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March 13, 2004

Gustavo Kuerten


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Guga.

Q. At least you're not going to have to play twice in the same day this year.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Unfortunately.

Q. What was the biggest problems? Were they with your game, with his game? What were the problems?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think he go in there knowing, you know, he's playing game very clear. You know, he was trying to no give me rhythm at all, just coming to the net every shot. First set he serve very risky all the time, making double-fault, ace. Like I said, I didn't really felt myself into the game, into the point. He gave me broke 7-5. Then I felt -- it was strange, because I felt better returning the serve and everything, but I was obvious losing my serve just right after break him. So was kind of first-round match that you don't feel a hundred percent comfortable. You play a guy that don't give you too much rhythm. I knew it would be very dangerous. Probably the first set decide a lot of how the match was, and I couldn't take the lead in any stage, so he could play much more relaxed than me.

Q. How much of a problem was your first serve? I saw it was 49%.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I didn't serve well at all. Like I said, when you play a first match, you know, you don't have all that confidence that you need to play your best tennis. Was first time I hit there in the central court, too. So for me was one match that I needed to win to get myself going to the tournament. But as far as you play a dangerous guy like him, you know, he don't give you too much opportunities to try different things and to see your game work in different ways. He just coming, hitting the ball back to back, one after the other. So for me, I think this was the most difficult thing. Then the other things, just small pieces come together because of more of that.

Q. How did you feel physically tonight?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Okay. I felt no problem. But, of course, I'm sure if I would have win, next match I would feel better, move faster, you know, got myself more comfortable in the tournament. That's probably the key, especially for me. I like to play more from the baseline, feeling the shot, feeling my body, running to the shots. I always feel that this first match are more difficult than probably the other one that come. So for me it's always been a tricky match; especially when I play guys like him who have this style, I feel a little bit uncomfortable. Can be, you know, dangerous like it was today.

Q. You've decided not to play Davis Cup for Brazil. Can you explain the reasons behind that and your problems with the Federation.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: We should have some translation because I'm a little bit afraid of talking in English and have some misunderstanding. But I can say it's a very difficult decision for me, but I think it's the right decision in the right time. I wish I could explain better.

Q. Are you trying to help the improvement of Brazilian tennis by doing this? Is this what you are trying to do?


Q. To throw the spotlight on the problem?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: The main reason is to see our tennis growing more. As you see from '97 to now, you all know that tennis has become not so big interest in Brazil, we haven't seen any difference. It's me and Saretta, one or two guys coming from private working. There's nothing really well done by the Federation, you know, that building some facility, make the guy practicing, or taking for the tours and helping, you know, the profession, the junior guys. We have some argue with the Davis Cup team in a row. They choose the place to play; didn't let us know. Change the captain; we didn't know either. So it was a very strange situation. But we knew it was like this because we had argue before with the president after the Canada tie. He knew we were unhappy about this administration, you know. We want to see some more things happening maybe by the Federation. But I think the way he deal with that, just with the team change, he just was able to make the things worse. I think the way I'm seeing -- not only me, you know, all the guys are giving up, even the captain. The way I've seen, it's like the people are very unhappy. And I have good relations with all the junior players, all the professional coaches. That's the way everybody's feeling. So I think me as the main attention guy there, you know, it's probably -- it's my job, I think, trying to do something like that because I think it can help a lot in the long terms.

Q. Do you want more courts built for the poor kids? Are there enough courts in Brazil? Are there any public courts in Brazil that kids can play on?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think in this work, we have done much better than the other one I was saying. Because helping from the, like I said, my institute or other private companies that give the chance for poor children or young children to start in the tennis, that's been a great increase last four and five years. But when you need to develop more, to have a good work, a good relation with the coach, the players, you know, to have the work done to really build a good tennis players, I think that's the problem that we having. But fortunately, like I said before, in Brazil there's a lot of nice people who see the difficulties of the others and are always trying to help. So I would say that we (live?) a lot because of these kind of people. Lucky we have these problems that at least make some improvements.

Q. Are the other players joining you, Flavio, Andre, in not playing Davis Cup?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I have not seen one guy accept to play so far. It's been a really great union from the players. We haven't seen this in tennis I think in maybe in any other place. It seems like everybody, they going and asking, they feel the same way, decide as everybody are doing. For us it's bad because at the end, you know, if nobody's playing, it's of course not nice. But it get to a point that probably losing something now and getting better things in the future maybe would help us, you know, in a row much more than just one or two players now.

Q. In the match against Taylor, he seems to be one of the only few serve-and-volleyers. Is that a difficult style to play against?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: For me it's always been, you know, like I said before, I like to play more from the baseline. I like to really play the game, you know, different shots here and there, feeling the match going in the long way, much more than short points as today. For me, it's always extra challenge, extra difficulty to work my game on. But I have play him twice before, and I did manage to win. But today he was, you know, like I said, in the top of the score all the time, leading the game. He was doing his game and was working. So when you play a serve and volleyer, it's taking the lead and seeing that he's trying more and more and take his chance, like he was trying second serve, you know, hitting strong. You don't want to give this advantage. Today was a big (handicap?) for him playing all the time in front of me.

Q. Even though you're a baseliner, you're very much a skill player. You have nice hands, good imagination on the court. There are other players coming to the top. Are you surprised that the skilled players are doing as well, given everyone was saying that tennis would be dominated by big guys who were hitting hard?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think the tennis at this moment, as I see the level everybody, the competition by the insides, I could say, you know, it's the sport that takes more than any other sport from individual. You have to play technically perfectly. Physically, you need to be hundred percent. Mentally, you got to be thinking, you know, every point back to back. That's sometimes one day after the another through the end of week, another week. I really think that tennis, right now it's probably the toughest sport in the world. It takes from you everything you can get. And right now, the guys in the top five, I would say, they have -- you don't see one guy that doesn't know how to volley, doesn't know how to serve first and second serve, hitting winners, defending. They are doing everything. Beside of this, physically they are very strong. Mentally they always prepared to win the big points, win the great events. It's become very in higher level. I think probably if you compare Roddick with Federer, Ferrero, Agassi, they different from each other, but they thing in common that I see from every one of them is that you don't have a choice, you know, to make, "I play like this, I will be sure." They don't have any hole on their game. So that's probably the way the player are coming more and more, preparing. They need to be like this, probably as perfect as a machine.

Q. At this stage in your career, are you thinking of restricting your play to clay courts more or are you going to still play many of the hard courts?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, for this year especially I was trying to get myself playing in a great level on clay again. Last year was a big disappointment for me. I'm not having any success at all in the clay season in Europe, so I put this in my mind as a goal for this year, knowing I have so much success on clay before. Beside of this, I was get myself trying to play in a better level the Grand Slams, too, you know, trying to get to the second week, what is not happen before for two years since I made my surgery. I want a lot to get these two goals, you know, happening. I made a lot of improvement from last year to this year. Here I play the final last year, and now I'm lost the first round. But I feel very comfortable and confidence that my year is going to have well because I played great in the clay courts the two tournaments just before coming here. I played well in the Australian Open, even losing the third round, but I win some good matches. So I'm really excited that I see myself ready for these goals. I put these two main things on my mind and I'm really happy by the way things are going. So hopefully, you know, I can convert these goals in reality.

End of FastScripts….

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