Gaudio and Hewitt interviews
Q. How do you feel?
GASTON GAUDIO: I'm very pleased. It was the first time I was in a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam tournament. But I'm especially happy because I played much better than the other day against Andreev, where I was very nervous.
Today, well, I'm very pleased, and I hope I'm going to continue to enjoy this.
Q. (No microphone)?
GASTON GAUDIO: We knew more or less what this match was going to look like. Sometimes some matches are very even in terms of the players. I knew that if I remained focused and if I didn't lose my concentration, in particular in key times, I would really be able to win this match.
Q. Can you say that you're gaining confidence, that you see yourself as a winner? You played very good matches, in particular the match against Enqvist, and today you were at a very good level.
GASTON GAUDIO: Yes, my confidence is increasing. Even though I was in the quarterfinals, I was still feeling confident. I started this tournament with a very tough match. I felt that I was playing well.
Of course, with experience, you realize that some things that you paid great attention and importance to are not that important, and you can just relax and enjoy yourself more.
Q. When you were interviewed for television, you said that it was a childhood dream to win the French Open. Do you think this dream can now become true?>
GASTON GAUDIO: Yes, of course. Everything is possible. But, we have David, Guga, Henman, Coria, who are all wonderful players. So, obviously, it's going to be very difficult. And they all want to win.
It's going to be a real battle.
Q. (No microphone)?
GASTON GAUDIO: Every time we started a match, you worried about how you were going to play, make sure you hit the ball perfectly, all the points were perfect, and you started worrying a few days before the match.
Now, I'm still nervous, but at least I know what to expect. That's a real advantage. I'm making the most of it and I'm trying to enjoy things a little bit more. I'm playing on center court with lots of people watching. I try to enjoy that.
Even if I'm still nervous, even if it can be a complicated match, I try to enjoy it and have a good time. That really helps, I think.
Q. A colleague told me that after the match with Enqvist, you thought about retiring because you were not enjoying yourself, which is the opposite of what you just said. When did things start changing? Why did you suddenly feel more relaxed?>
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, no, I didn't really want to withdraw. That was not at all the case. But before I was really having a tough time on the court, so sometimes I was saying, "What am I doing this for if I'm having such a hard time?"
But that's what I've been working on with my psychologist, so that I can enjoy things more, what I experience on court, just trying to enjoy things more.
Very often, as I said the other day, sometimes when I'm on the court, I want to go home and not play anymore. That's a normal reaction as a player. Sometimes you want to withdraw and give everything up.
But it's not the case that I want to withdraw. Sometimes things go through your mind, but then you're back on the court and you try to enjoy yourself.
Q. It seems like you're not suffering today, that you're enjoying yourself. Do you want to continue playing like that?
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, yes, when I started the press conference, I said in such a situation I could have been a little more nervous. I'm in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam event. I thought I was going to be nervous. But, in fact, not at all. Things turned out really well for me.
Q. Is this the match that you enjoyed the most during the French Open?
[Still question] GASTON GAUDIO: As a person, as a tennis player, this week, this past week, these past months, have they been the best for you in your career as a tennis player?
GASTON GAUDIO: It just depends on the day. Sometimes I'm feeling really great, and sometimes I'm feeling rock bottom. But there have been more days I've enjoyed than days that I haven't, so I think things are improving.
Q. Feeling better on the court, is that something that is surprising you, or did you think you could achieve this feeling during the French Open?
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, on and off the court it's the same really. Sometimes I'm at a tournament and I don't feel, you know, in top form. But it's more, you know, what happens around me than the moment when I go on the court. These days, I've really enjoyed. Because of the tennis, I'm having a good time. I think as a whole, it's the context.
Q. Before you started this tournament, did you think you were going to enjoy things, that you were going to be so calm, or is this something that just happened without you really controlling the whole process?
GASTON GAUDIO: No, it just happened like that. Day after day, things just happened.
Q. Can you very briefly analyze the possible opponents that you're going to be meeting in the semifinal and possibly in the final?
GASTON GAUDIO: You're talking about the next matches then.
