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ATP Heritage: Gustavo Kuerten, 2000

On 23 August, ATP celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Emirates ATP Rankings. We continue our countdown with a look at Gustavo Kuerten, the 2000 year-end No. 1. #ATPHeritage

Gustavo Kuerten remains the first and only South American to finish at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

The Brazilian, a great character who endeared himself to the tennis world, became the 19th player to rise to No. 1 on 4 December 2000.

"Guga" had survived a three-set epic against Pete Sampras in the semi-finals of the Tennis Masters Cup [now named Barclays ATP World Tour Finals] in Lisbon, and played one of the best matches of his career against Andre Agassi for the title, which was also the final match of the ATP World Tour season.

"It was only like a dream," said Kuerten, aged 24 years, two months. "Impossible to imagine how much can change in five or six days. But it shows how tennis can be, how close it is... I never expected it to happen to me."

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Lean and lanky Kuerten developed a fluid and explosive serve on a type of hard court during his youth in Florianopolis, Brazil. 

Kuerten overcame the death of his father, Aldo, aged eight, to become a three-time titlist at Roland Garros in 1997, 2000-01, and when his younger brother, Guilherne, passed away in 2007, he had won 20 titles from 29 finals. His coach, Larri Passos, was by Kuerten’s side from the age of 14. 

"In my career there were two circumstances that cannot be explained: Roland Garros in 1997 [when Kuerten was aged 20] and this special week in Lisbon."

Kuerten was No. 1 for a total of 43 weeks in three spells. Lleyton Hewitt broke his final stint of 30 weeks on 19 November 2001.

Read more about Kuerten in "No. 1", our special commemorative coffee table book, celebrating all year-end ATP World Tour No. 1s over the past 40 years. Buy Online Through Tennis Warehouse: Europe | Outside Europe

This year, the ATP pays special tribute to 25 former World No. 1s as part of the ATP Heritage programme, marking 40 years since the ranking system was introduced in 1973.

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