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Old 05-25-2008, 07:22 PM   #31
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Bruised Kuerten has fun at his last French Open
Sun May 25, 2008
By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Gustavo Kuerten said he had enjoyed himself on Centre Court despite the pain and the 6-3 6-4 6-2 first-round defeat by Paul-Henri Mathieu at his last French Open singles match on Sunday.

The Brazilian, who won the claycourt grand slam in 1997, 2000 and 2001, received treatment on a sore back at the end of the second set but managed some broad smiles before bowing out and bursting into tears.

"I thought I played much better than I expected. There wasn't a single shot that I didn't make," the 31-year-old told a news conference.

"I think I was able to do what I used to do in the past, too. Not with the same frequency but at least I had the feeling of doing it once more. I felt myself competitive sometimes, and liked this."

Kuerten had dropped to 1,141st in the world rankings because of a series of hip injuries but decided to go on a farewell tour that started in Costa Do Sauipe, Brazil, in February.

"The first stage of my career was very successful and I was able to achieve all the goals...Then the second part was really tough", he said.

"But that's the way tennis is. One day it's also going to end for (Rafael) Nadal, (Roger) Federer, (Novak) Djokovic."

Kuerten added there would be another chance to watch him at Roland Garros as he was scheduled to play doubles with France's Sebastien Grosjean.

"I didn't know because he was injured but I think he has confirmed now," he said. "I think it will be just some extra fun", he added.

Mathieu described the match against the darling of the Paris crowd as special.

"It was his last match and I'm happy that we managed some nice points," the Frenchman said. "It's not the ideal situation, when you step on to the court and you know you're going to win.

"It is hard to stay focused. I've tried to play the game so that he could enjoy his last match," the 18th seed added.

"I will play only one match like this in my career."

Source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/tennis...BrandChannel=0
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Old 05-25-2008, 09:28 PM   #32
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Guga bids a champion’s goodbye

Sunday, May 25, 2008
By Matthew Cronin

There may never be another player like the three-time French Open champion who sambaed his way to titles in 1997, 2000 and 2001 behind long, colourful and devastating strokes. He stunned the world back in 1997 when he came into the tournament as a virtual unknown ranked No.66, flew past Austrian strongman and 1995 champion Tomas Muster, 1996 Roland Garros winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov and two-time winner Sergi Bruguera. He was a true artist, owning one of the best one-handed crosscourt backhands ever seen and a gorgeous, hard-to-read backhand down the line. He had a whippy forehand, a hard, flat serve and vicious kicker to the deuce court, as well as a deft touch at the net and the ability to caress an impossible drop shot at a moment's notice.

He trusted his money shots at key moments and always seemed to be brimming with joy. His matches were long celebration of his love of the sport.


Kuerten certainly had his ups-and-downs during his prime, but at Roland Garros, he was a player apart. When asked what tennis meant to him, Guga went deep. “I guess big knowledge,” he said. “All these years I've been learning a lot, and especially these last three or four years that I have to deal with difficult situations. So I had to grow as a person, too. I guess my world started to get larger because of tennis and the success I had. My life just became something much larger than normal people’s. I think I was able to adapt myself pretty well. I was happy being successful, so basically tennis, it was running into my veins, into my blood. I love to be out there and playing. For me, this tournament especially was probably the motivation for myself, probably my heart that keeps the blood flowing.”

On Philippe Chatrier, Guga did a sprite better than Andy Warhol and with his, happy colorful play on the red clay, was no Pablo Picasso during his blue period. It seemed like anytime that he was down, Guga either willed his opponent into an error or came up with a leaping winner. "There is always doubt," he once said. "It can be a temple, but it can be a hole, too. You see yourself in the best and the worst situations."

Kuerten repeated in 2000 by pummeling upstart Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semis and the tough Magnus Norman in the final and became the first South American to end the year at No.1.

In 2001, Kuerten came back from the jaws of defeat when he saved a match point against the ambitious qualifier Michael Russell. Then Kafelnikov predicted he would push him, but the Russian went down 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. "It's difficult playing from behind against Gustavo," said a dejected Kafelnikov. "You give him freedom, he's like Picasso....Every time I run into Kuerten, it seems like that hurdle is unmakeable."

