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March 19, 2003

Gustavo Kuerten


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. You're coming off three really good tournaments. How do you feel about the way you're playing going into this tournament?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I'm very happy, you know, first of all. Is just so nice to win matches and have my rhythm going again, feeling like I playing well and, you know, confidence as I've been in the past. So I just -- I will try to keep this momentum going. It's like one month, one month and a half that I've been able to maintain this level, and, you know, hopefully I can keep up just more two weeks. Would be great if I can make another great run on this tournament to finish out these two months in a good style.

Q. It seemed like from watching you at Indian Wells you were pumped up. How much does emotion play in your game?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think I'm the kind of player who always had this character, you know, into my game. It's not that something just (inaudible) of my style, just come together with the way I'm playing and the mental approach. So I think it just give me the feeling that I need to be to playing really well, you know. Is like I need to show emotions - sometimes be angry with myself or sometimes, you know, celebrating or whatever, but just really feeling that the game to be -- maybe is like extra push on my game and on myself, just to keep trying harder, I think.

Q. You have some of the most enthusiastic fans. They're pretty loud when you play. How does that affect you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, is probably because of the way I'm playing and the way I am as well. I'm a guy with similar emotion on the court. I'm not maybe like guys as Borg or Lendl, pretty much solid and like with one way of playing from the beginning to the end. I'm getting more involved with the game and the emotions around. And probably the fans who get to like me better, it's probably because of my style of game. So they probably the same way, especially the Brazil. I think they really, you know, like to cheer for the country. It's a lot of pressure, you know, when you talk about sports back there. It's not so many different sports that we are successful, so they really -- in kind of way, they need someone to inspire them and to also, you know, be proud of being Brazilian.

Q. Is there any adjustment you make in your game coming to hard courts? It seemed at Indian Wells you were coming in a little more, being a little more aggressive. Do you basically play the same game?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, in past years, I think I had to adapt a little bit more. Right now, it's kind of get used to and, you know, much easy to approach different surface tournaments knowing what I have to do maybe two or three days before to get myself in the better shape. So I'd say if I had three or four days to prepare myself before I go in any different surface, I think I would get the best from my game, that's for sure.

Q. Do you feel completely fit, completely healthy now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, pretty much. I feel strong and, you know, able to make good runs during big tournaments and able to play well for a longer time. So I hope to, you know, to still increase. I think still things to work on and hours to be out there, practicing, and even can get better. So that's my idea for the whole season, keep hard working and, you know, see what's -- how far I really can go.

Q. Sargsian recommended the doctor for the hip surgery, is that right?


Q. Do you talk occasionally with each other to compare how your recovery is coming?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think even from that time to now, we all always see each other. We're looking forward for every one of us gets, I think, health. And I think we also inspire one of each other, you know, when you see a guy that made the same as you doing well or feeling well. So it's always like -- you always compare, you always trying to see how it's like those guys. You know, right now, I think it's quite a good time for us to recover. It's more than a year now. I really feel myself able to do whatever it takes to practice and to play. So probably as them, especially Sargis, that was the one who made the -- I think the last one to make it, I think it's like a good hope, you know. I think everybody will have a good rehabilitation if probably one of us can get through it.

Q. Did it seem odd that four players had the same problem at the same time?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, it's like a virus (smiling). Hopefully, it will be enough and not only just for us. But at the same time, you having many guys having shoulders or elbow, you know, different kind of problems. I think it's pretty much just keep you going year by year. And every time, you get yourself to some real situations. So I'm sure the players should look after their self a lot and not play as much as normally we doing, because at the longer term, we all gonna leave the sports and maintain our lives. So nobody wants to live it playing tennis with three surgeries and back and whatever, just feeling so bad. It really would be better if we cool down a little bit and play not as long during all the year.

