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Gustavo Kuerten

tennis player

Nickname: Guga
Born September 10, 1976 in Florianopolis, Brazil
Class of HOF 2012
Height 6'3" (190 cm)
Weight 183 lbs (83 kg)
Plays Right-handed
Coach Larri Passos
Bio Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten is among clay-court royalty. Winning at Roland Garros three times (1997, 2000-01) the skinny, popular Brazilian has joined the Roland Garros aristocracy. Only Bjorn Borg, and Rafael Nadal, has won more titles. Not many others have won three: Henri Cochet, 1926, 28, 30 and Ivan Lendl, 1984, 86-87.

Sadly, Guga wasn’t able to add to his triple as a gimpy hip and other health problems hindered him. Following his 2001 win, Brazil issued a postage stamp featuring Kuerten with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Kuerten’s toothy smile and outlandishly colored clothes have made him an icon among Brazilian teenagers.

Guga started playing tennis when he was six years old, and his family was always very much part of his career. His father, a talented player himself, first taught Guga the game, before tragically passing away when Guga was just eight years old. Guga’s mother supported her son’s career emphatically. His older brother, Raphael, served as his business manager. His younger brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, was undoubtedly one of his biggest fans. Guga presented Guilherme every one of his tournament trophies, including the coveted Roland Garros trophies.

With his beaming smile, engaging personality, and high energy game, the lively atmosphere that Guga brought to tennis stadiums around the world was nothing short of extraordinary. Universally adored by both fans and peers, the Brazilian star is quick to state that the feeling is mutual, and that this support was integral to his success.

Kuerten is the first South American guy to reach the World No. 1 ranking in 2000 ( for 43 non-consecutive weeks) and the biggest tennis star at home since Maria Bueno won three Wimbledon and four U.S. singles championships between 1959 and 1966.

Guga would rather surf than play on turf. He has studiously avoided grass tournaments his game ever suited to clay. His place in Brazilian sporting history was assured in 1997 when he defeated three former champions — Thomas Muster, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Sergi Bruguera — on his unseeded way to claiming the French Open title. Just 20 years old, he was ranked a lowly No. 66 in the world, the longest shot to go all the way, finishing his first — yes, first in the bigs! — championship by dusting off Bruguera, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. He followed up in 2000 over Sweden’s Magnus Norman, 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), and the following year over Alex Corretja, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-0, ending 2001 at No. 2.
Kuerten won five titles in 2000, climaxing his No. 1 season by seizing the Masters at Lisbon, getting past two Americans, Pete Sampras in the semis, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4 and Andre Agassi in the final, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. With that, he edged Russia’s Marat Safin for the room at the top. In 2001, he lost the World No. 1 ranking to Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, but by 2002 he was down to No. 37, sliding fast as health problems increased, and hip surgery didn’t seem to help. He might have owned European clay for a while, having done more than capturing Paris. He won the Italian in 1999, Monte Carlo in 1999-2000-01, the German in 2000.
The sunny-natured man with the brilliant backhand won 20 singles titles (358-195 matches), eight doubles titles (108-95) and $14,807,000 in prize money. Guga retired in May 2008.

Guga was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.
His induction was announced in a special presentation in São Paulo at the offices of Banco do Brasil, a long-time sponsor of the tennis champion.

Source:Bud Collins

Tournament AO RG W US Win-Loss
1996 A R128 A A 0-1
1997 R64 CH R128 R32 10-3
1998 R64 R64 R128 R64 3-4
1999 R64 QF QF QF 13-4
2000 R128 CH R32 R128 9-3
2001 R64 CH A QF 12-2
2002 R128 R16 A R16 6-3
2003 R64 R16 R64 R128 5-4
2004 R32 QF A R128 6-3
2005 A R128 A R64 1-2
2006 A A A A 0-0
2007 A A A A 0-0
2008 A R128 A A 0-1
Win-Loss 7-8 36-8 7-5 15-9 65-30