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March 13, 2001

Gustavo Kuerten

Indian Wells, CA

MODERATOR: Questions for Gustavo.

Q. Pretty straightforward match out there today, 3-2. You must have been quite satisfied with the way you played.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I've been playing well already a few matches ago, good streak winning right now. So I feel confidence. I hope to play a little bit more match here to, you know, just playing on clay court. The more I play on hard, I think as fit as better we get doing these tournament or the next one.

Q. It's taken you a couple of tournaments to get going this year. Was that partly due to coming down after the way you finished last year?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, a little bit. But I played three tournaments. I won two, so it was not so bad. It was the best ever for me. I was pretty satisfied the way I'm playing. Was tough last year playing until late of the year, and then had to go to Australia. I try, but I couldn't play so well. So right now I feel my rhythm better, my game works well again. It's the way I try to go.

Q. Did you have any problems with the early start?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I always had some problems. It's tough for us to go all the way to Australia, you know, coming from Christmas party and all these. I take a little time to focus, you know, to the game again. Normally, I don't play well until March or April, or one of these two tournaments I start playing well. But this year I start a little bit early, so it was better. Playing South America was fun. I enjoy.

Q. Today starting at 10:00, did you have any problems?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I think I was a big present for what I did last year. They put me for 10:00 for maybe 12 people watching my game. It's the way they do their things, you know. Maybe I have to be No. 1 five years more, then I can play 1:00 in United States.

Q. Do you feel any more pressure entering a tournament as No. 1 where you're expected to win, expected to do well?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I think I adapt with this situation. I'm playing three or four years already on the top, so I -- my expectations change at that time. Right now I just have to keep my motivation high and try to enjoy the game. Like today, it's not so easy to enjoy a 10:00 match. I prefer playing later. I think to really have a good game for you, you should play 1:00, 2:00, then you can show for the public what you can do - not this early.

Q. How important is it to win a hard court tournament like this? You were close last year at the Ericsson.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, for me every tournament is important. I try to play well, work on my game during all tournament. I think for the ranking, this is more important, give you more points, you play against the best players. I try to play even better this kind of tournaments. But for me, every single match I go on the court, I try to win, I try to improve a little bit of my game.

Q. Is there anybody on the tour that gives you particular trouble?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, many, many guys (laughter). I think the guys who serve and volley more, they give me a little bit more hard time. I don't get my rhythm going. But there are other guys, too, who one day or the other you play not too good, they play excellent. They can beat you.

Q. Could that be a problem with Davis Cup with Pat, even though it's on clay?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: You know, I can play many guys still. But I think Pat can play well on clay. He played semifinal in French Open already. I play against him five times already. We had always good matches against each other. I looking forward to play well. I think if I'm playing well on clay, I have good chance because I'm feeling the ball well. I was playing a couple of matches before. But you never know. Like I said, if he comes, put pressure all the time, sometimes it's tough to find the rhythm.

Q. The Australians are expecting quite a reception in Brazil next month, feeling that Barcelona was a dress rehearsal of what the crowd will be like in Brazil. How do you think the crowd will react during Davis Cup?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think they going to have a great time there. I think the facility, it's going to be better than when we played there. We going to have more courts to practice. We going to have a nice view of the city, great place to play, a place where the people are very friendly. If they want, maybe they going to stay there forever, I think. They going to change, start to live there (smiling).

Q. Pat said a couple weeks ago when we were talking about the crowd aspect, he said he's expecting you to have some control over the crowd over there.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, when you play Davis Cup, you never go away without knowing that you going to have the crowd against you, without knowing that you going to have trouble if you mess around with the crowd. But depends of the player also. Like I play Hrbaty, and he likes when the crowd get involved against him. Some other players doesn't like. For me, I like to play with the crowd or without the crowd. They made me play well there. Some matches I be winning because of them, of all the atmosphere. That's what I try to do even when I'm not playing so well. I get some energy off them and I start to play a little bit better until I find my rhythm.

Q. How is the court surface playing here? I heard it's slower than last year.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think it's quite slow. But when you play on this level, the match, it never gets slow. The guy's serving so fast, they play hard. The points are always very, very fast, even the courts not being so fast as other ones.

Q. How important is it to you to be No. 1 again this year? Is this something you think about?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, not really. I try to play my game this week or the next one, try to beat my opponent and be better than I am right now, see what I can get the end of the year. No, I don't expect and I cannot ask anything else. I already think I got too much.

Q. But last year, playing the last tournament, was it on your mind then?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Of course, you always try to get new things for you. As far as you get, like Grand Slam, you try to win again. This is normal. This is the way you have to be, otherwise you going to be standing in the same place. But it's not that I want to do this, I want to do that, I have to be No. 1. I just think that I have to work well, give my best there, and somehow I going to find a way to be satisfied with what I have.

Q. Have opponents played you differently since you've become No. 1? Are they more intimidated?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think most of the guys, they like to play against me. I play hard. People know like I play fair game. I like the guy play, too. They like to play against me. Especially this tournament, you know, everybody comes to you with good expectation. Don't expect someone came just to play well against you; they want to beat you. That's normal for me since many years already.

Q. Are you still making changes in your game? Are you trying to add new features to your game?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think I always try to do something else. Of course, my game is not going to change like serve and volley for play here or for play on grass. I play the game like the way I learn to play, and then I can do something more in special points or in the tough situation, maybe little different shots when I need. But nothing that I going to start doing something that I never did in my life. I just going to keep with this same way, my same style, and then maybe with some topics that I can learn these days in the match.

Q. When you said serve-and-volleyers give you more trouble, do you think of any new techniques to use against them or do you rely on your old way?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, but I had success against them, too. It's not that they beat me all the time. I beat Pete in the Masters, you know. I beat Rafter, too, on indoor. Sometimes I lose it; sometimes I win. It's not that big problem. But I try to do the best. I'm not Agassi returning. I don't have his return, even if I stayed 20 hours in the court. I'm going to miss all my shots that I have. I've got to keep putting my mind the good things that I have and then try to do something else when I really need, at the point that I need it.

End of FastScripts....

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