, in Rome and the tournaments before Wimbledon like we did the last years, and I'm always in touch with him, yes.

Q. The key tomorrow could be to mix your game. You mixed your game a lot today and it worked. You go to the net, you serve and volley.

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yes, of course. I mean, against clay court specialists, or clay court players, if you just stay on the baseline, it doesn't help. I mean, you know that the ball is coming back every time. And of course I have to mix up my game, but that's especially my game. I mean, I just try to put my game on to him and I try to make pressure. That's what I always do. It doesn't matter if it's clay court, hard court or grass, I try to play aggressive from the baseline, try to go to the net, and even sometimes if I see, yeah, that I have the chance, to play serve and volley.

Q. If you are tomorrow one point from the match on your serve, will you try an ace?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: To be honest with you, I hope that I go and hit the ball with my racquet. That's all I try to do (smiling).

Q. German tennis has always been under the name of "Boris Becker." Becker never won this tournament. What would it mean for you, eventually, to win a tournament that Boris Becker, the "Great Boris Becker", has never won?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I don't think about what he did. That's completely out of my picture. He was a great player. He retired, and he will always be a legend for Germany and for German tennis. But I don't think about what he did. I just want to win the tournament. I go out there and try to win tomorrow and try to give my best. And if I lose and I know that I tried everything to win and I tried my best on the court, then I'm happy as well. So we'll see if I can celebrate my birthday with a victory or not, but I just want to do everything to win.

End of FastScripts….

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