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March 14, 2003

Gustavo Kuerten


MODERATOR: Guga advances to his first semifinal here in Indian Wells since 1999. He has a 2-0 lifetime record against Schuettler. Questions for Guga.

Q. You looked wired tonight, like you were really excited about this match, more than I've seen you in the past. Were you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. As I told yesterday, you know, was like something like new for me again playing this kind of match with chance to go to a semifinal in tournament like this. It's been, I don't know, almost two years that I'm not play a semifinal in a big event. So it really means a lot for me. You know, I saw it very difficult at the beginning. He was playing really well. I was breakpoint down already for the second set. Somehow things start to change for my side. When I saw it coming, you know, I just try to grab as hard as I could, try to enjoy, too, at the end. I didn't want the match to finish any more. Just want to keep playing. Was so much energy, was so much enjoyable on the court that I could be playing there for more few hours.

Q. Good to see you playing well.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think for me really right now to say it's easy. The match wasn't that easy, but I think was nice to see myself in this situation, playing against a great player, you know, fighting back after losing a first set, feeling the energy coming around, showing my emotions again. I think that's the way I used to win my match and I used to find my way, you know, to be successful. It's like I'm having these feelings back, so it's great. Just amazing how energy you have in your body. Sometimes you just have to click it over.

Q. Is this something that Larri told you to try to do more, show more emotions? You seem sort of really happy.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. As I said to him, you know, to say like easy, all the time he's trying to push me to this level. But to do during the match, sometimes you don't get the rhythm, you're like jumping around, you lose two, three points, go down again. So I think it's a lot of the other connection together: your mind, your body responding, your energy, you're winning points also. So I think it has to comes just as a connection of your body. It's one of my weapons. You know, I used to have this all the time, to step up in the big matches, important points, try always raising my energy set by set. And I think it's, like I said now, a breakthrough for me, you know. It's probably the match I play better since I came back. I had to use all my strengths to the limit and until I got to that stage that I really feel like, you know, I can play against anybody and I have some chances.

Q. You faced a breakpoint in the second set, then hit the big ace. Was it from that point on where you really started to feel the ball better?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think from 1-0 to 1-All in the second set, I start to approach the match a little bit different. You know, I start to relax more. I was very nervous at the beginning. I was playing quite well, but too much focusing, concentrating, thinking too much. From the second set, I start to release more. Maybe I made some mistakes, you know, by trying too hard, but to release a little bit of my tension. I had some chances, too, on his serve. When I went to serve I think was the big game of the match. He had the chance there. I was missing a few shots by inches. And then I just serve an ace into the line when I needed. So after that, I could really release my body, you know, play with some more energy. I think I start to be very aggressive from that point. You know, it's like -- it was like saving the match, so I feel myself back again with some chances. From there, was really the turnover, at least in especially on the mental part.

Q. Would you say that this week, let's say since you beat Federer, that you've had as much confidence in your ability to win matches since any time since you came back?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, for sure. It's been very much farther than I expect for only one week. It's like at the practice I felt really good, as I wasn't felt in any tournament in the last months. But to keep up in the match, it's always different. So, yeah, I went much farther than I expect. My level of tennis, of confidence, physical condition, everything, I think just went a big step up for me, was very important, you know. That's why maybe you don't see many of the guys celebrate so much, get into the match so much as I did today. But it's a situation completely different maybe than any other player.

Q. Do you feel a lot different now than you did at the beginning of the year when you won in Auckland? Do you feel like something has really shifted?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I felt -- especially here, when I was playing here, the practice I had the first days before the tournament, I felt that I really get to a point that I like, you know, that I was satisfied the way I was practicing. I could play without thinking too much, without having to push myself all the time. That's the level I used to play. You know, I could relax and stay still maintaining some powerful and concentration to my game. I found this back when I was practicing here. Like I said, just I had to put into the match, you know, that you are sometimes a little excited or tense, so you have to find a way to balance and put into the match. And today I think even not having the best feelings from the beginning, I was manage to come back and find a way to have these feelings again, playing against one guy that was playing pretty well. So that's probably the bigger achievement, you know, you can try to find.

Q. So you sort of found your joy in the game again?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I pretty much like the emotion together with my game. You know, the wins, too, the shots I made. Like I said to him, is not easy to have all this happen, all this energy if you're not playing the way you would like to or if you're not with your mind release that some stage to the game you can step up. So I think I'm back to the situation that I start to believe again, you know, much more in myself and just I can, like this, enjoy more. Even if I lose, I know next week I will have another chance.