Q. What are your thoughts on Wayne Ferreira? Do you feel the ATP is the best way for the players to be represented?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: To tell you the truth, I just heard rumors as you, you know - Wayne wants to get to meet, to talk about it a little bit. As my week went last week, I did not have any time to really get to know what was that. And I just heard about the players association representing the players. What I always think is the players as them self, it's not a really, you know, big, powerful, everyone by their self. But if we get a unity of players, you know, players get together to decide something -- like I said now, you know, if you want to play more longer during the year or less are important decisions that I think sometimes should be decided by the players. I think would be great, because we are the one who at the end are making the more matters, you know. We are the one who is gonna play more or we are the one who is gonna practice and take whatever to play one tournament or the other. So I think with big decisions, I think the players should really be together and have a stronger word when we have to really step up sometimes and see what's really good for the players for sports. Normally, everybody thinks in their way, but in a row, I think all tennis players think about the game, too. We all think of getting the game better and nicer and more people watching. I think that's interesting about every single guy on the tour. But just sometimes I think we not able to have a decision or to have a powerful word because we really not as unity or as together as it should be. So I hope, you know, by the rumors are going and by the players, they want to get together, want to have more powerful, more power in their hands, I think would be good. Sometimes we really need to make this kind of decision that we are the one who knows what's going on on the court that would be good or worst for the tennis player.

Q. Do you feel sticking together is the best way for the players' interests to be represented?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think so. I think, know, like I said before, I could come here and complain about one thing; other guys, different one. So last year we had the big changes; three years ago about the rankings and everything. I think at that time, the players really didn't have the chance to participate a lot and to have, you know, as everybody, had their opinion. So at this critical decision, you know, this is kind of thing that's gonna hopefully, if you change it, is gonna change for good and for longer time. So I think we should have the players like me and the other guy at decide, and everyone have their own opinion. Of course, being majority are represented by the most of the guys or one guy that you will talk about only the players interested in a longer term because, normally, we always thinking like this.

Q. Guga, did the surgery change your technique at all in the way you hit any balls, backhand or serve or forehand?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I'm just maintaining the same way I'm playing. At the beginning was, it took me much more effort. You know, every time was so much difficult than now. But I was always trying to play the same way as I always played, so I think right now I'm able to do it, you know, as I like it. Lose, at the same time, you stay on the court for many hours. So that was probably the most difficult challenge that I had to face from the beginning till now.

Q. Did you ever identify why the hip began to break down?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, when I was, you know, feeling, I didn't have the real - how can I say - like I didn't know why, why what's causing me that pain and which movement or, you know, just what could I do to release. Because I knew, it would be much easy. I think was just in the one year that I was also trying to, you know, finish again on No. 1, I was, you know, just trying to maintain in a good rhythm, I try to push myself a little bit. Harder to, you know, as I felt a little bit. But I kept playing a little more to see if I could finish the year well. And then when I was -- I really knew for sure what was the reason and probably was much more stress and playing, and the way I played with, you know, probably the forehand more, the twisting around my right leg all the time, you know, pushing off all the time. So, I was just -- you know, when I really knew what it was, I just sure I had to cool down and wait for the surgery and take my time off and try to be up again.

Q. Do you think you can be No. 1 again this year?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think not. It's still kind of far. I said my goal for this year would be finish in the Top 10 again. Like I said in the last week, I'm feeling like it's -- it was like the first time I was getting close to the Top 10, you know, would be probably when I got there would be the same feeling. Like before, I don't know how far I can get. That would be just, you know, that time will tell me how far I can go, how many years I will be playing or how well I can be able to play. So is still many new things to discover. I think is just like the beginning, try to go step by step and as the results are coming for me, I think for my goals for this year I'm, you know, in very good shape and really enthusiastic about it.

Q. But do you think you can win the French Open this year?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: By that time, I got to see how will be my results on clay, see, you know, how I'll be playing. Probably, like I said to you, I cannot be sure if I will be one of the guys, one of the favorites. It's like -- it's probably a new career now for me. So if I win again, it will be like winning the first time. You know, it's like I starting all over. So if I get there with a good confidence, some good results on the big tournaments on clay, for sure I will always be seen as contending for the title, as winning three times. But it's a different situation than before, that's for sure.

End of FastScripts….

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