I just found an old but very interesting article with a long interview from March 10, 2001. It´s from the online edition of the Indian newspaper "The Hindu" (http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2...s/0710044l.htm
) - original in English, no translation
Getting to know Gustavo Kuerten by Paul Fein
EVERYBODY LOVES Guga. In soccer-crazy Brazil, Gustavo Kuerten tops every football player in popularity polls. Throughout South America he's more adored than any tennis player since handsome Argentine Guillermo Vilas a generation ago. And his endearing personality makes Kuerten a favourite in Europe where fans rooted for him to beat sporting Swede Magnus Norman in their thrilling French Open final last year.
How can you not like a family values guy who ships his trophies to his mentally handicapped younger brother, Guilherme, back home in Florianopolis? Or a young star so humble that he urged his countrymen not to build a statue of him? Or a carefree spirit who sings in the locker room and once philosophised, in tennis, you can only lose, you know, the other guy can't eat you?
Wherever Kuerten displays his scintillating shotmaking, a band of yellow-and-blue clad, banner-waving, drum-beating Brazilians cheer and chant him to victory. The skinny, wild-haired 24-year- old captured his second French title in 2000 and then proved he wasn't just a clay court champion by winning the Masters Cup to become the first South American man to capture the year-end No. 1 ranking.
The Guga I encountered in this probing interview is a relaxed, uncomplicated man of the people whose joy of life makes him the most likeable and uncontroversial star in tennis.
Nicolas Lapentti said: Some of the top players wont talk to you. But Guga has not changed. He's the same Guga I've known for 10 years now.
Question: How have you managed to stay the same even though you've become rich, famous and a national hero?
Answer: My life has changed, but I've stayed the same person. Of course, when I go out in the streets, I stop for pictures and people feel happy when they see me. But I am the same. I have the same friends, the same people working with me, my family by my side all the time. I have a simple life. I don't deal with fame every day. I don't go to the Oscars or stuff like that. I'm simple. And I guess that even if I wanted to change, I wouldn't be able to.
Q: Hicham El Guerrouj, the great Moroccan runner, said, The source of my motivation is having a whole country behind me. What is the source of your motivation?
A: There are a lot of things that motivate me: the will to go for new things, to reach another level, to get somewhere I've never been before, to experience new things. On court, the crowds motivate me a lot. I am sure I would have lost some matches if it wasn't for the crowd. I love having a full stadium for a match. The atmosphere that they create is unbelievable.
Q: Larri Passos has coached you for 11 years, a record for longevity on the pro tour now. Why has your relationship been so successful and enduring?
A: We trust each other a lot. We know each other very well. And since we started working together a long time ago, it has worked out perfectly. When I first won the French Open, many people, especially in Brazil, said I should change coaches. But I didn't. Larri is very important to me. He is by my side, motivating me, sticking with me in the bad and the good times.
Q: You have said your priority as a tennis player is to excite and entertain. Why is that your highest priority - even ahead of making tennis history or being a sports immortal?
A: I did say that. But for my life, my highest priorities are being happy, healthy and enjoying what I'm doing.
Q: What is your favourite Grand Slam tournament?
A: It is definitely the French Open. First of all, it is the place where I won my biggest tournament ever and where everything happened to me. And second, it is played on clay, my favourite surface. When I enter the site, it feels like home to me. I know every single detail about it, including the people. I wish all the four Grand Slams were the French Open.
Q: Brazil has never won the Davis Cup, and you've never won Wimbledon. Would you rather win the Davis Cup or Wimbledon?
A: The Davis Cup. I don't like Wimbledon. It's not on my list of favourite tournaments.
Q: Why do you dislike Wimbledon?
A: First, I don't like playing on grass, and I guess you have to feel good when you're at a tournament, and I don't feel good when I'm at Wimbledon. You don't feel that warm welcome, the weather is bad, and you cant have your family because they don't give you many badges. Of course, I know the tradition and tennis history, but I definitely don't like that tournament. Its not my priority, and its very tough to get ready to play there after a good French Open.
Q: What would it mean to you, tennis in Brazil and the Brazilian people if you won the Davis Cup?
A: I love playing Davis Cup because I have a good spirit to play it, its a team sport and you are playing for your country, not only for yourself. It would be amazing to win the Davis Cup. We reached the semifinals last year, and we've been in the World Group for six years now. Its definitely one of my goals for 2001, although I know we still have a long way to go. Davis Cup motivates people. So it would be fantastic for Brazilian tennis if we won the Davis Cup.
Q: What have you learned from living on and playing on the pro tour?
A: I learn a lot from being on the tour. You learn something new every day, travelling, meeting people, but especially on court and when you lose. You learn that you always have to try your best, and then you'll know you have done all you could. Always keep trying and if you follow what you think is right, you will find the recipe, and sooner or later the results will come.
Q: How did you get the nickname Guga?
A: Its a common nickname for Gustavo in Brazil.
