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THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS


March 25, 1998


Gustavo Kuerten


KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA

MIKI SINGH: English questions first and then Portuguese and Spanish after.

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Q. Guga, are you ready for the clay season?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, not start to think about that still. But I'll see. Now I will have a few days to practice for Davis Cup. I think I'm going to be ready when I have my first tournament in Barcelona.

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Q. How many clay tournaments will you play leading up to the French Open?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I don't know. Not sure. Five, six. He knows for sure.

MIKI SINGH: How many tournaments you'll play? I don't know for sure.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Five.

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Q. This is where you can really excel now, isn't it, where you can begin to build your ranking during the clay season, don't you agree?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, I think I can play great. I have good results here, so I will start with some confidence on clay, too. I hope to just start playing good the first tournaments, because I have no points to defend and I can play more relaxed than the French.

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Q. When you threw down your racquet and jumped on it --

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Did I?

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Q. You don't do that very often, do you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: You don't see me very often maybe (laughter).

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Q. Do you do it often?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Sometimes.

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Q. Jump up and down on it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Sometimes.

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Q. The same racquet or usually a new racquet?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's the same one always.

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Q. How did the racquet survive?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: It's a good racquet.

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Q. Are you going back home?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah, today or tomorrow. I'm not sure. Flying back. We have Davis Cup now against Spain.

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Q. How far is it by air?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Nine hours and then one more hour to my city.

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Q. You go right to Florianopolis?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: First Sao Paolo then connections.

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Q. Gustavo, I know you haven't played Henman before. What were your impressions of his style of play, his game today?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think since the beginning, he start pretty solid. He got the early break. He could play more relaxed. I didn't feel comfortable at all on court. He was always rush me. I couldn't find a way to win the points easily or to really command the points. So I think that the first game was very important. He just took over the few games in the beginning. He start to play better and better. It was tough for me to come back. Didn't give me any chance. That's why I lost, I think.

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Q. You did very poorly against his second serve. Why?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I didn't understand.

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Q. His second serve was very effective against you.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: His?

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Q. You had trouble with it. Why?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Was kicking very high. With the wind, I don't know. Maybe I wasn't moving so well, I couldn't play my long ball. I always play short. He comes in. When he served, I think I did few points only. Didn't have a chance.

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Q. Did you think about taking it earlier before it began to kick so high?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Sometimes I tried, but he served deep, too. Wasn't comfortable, so it was tough for me. I was alwayys behind of him in the score It's tough to change, to start the things going better when you are losing, the guy has confidence.

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Q. Guga, you had three very long matches before this. Do you think that took something out of you, some energy out of you?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think not. Maybe if I had one more day to recover, today would be a little bit better. But I had to play today. I had to be prepared. Normally, we have weeks like this, so we have to get used. Wasn't the schedule fault; it was my fault, playing too long the first match.

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Q. The ATP charities, did you volunteer for that? Did you ask to be that?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, no, no. They asked me. I agree with them. I just started this year.

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Q. Do you do a lot of work on it?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: We started some ideas, but I'm just now talking about the boss there, up there, to see if my ideas are good or not (laughter). Maybe if it's good, we start working more.

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Q. Guga, when you get to Paris, the French Open, you know that the Brazilian football team will be there practicing, how are you going to keep your mind on your tennis?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: We play all year soccer. My team just won the Championship. I was here in Miami in the tennis. Is normal for me. Brazil played already.

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Q. Playing now.

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Playing now against Germany. If I have the time to see it, I see. If not, I try to think of my tennis and afterwards I see how is the soccer going.

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Q. Do you have your World Cup tickets?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No.

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Q. Are you going to get some?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I'm not planning to really go for like one day that I know for sure that I'm going. If I have some time off there, for sure, I would like to go there. Never saw it before.

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Q. When was the last time you played on clay and are you going to switch now to clay for the Davis Cup, to prepare Davis Cup?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah. I played last time in Kitzbuhel last year, August I think. Now we start to practice for Davis Cup on Saturday probably.

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Q. And when are you leaving?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I'm playing Barcelona my first tournament.

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Q. After this, when are you leaving for Brazil?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Today or tomorrow.

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Q. Are you going to start practicing as soon as you get there?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Yeah.

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Q. What do you think of the Spanish team?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: (Pause.) (Laughter). They have a lot of good players. I think the only problem is for the coach to elect the player, like Brazil in the soccer (laughter).

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Q. They have elected them. Do you know them?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: No, don't know the guys.

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Q. Corretja?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Who?

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Q. Corretja?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Who (laughter)? They are pretty strong. I think it will be a very tight match there. For sure, it will be good thing for everybody.

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Q. Would you consider yourself favorites?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: I think it's like half and half. They're a strong team, but we playing home. It's like the same.

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Q. Guga, we know from previous Davis Cup matches that the US played Brazil, and the fans in Brazil can be very loud and very annoying to the other team. Where you're playing this tie against Spain, is it in an area of Brazil where the fans are very noisy or where they're a little more refined and quiet?

GUSTAVO KUERTEN: Well, I think normally they are noisy everywhere. It's nowhere that change too much. We play in a good place, in a place that we thought is the best for us. I'm sure that the group will be there and help us a lot, like they did all the time that we played Davis Cup.

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End of FastScripts....

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