WAINAO N°23 - AGAINST ALL ODDS
WHY NOW? BECAUSE NOBODY GAVE GUSTAVO KUERTEN A SHOT TO MAKE A DEEP RUN IN 1997, NOT TALKING ABOUT WINNING THE TITLE. .....
guga brought a différent flavor to the the game . His colorful outfit, and style of play was a fresh air in tennis
Plus his cinderella way in roland garros made him the crowd favourite
But it's really the fact that he put his culture and his joy in his game. Football is not the only sport you can do it. He proved that you didn't have to stop being brazilian to play tennis..
“ When all statistics says you’re going to lose, just remember:……you don’t play stats….you play TENNIS! ”
“ All players are not created equal...some have bigger hearts ! ”
8th june 1997: Gustavo Kuerten wins unexpectedly, the 1997 French Open. He was ranked 66th at the beginning of the tournament and beat three former winners to became the first Brazilian to win a Grand Slam SINCE 1966.
Gustavo Kuerten, nicknamed Guga was born in September 1976, is a retired World No. 1 tennis player from Brazil. He began playing tennis when he was six. Kuerten played right-handed with a single-handed backhand using a western grip. The arcing backhand played with topspin was his trademark shot. Larry Passos started working with a 13-year-old Guga in 1990. “But he was always a boy who loved to train. I had to change his two-handed backhand to a single-hander, then we began to work on the technique and the shape of his game.” After two years as a professional, Kuerten rose to the position of No. 2 player in Brazil, behind Fernando Meligeni, and helped the Brazil Davis Cup team defeat Austria in 1996 and reach the competition's first division, the World Group.
by May 1997, he was assured of his place in the third Grand Slam championship of his career as one of only five Latinos – No. 10 Marcelo Rios, No. 53 Marcelo Filippini, No. 64 Hernan Gumy and No. 88 Fernando Meligeni – in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
“The spirit was there. I knew if I kept pushing myself something very special would happen,” said Kuerten, Kuerten arrived in Paris with a small suitcase. Expectations were light, despite his recent success. “I came here to win one match,” smiled Kuerten, 20 years on. “I was not trying to win it, but I was trying to improve.
Sticking with tradition, Kuerten and his coach Passos stayed at the $70 per night, two star Mont Blanc Hotel, near the Porte de Versailles, It was far from a 3 stars hotel. Gustavo Kuerten’s journey through the 1997 French Open was one of the most surprising things in tennis history. An unknown 20-year-old from a country, Brazil, that hadn’t produced a major champion in three decades, the long and lanky Kuerten was ranked just 66th in the world before the tournament began. Kuerten played with a contagious joy over those two weeks in Paris. colourful and exciting personality, who sang in the locker room, played the guitar and listened to reggae in his free time.
He began with wins over Slava Dosedel and Jonas Bjorkman. Then beat Thomas Muster, the fifth-seeded Austrian ironman and 1995 champion, 6-7, 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the third round.
Kuerten, will beat later Andrei Medvedev and became a star. He did after something that he thought just impossible: he beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov, he won the match, 6-2, 5-7, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4. The match was broadcast live in Brazil ..The crowd and everybody else loved him even not everybody embraced his unconventional style.
The Final mission vas to beat the two time champion: The KING of ROLAND GARROS...Sergi Bruguera. The champ was favoured to add to his 1993 and 1994 triumphs but Guga as usual went against the odds and won the final 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 over one hour and 50 minutes. he had become the lowest-ranked Grand Slam champion since Mark Edmondson (No. 212) at the 1976 Australian Open. . the only player to win a Challenger and a Grand Slam in consecutive weeks. He received his French Open trophy from former champions Björn Borg and Guillermo Vilas.
“I always say that Guga has a larger heart than his body, and it was with this great heart that Guga won Roland Garros in 1997.”said his coach. He had beaten the best clay-court players the professional circuit had to offer..
“To win Roland Garros was unbelievable,” ‘How did I win?’ It was simple and fun. In hitting new angles, I became a new player.”
With his style, his passion and of courser his victory....Kuerten single-handedly transformed Brazil, and much of South America, into a passionate, faithful tennis base.
Yes , now you can dream of winning roland garros.... even in in PELE's country !!!!
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