Well, Guga, we know what he's like. We all know what he's like. Every time he comes here, I don't know what happens. He just brightens up. Of course, he's not totally fit, in his best form, but he has a lot of experience. Of course, he's been No. 1.
Now, Nalbandian, he can play well anywhere. Certainly he'll go far.
Q. Can you tell us what happens outside of Roland Garros here in Paris, what are you doing?>
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, I'm not doing much. I haven't really had a lot of time. I've been playing. I finish late. I get back late. I watch a bit of television, have something to eat. I just went once to the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Q. Do you think Guga is a more complete player than Roger Federer?
GASTON GAUDIO: No. I was talking about Nalbandian actually. I wasn't talking about Federer. Nalbandian is a complete player.
Of course, Federer is also a genius. I think David, I like him more really.
Q. Talking about the change of mind you have, can we say it's your mindset that's helping you win the match? You have your shots, and then there was this state of mind that you mentioned.
GASTON GAUDIO: Yes, I think that's really basic. It's very important to be feeling well on the court and outside the court. Sometimes I was having a hard time for different reasons. I think that showed on the court, and it showed in my tennis.
As I said, I was trying to change that.
Q. On television after the match, you said that Guillermo and David are really great, that you are coming behind. Now that you are good technically and you have a mental edge, as well, are you also going to be at the same level of them, or do you see yourself somewhere behind?
GASTON GAUDIO: No, I think I'm going to be somewhere behind and providing support (laughter). They are the geniuses. They're the Galactico, and I am the Valencia.
Q. Why can't you be the Galactico?
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, I see things from outside, just as you do. I think they have a special talent. They're incredible. They're in the Top 10. I would be happy if they won the tournament. They really have something in them. I don't know whether things were easier for them from the outset. I don't know what it was that caused that. But I think their level is better.
Q. You mentioned Valencia. They have two titles.
GASTON GAUDIO: I'm just asking for one title, not two.
Q. Now that you're playing more consistently, what sort of ranking do you think you'll achieve?
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, I don't know. I haven't played regularly throughout the year. We'll see what happens on hard court. I'd like to be Top 10, obviously. That's one of my objectives. If I continue playing like this, I hope that's a goal I can reach.
Q. Coria said for him and for David Nalbandian, the Argentinian association of tennis had provided a lot of support, that that is why you and Chela were also affected by this. What happens when you have to think about things that are outside tennis?
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, it's not so much an important factor, but when we all started playing, Juan, Mariano, you know, all the younger ones, Canas, Agustin, sometimes we have been in situations that are, well, complicated. It's nothing really complicated. But sometimes there was no money to travel or we had to cancel a tour. Sometimes you had to stay in Europe for an extra month to wait for the next tournament. We couldn't go back home because we couldn't pay the airfare. Of course, this means you suffer more than you usually would. That has a price. It's very difficult to reach the level that we have now.
I think that now we're all feeling fine. We don't really need to pay attention to that sort of thing. But I think for them, earlier on, they received support, and of course that was very important to them.
Well, I'm not going to judge that. We each followed a different path. Now we're all here. They have reached an incredible level.
THE MODERATOR: Question in English.
Q. You won 20 of 21 points when you came to the net. Will we see more of that in the semifinal whether you're playing Kuerten or Nalbandian?
GASTON GAUDIO: If you going to see more than that?
Q. You coming to the net. Will we see more of that? You only lost one point at net.
GASTON GAUDIO: I'm not used to go so much to the net. Now I'm getting used with the doubles. I'm playing doubles. So maybe with that I'm getting some confidence out there at the net. So we'll see. If I have the chance, of course I will go. You never know.
Q. Do you have a preference about who you play? Last year you lost to Kuerten in the third round. You probably know Nalbandian's game better.
GASTON GAUDIO: Yeah, I know Nalbandian game. But now in this semifinals, it's like playing against anyone is so tough. It's going to be difficult, for sure. They're playing great tennis. Guga, he plays great tennis here in French Open. David is coming up so hard. It's going to be tough.
I don't know. I prefer to play (two/to?) Argentinian guy so we can be maybe a finalist Argentine.
Q. When you came to Paris, what were your hopes and expectations for the tournament?
GASTON GAUDIO: To be in the second week (smiling). I did it.
