Kuerten Receives Wildcard Entry into Tennis Masters Madrid
MADRID - Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten will play the Tennis Masters Madrid, from Oct. 14-20, thanks to a wildcard granted by tournament organizers, though after an injury-plagued year the three-time Roland Garros champion may be thinking more about next season than the present one.
"Last month I won my first title since the operation and this gave me a lot of confidence," said Kuerten, referring to his win at the Brasil Open. "But for sure in Madrid, with the tournament being a Masters Series event, it will be much more difficult. If I could get to the quarters or semifinals it would be fantastic."
Kuerten had to interrupt his season in February to have surgery on his hip, which kept him away from the courts for two months. After his return, the game that had brought him to No. 1 in the world took awhile to reappear.
"It was a strange season. I had to start from zero and work very hard, but from the beginning I knew that I would have to pass through the operating room, and I was ready. It's just one of the stages of a tennis player's career," he added.
"Anyway, I am very happy with the way that things turned out, and now what interests me is playing the maximum number of matches possible to start in top form next year, playing my best tennis," Kuerten affirmed.
The Brazilian did not identify concrete goals, and prefers to go step by step. "My immediate objective is not to return to No. 1. But if everything goes normally, at some point I'm going to be among the best again. I have to be patient," Kuerten said.
"Now that I'm starting to play well again, I consider it the payoff for all that work, all those hours of physical therapy," said "Guga," who assured that he's not thinking of leaving tennis behind. "I haven't thought of abandoning it, I have the desire to keep playing."
Kuerten identified members of the "Spanish Armada" as favorites to triumph in Madrid, because they will have the advantage of playing at home. "(Carlos) Moya and (Juan Carlos) Ferrero look to be the strongest, but Alex (Corretja) y Albert (Costa) also have a great chance", advised Kuerten, who like the Spaniards will have to play on a surface that is not his specialty, indoor hardcourts.
Kuerten, who turned 26 on September 10, confessed that his only wish on that day was to be able to continue doing what he's doing. "My life is a dream," he said, "and I only ask that my health holds up enough to allow me to continue doing what I love: playing tennis."
Guga had said he wouldn't mind going through qualifying if he wasn't given a WC. Thats the spirit, Guga!