Q: Before the 2000 Masters Cup in Lisbon, you were aching so badly that you almost considered dropping out of it. How did you beat Kafelnikov, Sampras and Agassi to win the title and capture the No. 1 ranking for 2000 despite wearing a huge back brace?
A: It was really important to me. I knew I was playing great tennis by that time. And it would have been very disappointing to go home without even having tried.
Q: After you won the Masters Cup, you said, Today is the best day of my life, for sure. What have been the No. 2 and No. 3 best days of your life so far?
A: I don't know. Its tough to say. I've had lots of days that are amazing. I've had lots of days that are very good. Maybe the other best days were when I won the French Open for the first and second times.
Q: Larri Passos said you are too nice in tournament competition and you have to become more intense and proud. Is being too nice holding you back?
A: Not now. But when I first started playing I wouldn't hit a smash towards the other player, or stuff like that. Sometimes I'm still too nice. But I'm not going to lose a match because of that.
Q: You and Patrick Rafter seem like soulmates. He said he admires you the most on the pro tour. You've surfed together with Rafter. What do you like about him?
A: He is a down-to-earth guy who likes the beach and treats everybody the same way. I like that about him.
Q: Like Edberg and Sampras, you switched from a two-handed backhand to a one-hander as a teenager. Is your powerful one- handed backhand now your best shot?
A: Larri changed my backhand when I was really young. Sometimes I feel more confident with the backhand, sometimes with the forehand.
Q: You have said you regret spending so much time away from Brazil. Should there be more and bigger pro tournaments in an important tennis country like Brazil and in South America generally?
A: We definitely deserve a tournament in Brazil and more tournaments in South America. Its already time! And its not only because of the trips, but because we must have a tournament for the public, for the players and to develop tennis in Brazil.
Q: You like to surf on the Internet every day. What are your favourite web sites?
A: Of course, my favourite is my website, www.guga.com.br
. I log on it very often to chat with the fans and read what they think. I also surf on www.globo.com
to see the Brazilian news, especially on sports. I also go to www.clicrbs.com.br
to read my local newspaper from Florianopolis and on www.camerasurf.com.br
to see the waves.
Q: Which is your favourite sports team?
A: It's the soccer team from my home town. Not many people know about it. Its called Avai, and its a 2nd Division team. Whenever I am home, I go to the soccer stadium to cheer them. And when I am travelling, I follow the results and news on the Internet. Since I was a kid, I've always cheered for them.
Q: Do you have a girlfriend?
Q: Bjorn Borg, considered the greatest clay court player ever, won a record six French Open titles. You've won two, and you are only 24. Can you equal Borg's record?
A: It would be amazing to equal Borg's record. But I have to go one tournament and title at a time.
Q: Who are your toughest opponents?
A: I have beaten almost every player on the tour, but I have a big problem with (Dominic) Hrbaty. I don't know what it is. I don't know why I have never beaten him. I would say besides Sampras and Agassi (that) beating Kafelnikov is very tough because he is a complete player. He has all the shots and plays well on all surfaces.
Q: Last year you said, I don't want to be promoted. I am already too much promoted. I want to be unknown. Why did you say that?
A: I was joking when I said that.
Q: Please tell about your meeting with President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil.
A: It was very nice. The president was hosting a Mercosul Meeting in a hotel in my hometown of Florianopolis last December. And we had a chance to meet for the first time. We were supposed to meet in 1997 after I won the French Open. But my younger brother (Guilherme) suffers from cerebral palsy, and he didn't feel well that day. So I ended up cancelling that meeting. This time I gave the president a racquet and taught him how to play tennis. He is definitely a big tennis fan.
Q: I learned you created a charity in your own name. Please tell me about it.
A: Last September I started my own institute, the Instituto Guga Kuerten. We give money to charities that help handicapped people and sports. My mother (Alice) is the president of the Institute. Its just beginning to grow. We started it so it would have a (famous) name and people would become aware of the Institute. We are starting to raise money and give it away.
Q: Are you involved in any other worthy causes?
A: Before I started the Institute, I donated $200 for every singles and doubles match I played to APAE. That is the Association of Parents and Friends of the Handicapped where my brother Guilherme goes every day. The money was used to build houses for the homeless handicapped. Even before I won the French Open, our whole family helped the poor and others in need. We took part in volunteer activities. Now we feel very good in being able to help even more. And we also think that if other people see what we are doing, maybe they will start helping, too.
Q: Are there any ATP or ITF rules or policies you would like to change to make tennis better or more exciting?
A: Play all the Grand Slams on clay! Seriously, you don't have to change the rules of the game to make it more exciting. Each player has his own interesting style, but the players should enjoy it a little more and try to be more relaxed on the court. They should also be closer to the crowd in matches and to the people in practice. They should not go there (tournaments) and just play and stay in the hotel and always try to avoid everyone. This will help tennis a lot.