Gustavo Kuerten (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡusˈtavu ˈkiɾtẽ]; born September 10, 1976), additionally known as Guga, is a retired former World No. 1 tennis player from Brazil. He won the French Open three times (1997, 2000, and 2001), and was the Tennis Masters Cup champion in 2000, fitting the only player to defeat Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the same major tournament.

Kuerten suffered a large number of problems with injuries which led him to miss a number of tournaments between 2002 and 2005. After a few failed attempts of comebacks, he retired from top-level tennis in May 2008.

Kuerten is commonly known as Guga (pronounced: [ˈɡuɡɐ]), an affectionate nickname which is a common abbreviation of the name Gustavo in Portuguese-speaking countries.

Early life

Kuerten was born in Florianópolis in southern Brazil. He began playing tennis when he was six, an early start to a life and career marked by family tragedy. His father, Aldo, a former amateur tennis player, died of a heart attack in 1985 while umpiring a junior tennis match in Curitiba, when Kuerten was eight years old. His older brother, Raphael, is currently his business manager. His youngest brother, Guilherme, suffered prolonged oxygen deprivation and consequently irreparable brain damage throughout birth, and as a result suffered from mental retardation and severe physical disability until his death in 2007.[4] Kuerten was deeply affected by his brother's daily struggles, later donating the entire prize money from one tournament he has won every year of his professional career so far to a hometown NGO that provides assistance for people suffering from similar disabilities. He gave every trophy he won to his younger brother as a souvenir, including the three miniature replicas of the French Open men's singles trophy. His favourite football team is Brazilian Avaí Futebol Clube.

As a young player, Kuerten first learned from Carlos Alves. Alves would continue to coach Kuerten for the next 8 years. When he was 14 years old, Kuerten met Larri Passos who would be his coach for the following 15 years. Passos convinced Kuerten and his family that the youth was talented enough to make a living out of playing tennis. The two started travelling all over the world to participate in junior tournaments. Kuerten turned professional in 1995.

Professional career

As a junior player in South America, Guga won a large number of of the most important tournaments in the region. He often played in an age group above his.

After two years as a professional, Kuerten rose to the position of no. 2 player in Brazil, second only to Fernando Meligeni, and had his then highest point by helping the Brazil Davis Cup team defeat Austria in 1996 and reach the competition's first division, the World Group.

Following his unexpected victory in the 1997 French Open - which wasn't only his maiden ATP Tour victory but additionally the first time he had reached a professional ranking final - Kuerten had a difficult year and a half, adjusting to his sudden fame and the pressure of being expected to win. 1998 was the worst year in his career that wasn't related to injuries. The pressure for him to become an "ambassador" for tennis in Brazil was made evident after his early defeat to a then unknown Marat Safin in the 1998 French Open: the entire body of Brazilian journalists that had been dispatched to Paris to cover the event immediately returned home, leaving the rest of the tournament unaccounted for in Brazil.

Like a large number of South Americans, his favourite court surface is clay. He won three Grand Slam titles, all of them at the French Open, played on the clay courts of Roland Garros. He won these titles in 1997, 2000 and 2001. In every one of the three French Open victories he defeated Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the quarterfinal match and defeated two top 10 players on his way to the title. Kuerten became the No. 1 player in the world in 2000.

Kuerten won at least one title a year between 1997 and 2004. The streak came to an end in 2005, when injuries and below-average performances kept him from winning tournaments. He was additionally a regular participant for Brazil in the Davis Cup.

Kuerten embraced the baseline style of play, with heavy topspin on his ground strokes and a solid serve that enabled him to wear down his opponent from the back of the court. He played right-handed with a single-handed backhand using a western grip.


At the 1997 French Open, he became the first Brazilian to win a Grand Slam singles title after Maria Ester Bueno at the 1966 U.S. Open. Victories over three former champions - Thomas Muster in the third round, Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the quarterfinals and Sergi Bruguera in the final - made him the third-lowest ranked Grand Slam Champion (ranked 66th) and this led to him entering the Association of Tennis Professionals top 20. Only Mark Edmondson (ranked 212th) and Goran Ivanišević (ranked 125th) were ranked lower than Kuerten when winning a Grand Slam singles title.

