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December 2, 2000

Gustavo Kuerten


MODERATOR: Questions for Guga.

Q. A couple of days ago you said that Marat deserves the No. 1 spot. What is your opinion about that right now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: The same. I wish I could play him in the final. Unfortunately, he's not there. I wish I win, but I wish he's No. 1.

Q. Will you be able to play? You're okay? Did you have treatment tonight?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, good treatment now. I've been recovering well. As hard as I play, one, two sets, I start to feel a lot of pain. But tomorrow I going to be able to play for sure. Tough five sets. I don't know how far I can go, but I'll try to push myself as far as I can.

Q. How much confidence do you have for tomorrow's final?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: A lot. I win three matches in a row. I didn't expect to be in the final. Tomorrow I will try really surprise and play aggressive. But don't expect too much thing. Just happy to be there.

Q. You mentioned just after the match on TV that you felt very, very tired, and that you thought if you have to win tomorrow, you have to win in three sets. Did you feel today more tired than the other days? Is it getting worse?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, it's quite the same. I get better during the time I rest, I get worst during the time I play. I think it's normal. I think tomorrow he's going to make me run more than Pete. Today, two, three shots. Tomorrow more rallies. I try somehow to make points going quicker. If it goes well, I think I can compete. But if it doesn't go too good and he make me run too much, I sure I going to have a lot of trouble if goes three, four sets.

Q. It appears to be your back and you have your legs massaged, which is the same sort of thing you were having as far back as Hamburg and Roland Garros. Is this something you always have to play with? Is it something that can be put right with rest?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I don't know. I don't really care now. I care about tomorrow. As far as if I play with pain and I win, it's okay. I can play all my life like this.

Q. Now that you are in the final, do you think it's strange comparing Masters final and Roland Garros, different being in a Masters final than a Grand Slam?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Nothing is the same; everything is different. Even the same tournament, if you go to the final, it's always different. Here maybe a little bit tougher for me, like I said, playing best-of-five. I wish it was best-of-three. Let's see. Let's see how I can support all this time playing.

Q. You're Roland Garros champion. You won a Masters Series. You're in a final now. Why do you think Safin deserves to be No. 1?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: He won a Grand Slam, too. He won two Masters Championships. He won seven tournaments. As I say, if it was in his hands, it's well-deserved, you know. It was great competition end of the year, everybody fighting for No. 1. He really did what he need to be. If I win tomorrow, I will be. It's good. It's fun. But he could -- you know, for sure he could be the No. 1 of the world if I don't surprise everybody here and win the tournament. That's what I mean. He well-deserve this spot. For sure, if it stay with him, I'm going to be happy, as well.

Q. Pete has won this tournament five times. He's one of the greatest indoor players ever. Where do you rank this victory in your career for you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: The best. For me was special. He's a great player. I really admire him. Here I never expect to beat him in situation like this. So for sure it's top level of happiness, dream and everything for me, you know, it's happen here.

Q. You sound very pessimistic about tomorrow. Is that because he's already beaten you here this week?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. You know, I don't feel a hundred percent to run that much that I know I'm going to need tomorrow. But, you know, I've been feeling much worse, if you were here in the first day, but you wasn't. You only come in the final. If I lost, you don't come. It's okay (laughter). You would see how bad I was. I was much worse than now. I was feeling very, very bad. Now I'm feeling good, feeling okay. I would say I don't need to win, I'm happy enough. But let's see. I will try. I will try for sure and play hard. We'll see how it's going to be.

Q. Having heard what you said about Marat and No. 1, but now it's in your hands. How excited or how nervous does it make you to have that possibility?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Again, again (laughter)? Everybody do the same question. It's nice, it's good, but it's not what I'm feeling right now. I feel in this tournament, the situation, it's great for me. I feel myself out of the tournament after the first match, and now I see myself in the final. I will try to win the match tomorrow as I can with all the energy I have. If I win, I'm going to be No. 1. It's consequence. But I think only about winning and finding a way to beat Andre tomorrow. I know it's going to be tough.

Q. Only when you are No. 1 we can talk to you about being No. 1.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, hopefully (laughter).

Q. It looked like after the match, he was telling you something nice. Did he tell you anything special?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I think he really felt the way things was going for me, you know, the way I came back during all the competition during the match, the way I was fighting. He give me great support, you know, wish me good time and good luck in the final. He really said it was a good game, he played well, but I played better. He was like satisfied the way he played, too.

Q. The tactics for tomorrow will be quite different from the game of Tuesday when you played against him?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I will not tell. If I tell, he's listen, is going to be bad (laughter). I try to be more aggressive as I was the other match that I play him the first day, try to go for the shots a little bit more.

