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November 30, 2000

Gustavo Kuerten


MODERATOR: Questions for Gustavo.

Q. Magnus Norman says if you have problems with the back or whenever, and you serve like that, he would like to have your same physical problems because you served unbelievable. What is your comment on that?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes, I was serving very well. Like I said before, I feel myself playing my best tennis ever, feeling the ball so well. I have sometimes problem to move around. As far as the match goes, I have more and more pain to play, but it's something that I can compete. I think if I had to play three sets like the other day, it's really tough. But if I had the day off and all this, I was able to compete. Everything was all right. It gives you inspiration, motivation. Every win here for me is important. I'm here to fight. The guy is going to have to beat me. I know I'm not at my best. I know I can play better than this, at least in my physical condition. But as far as I serve well, I play -- the way I'm playing, I'm going to give trouble for the other guys, too.

Q. Compared to the match in the final in the French Open, how do you rate this match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I never compare things, you know, matches or tournaments and all this. But I think every time I play Magnus, it's a good match. We both play hard. It's always close. Like I said before, I just feel myself with a lot of confidence in my game, so that was the difference today. Unfortunately, I just have a crucial match tomorrow, because the first day I miss for one or two shots, otherwise I could be in better position. But let's see. Tomorrow is still another chance. Let's go and try.

Q. I know you usually don't follow other matches, but are you hoping in a way that Sampras beats Safin, because then Safin would be second in his group, to playing Agassi in the semifinal, another tough match for him, and you still would have a chance to become No. 1?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I would say that, no. I've been thinking about this before. The race was much closer. I had much more chance. Right now, I have many other things to worry. I have to be in the physio 12 hours every day, I have to go and think with winning my match tomorrow, see is the best way for me to play like this. It's too much things already for me, you know, to worry. It's enough I have to think about this. I think Safin deserves to be No. 1. He's been playing unbelievable. He wins maybe I don't know how many matches in a row, two tournaments in a row, he won the US Open. I think he's well deserve. If someone has to beat him and finish No. 1, it's because anything is going to happen like miracle. If not, he's the guy who really deserve to be No. 1.

Q. You feel you're better now than you left the court after the game with Agassi?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yes. I think today is a little bit better. Also the mental part, you know, I'm winning. I still have a chance. That day I play more, the match was longer, he made me run much more, and I also lost. All this together, the worst situation could be. Like now, it's tough for me. I'm sure I going to have a lot of trouble tonight. But it's like 20 hours to wait. If I cannot do it, I cannot do it tomorrow. But I see some hope, some chance. As far as I see this, I going to be here and try.

Q. So your injury is not that bad?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I will say I could play, as you saw today. I told the guys, you know, I only going to go for the court if I feel myself in a position to compete. I think I can compete against the guys. It's tough. It's not usual for me. It's not fun sometimes, as I wish. But it's the way it's been right now.

Q. Can you tell us how your day is going to be tomorrow before the match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, the same as what I did today and what I'm going to do tomorrow, I'm going to do nothing, just treat myself. I will be doing nothing but just relaxing and doing as little as possible and treating myself in the best way possible. I'm doing physiotherapy practically all day long, trying to get ready for the match, trying to think positive. What has changed has been that my mental edge right now, when I finished my match against Agassi, I was very upset, I had a very difficult time after that. I couldn't sleep. But yesterday I was feeling better. I woke up better. My treatment went fine. My feelings got better. So I have to be very focused. I feel I have conditions to compete and play in the best way. It worked very well today. I played well. Things were quite good because I didn't have to play a third set, because that would have been bad for me physically. I will have to be fighting very hard for the points. This victory was very important for me today.

Q. Did you feel anything in your leg today? Did you have any protection, something on your back to protect it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: During the match, I'm always feeling a little pain. Sometimes the pain increases a little, but I would -- I have a small protection on my back and I'm putting a bit of cream and having some massages. This is part of the treatment I'm doing. I should have maybe asked for the medical help during the last match earlier. With the help of these trainers here, physical trainers, I will be able to get better and compete with the other players here. Today things went very well for me. At least I already have one victory. I'm very happy with this. I'm very happy for being able to turn things around. I really was feeling unhappy the other day after the defeat with Agassi.

Q. Do you feel very supported from the Portuguese public? Do you feel this love from the Portuguese public? Do you think it's important for you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Today I tried to motivate myself with that. I was near my fans, trying to reunite all the fans around the court. This is very important for me. I tried to get all the positive things out of this. I was really excited with all the crowd. Everything went really well today, even though I wasn't a hundred percent physically.

Q. What do you think of the match tomorrow? It's very decisive for both of you.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's going to be a very decisive match. I'm going to have to give everything I have. I'm going to risk a bit more. Normally in tennis, you think that you cannot lose. Tomorrow, if I lose, I'm out. We get back to the normal things of tennis.

Q. You had a great recovery from the beginning of this tournament. How do you feel about this?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's very important. I really recovered in terms of a mental edge. I think it's a victory which I deserve. I've had a great year this year. This victory gave me confidence. I'm going to see what happens tomorrow. In relationship to tomorrow, I don't know what's going to happen. We're going to fight very, very hard. I'm going to try to be very aggressive so I don't have to run so much.

End of FastScripts…

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