He received his French Open trophy from former champions Björn Borg and Guillermo Vilas. When called to the stage to receive the winner's trophy, Kuerten reverently bowed a few times to his childhood idol Borg, who was waiting at the top of the stairs to shake his hand. Later, throughout the ceremony, Vilas whispered something in Kuerten's ear that caused him to laugh throughout the speech of the chairman of the event. Kuerten later refused to reveal what it was that Vilas had said, claiming it would be inelegant to do so, but journalists that were equipped with powerful lenses were able to read Vilas's lips, and it was revealed that he had said in Spanish something like: "Get ready kid, it's going to rain women on your lap!"


In 1999, he became one of three South Americans to complete the year in the top 10 in all the history of the ATP rankings. In May he won the Rome Masters, beating Patrick Rafter in the final. In June he reached the quarterfinals at the French Open. At Wimbledon, he became the first Brazilian to reach the quarterfinals after Thomaz Koch in 1972. He was defeated by Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals, but had lost just one set until that stage. In July, he defeated Sébastien Grosjean 9–7 in the fifth set of the 1999 Davis Cup quarterfinal between Brazil and France. That match lasted 4 hours and 43 minutes. He additionally became the first Brazilian to qualify for the ATP World Championship, today known as the ATP Tennis Masters Cup, which is exclusive to the eight best ranked players in the calendar year.


Kuerten won his second French Open title by defeating Magnus Norman (who had beaten him a few weeks earlier in the final of the Rome Masters) on his eleventh match point. Kuerten became the first South American to finish the year as World No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings (since 1973). It was a close contest with young up-and-comer Marat Safin at the year's last event, the Tennis Masters Cup (in its first year under that name) in Lisbon, Portugal, with one loss meaning that Safin would have been No. 1. Kuerten finished the year at number 1 by beating Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in back-to-back matches on an indoor hard court.

He broke an eight-year hold of players from the U.S. on the year-end No. 1 position. He additionally became the first South American to finish in Top 5 in consecutive years after Guillermo Vilas of Argentina in 1977–78.


In 2001, he won his third French Open crown, joining former greats Björn Borg (6), Ivan Lendl (3) and Mats Wilander (3) with three or more French Open titles in the Open Era; former champion Jim Courier presented him with the trophy. His road to the title saw him save a match point against fourth round opponent Michael Russell. He additionally won the biggest hardcourt title of his career in August at the Cincinnati Masters, where he defeated Patrick Rafter in the final. He led the ATP in prize money for the second straight year, with US$4,091,004.


In an injury-ridden year, Kuerten won one ATP Tour title, which he did at home, by winning the Brasil Open for the second time. In that year, the tournament had been moved from September to February, and the surface had been changed from hard to clay, as a result of a compromise with the Buenos Aires Open, in Argentina, and the Viña del Mar Open, in Chile, to tighten up a clear South American tournament circuit. With his victory, Kuerten became the only player to win the title on both surfaces, having previously won it in 2002.

Kuerten was responsible for the only defeat of Roger Federer in a Grand Slam event in 2004. In Kuerten's only previous encounter against Federer on clay, in the Hamburg Masters 2002, Federer defeated Kuerten 6–0, 1–6, 6–2. When they met again in the third round at the French Open in 2004, it was Federer who was in dominant form, the world #1, and expected to win against the injury-ridden Kuerten. Instead, it was Kuerten who overpowered and dominated Federer, sending him off in straight sets (6–4, 6–4, 6–4). This would remain the last time that Federer was defeated in any Grand Slam prior to the quarter-finals stage until his Round 2 loss against Serhiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon in 2013.

On September 1, Kuerten announced that he would be withdrawing from the ATP Tour for an indefinite period of time, in order to undergo detailed exams of his operated hip, which had reportedly started to bother him again. He didn't play again for the rest of the year.


