June 9, 1997 in Sports

Kuerten’s Victory A Big Hit In Brazil


Thousands of joyous fans, many honking horns and waving flags, celebrated Sunday in the hometown of Gustavo Kuerten minutes after his French Open victory.

In Florianopolis, some 700 miles south of Rio de Janeiro, fans waved tennis rackets, Brazilian flags and painted “thank you” on city sidewalks. About 2,000 motorists crawled down thoroughfares honking horns, according to the Rio daily Jornal do Brasil.

Florianopolis is home to some 300,000 people. At the house of Kuerten’s mother, some 50 relatives watched the match - in which two-time champion Sergi Bruguera was beaten in straight sets - wearing T-shirts with Kuerten’s likeness.

“Congratulations, Guga (Kuerten’s nickname),” President Fernando Henrique Cardoso wrote in a fax. “I am proud of you. Your talent and effort will infect all Brazilians.”

Kureten, 20, is now one of the hottest sports figures in Brazil. In Florianopolis, racket sales are up 40 percent in the past several days, according to the Jornal do Brasil.

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