Q. Earlier tonight you said that you had a lot of energy, you wished you could play longer. Is it good you're going to go from a night match to day match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Anything that comes will be good for me. If I have to go 3:00 tomorrow to play, I don't mind (smiling). I mean, I had only once in the semifinal in this tournament, and now I'm back again. You know, I can reach maybe a result that I didn't reach in my best part of my career. So it going to be huge for me. Tomorrow is going to be as important as today, or even bigger. I really not minding what's going to happen, if it's going to be early or not, the sun or whatever, it going to change. I will prepare, if the conditions for sure going to be different, fighting to the last point, as I did today, try to enjoy the same way, you know, keep this level of energy that I was after the second set.

Q. Can you talk about playing Rainer.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think will be someone that's playing really well this year, and especially this week. If I'm not sure, he hasn't lost, dropped one set during all of the week. So I'm sure he will come with a lot of hopes and believe in his-self. He played the final on a Grand Slam last month, too. It's huge how much improvement he made, you know, from last year to this year, leaving great momentum, as myself. So probably will be a good match, especially for the ones who are going to come and watch. I have a better record against him, but I think we're not pretty much count, you know, with all the situation. It's turning around like now. He's in another level. I'm coming to my best again. So probably will be a match to enjoy a lot from both sides, you know, just two guys very hungry to get a place to the final.

Q. You've been basically for years returning serve way behind the line, even on hard courts. Is that really because that's the only place you're comfortable? You want to take a couple steps up and hit the ball even if the serve is not that hard?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, it's depends who I'm playing. You know, I try to make some adjustment. For sure I feel much more comfortable a few steps behind the line. I have more time to swing. You know, I don't like to just block the ball. I like to hit the ball hard. To make my full swing, I have to take a few, not even one, but try to get some seconds to think about the play I'm going to make it (smiling). I try to do some adjustment. You know, today I think I surprised him the way I start to be aggressive in the second serve. I start to run around for the forehand, really sometimes going to the net, play some deep shots. It's like it used to be. I feel comfortable from behind, but sometimes I need to go up, too, make some changes, adapt myself if I play, especially guys who are serve and volley or who has just expecting me to be there. As far as I'm comfortable and hitting especially like at the end with a lot of strength in my shots, I think it's not a big problem for me.

Q. Earlier in the week you said, "I don't consider myself a contender for this tournament yet." Is it a different story now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think, of course, it's different. You know, it's only four guys left. It's pretty much excitement now. The situation from tomorrow on is not even going to be the technical, but whoever can control more the emotions and the feelings back on the court. Well, still thinking I'm not as used to, especially as Lleyton or Rainer, too, that was playing a big final just a month ago. Spadea playing this big match today was an example of this. You know, first set I was very nervous. It was tough for me to find the right rhythm to get my game. But you never know. From now it's a semifinal. Like Spadea, nobody consider him a favorite, coming from qualifier. For sure, he's believing a lot in his-self. I would say from these four guys, still Lleyton has a little advantage from the other guys who had win at this tournament before and who are more used to this situations, you know, last tournaments. But we also -- you know, everybody is contender right now.

Q. You've had success on clay. When you think about the Americans, when you play them on clay, do you feel like you go in with a certain advantage?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think is the same way as maybe when they play a guy like me or maybe a Spanish guy on these hard courts or indoor courts, you know. They see some advantage. But in the same way, we're not win the match just by that. You know, you got to find a way to beat a guy, especially who is Top 50, you know, or Top 10, like Andy. You cannot count that you going to play against him in clay just because he has the best rhythm or young, practice on clay. He will have something easy. So I think everything, especially right now, the young guys is coming, they pretty much all-around players. Don't see any more clay court or hard court or just grass court. You seeing guys winning, like Ferrero, he's winning all the different courts. Roddick also, he won few tournaments on clay. Even, you know, Lleyton, he never had a big win in clay, but he always there in quarters, semifinals. All these guys that are coming now, they really all-around court. So it's nothing really easy to find out in any surface.

Q. You can see a Roddick or a Blake, Vahaly or Ginepri winning Roland Garros, that seems possible to you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's a tough question. Even you see a guy like Ferrero, he's completely a clay court player, completing every shot. So far he hasn't win. Corretja is another example of that. So that takes to other level, you know, to maybe bring everything together. Chang was able to do it. Most of the people never expect that year he would win, from that on he would never win again. So these kind of tournaments, I think if we talk about Andy, you can tell he is a little bit in front of the other guys, you know, being more experienced, top in the ranking. So you always have kind of a gap against the other players. But that really doesn't mean that you really going to win.

End of FastScripts….

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