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September 7, 1999

Gustavo Kuerten

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

USTA: Questions for Gustavo.

Q. Why do you think we've had so many injuries, so many retirements, in the course of the tournament on the men's side?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think, I don't know, it's a lot of tournaments before. Some guys play a lot of match before coming here. I don't know. You have to go out there and play best-of-five sets, sometimes three, four hours on the court. It's tough. But also can happen, like even if you just prepare yourself for this tournament, you come here, but you can go out on court and twist your ankle or have a bad injury without anything, you know, to do with tired or all this. It's things that can happen to your body. We all human. We have to know that these things can happen. Just try to pass over and come back next time.

Q. In previous years, you've played the week before. Was that a strategy that you decided wasn't working for you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I also played two weeks, two tournaments before this week that I had. I thought that three weeks in a row would be too much for me. I took this week off to practice here. For sure, was better for me. Even like happen to him could happen to me, too. These kind of things, it's nothing to do with the way your condition is, like you have more tired, no. Some days, like today, was a lot of wind. It was not that hot. If you go and make a bad movement, you can feel like the way he felt, not be able to play your tennis.

Q. How difficult was the wind out there? It seems pretty bad.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Very bad. Everybody could see, we could not play our tennis. Just try to pass ball over, run and see who is going to miss first. Was not very nice to play.

Q. What sort of technical adjustments do you have to make to merely get the ball over?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think you have to be very mind, you know, prepared, to know that it's going to be tough, to know that you have to maybe change your game a little bit. Try to play more safe, and don't worry. Sometimes you play one ball that don't even got to me. I start to run; I didn't get the ball. The wind stopped before I reach it. It's sometimes frustrated, but you have to just forget about it, think about the next point, the next game.

Q. Do you feel like you got a little lucky out there today?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: A lot. Very lucky. I think he was playing a little bit better than me. He just break me in that game. Maybe would be tough for me to come back in that set. I was very, very lucky.

Q. Do you feel like you were settling in for a long match before that happened?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, you never know. I prepare myself for a tough one, a very long one. I knew it could be - I don't know - three tough sets, three easy sets, five sets, whatever. For sure that I didn't prepare myself to this that just happen now. I think for me, it's much better. I play only one set. I can rest more. I can wait for my opponent right now. It's kind of sad just the way the conditions are already tough, the way we finish the match was kind of strange, too.

Q. Do you still have your program?


Q. That you were building a home for kids in your hometown.


Q. Did you build it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I think they just finish now. We collect a good money last year. Still, like, getting more money this year. The more I play, the more money they get. It's better for both sides. I'm not quite sure when they going to really start to work on it, but I think it's just about to finish it.

Q. So all the kids will be moving over into that home from the school?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. It's going to be for the ones who doesn't have like a family, all this. The one who has -- like I have a brother handicapped, too, so he can stay in our house, and he can go to the school and come back. Someone has to go there and stay like overnight, they don't have no place to stay, so they can just start to live there and make their whole life there.

Q. How much are you donating per match?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's about 400, 500 per match.

Q. 500?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's 100 for me, and my sponsor, they made a little help, too. Every one of my sponsor give 100, 200. We collect 500 together for all my match.

Q. You're going to build more houses, right?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Hope so. I hope to win, get more money, more house (laughter).

Q. You seem to have found your way on hard courts. Are you feeling as comfortable on them as clay or you're still more comfortable on clay?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, right now, I think I'm adapt. You know, I'm play a lot of match. I won four match here in The Open. I don't have to be worry about the surface anymore. I think I have more trouble when I start to play my first tournament or first match that I have on hard. But after that, I really been improving a lot. I can play against the best guys and play like the same level. Let's see now if I can push a little bit higher my level and really get more from myself in the end of this tournament.

Q. How did you work on your hard court play? Did you work extra at home or did you rent a court or go to a court that was hard court?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I've been practice a lot in last, let's say, two, three years. Every tournament I go, beside the match and all this, I've been practice a lot. Right now, I just feeling like the matches and some wins, too, like this result for me is important to get more confidence. I'm finding easy, you know, the way to play. Like the situation that happen in hard court. You need the big serve. I'm getting. Sometimes I need to just make the guy play. I'm doing. I'm learning much more about the way I should play on here. That's just what's helped me a lot.

Q. Do you think it's more difficult for one of your rivals to handle dropshots on windy days than on days that aren't so windy? Seems like you played a lot of dropshots here today.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I tried three in one game, and I lost all three points. I play really well one. He just got it. After that, he hurt his self, too. Maybe was because of the dropshot, I don't know.

Q. He did hurt himself chasing one of your dropshots.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think so. It was really tough. When you are against the wind, it's a little bit of chase. But here on hard court, it's a risk shot. It's like I should not do this, but there's a lot of things you should not do that you do. That's one.

Q. One would think that a dropshot not going as fast as another shot would be more affected by the wind, be blowing around a lot more.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. That's why if you are against the wind, it's good because the ball even gets shorter. It bounce and comes to you, so the guy will have more space to cover. But still, here the bounce are too high to do this shot. It's kind of dangerous just, just for fun.

Q. Quarterfinals, is this where you start thinking, "Maybe I have a serious shot at this title"?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. I didn't think I have a chance to go this far. But now I'm there. I mean, I also happy because I think today would not be my day. Like the things change so quick. He got hurt, and now I'm in the quarterfinals. From now, it's everything I got. It's going to be special for me. It's going to be nice. I will try to run much more. I've been running these days. A lot of motivation, too. It's going to be my first time here in quarterfinal in this big tournament. I hope to get excited on court and enjoy.

Q. You had a lot of support out there, Brazilian fans in the audience.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Not today. It's too early (laughter). Brazilians all party yesterday. Nobody came (laughter).

Q. Do you get a lot of support? Do your fans follow you around?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. People start to come more to watch. Sometimes, like here, it's a lot of Brazilian here, living here already. For sure, we will see some. Also we see a lot of people that come from Brazil just to watch tennis. We haven't seen this for a long time. It's great for us that we are there, trying to give everything we have for the sport, for us, too. They help me a lot. Before this match against Ivanisevic, it was great atmosphere. A lot of people there. They was going crazy. After, people start to go for Ivanisevic, too, the Americans, because they saw there was a lot of Brazilians. That's the way I think it should be. The match should be like this so you get more and more excited.

Q. Do you ever get a samba band like the soccer team does?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: In Davis Cup, sometimes we have. Had in Cincinnati, too. Normally - I don't know - it's kind of big to bring it over. I don't know if they allow to get on court with this (laughter). I wish they could do. Is going to be good.

Q. Good for tennis?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, a lot of fun. Changeover, they keep dancing. It's nice (laughter).

Q. Who is your favorite Brazilian soccer player?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Soccer player (laughter)? You don't know my team. Is the second league now. I like my team players, but they not famous.

Q. What's the name?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think, the best we have now is Dao. "The Killer" we call him.

Q. What's the name of your team?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Avai, like Hawaii.

Q. Let's say you can buy a famous player for your team.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: They already famous (laughter). You don't know, but they famous.

Q. Who would you buy?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: From the national team, I like more the strikers like Ronaldo, Romario, Rivaldo. These guys are player attack. That's the way I like.

Q. How come you never became a soccer player? What was the turning point you become a tennis player?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: You never watch me play soccer (laughter).

End of FastScripts…

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