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April 25, 1999

Gustavo Kuerten


ATP: Questions, please.

Q. You said yesterday you wanted to take your revenge. I'm sure you didn't expect it this way.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think it's always a surprise when you're playing , you see you won. During the match, I saw he was like feeling something wrong. Last time I play him was almost like this, too. I keep playing, best-of-three sets, I keep playing, but was really tough for me to play. I knew maybe I put one more ball there, I make him run for more shots, and then he's going to get tired. I saw this during the match. But until the guy, you know, don't give up, until after he retired, you still in the game, you still fighting a lot. So it's strange, but I think for me was good, too. I will try all my best during all the week. I had a lot of tough match, so today was very different, but that was definitely the way it was.

Q. You said he was the same last time you played.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, me. I was injured, yeah.

Q. You were injured?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. But was not so important game. Was in the quarterfinal of Estoril. So I really came with a lot of match, so I was very tired. Best-of-three sets, but different situation. But it's I think like during the match, you can see when the guy, you know, it's a little bit down. So I really took advantage of that. I didn't know if he was going to retire or not, but I really saw that he was not in his best form.

Q. How about you, have you been in such a form for a long time? Your health or form, has it been that good?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I think I was, you know, growing during the tournament. I had a very tough second round, and after that I start to get feeling better and better. So I got to the final just feeling the way I like it, like ready to play. Very excited to play the final. So I was just, you know, ready for a big match like today. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't on his best form. I couldn't do anything. I was just there, try to do my best. Very sad for the crowd today. Much better day than yesterday, sunny. All the things work for us to go out and play a good match. Unfortunately, he got injury and had to retire.

Q. Are you playing better now than when you won the French Open, do you think?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think I'm playing maybe -- when I won there, maybe I'm playing the same level, no? I really play fantastic. But I can play more match on this level. I've been able to keep playing well for longer time, for weeks, maybe. I'm only losing when the guy really play well. So I'm getting more consistent during this year, and I really learning and improving a lot.

Q. How do you analyze what happened to you since the French Open in 1997? After you won, you had a letdown or was it a growing process more than anything?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think at that time I won the French, but, you know, I wasn't a big player already. I had to adapt myself after to the big tournaments. I start to know the secret more. I start to go to the place and see how it was. Now I'm much more in the secret. I know every tournament. I know where to play, which place I can play better or not. So it's much more easy for me. I think the things so clear in my mind that I don't have to think about anything else, just to save energy for the match. This makes a big difference. So I won there. But, you know, was two weeks unbelievable that I really play well, but I still had to work many things to get to this level that I am now, I think.

Q. Do you consider this your biggest win since the French Open?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, for sure it is. It's a great, great tournament this one. I think maybe all the glamour and all this, maybe it's the best tournament after the Slams. So for me, I always came here with like a dream, you know, a motivation to come here and play well, try to win the tournament. And finally I got this, so it's very special. I'm sure it's important, too. It's the first big tournament on clay. I can, you know, put more respect now on the Tour. I can play better the other tournaments that still have to go on on clay, so it's going to help me a lot for this year.

Q. Even before the Davis Cup, you were playing already pretty well. You played the semifinals in Indian Wells. Was there a time where you felt it was a turning point, where you got your confidence back and your tennis back?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think I came pretty strong this year already on Australia. I had a couple of good wins. I didn't got the important wins. Maybe I lost a lot of matches 7-6 in the third, or 6-4 in the fifth set, a tight match I let escape. But I saw I was ready to play. I was in a good form, feeling well. So I just , you know, like playing there. But I knew I got this important months like coming up for myself on clay. It's even much more important for me. Maybe I prepare, you know, my mind for this. I was already, you know, like going out on the court and feeling that I didn't have to work too much on my game, just have to wait and save energy for this tournament. So after maybe these wins on Davis Cup, too, I really proved to myself that I was ready to beat any guy on clay, and I just come here with a lot of confidence already.

Q. Where do you go now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I'm going to Munich probably tomorrow. I couldn't play last week. I supposed to play Estoril, Barcelona and here. I was too tired after Davis Cup. I pull out from Barcelona. Then I change to here, Munich, Hamburg and Rome, then I take a week off before the French.

Q. You said you improved your consistency all around the year. Did you improve something on court since '97? Do you do something better now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think I'm more complete, you know, maybe serve-and-volley sometimes, you know, try to mix my game, to don't let the guy take -- see already what I'm going to do. I'm learning how to play the other guys, too, how to play in different courts, how to bring up my confidence back when I lose one match, just forget and try to think in the time I'm playing well. So this everything together works a lot for me.

Q. What about surfaces other than clay?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think this year I play really, really well. Sydney, I play quarterfinal. Dubai, too. Semifinal Indian Wells, Super 9. So I'm learning hard court. I think I'm playing well already on grass. Maybe not that good; I have to work more. Carpet I think I can play good, too. I have good strengths from baseline. I just have to get a couple of wins to get more confidence.

Q. Often when a young player wins a big title like the French Open, he has problems of motivation afterwards. Do you still have the motivation clearly in your mind what you want to do?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I think, like myself, not only the motivation, but I just try to get so much things, you know, results too fast. Maybe I'm thought I'm going to win this, win that, try to win that. You really not too prepared for that. So after a while, I realized that, I start to learn more. I like to compete. I like to practice. I like to push myself farther, so I really can find motivation everywhere.

Q. In the speech you talked about the Brazilian flag. Do you win today in a way for your country or just for yourself?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I always do a lot of things to myself, but I'm very proud about my country, too. I know how the people are there, how excited they get about sports. You know, they follow, they go for the guy, watching the TV like this. So I'm pretty sure they was there following my game, they was there reaching for me. I'm sure they got so happy about my win that was like -- even myself, I really proud of me that I can give all this feeling for them.

Q. Will you still stay in the same hotel at Roland Garros?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Not anymore this year. Because we try to take something closer, and then we probably going to arrange for an apartment to walk to the French.

End of FastScripts....

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