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April 22, 2001

Gustavo Kuerten

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Guga, you said yesterday you played your best match of the week. Did you think today you were playing even better?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think I played very solid. In best-of-five is always I think extra tough to play, you know, great than three-sets match. I think today I play against like Hicham, it's tough to play. You know, ball's coming down, up all the time, drop shots. So we never know what to expect. So I think this make me play maybe not so well as yesterday, but I could, you know, playing tactically right and put himself in so much difficult position that I could, you know, comfortably controlling the match. So that was the key, I think, today. Yesterday, I feel like I could play more. Was not strong shots from the baseline all the time, and today I had to do different things, go to the net. I think like I said yesterday, with so many kind of shots different and doing all the matches, I know I had to use everything I really had to beat him this way.

Q. Is that why you did so many drop shots, because you know you did it before him?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, was -- I think the conditions here pretty much in drop shot's favor I could say. I think not if the only match I did drop shots, like yesterday Coria against me, too. So it's heavy condition. The guy can stay very far behind, like I stay sometimes with other guys. So you got to change the pace. Like I said, you got to do. Maybe you can lose the point sometimes, you know, even doing to at least take the guy outside of that far away back. But when you really need, you got to do it, you know, perfect and just right to win the point when you really have to get it.

Q. Guga, just one specifically English question related to Wimbledon. On Tuesday next week, we're going to hear confirmation of what we're going to do about the seedings system this year, and it seems that they are going to use a computer rather than having the committee. But I think they're still going to apply a grass court emphasis to get the 16 and they've been having lots of discussions with ATP, Player's Council about it. The other day you were talking about how at Wimbledon, they don't show respect for all the players with the seedings. Is that still your view now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think like they did for the last years, it's not fair as the system go. The only tournament goes different. So I think they play -- the players who things are not right, they should speak together each other and maybe see what to do if this happen again.

Q. Is there a chance that you might follow what Alex and Albert did last year and not play Wimbledon because you disagree with the way they do the seedings?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I could say so.

Q. There is a chance?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, if the guys come to me, you know, and we say together we're not playing, we're not happy about this, I'm going to be one who is going to vote in favor of that.

Q. Going back to clay, how much better --?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: (Smiling.) (Laughter.)

Q. How much better are you playing now than you were in Brazil two weeks ago?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think long time ago I play on clay, let's say, I have good feelings, good expectations. Sometimes it's always not so good for me, I put a little extra pressure. Sometimes it's bad, you know, I have more respect from the guys or I have more good feelings that I can bring it back. And this year, especially, you know, I played three tournaments, I won all three. It's amazing how I can sometimes hang in the situation when not playing so well, maybe winning too many matches. I lost one match all this season long, just now one, two weeks ago. But I really feel unbelievable the way every time I go on the court and doesn't matter how, but I always find some way to really win the match.

Q. Do you think you're in good enough shape to win the French? You need to play better than that?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I cannot say I play better than today or yesterday, I really play great match. But I'm playing better every day. Hicham, the same. All the guys the same. I think the normal situation is going to be everybody improving little here and there. Well, I can say in the confidence level, if will be next week I will be ready for sure to play already in the French.

Q. Aren't you afraid to peak too soon?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, no I never, you know, not happy about winning matches like this or tournaments. For me, as more as I play, I think it's better for my game. I need the matches. So it's good. Of course I can see balance better which way to go, play more here, more or less there. And for sure it's gonna be, you know, for me the main thing French Open. So now I can -- I think I have more chance to see what I can play extra or less from now on, because I have already great results, more confidence, more match. So it makes things a little bit easier.

Q. Are you going to play Hamburg and Rome also?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I think these tournaments, it's nice. I like to play there. Especially Rome, I play so well this tournament. So really great place to play and I'm looking forward to be prepared for this too and the French Open, too.

Q. Considering that your main goal are Masters Series and Slam tournaments, could it be too tough for you tomorrow to play also in Barcelona?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I can say, you know, it's difficult, it's tough as it is the same here, you know, winning from Tuesday to today every match during all days, no breaks. So it's -- sometimes you, like I said now, you got to feel what your body respond and then see what's best. I think the clay season, it's too short for playing, you know, in two months three Masters Series and then a Grand Slam altogether. So you got to deal with this, see what's -- the main thing is really respect your body when you feel it's the right time to stop. Even if it's a Masters Series or if it's other tournaments. But for me, I can say like French Open, it's the most -- I can say the most important. So if I have to stop in one week, you know, I feel that my body's not okay, then I have to and there's no other way.

Q. When you arrived here you had a small groin problem I think. How is it now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Is big groin problem. (Laughing.) No, it's getting worse, but tomorrow it's gonna be the day I will be able to accept well. I book for every day, but unfortunately I could not do it this week, I had to play every day here. So tomorrow I gonna check. Like I say now, if I have no chance to continue play, maybe I stop for a while or I see if it's okay I can keep playing on.

Q. It seems that you improved a lot on your serve. Did you work a lot on your serve during these last two weeks?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I can say from last year on I already improve a lot of serve as aces or winning points on first or second serve. And I think it's much more mental approach, you know, like when you go for the next point and how you feel you can use your different service. I normally had a good serve, but, you know, like maybe not all the time or not doing what I should do and exactly points. So this what I learning in the past years, it's going here and there, mix it up, and going for my best serve when I need. And of course I keep practice as more as I can to really feel my rhythm going.

Q. I heard you on TV saying that you thought you had no chance to catch up with Agassi for the No. 1 at the end of the year. Is that a true meaning, you don't think you have a chance?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, like now I think it's tough. It's really -- I cannot say, you know, I am trying here to compete with Agassi in tournaments. I think still, you know, the way he played so great and the way he is, you know, a great player, him and Sampras, when you have a guy like this with that much different, it's tough to compare maybe. You know, but I don't even think too much about that, number one. Number two, I think the best was what I did this week. It's first match, I start to hit the ball hard and laughing and smiling, you know, playing as this tournament and don't think too much about other things.

Q. Who for you was your inspiration in tennis players and the genius of tennis in all the series of the tennis players?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think when I was young, maybe too young to realize tactics and all this, I liked a lot Borg and McEnroe. But you can see they're not tactics well, they don't play. (Laughter.)

Q. So Borg for you was a genius of tennis?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, they was someone I look and feel something extra.

Q. Admiration, inspiration?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, extra than the other guys. Then when I start to play more, the secret, I had good inspiration in Oncins, a Brazilian player who was at the time 30, 40 in the world, and also I think Lendl when he was almost finishing his career.

End of FastScripts....

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