In the first months of 2006, injuries and weak performances kept Kuerten from reclaiming his status as a top world player. Ranked out of the top 200, Kuerten was no longer the top player in Brazil (currently behind Ricardo Mello and Flávio Saretta) and was expected to need wildcards to play any of the main tournaments of the season. His main attempt to come back, at the 2006 Brasil Open, was cut short in the first round. Following this debacle, Kuerten managed to obtain wildcards to play in the two North American Masters Series events, Miami and Indian Wells, but injuries forced Kuerten to withdraw from both. The French Tennis Federation had announced that Kuerten, as a three-time champion, would have every chance of being granted a wildcard to play at the 2006 French Open, provided that he managed to remain active throughout the 2006 season leading up to the French Open. Because Kuerten had been inactive in the Men's Tour after mid-February, he wasn't granted the wildcard to play, thus missing the French Open for the first time in his professional career.


Kuerten's form didn't improve in 2007. Because his ranking wasn't high enough to qualify for ATP Tour tournaments, Kuerten relied on wild cards to enter those events. Kuerten finished with a 2–7 win–loss record for the year.

In November, Gustavo Kuerten's younger brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, died.


Kuerten made an announcement that he expected 2008 to be his final year of play.[6] Kuerten chose to devise his schedule around tournaments that had sentimental value to him, such as the French Open, where he lost in the first round, the Brasil Open, and the Miami Masters. After two first-round defeats in singles (Costa do Sauípe, l. to Berlocq and Miami, l. to Grosjean), Kuerten won his first ATP Masters Series level match in a long time, partnering Nicolás Lapentti, in Miami, against Feliciano López and Fernando Verdasco.


On May 25, 2008, Gustavo Kuerten played his last professional singles match in front of 15,000 spectators at Roland Garros. He arrived on court wearing his 'lucky' uniform, the same blue & yellow one that he wore in 1997 when he won his first French Open tournament. Despite saving a match point against his opponent Paul-Henri Mathieu, he finally lost in three sets (6–3, 6–4, 6–2)—his result in the final of French Open in 1997. He was honoured after the game by the tournament organisers and by all the fans present for what he has achieved throughout his career.


During his career, Guga used Head racquets and Diadora clothes, changing them on a short period for Olympikus and Head. In 2012, after his retirement, he signed a sponsor deal with French brands Lacoste (for clothes) and Peugeot (for TV commercials). Guga additionally has his own clothes and glasses brand, named "Guga Kuerten".

Life after tennis

Since retirement he has settled down in his place of birth, the Brazilian island of Florianópolis, where he enjoys being an active member of life in the lakeside district of Lagoa da Conceição. He still enjoys teaching and playing tennis with the local enthusiasts. After a match, he's known to enjoy a few sake down at the local Mexican restaurant Cafe do Sol. In his hometown, he's known as the "Cachorro Grande" ("Big Dog"). He is an avid surfer and can at times be seen surfing at Praia Brava where he has an apartment.

Kuerten has been accepted to a drama course on CEART, Center of Arts at Santa Catarina State University (UDESC) in Florianópolis. He began his studies there on February 16, 2009.[7]

Kuerten was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.[8]


  • Kuerten won his first slam in his third attempt—tied with Mats Wilander as the fastest of any player in the Open era.
  • He, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the only non-North American tennis players who have appeared in the finals of all four ATP Masters Series events played on the continent (Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal/Toronto and Cincinnati).
  • His fastest serve was measured at 212 km/h (131 mph) at the Gstaad Open in 1999.
  • Kuerten has won ATP Tour singles titles in 13 different countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and the United States.
  • His highest rank in the ATP Champions Race was #1 December 4, 2000.
  • When Kuerten won the 1997 French Open ranked 66th in the world (Entry system, prior to the creation of the Champions' Race), he became the second lowest ranked player to win a Grand Slam event (second to Mark Edmondson, who won the 1976 Australian Open ranked 212th in the world). Since then, Kuerten has been bumped down to third place, when Goran Ivanišević won the 2001 Wimbledon ranked 125th in the world.
  • In 2005, Tennis Magazine put him in 37th place in its list of "The 40 Greatest Players of the Tennis Era".

