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September 6, 2001

Gustavo Kuerten


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Where did all your energy go today?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I don't know (smiling). I couldn't find too much my pace, you know, to see myself running and going for the shots. And that's the just what you say. I didn't have any energy to step up and play my best.

Q. Was it a specific injury, or just felt flat?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think just my first set went away and then I didn't find myself comfortable running and playing one or two points well back-to-back. He took it over and just like that, I didn't really feel myself into the game.

Q. Are you disappointed in yourself a little bit? You played such brilliant matches so well to get to this quarterfinal. Do you feel you let yourself down today or did he take it away from you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think if you don't get upset when you lose, it's very bad, you know. You comfortable with losing, it's not fine. So I feel disappointed and I feel frustrated. But also maybe tonight I can have a good dinner, drink one beer, go out. So if I win, I didn't have this chance (smiling). That's the good part.

Q. Your serve today didn't have the usual punch to it. Is that because of the injury to your leg?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. Was, like she said, lack of energy. Everything was like twice difficult for myself today: to run, to serve, to play my shots. And maybe a little bit of everything, you know, little bit tired and then him playing well and a little bit of a pain here and there. But just one -- that's the main thing of Grand Slams. You have to be very fit since the beginning to the end. And sometimes if you're not, you have to manage to win. And today I couldn't really find a way to go away from these little things that was happen to me on the court.

Q. Coming into this tournament, what did you expect?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I expect to play well, maybe get myself with chance or in a good position like today. You know, maybe if I would be in quarters or semis, maybe I would have more chance than in my first rounds when I probably would be little more scared. But just went the other way around that I thought.

Q. Did you feel before the match that it was not a good day?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. Just the way the match was going, you know, the beginning I start to feel like he was playing better and easier. And I was, you know, like fighting just to make it little bit tougher for him. But I had I don't know how many weeks. And even these two weeks, you know, very, I could say, in a row good for me. Maybe was first match I didn't play well in three or four months.

Q. Did you psych yourself out during that disputed call and you had a problem with the linesman that called it out? Did that contribute to your game coming apart?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think that at that stage I was already, you know, little bit off my game. But it's calls, tough calls. Especially these match, we play lines all the time or out of the line and they have to make the call and sometimes it's good or wrong. It can be frustrated little bit. But that stage, I don't think it really make myself play worse than it was.

Q. Did you feel you had any chance after losing the first set?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Is not that I didn't see any way to me to win, but I was feel, you know, was getting tougher and tougher. But as far as while out there, you always see some hopes. Especially with me, I always try to discover a way and find a way to beat the guy. So that's what I was trying to do in there. Especially after the first set, first set I was able to compete. But then after that, I really saw him playing much better than me.

Q. Pete Sampras is 31 years old. Because he can serve and volley, he's able to shorten the points. The points are shorter. Doesn't have to play long points like you do so often. Have you considered, "Maybe I need to be a more aggressive player around the net to make the points shorter," so you're able to go through a Grand Slam without tiring?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I think, you know, if you see all year long I've been still leading the Race. So winning so many matches and doing so great results much better than me. And just see you compare myself with Sampras, for me it's honor, you know. I never expect to be comparing with this genius of the sport. So for me, everything it's outstanding that's happened to me. I'm having results back-to-back. My life, it's been unbelievable. So I have really nothing to complain and just a lot of things to thank.

Q. Did you watch the match last night?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: A little bit. My hotel, they change the cable and we didn't have USA. We had to go to other place to watch (laughter).

Q. Did you watch the Brazil-Argentina match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: When Brazil was leading. Then I didn't see, Brazil lost. I should have watched it all (smiling).

Q. What did you think of the match last night? Curious what you saw.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I thought it was an (inaudible) kind of match. I play with Max, Pete serving very strong. Agassi couldn't get to read him, even the return, to get himself comfortable, and decide by one or two points. That's the way maybe it's going to be for the other match in the tournament, too.

Q. Did you really want to win this tournament or did you just want to have a good show?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I just come here to give interview to you (laughter).

Q. If I can ask you then, why not more energy for a big match today? Why come and be tired and put yourself in that spot?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Don't know. We are human, no? I am not a machine. Sometimes it's like this.

Q. Did the Max Mirnyi match take too much out of you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It took, but it also gave me, you know, confidence, gave me enthusiastic. And like a match that -- it's always good to win. So it's not a one match or the other, just the way it's on day like this, you know.

Q. Did you just have a conversation with Pele?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. Make my day happiest at least (smiling).

Q. Have you met before?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Once a very long time ago. It's one of biggest idol we have in Brazil. So like I said, it was one good thing for me to remember today, not the match.

