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Photo Credit: ATP World Tour

(May 31, 2010) He is the only Brazilian man to raise the Roland Garros title, famously carving a heart into the red clay to symbolize his passion for the Parisian fans and the French Open.

Three-time French Open champion Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten will be honored for his playing and humanitarian efforts when the International Tennis Federation's Board of Directors presents him with its highest honor, the Philippe Chatrier Award, tomorrow night.

The tennis family will gather again for the annual ITF World Champions Dinner tomorrow at the Pavillon d’Armenonville in Paris.

Guga

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti will present the awards to the World Champions.

This year’s recipients are singles champions Roger Federer (SUI) and Serena Williams (USA); doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan (USA), and Serena and Venus Williams (USA); junior champions Daniel Berta (SWE) and Kristina Mladenovic (FRA); and wheelchair champions Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Esther Vergeer (NED).

He became the first Brazilian man to win a Grand Slam tournament and the lowest-ranked man to lift the Roland Garros trophy, defeating two-time champion Sergi Bruguera in the 1997  final. The 20-year-old from Florianopolis was ranked No. 66 in the world, and it was the first tour-level title of an international career that began as part of an ITF Junior Touring Team funded by the Grand Slam Development Fund.

Kuerten won Roland Garros again in 2000, and memorably defended the title in 2001 after being match point down in the round of 16 against Michael Russell, he rallied to win in five sets. Kuerten enjoyed his most successful year in 2000, when he reached the No. 1
ranking after winning the year-end Tennis Masters Cup in Lisbon. He clinched the
top spot in the last match of the season, defeating Andre Agassi in the final, becoming
the first South American to be named ITF Men’s World Champion.

Kuerten won a total of 20 singles titles and eight doubles titles in his 12-year career. Always proud to represent his country, he compiled a 34-18 win-loss record in Davis Cup and helped Brazil reach the World Group semifinals in 2000. He competed in the Olympic Games in Sydney and Athens. Kuerten was a fan favorite around the world, while at home in Brazil he became a national hero. Kuerten beat Roger Federer in straight sets in the third round of the 2003 French Open. Federer has not lost before the semifinals in 23 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments since that loss.

In later years Kuerten battled a chronic hip injury and finally retired at Roland Garros in 2008. Since then he has dedicated himself to developing tennis and sport in Brazil, and raising money for charity projects including his Guga Kuerten Institute. He was a key member of Rio’s successful Olympic bid. The Philippe Chatrier Award recognizes his work in these areas as well as his outstanding playing career.

 

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