| Magnus Norman in action against Gustavo Kuerten in Monte Carlo on Wednesday
Monte Carlo: His 2000 French Open final loss to Gustavo Kuerten was the beginning of the end for Magnus Norman and the Swede hopes his victory over the Brazilian in Monte Carlo Wednesday will mark a new start in his career.
Since losing his only Grand Slam final, Norman has had more operations than tournament victories and he needed a wild card to enter the final draw in the principality.
“This is going to be useful,” he said after his 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over the three-time French Open champion.
“I’ve been struggling a little with my confidence since coming back after my injuries. This is going to help me a lot, especially as I feel my game is coming back.
Since missing his career best chance in 2000, when he reached No. 2 in the world, Norman has spent most of his time in hospital.
He had hip surgery in August 2001 and was out of action for six months. In October last year, he had a left knee operation and needed surgery again on the same knee in January.
As a result, Norman, 26, has not been able to add a 13th title to his record in the last three seasons. But he warned his time may have returned at long last.
“I feel good, very good. It’s a really incredible feeling to be able to train normally day in and day out,” he said.
The Swede’s decline had been physical but also mental and he admitted he had struggled to recover from his 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 loss in the French Open final.
“It was so close that day. I had not lost a set on my way to the final while Guga had played two five-setters. I was playing my best tennis and I lost,” he said. “I missed a great chance and that’s why I needed to win so bad today.”
Since winning the 2000 Italian Open, a tournament for which he is not even sure to obtain a wild card this year, Norman had lost his four matches against Kuerten and the victory means a lot to him.
“If I keep things going like this, I’m going to be very dangerous,” he warned. It was an uphill battle still for the Swede, who was 1-6, 2-5 down before he suddenly found his game.