March 14, 2003
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
MODERATOR: With the win today, Rainer advances to his first career tennis Master Series semifinal; he becomes the first German to reach the semifinals here at Indian Wells since Boris Becker in 1995. Questions for Rainer.
Q. The match couldn't have gone much better for you. Did you execute everything you wanted to do?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, of course it was very important that I made the first break, then he had some pressure on my serve. I was happy with my serve today again. The last match I really served good. That gave him a lot of pressure like during my service games. There was one tough point in the match when I was Love-40 down in the second set. But, yeah, I won the game. I think from this point on when he was a break down, he had a lot of pressure and he had to go for the shots. My tactics work. My strategy worked really well today.
Q. Was it the same strategy you used in Australia or was Australia different because you knew he would be slower there based on his last match?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I don't think that he was slower in Australia than he was today because he had one day off after the long match he had. I think he's pretty fit, so he had enough time to recover. Yeah, my tactics were similar to the one from Australia.
Q. Which is what, to move him around, bring him into net a little?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Of course. My game is to make the opponent run because I like to run, I like to have some rallies. Here today it worked pretty well.
Q. He said you love to kind of suck people into the net because you hit great passing shots. Is that part of your game plan?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, I always like to return and play passing shots. I mean, yeah, my return is one of my strengths. So, yeah, it fits my game. I like it.
Q. In that one game you were down Love-40 on serve. I think it was the point to get to 30-40, you hit a little drop volley that looked like it was awfully close to the sideline. Were you trying to play it that close?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, I tried to play a stop, yeah, of course. But there was a little bit wind out there. Sometimes you cannot say, "Okay, I want to place it right there." I wanted to make him come to the net, to move forward, because he was so far behind the baseline. I mean, of course, if I hit it a little bit later, then the ball is going out. But it was a perfect dropshot.
Q. I'm sure you've spoken about this many times this year, but you're having another very good week, so what has been the most important thing to get you from where you were last year to now?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I think it's everything. I worked very hard during the last couple of years, and every year I played a little bit better. And last year I was 23 in the rankings. Everybody asked me, "Why is it possible that you such a big success right now?" But I was 23 in the world. After Australia, I was 16. So it's not really a big difference. The only difference is that I played one Grand Slam tournament very well. So I played two weeks like unbelievable tennis, and that's the only difference. I played the same tennis last year than I played today. Maybe right now I have a little bit more confidence and I go -- like the dropshot, I go for some more risky shots during the important points.
Q. You seem to be very good at going to the bank. I notice you're number two on the money list. If you win this tournament, you'll be the leading money leader on the ATP Tour.
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Sounds great, huh (smiling)?
Q. Buy Champaign for everybody.
RAINER SCHUETTLER: This year I can't complain. Yeah, I think if you play good tennis, you also earn some money.
Q. It says in the tour guide that your most memorable tennis moment was watching Boris win Wimbledon when you were nine years old.
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, that's right.
Q. That is what inspired you to take up the game?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, after Boris' Wimbledon victory, there was a big boom in Germany. I mean, this was a time when it really -- like when tennis came up and everybody played tennis. Of course, maybe without Boris I never would have started to play tennis. Before I used to play soccer. I loved to play soccer. Then like I tried to play tennis. When I was 15, 16, I started to practice a little bit more. Then I said, "Okay, I have to decide soccer or tennis." My decision was to play more tennis. For sure it was a very important moment I think for the tennis in Germany.
Q. So you really have only been playing with all seriousness for about 10 years then?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah. I never thought about playing professional tennis actually. I graduated school when I was 19. When I was 17 I started to play more tournaments. This was the point when I thought about playing professional tennis. Because I did pretty good in the junior tournaments, there was a point where I started to think about playing professional tennis.
Q. Can you talk about either Blake or Kuerten, what you'd have to do against them.
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, both of them are great players. In the semis it really doesn't matter who's coming, it will be a tough match. If I want to win, I have to be a hundred percent prepared and fit. So I played James Blake in Australia. It was a tough match, four sets. But he has a huge serve, huge forehand. He's playing really good. I saw the match yesterday against Moya. It was a very good match. I mean, Guga was No. 1 in the world. I mean, he's coming back. He was injured for a long time. He's playing great tennis as well right now. I think in both matches, there will be a lot of rallies. Yeah, hopefully I will leave the court as the winner, but it will be hard work.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.