Saturday, August 14, 1999

Kuerten: 'It wasn't my day'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Gustavo Kuerten slammed his racket to the ground twice on his way to the net to shake hands with Andre Agassi.

        Agassi won their quarterfinal match Friday 6-2, 7-6 (12-10), but Kuerten knew he had his chances.

        He led the second set 3-0. He had three set points during the tiebreaker after leading it 4-1.

        So when Agassi sent an ace past the Brazilian star, Kuerten could only show his disgust.

        “I was angry with the way I played and I was frustrated with the opportunities I had,” Kuerten said. “At that time, I thought that was the best thing for me to do, then I did it. I think right now I wouldn't do it again.”

        Kuerten, the No.6 player in the world, was pleased with this much: He didn't play all that well and still had a chance to win the second set.

        At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, Kuerten hit a service return that Agassi backhanded. It hit the net cord and dropped over.

        Kuerten took the next point on a 113 mph ace, which would have given him the set if he had won the previous point.

        “Now I know it wasn't my day,” he said later.

        The tiebreaker was a mental and physical test for both players.

        “Things go so fast that you don't even have time to think about your condition or saving points or losing a set point,” Kuerten said. “You just go point by point, trying to win each one and trying to forget the things that you did wrong.”

        Agassi knows of this. He had to win two tiebreakers Thursday night against Jiri Novak just to reach the quarterfinals, then another Friday to advance to the semis.

        Agassi has not dropped a set here.

        “I feel pretty good with the way I'm playing, no question,” he said. “I think that does reflect just confidence and focus.”


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