Major finals

Grand Slam finals

Singles: 3 (3–0)

OutcomeYearChampionshipSurfaceOpponent in the finalScore in the final
Winner1997French OpenClaySpain Sergi Bruguera6–3, 6–4, 6–2
Winner2000French Open (2)ClaySweden Magnus Norman6–2, 6–3, 2–6, 7–6(8–6)
Winner2001French Open (3)ClaySpain Àlex Corretja6–7(3–7), 7–5, 6–2, 6–0

Year-End Championships finals

Singles: 1 (1–0)

OutcomeYearChampionshipSurfaceOpponent in the finalScore in the final
Winner2000LisbonHard (i)United States Andre Agassi6–4, 6–4, 6–4

Masters Series finals

Singles: 10 (5–5)

OutcomeYearChampionshipSurfaceOpponent in the finalScore in the final
Runner-up1997Canada (Montréal)HardUnited States Chris Woodruff5–7, 6–4, 3–6
Winner1999Monte CarloClayChile Marcelo Ríos6–4, 2–1, retired
Winner1999RomeClayAustralia Patrick Rafter6–4, 7–5, 7–6(8–6)
Runner-up2000MiamiHardUnited States Pete Sampras1–6, 7–6(7–2), 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10)
Runner-up2000RomeClaySweden Magnus Norman3–6, 6–4, 4–6, 4–6
Winner2000HamburgClayRussia Marat Safin6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 5–7, 7–6(7–3)
Winner2001Monte Carlo (2)ClayMorocco Hicham Arazi6–3, 6–2, 6–4
Runner-up2001Rome (2)ClaySpain Juan Carlos Ferrero6–3, 1–6, 6–2, 4–6, 2–6
Winner2001CincinnatiHardAustralia Patrick Rafter6–1, 6–3
Runner-up2003Indian WellsHardAustralia Lleyton Hewitt1–6, 1–6

Career finals

Singles: 29 (20–9)