Q. Now what are they?
GASTON GAUDIO: And now to win the tournament, it's like a dream. When I was a kid, I was dreaming about it. Now I'm in the semifinals, but I have to wait. You know, I have to wait to see who is coming up. It's going to be tough, for sure. I told you.
Q. How big of a deal is this win back home? Do you have any idea how it will be played in the news? How much will this tournament, these next matches, be played up in Argentina?
GASTON GAUDIO: Well, I think that this is like history event, you know. Is the first time that there is all the players in quarterfinals, four of us. So, yeah, they're taking like -- they're taking like an unbelievable week.
So we'll see. Maybe an Argentinian guy is going to take the final, and it's going to be like a dream. I don't know. You can ask them. They know about it.
Q. A lot of us are still trying to understand why the Argentinians are doing so well here. Is it that you train a lot together like the Spanish players, or do you all go your own way?
GASTON GAUDIO: No, we used to go all together, of course. We're pretty good friends. That helps, you know, traveling so much during the whole year, being so far away from home so long. It helps to have some friends here in the tournament.
Yeah, of course, it helps.
Q. Could be a British player standing between an all-Argentine final. How surprised are you by what Henman has done here?
GASTON GAUDIO: I think that, like Guga said the other day, if he reach quarterfinals in Wimbledon, Henman could be, I don't know, winning the tournament here. You never know. Everything can happen, you know.
Q. What chance do you give him against Coria?
GASTON GAUDIO: (Smiling).
Q. Go on, be nice.
GASTON GAUDIO: I don't know. It's going to be difficult for him, for sure. I mean, Coria, he didn't lose not even one set. And he's playing his best tennis. I know that Henman has a lot of experience and he's a great player, but here on clay I guess it's going to be tough for him.
Q. If Henman can get this far here, can you get that far at Wimbledon?
GASTON GAUDIO: No (smiling).
Q. Has Guillermo Vilas played a role in the success of Argentinian tennis at the moment?
GASTON GAUDIO: Yeah, I mean, when I was a kid, he was helping me a lot. Now more or less because he's not living so much in Argentina. He used to go sometimes. But, yes, he gave me some advice, you know, when I was a kid, but not now.
Q. If someone came up to you a few months ago and said, "You will reach the French Open semis," what would you say?
GASTON GAUDIO: "You got to be kidding. That is impossible."
I don't know, maybe when I reach the final there in Barcelona, I start to think that I can do some good stuff here in the French Open. But you never know. You have to come here in Paris and you have to see the draw, you know. I was unseeded. Maybe I can play against some of the top players and not reach the semi like now.
Q. In terms of the reaction in Argentina, if an Argentinian wins, what will happen on the streets of Buenos Aires?
GASTON GAUDIO: On the streets? I don't think they're going to go out on the streets. They're going to be happy, for sure, but I don't think it's going to happen like that. Everybody on the street, I don't think so. That happens only in football.
Q. You said Vilas was giving you advice. What did he say?
GASTON GAUDIO: No, no, when I was a kid. It was like 10 years ago.
Q. What did he say?
GASTON GAUDIO: Nothing. To keep training and fighting, like he used to do.
Q. What is the story of your backhand? Did you ever play with two hands or was it always one hand?
GASTON GAUDIO: Only with one.
Q. How come it's your best shot? Has it always been your best shot?
GASTON GAUDIO: Yeah, always was. I don't know. It happens. I don't know. How I did it? I don't know. Naturally, you know. Like Sampras, he serve like that, I play my backhand like that. I don't know.
Q. Just a matter of coming up against someone who knows how to play on clay?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Yeah, he was too good. You know, there was -- you know, I tried hanging in there. You know, trying a few different things out there.
You know, I just didn't feel like I was hitting the ball as cleanly as I've probably been hitting it over the last week or so.
You know, against a guy like that, you know, he's very confident at the moment, especially on this surface, I think. And, you know, his movement's as good as anyone's on this surface.
