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March 12, 2003

Gustavo Kuerten


MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Would you call that your biggest win of the year?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think for sure was, you know, my best result so far, in a good time, too, a tournament like Masters Series. Big points, good atmosphere, central court. It's nice to have all these feelings. Well, right now of course I'm very happy, but just trying to maintain the focus, the energy together for the rest of the tournament.

Q. Do you feel like you responded well in the second set when he was really challenging you more?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I think was a good sign, you know, for myself after having the set and then the break, dropping the break again, getting some opportunities to break him and serve for the match. He played I think the best point of the match there, amazing rally. He finally won, confirmed serve, had the set points on my serve, two or three. Was a situation, you know, like both limits you can get, the excitement and then the frustrated. I think was a match that I could test myself in many different situations. I was lucky to get away with a great tiebreak, probably the best tiebreak I played over this year, too. Like I said yesterday, was special for me, you know, important match. I really stepped through it when I needed.

Q. Roger said you played very aggressively at the beginning, and that surprised him. Was that the plan, to really come straight at him?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I really -- I was feeling well during all days here, practice and all of this. So I step on the court, just try to maintain the same way as I was practice. It just work well. You know, I was hitting the ball hard and get the winners, serving well, too, until I think the eighth game when I was 4-3, 40-15, I think I miss a couple shots. I think from that the match got really close, got open up for both sides. But still I was maintain the same energy on the court. I think I put a lot of effort and fight, much more especially at the end when he start to play maybe a little bit better than me. Just could get him to the challenge, you know, to have deciding the match by one or two points. Just was a little bit more lucky to get this one that I needed.

Q. Has it taken you longer than you thought when you came back last May to get to the level you wanted to get?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: As far as you start to play, you always want to have yourself playing the best as fast as you can. So feels like always taking longer and longer. But at the same time if I really think back, it's not been one year that I start playing, you know, back in Mallorca. That will be probably in two months. I'm already 24 I think is my ranking. I won two tournaments, you know, couple of final. It's a lot of achievements, too, from one guy. I saw, you know, by experience, when you do a surgery, it's like starting all over from the beginning. Especially for us, we play only by ourself, we have to put every effort just one guy. So takes you a long time to get your feelings back, you know, your strength and everything. I really surprised the way I could come through fast. I didn't drop too much in the ranking, maintain myself always in good level, winning matches here and there. I think right now it's just the time I can enjoy more. I can play better, win more matches, then I think things start to become much more easy than last year.

Q. How are you feeling in the end of the second set? Did you have good stamina? You had long rallies. How were you holding up?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think we both push ourself, pretty much to the limit, you know. I was feeling like heart beating fast, you know, not too much breath. Especially at 5-4, 5-All, to the tiebreak. But I think my endurance is pretty good. So as far as I pass over this probably was much more mentally and nervous, than other things. Just when I got through it, see myself in the tiebreak again, I have the power to step up again and go for the next level, you know, just play a little bit more powerful. Then I don't know, it's much more I think, like I said, from the momentum you take, you have to go little bit up. You can go down, too. Depends about the chance you take. Sometimes if you playing well or not, too, makes yourself get frustrated, then you go down a little bit. But luckily today I could maintain all the time in a good level and sometimes really step up.

Q. Do you feel your mental toughness is a weapon like your backhand? Is something you feel when it gets tight you can count on?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think was always a character on my game, you know, something that was there for me, everybody knew me about this, too. I always fight hard, I show my emotions and try. Was just giving everything on the court. I think especially last year it took me a long time to get all this back, to see if I could spend all this energy or not. I was just find out how was my body responding. So right now I think it would be just the same as today, you know, every match I have to maintain this inspiration, happiness. I try to celebrate myself, too, with the points, the victory. I think it's the way I always been, it's the way it works out for me.

Q. Are you running as fast, moving as well, as you did before the hip surgery?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, right now I think it's pretty much the same. As the match goes by, especially wins like this, it's a big step forward. It makes yourself believe more. Feels like you're much more ready to go. Like I'm approaching especially this year like the year when I came through and got myself first time to the top player. So everything, it's been very welcome, you know, every result I get. I'm putting a lot of work to try to work out in all my shots, try to improve. Like I said, right now I can practice one and a half, two hours, don't have any more problem. I can run during the match. You know, I know I can put every energy I have that I still can manage to go to the end of the match. So it's much more easy, much more release, as I told you, to just do and think how I have to play. All the other things around I know if I need them, they will be there.

Q. You said yesterday you didn't give yourself much of a title to win this title. After beating Roger today, have you changed your thoughts?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Not really. As I said now it's like I'm coming from outside. I'm trying to find my way back again hopefully to the Top 10. It's much more than one year that I don't win any Masters Series, you know, that I don't even play over the quarterfinals. So it's different. I'm not used any more to go that far, to win those important match. So I think still I cannot be considered one of the favorites player, but probably one of the guys who's more hungry out there to win matches, try to break through any other of these weeks.

End of FastScripts….

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