Wins (20)
Grand Slam (3–0)
Year-End Championships (1–0)
ATP Masters Series (5–5)
ATP International Series Gold (4–1)
ATP Tour (7–3)
Titles by surface
Hard (6–4)
Grass (0–0)
Clay (14–4)
Carpet (0–1)
OutcomeNo.DateTournamentSurfaceOpponent in the finalScore in the final
Winner1.June 8, 1997French Open, Paris, FranceClaySpain Sergi Bruguera6–3, 6–4, 6–2
Runner-up1.June 15, 1997Bologna, ItalyClaySpain Félix Mantilla6–4, 2–6, 1–6
Runner-up2.August 3, 1997Montreal, CanadaHardUnited States Chris Woodruff5–7, 6–4, 3–6
Winner2.July 26, 1998Stuttgart, GermanyClaySlovakia Karol Kučera4–6, 6–2, 6–4
Winner3.October 4, 1998Majorca, SpainClaySpain Carlos Moyá6–7(5–7), 6–2, 6–3
Winner4.April 25, 1999Monte Carlo, MonacoClayChile Marcelo Ríos6–4, 2–1, retired
Winner5.May 16, 1999Rome, ItalyClayAustralia Patrick Rafter6–4, 7–5, 7–6(8–6)
Winner6.March 5, 2000Santiago, ChileClayArgentina Mariano Puerta7–6(7–3), 6–3
Runner-up3.April 2, 2000Miami, USAHardUnited States Pete Sampras1–6, 7–6(7–2), 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10)
Runner-up4.May 14, 2000Rome, ItalyClaySweden Magnus Norman3–6, 6–4, 4–6, 4–6
Winner7.May 21, 2000Hamburg, GermanyClayRussia Marat Safin6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 5–7, 7–6(7–3)
Winner8.June 11, 2000French Open, Paris, FranceClaySweden Magnus Norman6–2, 6–3, 2–6, 7–6(8–6)
Winner9.August 20, 2000Indianapolis, USAHardRussia Marat Safin3–6, 7–6(7–2), 7–6(7–2)
Winner10.December 3, 2000Year-End Championships, Lisbon, PortugalHard (i)United States Andre Agassi6–4, 6–4, 6–4
Winner11.February 25, 2001Buenos Aires, ArgentinaClayArgentina José Acasuso6–1, 6–3
Winner12.March 4, 2001Acapulco, MexicoClaySpain Galo Blanco6–4, 6–2
Winner13.April 22, 2001Monte Carlo, MonacoClayMorocco Hicham Arazi6–3, 6–2, 6–4
Runner-up5.May 13, 2001Rome, ItalyClaySpain Juan Carlos Ferrero6–3, 1–6, 6–2, 4–6, 2–6
Winner14.June 10, 2001French Open, Paris, FranceClaySpain Àlex Corretja6–7(3–7), 7–5, 6–2, 6–0
Winner15.July 22, 2001Stuttgart, GermanyClayArgentina Guillermo Cañas6–3, 6–2, 6–4
Winner16.August 12, 2001Cincinnati, USAHardAustralia Patrick Rafter6–1, 6–3
Runner-up6.August 19, 2001Indianapolis, USAHardAustralia Patrick Rafter2–4, retired
Winner17.September 15, 2002Costa do Sauípe, BrazilHardArgentina Guillermo Coria6–7(4–7), 7–5, 7–6(7–2)
Runner-up7.October 13, 2002Lyon, FranceCarpet (i)France Paul-Henri Mathieu6–4, 3–6, 1–6
Winner18.January 12, 2003Auckland, New ZealandHardSlovakia Dominik Hrbatý6–3, 7–5
Runner-up8.March 16, 2003Indian Wells, USAHardAustralia Lleyton Hewitt1–6, 1–6
Winner19.October 26, 2003St. Petersburg, RussiaHard (i)Armenia Sargis Sargsian6–4, 6–3
Runner-up9.February 15, 2004Viña del Mar, ChileClayChile Fernando González5–7, 4–6
Winner20.February 29, 2004Costa do Sauípe, BrazilClayArgentina Agustín Calleri3–6, 6–2, 6–3

Doubles: 10 (8–2)

Wins (8)
Grand Slam (0)
Year-end championships (0)
ATP Masters Series (0)
ATP International Series Gold (2)
ATP Tour (6)
Titles by Surface
Hard (1)
Grass (0)
Clay (7)
Carpet (0)
No.DateTournamentSurfacePartnerOpponents in the finalScore in the final
1.November 10, 1996Santiago, ChileClayBrazil Fernando MeligeniRomania Dinu Pescariu
Spain Albert Portas
6–4, 6–2
2.April 13, 1997Estoril, PortugalClayBrazil Fernando MeligeniItaly Andrea Gaudenzi
Italy Filippo Messori
6–2, 6–2
3.June 15, 1997Bologna, ItalyClayBrazil Fernando MeligeniUnited States Dave Randall
United States Jack Waite
6–2, 7–5
4.July 20, 1997Stuttgart, GermanyClayBrazil Fernando MeligeniUnited States Donald Johnson
United States Francisco Montana
6–4, 6–4
5.July 12, 1998Gstaad, SwitzerlandClayBrazil Fernando MeligeniArgentina Daniel Orsanic
Czech Republic Cyril Suk
6–4, 7–5
6.January 10, 1999Adelaide, AustraliaHardEcuador Nicolás LapenttiUnited States Jim Courier
United States Patrick Galbraith
6–4, 6–4
7.March 5, 2000Santiago, ChileClayBrazil Antonio PrietoSouth Africa Lan Bale
South Africa Piet Norval
6–2, 6–4
8.March 4, 2001Acapulco, MexicoClayUnited States Donald JohnsonSouth Africa David Adams
Argentina Martín García
6–3, 7–6(7–5)
Runners-up (2)
Grand Slam (0)
Year-end championships (0)
ATP Masters Series (1)
ATP International Series Gold (0)
ATP Tour (1)
Titles by Surface
Hard (1)
Grass (0)
Clay (0)
Carpet (1)
No.DateTournamentSurfacePartnerOpponents in the finalScore in the final
1.September 15, 2002Costa do Sauípe, BrazilHardBrazil André SáUnited States Scott Humphries
The Bahamas Mark Merklein
3–6, 6–7(1–7)
2.November 3, 2002Paris, FranceCarpet (I)France Cédric PiolineFrance Nicolas Escudé
France Fabrice Santoro
3–6, 6–7(6–8)

