Guga mulls retirement if he can't become competitive again

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten might retire if he fails to play competitive tennis next year.

The 31-year-old Brazilian was ranked No. 1 in 2000 but is now 662nd. He has a 2-7 singles record this season, his first playing regularly on the ATP Tour since hip surgery in September 2004.

"My goal is to try to gain more confidence and feel conformable for the singles tournaments, and I think next year I need to be feeling that way and competing at a high level," he said at a news conference Wednesday. "If I can't, I'll probably opt to do other things and plan the end of my career."

Kuerten won the last of his 20 titles in February 2004. He won the French Open in 1997, 2000 and 2001. Despite poor results in recent years, he had always dismissed the option of retirement.

"The goal today is to extend my career," he said.

Kuerten will be a reserve on Brazil's Davis Cup squad that will face Austria in the playoffs Sept. 21-23. Brazil is trying to return to the World Group for the first time since 2003.