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May 12, 2001

Gustavo Kuerten

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You must be very happy. You're through to your third final in a row here?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. Since I got here already new, it's a place I like to play. So I think I had little trouble in the first round, but then I start to build my game, and another great week for me. I'm very happy to all these things are happening to me, and tomorrow I enjoy a lot to play against Ferrero. I think is the best player here in the field.

Q. You said Juan Carlos is the best player here? I couldn't hear you too well.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, from the one I saw here, playing the best tennis I think after winning all this match he has been winning. So I looking forward to have a very nice match tomorrow. I'm sure it's gonna be great tennis for this final.

Q. We view it as a match between the two best clay court players in the world at the moment. Do you see it the same way?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think like in these last weeks, maybe the match everybody was waiting for like, you know, see who is playing -- see how we play each other. After the French Open, the great match that we played, we had never had another battle. So it's gonna be nice. Many people maybe is worry how it's gonna be, is excited when you have a match like this. For us, it's many other players are playing quite well. But like he's coming from at least ten wins in a row, and me too. So it's maybe this time of the year the players who are playing better tennis.

Q. Are you friendly off the court? Do you know each other pretty well, yourself and Ferrero?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. Not like too long he's been on the Tour for maybe two years. But we know each other pretty much. As in the court or outside the court, he's a great guy, very quiet and calm. So I think we respect each other, you know, in all ways it should be. So it's gonna be a fair match tomorrow, and after when it's done I'm sure I'm gonna be satisfied either way it goes. I think if he has to win, it's a great guy to win this tournament, too.

Q. A lot of people have, apart from admiring your other play, they've been admiring particularly your backhand in recent times. It seems to get better and better, and it's such a natural stroke. I've heard people compare it, say, with Don Budge's backhand. These are old guys, Ken Rosewall's backhand. I mean, have you sort of seen clips of the great players and their backhand, or is it something you just sort of developed yourself?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: When I was like junior in building my game, I look to the best players, try to do the same most of the time. Most of the time I do only mistakes. I try to play as good as them, but they play too good for me. But more as I practice, I start to get better. Maybe I look a lot when I was growing, Lendl especially, the way he played. And of course Muster, you know, in clay court he was the best guy when I was growing up. So I went to the court and tried to do as them, but also if in my feelings, you know, like the way I like to play, so mixing this. But all the time it's nice to see, especially when you're not there, you see the guys who are there and try to, you know, catch a few things that for sure you can use it.

Q. You beat a lot of Spanish guys. Why do you think Ferrero is the best one in that country?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think is not that I see him, you know, as better than other players. But this moment like me, you know, we playing good more to hit the ball well. So I see him like this week, he didn't have any trouble to beat his opponents. First round, maybe a little bit like myself.

Q. No technical reasons why?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think it's, you know, more the kind of different moments. Maybe he's better now and can be not so -- play not so well in next week or the same with me or others. But for sure he's in the top level, I think one of the most completely, you know, player in the Tour. He played well in different surface, and last year already he played great in French Open. So he's quite solid to be in the Top 10 for many years I think.

Q. The semifinal of last year's French Open was a great fight. What do you remember about this match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think was a -- maybe the toughest match I had there. I'm sure tomorrow is gonna be kind of the same way. I think was, like you said, fight. I had to come back from two sets to one down so was, like, different feelings, you know. Like very frustrated one time and then great and so happy at the end. But I knew that sooner or later I gonna face him again, so let's see tomorrow. I think it's gonna be very nice to play him again, like we both deserve to be in this position to play in the final.

Q. In which way are you a better player compared to last year, twelve months ago?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Maybe right now my confidence is, you know, it's higher. I can bring it good shots when I need it more often, and I know how to handle maybe pressure and sometimes expectations better than before. I think that's very important to yourself to sometimes prepare for the match and sometimes recover from tough match. That's especially what happen here during all week, playing two match yesterday and then today again a good match. So this is just what you learning the secret living, you know, this tough weeks but trying always to find a way to get yourself in the final or to win a title.

Q. (Inaudible)?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, pretty much my family is kind of growing this way and staying, hopefully, in this position.

Q. We look back now at when you first really came to our attention at Roland Garros a few years ago, and it was because of your clothes and your shoes. And, you know, you said you didn't have a change of clothes and shoes from Diadora because, you joked at the time, that maybe they didn't think you were going to last very long in the tournament. There was a lot of fuss at that time. It seems such a short time ago, looking back, but it seems also a long time ago because of the success you've had not only on the clay, but, you know, in winning the Masters Cup and doing so well generally. Do you find sometimes it's hard to believe how things -- how your life has changed since that time at Roland Garros when the big fuss about Guga was his clothes rather than his tennis?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think, you know, like especially these last two years I don't really know why or the reason, but, you know, things start to going so well for me. I always, especially in this year, I always said that I never really expect to be in this position, or like last year, playing in this era that dominate by Sampras and Agassi and be able to finish in the first place. And now, having again great results like this and winning so many match, it's -- I just grateful that all this is happening. I think there's no really reason about it. I try, of course, to build my game, to enjoy, to give all that I have. But I think I am for sure getting much more than I should maybe. So I just now try to give maybe the crowd good time, too. I try to let them watch good tennis and myself keep enjoying this moments. Not gonna be forever, and it's much more than I already ask for. So I try to keep like this, and tomorrow again is gonna be great day for me and, you know, like if you look back four, five years, I would never think this, all this could happen, and was always a dream to play a final in this tournament. So I still thinking like this tomorrow. Another dreaming for me, and hopefully, you know, can end best way. But anyway I think it's gonna be already satisfied for me.

End of FastScripts....

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