Before his masterpiece final round defeat of Spaniard Alex Corretja, Guga said that if he won, he would not just buy Russell of poster of Vincent van Gogh's "Night Stars" – he would approach the Louvre for the painting itself. "I think Russell deserves a real Van Gogh from me as a present," Kuerten said with a twinkle in his eye.

At the time, that crown meant that Guga joined legends Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander (Hall of Famers all) as the only players to win three singles French titles in the Open era. He danced with Brazilian fans after the win.

Until three-time champion Rafael Nadal came along, it seemed that no player had a better understanding of the confines at Avenue Gordon Bennett than the Kuerten. "When I'm playing my best, I know I can beat these guys. When I'm feeling the ball real well, it's really tough for the guy to come up with the right shots.”

Sadly, Kuerten never raised the trophy again as he was hit by one significant injury after another, most specifically to his hip, for which he underwent surgery twice, His many comeback attempts were mostly aborted and this year, he announced that 2008 Roland Garros would be his last Grand Slam appearance. Even though it might have been a more reasonable idea for him to retire a couple of years ago, he truly loved his sport. "It's what I like," he said. "It's enthusiasm. It's danger. It's the nerves of out there. It's everything I want it to be when I am on court."

Kuerten tried as hard as he could against Mathieu, but his best is no longer good enough to score wins. His hip prevents him from running hard to his right and if it were not for an outstanding serving day and some memorable backhands, he would have been out of the match more quickly as his forehand let him down time and time again.

But there was still a bit of the old magic for fans to get a taste of, like when he hit a forehand passing shot out of nowhere when facing his first match point. But on Mathieu's second match point, a Kuerten drop shot fell sadly into the net. Guga beamed to the adoring crowd for a few moments, but then sat down a cried hard.

He lit up again when French Tennis Federation president Christian Bimes presented with a special gift, the multiple layers of the “Court Central” encased in glass.

“Basically I'm lucky,” said Kuerten. “One stage of my career was very successful, and I was able to get all the goals that I could. Then the second part was really tough. But in the same way, for me it was important to live these years, to grow as a person, to understand what it is to have other things to deal with. There's no regrets at all.” Au revoir Guga…

Source: http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/ne...738989328.html
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Old 05-25-2008, 09:34 PM   #33
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:00 PM   #34
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So sad he left us
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Old 05-25-2008, 11:45 PM   #35
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Doris, we picked the same pic for our avy.

OK, I will pick another one
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Old 05-25-2008, 11:45 PM   #36
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I think Paul shedded a few tears himself after the match.
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Old 05-25-2008, 11:46 PM   #37
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Thank you for all Guga !!!!
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Old 05-25-2008, 11:46 PM   #38
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Default Re: Guga's Last Tango in Paris

Quote:
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I think Paul shedded a few tears himself after the match.
I think too.
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:20 AM   #39
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He did, Lee.
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:37 AM   #40
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Re, everytime I see your siggy, my eyes are flooded.
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:49 AM   #41
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I know But I had to do it
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Old 05-26-2008, 01:11 AM   #42
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I know But I had to do it
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:25 AM   #43
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:09 PM   #44
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Three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten's career ended with a straight-sets loss to Paul-Henri Mathieu in Paris.

The Brazilian former world number one lost 6-3 6-4 6-2 to bring to an end a glittering career.

The 31-year-old has played only sparingly since undergoing hip surgery in 2004.
However, he was handed a wildcard for the French Open, where he won the title in 1997, 2000 and 2001.

"It's incredible how fast it all went," said Kuerten, who won 20 titles in his 14-year career.

"It was always going to be sooner or later it's going to finish for me. Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, everybody, one day it's going to stop.

"It has been my life, my passion, my love at Roland Garros."

Djokovic, who was the warm-up act to Kuerten's farewell, said: "I don't know even one guy who says something bad about him."

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/7419296.stm
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:15 PM   #45
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Kuerten bids an aching au revoir to Paris
Those searching for a last glimpse of vintage Gustavo Kuerten did not stroll away entirely unsatisfied on the first day of the French Open.