Performance timelines


Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian OpenAA2R2R2R1R2R1R2R3RAAAA0 / 87–8
French OpenA1RW2RQFWW4R4RQF1RAA1R3 / 1136–8
WimbledonAA1R1RQF3RAA2RAAAAA0 / 57–5
U.S. OpenAA3R2RQF1RQF4R1R1R2RAAA0 / 915–9
Win–Loss0–00–110–33–413–49–312–26–35–46–31–20–00–00–13 / 3365–30
Olympic Games
Summer OlympicsNHANot HeldQFNot Held1RNot HeldA0 / 23–2
Year-End Championship
Tennis Masters CupAAAARRWRRAAAAAAA1 / 35–6
ATP Masters Series
Indian WellsAQ23R1RSF2R3RAF2RAA1RA0 / 814–8
MiamiAQ23RQF2RF3RA2R2RAA1R1R0 / 911–9
Monte CarloAA1R3RW1RWA2R1R1RAA1R2 / 914–7
HamburgQ3A1RQFQFW1RQF3RA2RAAA1 / 816–7
Montreal/TorontoAAF1RA2R3R1R1R3RAAAA0 / 79–7
CincinnatiAAQFAQFSFW1R1R2RAAAA1 / 716–6
Madrid (Stuttgart)AA3RA3R3R2R1R2RAAAAA0 / 63–6
ParisAA2RA2RSF3R1R3RAAAAA0 / 66–6
Win–Loss0–00–012–810–621–625–823–74–610–93–51–30–00–20–25 / 67109–62
Career statistics
Hardcourt Win–Loss0–01–117–815–1120–1528–1223–1210–623–108–81–10–01–40–1147–89
Grass Win–Loss0–00–00–20–24–12–20–00–01–10–00–00–00–00–07–8
Clay Win–Loss0–07–716–1026–1223–628–636–311–613–715–55–90–11–30–3181–78
Carpet Win–Loss0–03–23–50–03–35–21–34–24–30–00–00–00–00–023–20
Overall Win–Loss0–011–1036–2541–2550–2563–2260–1825–1441–2123–136–100–12–70–4358–195
Win %52%59%62%67%74%77%64%66%64%38%0%22%0%64.74%
Year End Ranking18888142351237164029110786801150
  • A = didn't participate in the tournament
  • LQ = lost in the qualifying draw


Australian Open1RQF2R1R
French Open2RQF2R
US Open1R1R1R1R

Titles detail

Grand Slam tournaments


  • 1997: Defeated 3 champions, who had won the previous 4 editions, en route to title: Bruguera (1993–94), Muster (1995) and Kafelnikov (1996).
  • 2000: As in 1997, faced Kafelnikov in the quarterfinal match; second final of the year against Norman ("a historical rivalry", in Kuerten's words).
  • 2001: For the third time faced Kafelnikov in the quarterfinal match; for the second time, faced Ferrero in the semifinal match. Saved a match point against Russell in the fourth round.

Tennis Masters Cup tournaments

2000 Tennis Masters Cup (Lisbon)

RoundOpponent (Rank)Score
RRUnited States Andre Agassi (8)6–4, 4–6, 3–6
Sweden Magnus Norman (4)7–5, 6–3
Russia Yevgeny Kafelnikov (5)6–3, 6–4
SFUnited States Pete Sampras (3)6–7(5–7), 6–3, 6–4
FUnited States Andre Agassi (8)6–4, 6–4, 6–4

After losing his first Round Robin match, Kuerten had to win the tournament in order to finish the year as world n.1 (had he won the first match, a semifinal result would have sufficed).

