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April 12, 2005

Gustavo Kuerten


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Although you lost, is it nice to be back playing tennis again?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. For me, it's been I think terrific right now because it's been long time I stay out. I feel I'm not playing my best tennis, but I just went off of the court from a tough match and I don't feel any pain at all so that's my -- a great win for me. It's more important than win the game. That's making myself even happy. So I think if continues like this, I'm gonna be probably in the end of the year the happiest man in the world (smiling).

Q. You said what you needed was more matches to get back to your level. How are you going to get these more matches? Would you even try to play quallies?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I'm gonna keep playing with the guys here in the practice. Of course not the same, but it is good for me. It's the best I can do. I gonna play next tournament in Rome. I need to play more, but I need to be patient, too; I cannot start and play many tournaments in a row. So I gonna prepare myself again, and looking forward to have a lot of practice here this week, go back home, do a lot of work, and then come back to Rome to see if I'm more fortunate and I can play more real match that is really gonna make the difference.

Q. How do you think you move right now, you hit the ball? How would you rate it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think around 65% of my best. I felt I had a great improvement from last week, and during the practice right now I feel very comfortable to practice with all the other guys around. If I maintain like this, I think I'm gonna be, at least for the French Open, I gonna be around 80%, something like this, and that's gonna be very good - much better than expected.

Q. You won your first match against Olivier Rochus. Today we saw that he won easily against Ljubicic. How do you explain this first match, because it was the first match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think every match is different circumstance, you know. That tournament for me was just -- I didn't know what to expect. I didn't expect to beat him, too, in the first round. I could control the game, and start in the lead and then just keep going. But today I feel I had more chance to play an equal match. I didn't get my opportunities. Lack of rhythm. I made a lot of bad choices in my game. But I feel I'm more in a competition level, you know, it's much more higher than it was in the last week.

Q. When you go away for such a long time, when you come back, what is missing the most? Is it the match toughness, the mental strength missing, or is it more the technical point of view?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: For me, it's -- the thing I feel the most is the, you know, the clear place in your mind that before I used to know everything I want to do, just the ball doesn't even come, I knew where to play, where the balls are coming and everything. Then the other thing is sometimes I put too much effort, sometimes I go down a little bit. So I felt today when I had these crucial points I just got overexcited or I got little bit less or I didn't find my best rhythm to play on this situation. That's crucial. I think today in the first set if I had win maybe one or two points there - I probably lost all of them - could be a different first set and then the match could change a lot.

Q. You are traveling alone, without a coach. I read some time that you need tips technically. How do you do it now to adjust your game?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I try to see by myself a little bit. I practice with a guy there in Florianopolis, he's not come with me, but maybe for the next travel he can come. I discuss with the other players, too, and see, you know, how I'm feeling. But for me it's good to talk with them and then during the practice see what's, you know, best and what's important for me to improve. It makes things a little easy.

Q. While you were out for such a long time - I think it was six months - what was the hardest for you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: For me, was the first months that I couldn't walk, so I had to watch 350 movies (laughing). One day I was sitting like this, icing, doing machine there to move my leg around. So probably that's why I'm very enthusiastic now and happy, because by the time I went out of the surgery, you know, for me, I wasn't sure that I would be able to play already in this level that I'm playing.

End of FastScripts….

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