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April 23, 1999

Gustavo Kuerten


ATP: Questions, please.

Q. Do you feel you are near the top of your game at the moment?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think I've been playing well all this year. Sometimes you play better, sometimes you play a little bit below. But I'm feeling great so far all this year. This week I've been playing every match solid, that's why I'm winning. I'm having a lot of confidence, too, with a lot of wins, before the tournament. I think I got very well prepared, now I'm getting the results.

Q. Was it a little bit easier than you thought today?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think the result was quite easy, but the match was really a lot of good points, a lot of run. Especially for me, he likes to play more early and try to get the winner. So I was prepared, very focused on the match. I knew I had a lot of match yesterday, so I try to play good and not miss any chance. I think I just did that. I really play solid and got all the opportunities I had.

Q. Is there a specific part of your game that you would like to improve still?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I'm really feeling -- playing a lot of shots, the guy when he play against me, he doesn't know really what to do, play one side or play the kind of game. I really playing well. Sometimes I don't play good, but when I'm playing, you know, my best tennis, I can do a lot of different shots. I think I have just to keep like that, in good shape, try to keep this rhythm, try to stay with this confidence as far as possible.

Q. Next opponent is Mantilla. What do you expect? What do you remember about playing him when you played?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think I have played him like twice. I lost both of these match, one on hard, one on clay. He is maybe the best guy playing this year on clay. I saw two tournaments, last week in Estoril he really played well. He had a big challenge today, too, against Albert. You know, you cannot expect anything easy in the semifinals. It's going to be very, very tough. I have to really use all my shots. I have to get ready, in physical condition, run a lot tomorrow, be very strong in my mind.

Q. What happened, because in fact you played him three times, but retired in Stuttgart two years ago. What happened in Stuttgart?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I had a broken ribs, but I didn't know yet what it was. After that, I got to know. So was difficult to breathe and to do this (turning side to side). I tried to play a little bit, but for me it was almost impossible.

Q. You are one of the many players who wears earrings. Is that a message to send to someone? Is it fashion? What does your grandmother, who is a fan of yours, think about this?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I use for very short time. I think is just this part of the life, you know. You want to always try to do something different.

Q. It's not very different; everybody has it.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Different for you. You like to change everything in your life, try to do everything you can. Then you get one age, you cannot do anything else, so you start to stop with this. But it might change. Fashion maybe, I don't know.

Q. Your grandmother?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Grandmother, I thought it would be worse for my grandmother, but it's not that bad.

Q. When you have a big game like tomorrow, do you prepare differently? How do you prepare mentally, physically? Do you speak with anybody in your family?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No. Right now already I know I win four match. I know I'm playing very well. I just going to try to rest a lot, save energy, that's more important. I always lose a lot of energy on court. I like to play very strong, to go there and play with a lot of energy. I have to save more energy, go out tomorrow and have a lot of energy.

Q. Since you won the French Open, what has improved more, your tennis or your English?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I still think my tennis maybe not only in the shots, but I see things more clear on the court, my shots, like the way to play, how to go to win tournament, I already know how it is. I think I'm more ready for the Tour right now. I'm -- I speak good English. I'm not afraid to go anyplace, so I can play better.

Q. It's not really immediate news, but Brazil is going to meet France in the Davis Cup soon. What do you think about that tie? How does it motivate you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think it's going to be very different for us. I wish we could have played in Brazil, not in a different situation. But it's going to be tough. The crowd here, you know, get really into it. They're going to cheer a lot for France. But I think we already have done better than we expect, so we go there with nothing to lose, and maybe we'll have a team to get a win.

End of FastScripts....

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