Q. Do you think Lisbon brings you good luck since you won already a tournament in Portugal?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's nice to play here, no? Make me feel comfortable. I'm much closer to my country, my people than I normally am playing other countries. It feels as in home. Makes me feel better on court, of course. I can have a lot of support from people, the crowd and everything. It's nice. It's not that I always have great results, but I really enjoy. If I don't play too good, I really enjoy coming here to play.

Q. Your mother seems a bit on the television screens as much as you have here with her fists a bit like Larry. How nice has it been to have your family here as well as your coach?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, they give great motivation for me, especially in the beginning of the competition. Maybe that show how or why I'm like that, too. It comes just from my mother, you know, all this motivation that I have on court. She show the same. She's a mother, as every mother, they feel what we feeling. I try to share with them my emotion and they try to push me as they can. So far it's going the same way: they proud of me as I proud of them to be here.

Q. With your match against Agassi, the crowd was a bit divided in terms of support. What do you feel for tomorrow?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think that many people will be cheering on Agassi also. I think that I will try to get with the people who are for me. I'm going to try and keep my energy with the group which is supporting me.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the match today? What did you feel today after winning, beating Sampras?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It was one of my best victories. I felt a lot of emotion and a lot of happiness. It was very, very special. I'm going to try and live this moment very well till tomorrow and take advantage of these good emotions I'm feeling, inspire myself for tomorrow, try and get these positive feelings and energy to support me in my match tomorrow.

Q. Are you aware of what you've done for tennis in Brazil?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: If I stop and just think about what I've done for tennis, I think it's very important. If I'm going to play Sampras or Agassi, it's going to be very important for the public there. The important thing now is that I'm in the final. Brazil has never had anybody in the Masters. For me to be in the final is absolutely fabulous for the country. If I was a journalist, if I was a Brazilian journalist, I'd be able to do a whole newspaper on this tournament.

Q. When you arrived in Lisbon, you had a guitar. Have you had some time to have some fun?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I've been playing guitar every single day. I play about an hour each day. The people enjoy it a lot, but my guests next door have complained a bit at the hotel so I can't play for much longer (laughter).

Q. Now that Agassi can't hear us, what are the tactics for the final?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I'm going to try to do everything which I can. I'm going to hit the ball hard. It's going to have to be a moment which is going to happen tomorrow. The tactic is going to be dependent on the way I feel tomorrow, my emotions. That is what a final involves. I'm going to have to live the moment and decide how I feel in that moment.

Q. What is your message for the Brazilian fans who have big expectations? What is your message?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I always try and send my message in the best way, which is showing my determination and what I'm feeling on the court. I know that everybody is going to be looking at the match tomorrow, very nervous, people praying that I win. It's important. I think that all Brazilians are very happy. People are forgetting their problems back in Brazil. I'm happy and proud to be part of that. I'm going to try and make it a happy day for Brazil tomorrow. Everybody knows what I'm doing there. I'm doing something unique. If I would arrive there tomorrow, even if I lost, everybody would still be very happy with the way I played this week and the way I behaved.

Q. Yesterday after beating Safin, Sampras said he lacked a bit of mental edge. He said you have a better mental factor than Safin. What do you think of that? Do you think you're stronger psychologically now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I've evolved a lot. I've grown a lot in that department. I think Safin is only 20 years old. It's quite good he doesn't think most of the time because he hits the ball so strong that if he thought, it would be even more dangerous. I think I'm learning to play well with other players, and showing how I can deal with certain problems on the court. I'm getting a lot better on these fast surfaces. It's really a mental factor to know how to get through tough situations. I think I wasn't so -- I think if I wasn't so strong mentally, maybe I wouldn't be able to get to the final, as I did.

Q. You've complained about the linesmen. Do you think they have been unfair with you this week?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think it's difficult. Many balls are quite questionable. I think Sampras and Agassi are the strongest players, the most known players, and sometimes I've had situations where I've been treated unfairly playing against them because I think if you play a tournament like this in Brazil, if I would play against another player who isn't Brazilian, maybe I would be favoured there. The name of the player is important when he's on court. Sometimes we play and don't see properly.

Q. You're always talking about positive energy and good things. Do you believe in religion? Do you practice something? Is it a natural thing?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I'm a very calm person, but I always try and see things on the positive side. This week, that positive side has been very important for me because I needed that to begin to recover. Those positive feelings were very important for me, to try to get the necessary energies to overcome the important moments. I think when you have these positive feelings, you have more energy, you're able to play better tennis.

End of FastScripts…

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