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January 21, 2004

Gustavo Kuerten


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Guga.

Q. After quite a few attempts here in Australia, you got through to the third round. Are you happy to have had your best performance here now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, for sure. I think it's like a new achievement for me even, knowing that it's not a result that I never had. But at this specific tournament for me, it's something new. I think it's the first time I feeling myself playing, you know, a good tennis level. Just give me a lot of hopes and beliefs for the next round. So it's a different feeling, but it's a good one, you know, to feel yourself into the tournament a little bit more, knowing that you can play better and better each round.

Q. Have you done something different this year coming into this tournament?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, just winning the match that I have lost in the past years (smiling). You know, every year I came here well-prepare, and practicing the right way, but just never won a five-set match. So that was a big victory for me in the first round. It open up a lot of beliefs in my mind.

Q. Did you ever think you might give this tournament the miss and go surfing, or did you always want to prove to yourself you could play well here?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think always in a Grand Slam you see some kind of hopes, dreams and everything that you looking for. I can say is not the best part of the year, you know, to come out and start to playing already. But at the same time, you don't want to be home and watch everybody playing a tournament with this importance that it is, this one. I think I always try to come with something, you know, better than usual, but just never had the chance to do it. So this year it's been a little bit different. I hope it can go maybe a little bit farther, too.

Q. Your confidence must be high now because you kept getting in front. Kept breaking to bring you back. You kept running out each set. Did you feel really confident on the court today?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I felt really good since the beginning, even when I was 5-2 down in the first set, I think was the toughest moment for me in the match. I could come up with some great level and win that set and start to play the match the way I like it. So was a great day - I think better than my first match. Like I said, was good for me to win that one to start to believe more. And now I think it's more enjoyable third round, it's more relax. I can play more loose, too. I think all these small things can help me to rise my level a little bit higher.

Q. Looking back at last year, a lot of people were surprised that you didn't achieve more success on hard courts. Your favorite surface was clay. How do you feel about that yourself?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, really was, in one way, a good result for me on the hard, but in the other way I didn't have the results I was expecting on the clay. So was unfortunately a different, unusual year for me. But it's just proof that I was able to find a great level on other surface, you know, winning in different surface, not only depending on my clay court result. So was good for me. Open up more chances to me to have back-to-back results in different courts.

Q. How do you feel right now? Do you think you can get to the top again this season, like three years ago before your first injury?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think last year was a year to me to establish myself in a higher level. I finish up, you know, around 15 in the world. Was another good year, winning two titles. So I think I managed to start to feeling myself back into the best spot. So this year I'm trying to go a little bit farther. I think for me the main thing right now, it's enjoy my tennis. You know, I've been playing a lot of years, having more results that I always expected. So I think I should enjoy all this and try to have more fun that I can in the court, you know, in the situations I'm living. So the results like this, I think will come sooner or later, and hopefully I can break through, maybe getting to my ranking to get higher and higher. But I don't really live this day to day, with this expectation. Just right now living a good moment of my life, my tennis life, too, trying to hit the ball as hard as I can.

Q. So you didn't set any specific goal like reaching Top 10 again, going to the Masters Cup or something like that?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I think for me is still plenty of things to work on, you know, in my game, keep getting myself better and better, you know, every day, trying to feel more complete in a row. So that's what I live day to day in my routine. The other things, maybe the title, ranking, is going to come natural, you know, just depending on this. So I better stay thinking and living on this style. I think it's going to work perfect for myself.

Q. When you were a child, which players did you used to watch and perhaps imitate?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I used to watch a lot and like it. McEnroe and Edberg was two kind of players that I always follow, you know, in the tournaments. And still right now, you know, there are some players still looking and watching like Agassi, guys still inspiring yourself to get at this level.

Q. What do you think youngsters watching you play can learn?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Not so much (smiling). Maybe they groan. Maybe the way I play, the passion for the game, the enthusiastic I put on the court, that's something you can use not only on the tennis but in many different parts of your life. I think people are looking a lot on this, these kind of things that I do. I really appreciate, you know, all the people around, especially in Brazil, that are looking for me, running all over. That's something that always give me a kind of inspiration to keep going.

End of FastScripts….

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