Masters Series tournaments

* Kuerten later described this as his best-played tournament, given how a large number of difficult opponents he had to defeat en route to the title. One statistic supports this position: The average ranking of his opponents was 13.16 which was the best of any of his Grand Slam or Masters Series title wins. It is additionally the best for any Cincinnati champion after the ATP world rankings began in 1973. (The second- and third-best average opponent rankings in Cincinnati were Andre Agassi's 18.16 in 2004, and Patrick Rafter's 18.80 in 1998, although in 1998, Rafter only had to play 5 matches.)

ATP Tour career earnings

YearMajorsATP winsTotal winsEarnings ($)Money list rank
* As of March 5, 2007.

Davis Cup

Kuerten's Davis Cup record[9]

Kuerten was first called to play for Brazil in the Davis Cup in 1996, when he became the second-best ranked player in the country (to Fernando Meligeni). Since then, Kuerten has always answered the invitations to play, claiming that it was a unique opportunity to represent his country.

In the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Kuerten took criticism from his fans, who accused him of not giving one hundred percent in the Davis Cup matches. They claimed he was more concerned with sparing his energy for the ATP tournaments. At one point, Kuerten interrupted a match to argue with a fan who had shouted out for him to apply himself to the match at hand.

In 2004, following the country's unexpected defeat to Canada in the Repechage match, and the country's demotion to the American Group I after having been defeated by Sweden in that year's First Round, discontent with the politics of the Brazilian Tennis Confederation spilled over. Kuerten refused to play for Brazil in the American Group I. The unexpected firing of then captain of the Brazilian team, Ricardo Accioly, was the trigger. Kuerten thought it was an arbitrary decision, after it was made without consulting the players. In his view that was just the last in a sequence of questionable decisions made by organization's board.

All additional professional Brazilian players followed Kuerten's lead, as well as the newly appointed captain, former player Jaime Oncins. As a result, Brazil had to play the first round in the Zonal Group with a team made up of junior players (which was only possible after much negotiation, throughout which time the country was at risk of forfeiting the Round, which would have resulted in automatic demoting to the American Group II), which resulted in a defeat and the possibility of demotion to the American Group II.

The protest continued, and as a result, Brazil had to play the Repechage match again with a junior team, and was demoted to the American Group II for the 2005 season. As of 2005, following the fall of the BTC board in the aftermath of the protest, Kuerten and the additional players have decided to return to the team, now captained by former player Fernando Meligeni. Kuerten, however, had to delay his return beyond the end of the players' strike, after his hip injuries kept him off courts between September 2004 and May 2005. He returned in the Tie with the Netherlands Antilles, valid for the Second Round of the American Zonal Group II, which was played in Santa Catarina, Brazil (on clay) between July 15 and July 17, 2005.

Davis Cup results


American Group I
QFFebruary 9–11, 1996 ChileSantiagoClayDoubles (with Jaime Oncins)Rebolledo/Ríos7–5, 6–3, 4–6, 6–2
SFApril 5–7, 1996 VenezuelaSantosClaySingles 2Nicolas Pereira6–2, 6–7(2–7), 6–1, 6–2
Singles 4Jimy Szymanski6–2, 6–7(6–8), 6–0
World Group
QRSeptember 20–22, 1996 AustriaSão PauloHardSingles 2Markus Hipfl4–6, 3–6, 7–6(7–0), 7–6(7–5), 6–1
Doubles (with Jaime Oncins)Muster/Plamberger7–6(7–2), 4–6, 6–3, 3–6, 2–0 def.*

QF – Quarterfinal|SF – Semifinal|QR – Qualifying Round

* During the Doubles match, the star of the Austrian team, Thomas Muster, got angry over what he claimed to be disrespectful Brazilian fans, who were allegedly insulting him from the stands. The match umpire didn't recognise his claim, so Muster walked off the court, throwing the match. He then convinced the entire Austrian team to defect the tie, which led to the cancellation of the two singles matches on Sunday and the automatic demotion of Austria to the European Zonal Group I.