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November 9, 2003

Rainer Schuettler


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Rainer.

Q. So how does it feel, first Masters Cup? You've been here since Wednesday.

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I've been preparing like any other tournament. Of course, it has a different atmosphere when there's only so few other singles players. It's a lot different just having eight players instead of 32. We do have the doubles guys here, so, really, it's special but it's not that much different from other tournaments.

Q. So you feel like you belong here?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Of course when the tournament starts, it will be a different atmosphere. You're conscious of the fact that you're only one of the top eight guys and that you're here at the Masters and there's a lot on the line. Personally, there's a lot at stake for me as well. It's a dream that I'm here playing, and that I'm one of the top eight players in the world. Without question, when the matches start tomorrow, this is all something really special.

Q. Is it true there's a slant to the court?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Definitely in terms of how hard courts go, it's not great. But everyone plays on the same court. There's really nothing you can do on that end. It's slanted a little bit so the rain can run off, but there are some uneven parts of the court as well. It's not the best hard court I've played on, but there's nothing you can do about that.

Q. What's your goal at this tournament?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Clearly, my dream or my goal would be to get into the semifinals. I mean, first up, Coria. He's probably the newcomer of the year. He's played really consistently this year. Roddick is No. 1 in the world. If you compare with the other group, maybe they have a few more of the top players. But in the end, it really comes down to how you're playing on that day. I could certainly lose all three matches in this group, but I think I could also win all three matches. In that respect, my goal is clearly to play well and reach the semis - and then anything is possible.

Q. How are you feeling physically?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Physically, I'm feeling great. After Paris I had a few days where I just rested and recharged. I did a little "regeneration training," and in that sense physically I'm feeling great. When you're here at the Masters, there's no question of motivation. For those three to five matches, without question, I'll have enough physical strength to go all out.

Q. So there's no after-effects of your long season?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: No, without question, I feel fresh. I feel strong enough to play well and win matches.

Q. After your success in January, this year has really taken off for you. What were your highlights and low-lights of the season?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Of course highlights were, without question, the final in the Australian Open, then the wins in Tokyo and Lyon. But I'm particularly happy with how I was really consistent at all the Masters Series tournaments. I think I was, two or three times, in semifinals; two times in the quarterfinals. That's something that pleased me the most, to play well in the important tournaments. In the last few years I've done well at the smaller tournaments and not so well at the Masters Series. This year, it was the other way around. I really was consistent in the big tournaments. Low-lights, the low point was, obviously, the Davis Cup, that we dropped out of the World Group. It was tragic, actually.

Q. How long did it take until you were over the disappointment of losing Davis Cup?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Definitely took a few days. But I went pretty quickly to the next tournament in Tokyo, had to prepare for that and had another goal in front of me. I said, "Okay, it's behind me. I got other goals ahead of me. I just need to get back to playing tennis." But, certainly, a few days. It was tough. I just didn't bring the performance on that Sunday that I felt I could have, or that I had during the course of the year. I just didn't play well.

Q. Coria first up for you. You've played him once; you lost. What's your take?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I think he's a really difficult player to play because he simply has no weakness. He moves quick, good forehand, good backhand. Really can do everything. Really good defensive player. He's good at passing shots, and a quick player. In that sense, he's tough to play. I just have to make sure that I play aggressively without making mistakes and don't let him get in the offensive. In some ways, playing other players, you can come up with a strategy better. You can say, "Okay, one side is better than the other." With Coria, you simply can't do that. There's no weakness other than maybe he doesn't like to come to the net so much.

Q. Is your match with Roddick going to be a highlight of this week?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Actually, here, every match is a highlight. It's a Masters tournament. There's no match that will stick out any more than the other. It's more enjoying the atmosphere, enjoying the fact that I'm here and playing at the Masters. And, hopefully, I can show good tennis, play well, and at the end of the tournament, we'll see if that's enough or not.

Q. At the beginning of the year, if someone said, "Rainer, you're going to be at the Masters in Houston," what would you have thought about that?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Before the Australian Open, if you had told me that I was going to even play in the final of the Australian Open, I would have said, "Is your head on straight?" After the Australian, I noticed that I'd picked up a lot of points and I was thinking, "If I can play consistently during the year, I'll have a chance at the Tennis Masters Series." I realized this was really the opportunity of a lifetime, so I put everything into that. I prepared well and played well in every tournament I played. In that respect, my plan this year, the things that I invested in, the things that I chose not to do, really paid off.

Q. What was the most difficult thing this year in terms of achieving your success?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Sometimes I did have the feeling, "Okay, okay, maybe I need to take a break, or do something else." Even when I had to do some things that maybe I didn't want to do, and Dirk said to me, "Hey, we need to put this on your plan or put this in your schedule," I said, "Okay, let's do it, if that's what's best." I wasn't always necessarily happy, but I felt like I did everything I needed to do that was important for my tennis.

Q. Can you invest this kind of energy next year and the year after?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Without question. Now that I've sort of tasted success at the top, I'm not planning to change anything for the next years. I'm up at the top, I've had success, and I plan to stay up there. It's been fun for me. Even if I wanted to do other things that might be more fun, I know that in five, six years, I won't be able to do this, so success makes you even more motivated. For me, there's nothing more special when I've been training hard to play in front of a packed house. There's a super atmosphere, a lot of people who are impressed with the level of tennis out there, and you have fans who are just enjoying themselves watching the tennis. When I've been out there working hard to reach a good level of tennis, it's just something you can't describe - more than 15,000 people, standing ovations. For example, that semifinal against Roddick, those are moments in life that I'll never forget. When I think about it, it even gives me a little bit of goosebumps. It's, once again, something you can't describe; you just have to live those moments.

Q. Are players treating you differently in the locker room because of your success this year? More respect, for example? Any differences?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I think every player respects one another and accepts one another because you travel a lot. Of course the better you play, maybe people watch you a little bit more closely because you're a little bit more of a competitor. They might see like how your fitness is, what you're doing, for example. Definitely, I think the respect is there, but it's there for all players. Yes, the respect has gotten a little bit higher because I played well this year. That's normal. But really between everyone, there's a high level of respect.

Q. How is it with finding practice partners? Is it different at this kind of tournament?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, up until this point, I've only practiced with guys from the other group. I also had a training partner here for a few days who I used for the first few days because everyone wasn't here yet. Now I played this morning with Nalbandian; yesterday, with Federer. Definitely, you're training with the other guys.

Q. What are your thoughts on Houston?

RAINER SCHUETTLER: I've been here before for a "GQ" shoot. In that sense, I know it a little bit. I've been through the museums. During this tournament, I'm staying with some family friends in River Oaks, which is, of course, a really beautiful area - nice living.

End of FastScripts….

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