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January 16, 2003

Gustavo Kuerten


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. From what I understand, you had a pretty good break over the summer, you worked very hard at the start of this month to get ready for this tournament. Do you sometimes think the tennis gods don't want you to do well in Melbourne?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think so far I really haven't play, you know, my best tennis in this tournament. But normally is like this. First rounds, I always struggle a little bit, take some time to get my rhythm going. And today was, again, pretty close to maybe win one more match, you know, things start to go in different ways. But, well, wasn't a match I played bad, just couple shots there and could be very different, the result. Just have to look forward and see what's coming next now.

Q. Are you still confident that the game you play could eventually have success in Melbourne, or do you need to change things about how you go about your tennis to do better here?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. As I said, I need a little breakthrough maybe in these first rounds. I really never felt I was playing my game on this tournament so far. So that's probably what I need, a couple of more wins and hopefully will come, you know. It's getting more and more every year. Better come quick, otherwise will be finished.

Q. Do you still consider you're coming back from an injury at this point or do you feel like you are a hundred percent back to feeling normal?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, for me, probably the end of last year already I felt just as I felt in the last years, the same way as I did before. But for sure it's going to be a normal year for me again. Last year was very unusual. For me, it's like coming back to the circuit, you know, playing the tournaments I want, be well-prepared, be ready to just try to get my goals, not as last year that I had to go through all of this and then have the preparation, all that. So probably this will be the year that I try to come back, and hopefully I can get closer to the top again.

Q. Could you talk a little about your first serve today, which was down a fair bit, created a lot of difficulty for you.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I mean, I was trying, you know, as always, hitting few aces, trying to win points on the first serve. Yeah, I miss a little more than usual. But I think wasn't anything particular in my game that really let me down. You know, I was like pretty much average in all-around shots, serving, like this. Just I had that shot on 3-2 for me in the fifth set, you know, open court to break him, and get to serve and take a good lead in the fifth. So that's maybe the thing that stick more in my mind right now, you know, is this, this opportunities. But I'm not really in any worry about my skills or the way I'm playing because it's been satisfying myself a lot.

Q. Do you have trouble getting your rhythm with the way he mixed it up, especially the dropshots he kept throwing in all the time?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, he's a tough opponent, especially for myself. He doesn't give any rhythm. He's coming with different shots all the time. Well, somehow he brings up always a good performance when he plays me. So maybe there's always a few guys that your game sometimes work better or not so much. So maybe I have, I don't know, a little extra problem playing him, as today. Well, I find the solution was fighting back. I had my chances; just let it go in a big chance I had. So after that, it really change the match the other way around.

Q. Do you think he's got the capacity to beat Hewitt, who he meets if Lleyton Hewitt wins tonight?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, for me will not care too much. Any result will be the same for myself. I'm sure for the tournament will be much better if Hewitt stay alive and go farther. Well, you know, everybody's who's in the field here knows how to play. There's nobody really blind, we use to say, that you just step over. So you got to believe that everything can happen.

Q. How important is it to you, if important at all, that before you finish playing tennis you can add a Grand Slam title on a hard court to your achievements at the French?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, for me would be special, for sure. Any Slams, even in some (beach court?) would be great achievement. The biggest thing for all of us, is our dreams. We're looking forward right now. For sure we try to improve and have chance to get myself in position to win here or in America, Wimbledon let's say. But still, no, my chance are always better in the clay. But if I could do it, would be just wonderful, I'd say. It's like something as a dream come true.

End of FastScripts….

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