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January 16, 2001

Gustavo Kuerten


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. What's the injury problem?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I just feel a little bit tight at the start of the match and after I got the net break, I think I start to feel a little bit better so it wasn't anything that got me worried.

Q. Is it ham string again, back, foot?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It was just I feel my leg a little bad, one bad movement I did. But as far as I keep playing, I could move around and play as I wanted.

Q. Have you had treatment now?


Q. What type of treatment have you been having?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Like normal. A lot of stretch, massage and food, too. (Laughter.)

Q. Sandra Harwitt, United States. You struggled a little bit out there today. Was it just the first match or something he did or a combination?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think, no, for me it's been always tough to play well here so I knew it would be a difficult match my first match this year. And I think he played very good also. He played some good points. I'm sure I didn't know how -- playing well, like during whole set. I had up and downs during most of match. I think it's good to win. First match I played last year, I was out in first round already. So I fight a lot. I think I really, you know, he played like a match for his life. You know, it's tough when you play the guy wants to win. It doesn't matter how, but he wants to win. I think I hanging in there. After losing the tiebreak, I start to play well again. My mind was into the game. So I got to be maybe more focus for the next one.

Q. Is your problem here with the court because of the surface, or just it's the first tournament of the year you think?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think not the surface too much. I think I can play well on this surface. Just the way it comes, very early for me. Always one of the first tournaments. Here is all the opposite, you know. Like when I wake up, I want to sleep. When I sleep, I want to play. So it's strange. But I try to find a way like I always been doing this.

Q. How has the No. 1 ranking affected you or your life or anything?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Not much. I think it's -- for sure it's a little bit different. As I face today my first match and also coming here like one, almost two months without playing, so was special I think. But, there's some bad things but it's kind of bad things that everybody wants. You know, like pressure that everybody is looking forward to beat one good player that everybody's trying to beat you, but at least you are there in the top spot.

Q. When you were on vacation in Hawaii at the end of the year, did people recognize you at all?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Most of the place, I've been in many place with Brazilian guys and some surf competition or with the media around. So they got to know me little bit. But they didn't let me catch a wave at all. (Laughing.) Didn't give me any special treatment.

Q. David McGraw (phonetic). Does it help knowing the way you got through your injury in Lisbon, here, knowing that you can play through it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think it was a great test already this first round. Not even, you know, the hours we played but the way we played, too. We run a lot. I think I show that my physical condition is okay. It's ready to play. I hope tomorrow I don't feel so much, you know, soreness from the match today. But I think I'm ready. I've been walking a lot, work out a lot, doing a lot of practice. But it's also difference when you play a match. It's more nervous, more excited so your body feel a little bit more so. So let's see what happen for this week. But I think for here I'm ready again to play.

Q. Do you have a time preference, you were saying about the sleeping and things like that? Would you rather play night matches, morning matches?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Finally now I know I adapt myself better with the contact lens, too, so I can play better during the night with no -- not as much problem as I had before. So it's better for me. Maybe I can play at night sometimes, too. It's much better. You don't feel all the tired from the sun and from the warm weather that can be. So I think probably I'm going to play some -- hopefully also -- I play some night matches and I think I'm ready to play, you know, any other hour during the day.

Q. I'm sure you're not worried about this, but Gaudio is the only Argentinian who didn't win the men's. I'm sure you don't feel sorry. But are you impressed by the standard of the South Americans are really going forward?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think that the biggest country -- the biggest jump, no, as a country last year was from Argentina. Not even -- they put so many players, but also top players like Squillari, Portas, many guys in top 30, top 40. They really impress last year, I'm sure they're going to impress much more this year the way I saw many more Argentina here, young guys. They gonna play and put themselves in better and better rankings. It's good, I think South Americans showing up a little bit. We just look forward to maybe have more respect as a tournaments, too, as players so we can be, you know, better, they can look at us as different not as strange as we are right now.

Q. The Masters should help next year, now in Sao Paolo?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I don't know if they're gonna do it in Sao Paolo. They move it. That was very disappointing. We don't have any single tournament in Brazil. It's very frustrated. I think the tennis is -- it's going so hard there, people expect so much to see, you know not only me, but the other good players, too. And I think we miss a great chance, you know, to build the sports image of tennis a little bit more.