Q. Did he give you any words of advice, encouragement, anything like that?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think, you know, especially when you are like sports guy in Brazil, you like -- I don't know how to say in English very well.

Q. Like a hero?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. You see better how tough it is, you know, for the guys to breaking through. You appreciate much more. So that's how maybe we look at each other, no, seeing all this toughest things. It's not so easy as you have programs here with USTA or other federation, have all different sports. Was just talking about that, too. He's coming from a very small town as me and somehow we start to discovering, you know, the world, like going around and fight against everybody and be successful. So that's nice to see from him, you know, this words. And maybe to him, too, see myself doing the same with him.

Q. Is it difficult or is it wonderful to have that kind of reverence, that kind of almost worship for your accomplishments?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, it's great. It's big. Like I said, you know, it's nice. Few words maybe, but it's comfortable and make yourself as a person, too. That's important. If you little bit more happy or more complete, I hope, you know, I can -- like this, I see maybe I give a lot of happiness for people back there, too. So that's a good thing that make me proud of.

Q. The lack of energy, was it from the beginning practicing or more in the match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: In the match, actually I practiced well. I had a good warm-up. I was hitting the ball nice as other days. But just the way the match was starting was going in the beginning, I so like little bit of missing, you know, in the match and not able to find a good rhythm.

Q. Did that man singing throw you off at all?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: (Laughing) I think so. A lot, not very little bit that much.

Q. It was strange, huh? Have you ever had anything like that happen?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I never saw something like this. And we had to wait for him to finish all the song to start playing. At least half of it would be enough.

Q. How disappointed are you? Did you feel you had a chance to win?


Q. The tournament.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: As far as you don't win, you not feeling that, you know, you really have a chance. I think maybe if one day I be able to win, then I will see that I really had. But I could say even today I didn't have the -- I didn't have few chance to win, so still a little bit far for me.

Q. You talked about how you've achieved more than you ever expected. How much do you want to win a Grand Slam on another surface to prove yourself something or prove something to other people?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Not really. If it come, it come for me. If not, I'll be trying. It's not that I don't care, but I'm not giving all my life for this. I prefer to be happy let's say with my family, myself. If I have to change, you know, this to win a Slam, I don't need to win. That's for sure. I want to keep the same like this. If I win and I stay happy as I am, it will be great. If I don't and I stay the same way, it will be wonderful. Like I said before, I have three Slams. I never really expect to get all that far, so that's wonderful for me.

Q. In the States many people think that women's tennis is more popular than men's tennis. What do you think about the state of men's tennis?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think it's natural in the States. It's very, like, clear. It's not nice for the American come here and see a Russian guy beat American in the US Open like last year, and it's much easier when you see two American girls playing one final. So that's the same as soccer, you know. They don't like soccer, they don't play well. We don't like baseball, we don't play well, too (laughter). It's natural. I mean, it's feelings. You like your friends or your countrymens to, you know, people close to you to do their best. So if they cannot do, maybe you look at the side that you have some other people and you start to look after the other. So that's natural things.

Q. Even though we in the States probably enjoy our countrymen, we certainly appreciate the contribution of those outside the country, whether it's in music, art, etc.. Isn't that a harsh statement? Had you won here, wouldn't that have helped you endorsement-wise here in America?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think. But what I mean is like, you know, comparing let's say Todd Martin, I'm sure he's more popular than me, or I would say the same here in the United States. But let's say in Brazil, Meligeni is more popular than him. It's kind of roots thing that is -- I mean, it's more important, I think, than, you know, the game as yourself. For me, my hometown team, it's better than Milan, Juventus and the best teams in the world. You can tell whatever for me. I would say, "No, I prefer my team that never lost to Milan because they never played." So that's excuse for the rest of my life.

Q. It's like when Anna Kournikova comes here. Very few people say, "She's not from our country."

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: But she live here since ten years. I think she's more American. And I like her too (smiling). She's beautiful (laughter).

Q. My question was more about not just the US, but a comparison between the women's tour and the men's tour and why the men's tour, they still have Agassi, Sampras, but it's more relaxed.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's like what I say. You go to Brazil, they don't watch women's tennis, they watch men because I am playing. That's what happen. You have to have interesting. You have to have people around, I don't know. In Spain, you see they watch more men's because they have a lot of players there, too, they like to follow. So it's like this. Some guys bring interest into the game, some girls too. You go places in -- like a match like yesterday, Pete and Andre, how many people watch? You say, you know, men's tennis is not interesting. If you see the rates in the television, is gonna be so big. So depends what's the situation and what the guy's just doing for bring attention.

End of FastScripts….

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