Q. How much did you learn this week or in the last few weeks on how to play on clay yourself?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I'd like to think that I learned, you know, a fair bit, I think every time. But I think only time will tell. You know, when I look back on, you know, there's not that much time now to reflect before you're in another big tournament in a couple weeks' time.
You know, I guess when you sit down and think about the whole clay court season, I'm sure I'll reflect, you know, on the positives and negatives. You know, I think there was a lot of positives to, you know, come out of the last couple of months.
Q. They flashed a stat near the end of the match saying Gaudio made something like seven forehand errors the entire match. Have you played a guy who has been as steady off that side recently?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know how many backhand errors he made. But, you know, normally, his backhand is one of the best single-hand backhands out there, and I think everybody knows that. His forehand occasionally lets him down, but it's not a real weakness, I don't think, and especially on this surface, because he changes from defense to offense as well as anyone I think out there. You know, even though he's sometimes, you know, so far behind the baseline, he's able to somehow turn that around.
You know, today was no different. He plays with great margin over the net out there. He's not going to give you those cheap errors.
Q. And how do you now switch back into grass court mode? What is your preparation like for Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. You know, you've just got to get on the grass. I play Queen's next week, then a week off.
Yeah, I've always been able to, you know, change pretty well. You know, I've won Queen's at least I think three times. And I've always played well there. But it's not an easy thing to do. For some reason, I've been able to adjust maybe a little bit better than some of the other people in the past.
But, yeah, until now I hadn't really, you know, started thinking about grass. You sort of hit me and I haven't even really thought about, you know, thinking about Queen's or Wimbledon at this stage.
Q. In which way the quarterfinal here can help you for Wimbledon, apart from confidence, of course? Is there anything you can learn from that two weeks to go to Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I think confidence more than anything and winning matches, winning four matches to get to the quarterfinals.
Obviously, it's a totally different surface. There's going to be probably, you know, different guys in the quarterfinals maybe, you know, at Wimbledon in a couple weeks' time. We'll have to wait and see. But, you know, it's a big change from playing on clay to grass, I think.
But, you know, obviously for me, I think I draw more confidence and, you know, feel good I guess about going into the grass because I've had a pretty good record on grass in the past.
Q. Overall, how would you assess your tournament here at the French?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I played well. You know, I felt like I was hitting the ball as well as I probably ever have during the whole French Open, the whole tournament I think more than anything. You know, I've played a couple of good matches here in the past. You know, good sets here and there.
But I think in general, my four matches got better and better as the tournament went on. You know, Verkerk and Malisse, I had to play extremely well to win those two matches. And today I just lost to a guy that was too good.
Q. After the first set, did you try to do anything differently for the next set or even the third one?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Uhm, yeah, I tried, you know, coming into the net maybe a little bit more now and then. You know, looping, you know, a few balls up, try and get him on the defense, then try and attack.
But as I said before, his defense was so good, especially today. You know, he's very good at any time, but especially today he was able to get that ball back extremely deep, so he didn't give me a lot of chances to actually attack him out there today.
He's a class player on this surface.
Q. On the line of what you were saying, the need for more clay courts in Australia, you think they could make the transition from clay to other surfaces is less difficult than other surfaces to clay?>
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I do. I know Fitzy is a big believer in it. I know there's a lot of guys, you know, former players and stuff from Australia who are strong believers in it.
But, yeah, you watch a guy like Coria, Ferrero, Nalbandian, these kind of guys move on this surface, you know, it's really a joy to watch, they move so well out there. You know, Coria probably at the moment's the best. I would say Gaudio is probably close behind him, I'd say.
I just think the game's changed in a lot of ways. There's not those serve-volleyers out there nearly as much nowadays. Even on grass, as we have seen in the last couple of years, and when I won Wimbledon, you can win from the back of the court.
I think it's easier to adjust from clay to grass rather than vice versa.
I miss: Ivan Lendl, Korda, Novak, Bruguera, Rios, Kucera, Courier, Mantilla, Costa, Santoro and Ferreira.
Good luck to:
Gaudio, Murray, Florian Mayer, Chela, Nalbandian, Radek Stepanek, Volandri, Youzhny and Verdasco.
NICOLAS ALMAGRO IS AN EXOTIC BEAUTY