August 30, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. How did you get from retiring, not feeling well, to playing so well today? How did you make that transition?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I had many days to prepare myself for this one. It's a Grand Slam, you know, it's always extra motivation - especially you playing
No. 2 seed on center court. So everything makes you get every strength, every power you have and put on the court. I got many days to practice. I really put a lot of effort on practice and on the gym and everything to be ready for this one. I think everything came out in the right time for me.
Q. When you win the toss, do you usually let the other guy serve first?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes.
Q. Is there a reason?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I'm very nice guy, so (smiling)...
Q. Where do you rank that match of the ones you played so far this year?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think I played correctly. Try to skip from easy errors, take my focus on the next point. It wasn't a day that I really played unbelievable from beginning to end, but I was able to maintain a great level. I think I was able to improve little bit from every set I played. Well, just I think I compete well and I did the right thing when I needed. So that's about one great day in the tournament.
Q. You mentioned practice. Who have you been practicing with?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: A few players. I think I had a great practice back home with Larri especially. It's like many hours doing different things. I need this to play well because I got to get the timing going. It's, like, many balls, doesn't matter who I'm playing. But I just need to have more and more balls to get my shots going. Of course, especially when you win, it's much more wealthy than the practice.
Q. Considering all the frustrations you've had both before the surgery and since the surgery, does that make this victory even sweeter? Can you talk about how hard it was to come back?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, for me I could say maybe is the happiest day for me this year. I beat the No. 2 in the world. Was the best win for me on this stage. I wouldn't say it's been too much frustrated, but it's been a lot tougher than, you know, than other years for me. The thing is, I was prepared maybe. I knew it would be like this. It wouldn't be a big trouble for me this year. I expecting all this tough situations, I try to prepare myself better for two or three tournaments that will be. There was the French Open, now here. It's like this. It's still little soon, but I think I can -- I manage to, you know, just to push myself harder in the right weeks.
Q. What were your impressions of the WNBA game last night that you went to?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Very nice (smiling). They always try to intimidate each other, you know. From that seat, it's nice to watch the competition and the way they play, too. In New York, just let it go at the end. Last seconds, they decide. But then just LA push it too hard. But it's okay. Was fun for me.
Q. Have you ever played much basketball?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: When I was young - very young. But nothing compare with the level they play here in the States.
Q. When you saw the draw prior to the tournament, what did you first think about when you saw that you potentially would be playing Marat in the second round?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: To tell you the truth, I was even more worried about my first-round match against Boutter. That was a guy that I never had a win over him. So that was my main concern. Then after playing Marat, it was a little like I had nothing to lose, you know? In this situation he was much more favored than me. So that's the good part of it. I think I took a little advantage of that, and really played a great game today.
Q. You had to retire both in Toronto and Cincinnati.
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, no, Cincinnati, no.
Q. Sorry, in Toronto. But it seemed like your hip was bothering you. Do you think it's going to bother you now in these three-out-of-five-set matches? Does it encourage you? Do you feel good?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, like I said, I had many days to prepare. I feel as I win match, it's much better than just to practice. So I feel ready for my next match and hopefully for the ones I have to play.
Q. Can you explain exactly what the surgery was, Guga.
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I don't know. I am not - how you say - I am not a doctor. But this was sort of the same, but I think Diana can give, you know, more details about the real - I don't know - explanation, medicine explanation, what I did. But for me was like many weeks with out of the court and many weeks working. I think for all this year, I'm going to try to recover everything I had, you know, all the gap I still having.
Q. Do you still have pain? Does it still hurt?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I think if I don't have pain, it's when I'm gonna die (laughing). The level we play, if you wake up and you have no pain, you have to try to breathe, that maybe you're not feeling yourself. It's just a pain in the shoulder, the legs, every time you have something going. But I'm feeling much better right now, and I'm feeling, you know, much more confidence.
Q. Does your hip hurt?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. It hurt a little bit, but it's nothing compare with the pain I had on the end of last year.
Q. You know how talented Marat is. Obviously, you've played him many times now. Are you surprised he has not been able to translate his talent into other Grand Slam titles or more consistent results?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's tough to judge other guys. I don't like to talk about other guys' results or how playing. But I think he will be all the time a contender for every tournament. So that's because of the talent he has. So I'm sure he would be around for many years as far as he wants.
Q. Your hair is always an interesting subject.
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes.
Q. Is this natural?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Is not interesting anymore for you (laughing)?
Q. Your fans are interested. What's happening right now?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Right now I'm not even me (smiling), I don't know. Is changing color every day. Is looks like it's different color. But is matching my shirt, so it's good.
Q. It changes all by itself?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. Sometimes I wake up, it's like -- it goes red, yellow, whatever. It's okay, I don't mind (laughing).
Q. When was the last time that you think you can remember that you served this well and this effectively?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think at the French, I had to serve well to win my match. I did a couple match that I was winning there. Well, today was maybe a key point for my win. So I think as far as I play more matches, probably I will start to serve it better and better and get the timing going. Then you feel yourself just like ready to the next point.
Q. What's the most important lesson you learned during your time off?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Lesson... It's like no -- doesn't matter the past and the future, just the moment you living. So that's what I got to worry - when the ball comes, I have to hit or when I'm on the court I have to practice. When it's gone, it's gone and I just have to pay attention to try to make my present and my future better.
Q. Do you have the feeling you kind of sneaked up on this tournament? You were not playing and nobody's paying attention to you. Now here you are, playing like a champion. Do you think that might have had anything to do with you playing as well as you did today?
GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, little bit. Like outside going, like no really pressure for myself. I can take more chance maybe than other guys and play little more relief. But, like, from next match, maybe situation is gonna be different. So I'm not anymore and I'm never gonna be one guy that's gonna get to a Slam and nobody will care. People know I'm recovering, I'm trying to get myself on the track. But they know I've been around for a while, I've been winning many matches. So like Marat, you know, for sure he knew it would be a tough match as play me, especially in a Grand Slam. So I think I will always be trying to worry the guys in these tournaments, even if I'm not seeded.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.