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April 19, 2004

Gustavo Kuerten


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How difficult is it to accept a defeat on clay for you? You have been for a long time considered the "King of Clay."

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, for me, maybe not even on clay, but to lose in the first round, it's very sad, especially in a tournament that you have won, like this one. It's the end of some expectations and some hopes to have a good week. I think it's maybe the worst can happen also to the players that are here, wanted to get them going for as fast as possible in the clay season. So I think from now on it's gonna be even more different for me to get myself more confidence and maybe with some more rhythm to try to increase my game.

Q. What was the problem today? The first set was close, and then...?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, first set I was there. I had a couple of chance, but really didn't play the way I like it. And it was tough to feel the balls. The balls is very hard and, you know, doesn't really get to the racquet. Try topspin as different way of playing. Sometimes it can be very, very fast down there. So I think for me was a little bit -- like I didn't feel as comfortable as many other year that I been play here and used to be much different ball than this.

Q. Are you physically 100 percent fit, or you still have some problems, or it's more a matter of confidence?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think it's more of a confidence, more of the motivation for me. Early rounds are always tough to, you know, to get myself more enthusiastic down there in the court. You always have to pass over these rounds, so it's been probably the toughest thing for me to come around. I can play very well in the, you know, in the end of the tournaments when I am playing more match. But when I get to the first match that I need to get motivated and focusing just early on in the tournament, just struggling a lot.

Q. When was the last time you think you played your best tennis? When did you feel you played as best as you can?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: This year I played really well in Chile. I played a couple of matches, I played great. Then in Brazil I played well during the tournament, too. I think as far as I manage to win -- normally, as far as I manage to win the first round, I was able to play well. I lost three first match now in a row, so I think that's not the kind of situation that I not usually face. It's much more different.

Q. When did you start preparing your season?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: After I finish in Miami. So just one week after, so it's 14 days now.

Q. Is it as easy as before to practice, practice as tough as you used to do? Some players, like Goran, told us practicing is... He loves to play, but he doesn't like to practice anymore.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Normally, I been practicing well, been practicing a lot. Maybe I have the other way around of his problem. I practice and doing good things before the match, but just when I really need to step up and play well, I've been somehow a little bit uncomfortable and not really let myself involve in the game.

Q. Is this the worst that you feel in a long time, or you had even worse periods than this, do you think?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, for me, actually, I'm not feeling that bad. It's sad to lose back-to-back match like this. But I'm not really making a big (storm?) of it. Now I'm, as I said, as far as I maybe win one or two match, I can turn the things around. But it's, like I said, not as enjoyable as winning and being into the tournament. So now it come to me to see how I can handle this situation.

Q. How will you motivate you in the future for the first rounds? Do you have reasons for that? Are you only motivated for great tournaments?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's, of course, you know, if you're playing a semifinal, final, it's always much more fun and much more enthusiastic than starting in the beginning, but you have to pass over this stage. But for me, probably I should try to be more active in the court, you know, try to be more like moving a little bit more than usual, you know, and get myself -- maybe I try to be even it's better overexcited than less that I'm doing right now. So it's much easy to say, you know, to know how I can do it. But when you get to the court, is just that thing that matters - probably not thinking too much, just to go out there and try to play one ball after the other.

Q. Do you still have fun playing tennis?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I still can enjoy. But I having, you know, much more toughest thing in my career than before. So of course before was easy for me, but I still have some fun.

End of FastScripts….

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