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April 24, 1999

Gustavo Kuerten


ATP: Questions, please.

Q. You think they going to give you a visa in the future to go to Spain?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think for them it's good, too, to see someone that can face them. I'm just, I don't know, maybe in my family there's some Spanish influence going on, I have to check it out. I'm really running well, playing hard, be patient. Maybe I know too many guys; I learn a little bit about the way to play when I just around them.

Q. How are you playing now compared to how you were playing in the run up to the French Open two years ago?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think it's much different to compare. That time I had nothing, you know, to lose. I just was playing to see how far I can get. Now I know that I'm playing really well. I can, you know, face any guy on the Tour on the clay. So it's different objectives. It's different in the way I see my opponents, too. So I think now I'm much more ready and much more into my game. I know how my body's working, my game is working. That's why I really can maybe play better for longer, for more matches than I used to do it before.

Q. Were you worried today when you saw that the court was a little slower, wet, having to play Mantilla? You like better to play on a quicker surface?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I really didn't mind if it was only the condition. But if the rain, it was a little bit pouring, I was sliding a lot on the line. It's tough, you go to the semifinal, then you got a day like this. It could be very slow, but at least no rain, will be much more fun to play. This really didn't bother me. I like to play hard, too. I like to play strong, so was better. I miss a little bit less, I think. Maybe I try to overhit sometimes because was heavy, so I got a little bit of mistakes. But I like these games, too, run, patient, try to have a big fight against a guy. So I got into the game and I fight really hard to get this win.

Q. You made quite a few errors with the forehand.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. Start with an early break against me. It's always tough. You are down all the time in the game against a guy that never miss, so you have to go for the shots, but you know you are down, so sometimes you maybe a little bit play short or you afraid to miss and you start to miss just because of that. I got early break in the second. I think that was important, relax much more after that. I could, you know, start to really play my game, even missing some shots, but really going for the balls, try to get the angles, open court, try to go to the net to close the point. So after the second set, I think the game start to go more the way that I like.

Q. You think this was connected to the better condition of the court? As soon as the court was getting drier, you were playing much better forehands.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think the court didn't get dry today. You know, it just stops a little bit this rain. It's kind of pouring over you. You see, looking up, it's still raining. It stops, keeps raining. When it definitely stops, maybe I wasn't too concentrated at the beginning that this was disturbing me, then I start to be more focused. I just think until the last point, the conditions are very, very heavy, it's no place that can be more worse.

Q. There is a question that no player ever wants to answer. Who would you like to play next round? They already asked you on court. You play with Rios, then what about Golmard?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, for me maybe is a little bit more different if I going to play Rios. I think he beat me last time, so he's more confident. But also it's a good thing to put, you know, like a revenge in my mind, try to get more for myself about that. Golmard, too, it's a good player.

Q. Did you play him?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I play him a couple of times already, three or four times. It's always a close match. He's in his best form I think ever. So for sure in a tournament like this, going to be a tough final. If I play Rios, I know is going to be tough. He's a great player. If I play Golmard, the crowd's going to be with him, too. It's going to be tough.

Q. For you to play best-of-five sets, do you consider it an advantage or not? If you recall Roland Garros, I think it was an advantage there, but now?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I like to play best-of-five. No big problems, like mind problems that you go, "Now I'm going to play best-of-five, it's going to be tough for me." I really know that the game goes like normal the way you play. So for me, I hope it helps. For me, for sure it's not going to bother. So I hope it bothers a little bit for my opponent and then it's going to help me a lot.

Q. Who do you prefer to play against tomorrow?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I say Rios is more difficult, but Golmard, too, play with the crowd. So both going to be tough. I prefer they play more than me, three hours maybe (laughter).

Q. First two games took 18 minutes.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: My prayer is working (laughter).

Q. Do you feel that there's a danger, because clay matches are so long, some of the players who could win the French Open could actually play too much at this stage of the year?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think for me, I see like this part of the year is the best for my game, for get my points, so I have to get ready for this two months maybe. Last year I think was a mistake for me. I play much more in the beginning of the year, so I got here already tired. I let some tournaments away from the beginning. Now I know that I'm very well prepared with a lot of energy to play. I'm very happy, really going with physical condition very well. I see that maybe you can play and you can see how is your body working, you know. If you see you are too tired, you can take a week off and start again, or stop two weeks before the French or one week. I see that I can really manage my body, no, see how is my condition. Like I stop Estoril, I went to Barcelona. I think that was a great idea. Now I came here. I have a great result. You learn how to work with that, and for sure everybody give a special -- you know, prepare better for the French Open. So nobody's going to sacrifice when the French Open for another tournament.

Q. You've always had a very good game, but it seems your serve-and-volley game has improved. You did a couple of easy mistakes at the net today, but also at times you seemed to have improved in that field.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I think especially against like Mantilla today, he don't miss at all, he give you so few points, that you have to go for it, you have to be aggressive. Sometimes have to be patient, but most of the time just go for the shots in the best way. Like today, you cannot get a winner off him in the back of the court. That was for sure. I put him side-to-side, and he got every ball. So I got to go there to the net, I have to know close the angles, make the points shorter. That was the idea. I think I was very concentrated to make the volley, and that helped me.

Q. Who chooses the dress, the outfit that you wear? On the court you were green, black. Is you or diadora who decides you have to do that line only? In Paris two years ago, you were always wearing yellow and blue. This year is green and black the whole time?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think at that time it appears too much that everybody start pay attention for my clothes so they really try to do something different. So this year they started with white in Australia because it's too hot to play with this shirt. Now I have the white one and this all in black that I can change. Maybe if it gets too hot, it's difficult to play with all black, so they have these two lines that they made for me. I think the idea, they going to stay with this idea for longer. Try to do something different because everybody was just paying a lot of attention to my clothes.

Q. Why there is no Brazilian journalists around?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: They was happy already with Davis Cup. They don't need anymore news. Now they have to put me again. Maybe they go soccer, I don't know.

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