When he shuffled onto center court in his familiar, disjointed amble to begin his farewell tournament with a first-round match against Paul-Henri Mathieu on Sunday, Kuerten was sporting the same upbeat canary yellow and blue colors he did when he emerged from very close to nowhere in 1997 to win his first tour title of any sort at Roland Garros.

Once he and Mathieu took to the clay in earnest, there was the low moan that Kuerten has always emitted as he swings through his serve and groundstrokes. There was the same bobble-headed fashion to patrol the baseline between points, even the occasional elastic one-handed backhand that soared down the line like an improbably guided missile for a winner.

But the bittersweet truth was that the essential was still missing, just as it has been for the nearly five seasons since Kuerten's fragile hip began making tennis more pain than pleasure: a cruel twist for someone who made his name and fan base by providing a surplus of good vibrations to his public, particularly his French and Brazilian publics.

There were some stirring moments in this 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 loss to Mathieu. Kuerten hardly embarrassed himself and played much better than he had in the earlier stops on his farewell tour in Miami and Monte Carlo. But this encounter, which he insisted was the last of his career in singles, never quite turned the corner from feeling like an exhibition to feeling like a Grand Slam match.
"Of course it wasn't easy, because I sensed that I was going to win, so it was tough to stay concentrated," said Mathieu, an 18th-seeded Frenchman. "You start imagining the end. But I think he played a few beautiful points so I hope he was happy."

Kuerten, who won the French Open in 1997, 2000 and 2001 , has not been a threat to win again since 2004, when he knocked off Roger Federer on his way to the quarterfinals.

And the only reason for this final appearance at age 31 was that he wanted, in his own words, the luxury of "one more little pleasure": a chance to commune with the overstuffed tennis stadium and dusty rectangle that made a skinny Brazilian kid from Florianopolis into an icon.

Did he get what he came for, despite the tears that he shed into his towel after his last backhand, a drop shot, had hit the net?

"I think I'm very satisfied, especially with the memories that are going to stick with me from this match," Kuerten said. "I thought I played much better than I expected, and there wasn't a single shot I didn't make. I played forehand, backhands, serve, drop shots, volley. I did everything I think I was able to do in the past, just not with the same frequency. But at least I had the feeling to do it once more."
(...)
Kuerten no longer needs to keep searching for improvement on the world's tennis courts. But he had pushed himself particularly hard in the weeks leading up to his last Roland Garros, training with longtime coach Larri Passos.
He could still serve convincingly, still hit a world-class backhand if the opportunity did not come too early in a rally. But he still could not manage to win a set. His lateral movement was not what it used to be and neither was his consistency, particularly off the forehand wing.

But Kuerten said that he wouldn't remember the errors from Sunday. He will remember the atmosphere: the standing ovation he received as he walked on, the Brazilian flags that were being waved, the chants of his nickname "Guga" that sometimes greeted his winners and even his struggles.

This particular tournament is really like home for me," he said.

Trailing 2-5 in the final set with the end hardly in doubt, the crowd started a wave on the changeover, and Kuerten, grinning, got in the spirit and walked over to Mathieu in his chair and jokingly put the throat of his racket in front of the Frenchman's neck as if to strangle him.

It was not quite as transcendent a gesture as the heart he drew in the clay after saving two match points and winning his fourth-round match against Michael Russell here in 2001. But Mathieu and the crowd took it in the lighthearted spirit in which it was intended.

And it was soon, very soon, time to say farewell in earnest: time for the tears, time for Christian Bimes, the president of the French Tennis Federation who once criticized Kuerten's sartorial selections, to warmly award him a final prize in the form of a cross-section of a clay court and point him in the direction of the photographers.

Not many first-round losers get a trophy in tennis, but then not many players win a Grand Slam title when they are unknown and ranked just 66 in the world and eventually rise all the way to number one.

"One stage of my career was very successful, and I was able to get all the goals that I could, then the second part was really tough," Kuerten said. "But in the same way, it was important to live these years, to grow as a person, to understand what it is to have other things to deal with. So I guess, like that, for me there's no regrets at all, just big knowledge."

Source: International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/...NIS.php?page=1
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