April 24, 1999
ATP: Questions, please.
Q. Another tough match, the toughest of the week for you?
MARCELO RIOS: I think the toughest one was the first one, winning 7-6 in the third. The first round I think is the toughest one. I think I got a lot of chances today, didn't take it. First set, 1-Love, 15-30, after that I start playing pretty bad. But I hang there, and I think I played a good third set. I'm glad I won. I think I played pretty good at the end, serving better, pretty happy.
Q. The second set, when he was leading 5-1, you tried to play more relaxed. Did you hope you could win in two sets?
MARCELO RIOS: Yeah, I was playing too defensive until the 5-1. Was tough to see; the sun was right in my eyes on the other side. I miss-hit some balls. That cost me the second set. But I think the third set I played pretty good.
Q. You said you played Kuerten a couple of weeks ago. What happened then? How did that go?
MARCELO RIOS: I won 6-3, 6-4.
Q. Do you think also he was tired in the third? Did you see that he was a little bit tired?
MARCELO RIOS: I don't know if he was tired. He said he was tired yesterday, and he won 6-Love in the third (laughter). But I think every time I move him around, was tough for him to come back. But, like I said, I played a really good third set, serving better. Once I start attacking, I think he didn't have a chance to beat me like that.
Q. Is it special to play a left-handed player for you as a left-hander?
MARCELO RIOS: I think it's not much difference. The only difference is in the serve. I think the kick is totally different in a righty. But I like to play lefties. I think I feel more comfortable on the court. I think every time I play a lefty, I play much better.
Q. Do you feel that you are at the same level as when you got to No. 1 now?
MARCELO RIOS: For sure I'm not. I play only four tournaments this year. I'm not feeling the same. I think important moments I get not the same as I used to be before, I get a little bit tight. But for sure playing better, being in the final of Monte-Carlo again I think is pretty good.
Q. How did you feel with your back in the third set, everything all right?
MARCELO RIOS: Everything's fine with my back.
Q. It's only a bed memory now?
MARCELO RIOS: Huh?
Q. It's only a bad memory now?
MARCELO RIOS: Yeah, for sure. I think my back is already a hundred percent. I think I got four really tough months trying to recover. Really happy that I'm back.
Q. It's the first time you met Jerome Golmard. What is your impression?
MARCELO RIOS: I think he's a good player. He's not really regular. He play two really good games and two really bad. But he got a lot of shots. Maybe he can improve a little bit his movement. But I think he's a great player.
Q. If someone had told you three months ago that you would play the final in Monte-Carlo, would you have believed him?
MARCELO RIOS: I don't know. I thought I was not going to play tennis again. Now I'm coming here and play in the finals. Like I say, I'm really happy I'm in the finals. I'm trying to do my best. The only thing I want to do is to play. I don't think if I'm like the finest anymore. But when I came back, the only thing I want to do is play.
Q. When you said you didn't think you'd play again, did the doctors tell you it was really bad?
MARCELO RIOS: They said I was going to die (laughter). No, they was -- I felt pretty bad. It hurts a lot. When you have an injury like that, you say, "I'm coming back, I'm never going to win again, never be the same, start all over again." I dropped from 2 to 13. But things went right. I think I have four months that I gave all what I got. Now it's just paying back.
Q. The fact that you beat Kuerten two weeks ago is important psychologically?
MARCELO RIOS: I think it's totally different. Here is much faster. We're going to play five sets. For sure is going to be different match. I think every match is different. I think he's playing good; I'm playing good. Tough match tomorrow.
Q. Did you see the semis against Mantilla?
MARCELO RIOS: I just saw the last game.
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