January 22, 2003
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Are you surprised a little bit to be in the semifinals here?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, of course I'm surprised. Yeah, I'm happy to be in the semifinals, I'm surprised. But I think so far I played a pretty good tournament. Yeah, I deserve -- right now, I think I deserve to be in the semifinals.
Q. How can you explain, if there is an explanation, about so many players around 30 years old are there?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, I think there's an explanation. I think just that, yeah, like a lot of players, maybe the older they get, they keep on working. I mean, before, a lot of players really -- they stop early, like with 27, 28. When they played with 18, 19 they played great tennis, then they stop when they were 27, 28. Now everybody keeps on playing and, yeah, there are a lot of older guys playing really good right now.
Q. What's suddenly made the translation of you in to a really top-class player, able to do so well in a Slam?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm getting older a little bit as well, so some experience. Yeah, I'm working hard with my coach always, so I think over the years I really worked a lot and worked hard and now it pays off.
Q. You seem to play very well at the beginning of the year. Can you describe to us what you do exactly for work between the two seasons.
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, I start preparing for the new season already end of November, so I have like five weeks like every year to work really hard with a condition coach, yeah, fitness coach, weight training. Yeah, since two years I do little bit different, I have a Tae Kwon Do teacher, so I really practice a lot. That's why I'm always fit in the beginning of the year.
Q. Were you surprised by the way your opponent fell away so badly in the third and fourth set?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I think in the third I just played pretty good. In the fourth, it was mentally it was tough for him because he got the early break and then he was mentally down, I think. But the third set, I mean, I was pretty happy with the way I played. So the fourth, maybe he was a little bit down, but I don't think in the third.
Q. Your speed about the court is obviously one of your great assets. Did you ever do any sort of sprinting or anything as a youngster in athletics?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Not really, but I'm working since five or six years with athletic coach. So we do sprints as well. But, it's, yeah, normally during the off-season and maybe like at two weeks during the year after Key Biscayne or something. So sometimes he's with me.
Q. What's the reaction been like back in Germany to your success?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, my parents are pretty happy, my sister (smiling). I spoke with them, yeah. They are pretty happy. So far I think, yeah, a lot of friends called me, a lot of people who went with me to school called me. I'm pretty surprised. A lot of people are seeing it on TV and they are happy.
Q. You're going to be one of the last four men at this tournament. Why do you think you've been able to progress all the way through two weeks, attracting very little attention on the way through?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, of course like players like Agassi, Hewitt, they get always more attention because they are like there for a couple of years and they play, I mean, they won Grand Slam tournaments, they won final, they play semis like every year. It's my first time. So maybe after this I get more attention.
Q. Even if you were to win a tournament, is that enough, or would you need to take your sleeves off as a way of getting attention?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I don't want to do anything different right now. I'm pretty happy (smiling).
Q. Do you take a holiday at all then? Do you go into training straightaway? When was the last time you went to the Bahamas or something?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: You mean last year after the season?
Q. Yeah, you say you go into training straightaway.
RAINER SCHUETTLER: No, I always have like two weeks off, I go skiing or whatever. Then I start practice again. So I have two weeks off.
Q. Davis Cup?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean -- you mean now?
Q. Well, two weeks from now.
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Two weeks, I go -- after the tournament I will go with the Davis Cup team to Florida to practice and then the whole team goes together to Buenos Aires next Friday or Saturday - Friday.
Q. What were your early inspirations in tennis? What sort of encouraged you to take up the sport as a career? Was it anything in particular, anybody in particular?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: No, actually I didn't know that I would be a tennis professional, yeah, before I was 17. I decided when I was 17, "Maybe after school I gonna be tennis professional." So of course everybody in Germany saw that Becker won Wimbledon and, I mean, that was a big boom in Germany. That's, of course, the reason why I started to play tennis.
Q. What were you doing at that time, before you wanted to become a tennis player?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: You mean when I was 17?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, I always played tennis but was like in a normal way, just like club matches and stuff like that. So then, yeah, some coaches decided to send me to like ITF tournaments, junior tournaments. I did pretty well there, and I was round of last 16 Australian Open in, I don't know, '94 or whatever, '93. So then I thought, "Oh, I'm not so bad. Maybe I try to play one or two years. If not, I go to university." And so right now it looks pretty good.
Q. In Germany the junior tournaments, you were never very good?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, I was like Top 10 in German Juniors in the ranking. But, I mean, it's a long way to play professional tennis.
Q. Had you worked out in your mind, before you decided to play tennis, what you might otherwise want to do in life?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Yeah, like my thoughts were like, "Okay, I graduate school and then I go to university, and then I go and have a good, interesting job." I have a good and interesting job right now (smiling), so I am pretty happy with the way everything turned out.
Q. What about the change in climate, a cold place into a hot summer? Does it affect you?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Actually, I like to play in the heat. I mean, I played two tournaments before. I played in Chennai the first week, and I played last week in Sydney. So I got used to the heat already. I really like to play in the heat. It's easier. I mean, in Germany it's minus 10 degrees now. I'm really happy to be here.
Q. What do you think is the shot or the weapon that is working better in your play?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Once again?
Q. Which is the weapon that you are more satisfied about? Is it your forehand, backhand, serve, what is it?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: My weakness is for sure my serve, and I think my strength is the return and, yeah, the aggressive play from the baseline. And, of course, I have to improve my serve and the way to the net. That's for sure.
Q. Have you played Younes or Andy Roddick?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I played both of them. I think Andy I played once in Hamburg, but I lost there, so I don't want to talk about that (smiling)... No, just kidding. And Younes I played a couple of times, like four or five times. But like I won a couple of times, I lost a couple of times, but I don't know exactly how many times we played.
Q. Can you describe for us what it is to be a tennis player in Germany in the shadow of Becker, not only that, but in the shadow of Haas and Kiefer. Is it comfortable? Do you have to fight to get contracts? Can you make money out of the court?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: I mean, it's -- I think it's normal that the expectations in Germany are very high because, I mean, Becker won Grand Slam tournaments, Michael Stich won Wimbledon, Steffi Graf. So the expectations of the spectators and, you know, the people in Germany are very high. But everybody's saying that there's a gap in German tennis. I don't think so. Nicolas was there, now he's injured. Tommy was last year No. 2 in the world for a long time. And I don't think that there's a gap. I mean, they played really good. Nicolas played the World Championships, he played semis. Tommy played last year semis. It's normal that they get more attention.
Q. Also in terms of money, Germany used to be for the last 10 years the gold mine for tennis in the world. Is it still the same?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: No, I think right now with the economy everywhere it's getting down a little bit, so it's right now in Germany the same way.
Q. Steffi Graf is here. Have you talked to her?
RAINER SCHUETTLER: Actually, I didn't see her at all, no. She's hiding (smiling).
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