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October 31, 2000

Gustavo Kuerten


MODERATOR: Guga gets through to the third round and faces the winner of Lapentti and Grosjean. Apart from the cold, he's very happy. First question, please.

Q. You had lost a few times against Nicolas. What did you do better today to win?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think we always played some tough match. I think my game is maybe better than ever, so I was more ready. But I think, like today, I won, but I could have lost, too. It was close. I had a tough time, especially in the first set. But I served quite well. You know, I was feeling myself with more confidence than other match, maybe.

Q. How much time did you spend away after you left Tokyo with the flu and went to Brazil?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I had almost 14 days, you know. Like during the whole year, I didn't have this much time to prepare myself like physical and everything. So it was important for me. This next four weeks, five weeks going to be very important. I really needed that. It was nice. I played some couple matches in Brazil, too, exhibition. I got a little bit of rhythm. I really practice hard. I feel myself much stronger than I was.

Q. In the last two years, you improved very much on faster surfaces; your game is much more complete. Can you tell us what you did to get there, and how conscious was that effort for you to become a better player on faster surfaces?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think the toughest thing is that I never, you know, had high competition in hard court. I just started when I was in the tour. Before I always played, you know, in clay most of the time. So I had to play more and more match. For sure my game - and my brain - it's growing much more from last two years. So I've been able to win match, to play a little bit smarter, to don't, you know, get myself so frustrated when the guy start to serve aces or when I miss couple shots that are normal. Just like this, I keep playing, practice. You know, most of the difference I think comes from the way I'm facing the match right now, the way I see the things more clear when I have to play. That's just change so much the results at the end.

Q. Do you still consider clay as the best surface for you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think so. Still maybe, you know, not even that I only play well on clay, but that's many tougher guys on other surface for me, you know. These guys to play serve-and-volley all the time, I have more trouble playing against them. When it's fast surface, it's even, you know, worst for me. I think they're a little bit more dangerous, don't give me so much rhythm. That's why I feel a little bit more trouble when I play on fast.

Q. What do you think of the conditions of play here? Is it very fast? Are the balls heavy?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I think it's not that fast. The balls are pretty heavy, but when you play indoor, you know, it's always like fast. You don't see too much, you know, rallies, different kind of shots. You always see, like, two, three shots, that's it. Maybe a little bit high here, too, altitude. It makes the points shorter, the decision very fast. You got to have a fast decision and go for, you know, conviction for your shots. You cannot guess what you going to do.

Q. You first won the French in '97. It was a big surprise to everybody, probably also for yourself. It was overwhelming. Then you won it again this year. Can you compare, was the joy bigger this year because you realized how hard it was to win a Grand Slam?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: For me was two things completely different, you know, even being the same tournament. First time was just anything. If I lost in the quarters, was okay, or 16 was enough, too. Everything I was getting there was surprise for me. You know, I had anything to lose; just playing for fun. Things were going so well. Last years, you know, I've been getting so much results, you know, expecting more results from myself. So when I won this last time, I really thought was maybe even more difficult than it was before. I had to handle the pressure sometimes. I play like in the semis situation the other way around, you know, I did in '97. Like one guy, he had nothing to lose, and I had the kind of pressure to win the match. I thought this was more valuable for myself, and also a great payback for my career. I thought I deserve this. I had winning the other tournaments, important tournaments, on clay, so I just missed that. It was on time to get it.

Q. What is the next big thing you want to achieve?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, maybe this year, you know, having chance now to finish No. 1. It's going to be -- it is my goal. I don't like to put goals too far. It is one of my goals. It's pretty close. I have to play well these three tournaments that I needed to rise my game, you know, better than ever - even on one surface that's not so easy for me. I see myself with chance. I'm well-prepared. I think it's my highest goal so far, maybe forever.

Q. How big would it be for you to do it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Maybe, you know, biggest thing ever in my career. I never expect to get so far as I am now. I don't see myself No. 1 in the end of the year (smiling). If I still have a chance, I will keep trying.

Q. Would you say you're the favorite? Who is the favorite for No. 1?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think between like me, Safin, Norman, too - there is no favorite at all. I think if Sampras was playing here, he would be a little bit in front of us. Just because he's only playing one tournament, maybe we have more chance now. We can surprise him with good results here.

Q. The fact that The Masters Cup will be played in a Portuguese-speaking country, is it something important for you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's nice. I think I will be, you know, more close to my country, to the people, the crowd, too. It makes yourself feel, you know, a little bit more comfortable. For me it's difficult. I have to go away all the time, you know, live a different life than I used to all year long. At least, you know, every week I can enjoy more like I did in Brazil, playing some exhibitions. It's a different feeling. It's the way I wish I would have more opportunities to play like that.

Q. You said somewhere that one of the things you improved the best is you're able to forget losses easier than before. Is that right?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I think you got to be like this, you know. Like maybe if you play unbelievable, you win six, seven tournaments in one year, that means you're going to lose maybe 12, 15 match. So you're going to lose much more than you win. Normally, you lose every week, so you have to put away fast and see yourself, you know, keep your eye in front of you. But I think I always had this feeling. I had no problem dealing with my loss. So that's maybe one of the things that make myself successful.

End of FastScripts…

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