Q. Chris Jones from London. Rusedski has a good record against you but he was in here earlier telling us he was redesigning his game, changing his serve. Does that make him less dangerous in your eyes?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think for me especially these guys, they very dangerous. They don't give me too much reading. I'm gonna have to, you know, to focus a lot in my serve and try to put him in difficult conditions when he's serving. So I think is gonna be -- it's gonna be tough match and he's always a difficult guy to play against because you cannot -- never expect what he's coming through or when he's serving so big. I think doesn't matter who he's playing against, but when he's doing well, he's a tough guy to beat.

Q. What do you remember of the previous meetings with him? Anything in particular?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I know we played a couple times. I'm see him playing many other times, too. The key it's gonna be like returning his serve and trying to make him work a lot on his serve. It's gonna make me feel more into the game and feel myself more chance. So I just gonna -- depends if he miss more first serve or if I'm returning well, that's gonna be the difference on the match.

Q. John Parsons from the Daily Telegraph in London. The one win you got against Greg was on the hardcourts in Sydney. How much do you think your own game has improved on hardcourt say over the last 12, 18 months?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think last time we played against each other was different situation. I was still improving my game. I didn't know so clear like I know now how to play on other surface. So I think I'm more ready. That doesn't mean that I gonna play better than the other times, but at least I face in a different way than I have. I know that I'm ready to play and maybe if I play well to beat him.

Q. How would a court here compare to ones say at Key Biscayne where you played so well last year?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think the courts are pretty similar. Maybe the ball fly a little bit more, it's not so humid as there. But I think it's -- this year is more fair. Last year was a little bit over -- fast. The balls were flying too much. So this year it's kind of -- depending on the weather, it can be a little bit slow and maybe in other fast.

Q. Back to the South American question for a minute, why do you think it is that South American players have developed so rapidly over the past few years?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, it's tough to say really because of the -- they're hungry, you know. Like Argentina, they very -- they like adventures, they like challenges, you know, they try to go to take somehow more and more I think from themselves. I think that's why they having all that success. We not really have a great Federation help, not even in one or two countries in South America just because people start to believe more. We have great talent also in Juniors. So as far as we can get more players in the top, I think it's like a way for the others to see it can be done.

Q. Ubaldo Scanagatta, La Nazione, Italy. I saw you today going to the net a few times following your second serve. That is not very common in your game. Is this a new strategy you are adopting for this surface or just because Gaudio plays very much from the back of the baseline or what?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think I have more weapons, let's say, right now. I can do different things like this, I try to surprise him a couple of times, you know, going after my serve. Sometimes second serve. And I think that's the kind of things that can only help me. You know, I can do against him maybe and other players and sometimes not doing in the guy is returning too good. But, you know, it's one more thing that I have in my hand that I can use. Like today he was returning well and playing very strong from the baseline, so I tried to play the points little bit shorter, and there's more things. Like today helped me a lot to find a way to win the match.

Q. You seem to serve better when the points are more important. Like saving the set points in the fourth set and even before. Your serve was not that good in the beginning, only 52 percent --?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I think I've been a long time without playing. So the longer I was on the court, I feel myself more into the game, like feeling my strategy better and feeling myself more prepared to play one point to the other. And I think we both really rise our game very high at the end of the fourth set. He played unbelievable when I was leading 4-3, you know, like after saving three or four break points to make 5-4. Then I had two set points and played maybe my two aces in tough situations. And that time, I really feel that I was more into the competition. In the beginning, I playing like one more and more practice. I'm not used to the competition feeling any more. But as far as I've been on the court, you know, playing more, I feel myself more and more into it.

Q. Do you think there's confidence from Lisbon? (Inaudible).

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, there especially I save, you know, great -- many, many break points, a tough situation with the serve or with big shots. So this is going to help me, and it has helped me a lot. So I just -- I hope I don't get too much this situation. But if I can get out of this like today, it's gonna be good for sure that I'm gonna be much more confident for the next match.

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