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August 29, 2000

Gustavo Kuerten

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York, NY

MODERATOR: Questions for Gustavo.

Q. Well, what was the difficulty, Guga?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think everybody saw. The serve, I could not -- too strong, his serve.

Q. Did you feel when you saved those two match points you were going to get back into it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, it was tight again. Just the beginning of the tiebreak, played well, was already 4-0. Was almost over. I didn't really feel that I had some chance to turn around.

Q. How disappointed are you, being that you were the second seed, a lot of people thought you had a real chance?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, it's always tough. You always come with good expectation. I knew I'm going to have trouble today. He's tough guy to play in the first round. I didn't find it, the way to beat him. It's tough when you go out first round, struggle a little bit. For sure I have better expectation. But right now I cannot do anything else.

Q. How early in the match did you realize that you were in for a bigger fight than you might have anticipated?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think before it start already, I knew I would have a tough match, you know. The way he plays, it's tough. No rhythm at all, serving ace. So for me, makes to my game work a little bit difficult. So I knew it's going to be like this. I think he got the breaks for his side, no? I had like eight break points and didn't convert any of them. So the match could be -- maybe I could have won two-sets-to-one, too. Things didn't went to my side when I really need it.

Q. I know when you're going to face a tough opponent on clay, you still walk into the match pretty confident. How long do you think it's going to take for you to feel that way on hard courts, too?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, I think I was confident. I start playing very good. I was leading the match. One or two bad shots I played, the match I got more close, and very tight. But I think I just didn't do the right thing on the right time. When I had important points, I let it go all the times. I think that's not the court difference; just the way I did today.

Q. What could you have done different?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I should have won some of the breakpoints that I have. I maybe won one of ten. If I could have take three or four, would be already the difference to win.

Q. And why do you think you didn't?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, just sometimes he served well, sometimes I miss the return. Just the way it went. You never know what's going to happen. You pretend, you know, to see what the guy's going to do. But, well, sometimes you don't guess right, and sometimes you guess right and you don't do your things right. Maybe one or two seconds that goes away, your match can go like that.

Q. You made some great strides on hard courts this year. Is this the next step now that you have to learn how to play consistently against the big servers, against the guys who come to the net a lot? How do you feel you're going to be able to do that?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think I played -- I could have won this match like I lost today. I think if he played anybody in the draw, he has chance to win it, too. I had the chance. I played enough to beat him, too - just didn't do right when I needed. It's not that I have to change or I got to do something different; it's just if you put him to play maybe everybody in the draw in the first round, I'm sure nobody's going to beat him easy. He's a very tough opponent to play, especially when you haven't play any matches in the tournament.

Q. Against the serve-and-volley players like him, can you take the serve earlier?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I try to do different things, try to see what's working better. Sometimes it's not enough. Depends on the guy, too. Doesn't matter if I stay, you know, close or far. If he hit me ace anyway, not going to change anything. He just served too strong, I think, placed it when he needed to. I played many guys who did serve-and-volleying last week, and I did well. Just like this, the match is close, like today. I lost here, but I could have been here now with a win, too. Is just a matter of this. One day can be good, one day not. Today was a bad day for me.

Q. In your gut, do you think some year soon you can prevail here and win the US Open?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I had the great feeling for this year, not that you feel you can win, because I never win it. Never going to come out here and really feel that I'm going to win the tournament. But I feel like I was, you know, playing maybe my best tennis in hard court, coming well-prepared. So I had great feelings. Just like this. Sometimes, you know, you play -- you know you're playing well, you try to do things as better as you can. I don't know, just things don't go the way you like to. Today was tough day for me. I think even anyplace, doesn't matter the tournament, the surface, even if you feeling well, feeling better as you can, you come out against a tough opponent, you miss some shots, things don't go the way you want, it can go the other way around. Many good guys on the tour.

Q. The tour has done a lot to promote you and a couple of the other younger players, the next generation of men's tennis. Does that put any more added pressure on you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, no. I said to them, I don't want to be promoted. I'm already too much promoted. I want to be unknown. I don't want to go and people recognize me everywhere. I try to do as less as I can. It's already enough.

Q. Can one of the "New Balls" guys win it this year? Do you think it's a little too early?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. That's many of them that playing well, can have a chance. But, like I said, I'm sure Agassi, Sampras, Rafter, they more favorites. They've won it before. They know how to win. That's already one big step forward.

Q. Is returning his serve a guessing game?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, sometimes. You got to guess. You don't have any chance to guess at all sometimes. Just have to go to the chair and wait for the next game. Guy wait for the chance and take it when you had it. That's what happened. I just got so frustrated that, you know, every time I had some chance to break him, I didn't. That's make me feel more and more frustrated, make me feel like, "Well, maybe this going to be my last chance." That's what happened.

Q. Apart from the serve, was the rest of his game at a higher level than you expected?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. He played normal from baseline. The key of his game is his serve. He knows, I know, everybody knows. That's what put myself in trouble. I couldn't find my way out of that.

Q. Do you feel some pressure on you because of all those expectations, the next generation? Do you think it will take some time before you can succeed?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think it's going to be tough to have succeed better than I am right now. It's difficult. I'm No. 2. If I want to be No. 1, it's tough. But if I stay No. 2 for a while, I'm already happy enough.

End of FastScripts…

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