September 3, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Did you perhaps rush that last game a little?
PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I did it pretty well the whole match. For a set and a half, I didn't do it. First two sets, I did it. Played a lot of disappointing games in the match.
Q. On the final point, when you had the first volley, under the conditions, could you have hit the ball any better, the one that Pete ran down?
PATRICK RAFTER: I hit that terribly. The volley?
Q. The first one.
PATRICK RAFTER: Shocking. Didn't get it at all.
Q. Trouble with the high volleys the whole match.
PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was disappointing. The high volleys really let me down today. That was a really disappointing part of my game.
Q. Are you going to go away from this with a lot of misgivings or are you satisfied?
PATRICK RAFTER: He was definitely the better player today. A little bit disappointed the way, as I said, a few areas of my game weren't real crisp today, and Pete made me pay for it. He was definitely the better player today.
Q. Any reasons you can point out for your slow start?
PATRICK RAFTER: Took me a while to get my serve in a rhythm. I find it very difficult to serve very hard now with my arm. It just doesn't -- I can't play match after match serving very hard. The first couple sets were just trying to get away with the way I've been serving pretty well the whole tournament, the last few weeks, without serving very hard, but trying to hit my marks, hit the corners, and I wasn't doing that. Then I knew I had to pick it up. It's the only chance I had. It was fine. Held up pretty well. It was good the way I worked back into the match, but disappointed the way it ended.
Q. Did you ever think about playing your last Grand Slam singles match?
PATRICK RAFTER: Might be. When you're out there playing, no, not at all. No, you're just trying to win the match. That's the only focus. It's not, "This could be the last."
Q. Was it?
PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know.
Q. Could you single out one or perhaps two of your favorite moments here over the years?
PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, the first one, definitely beating Rusedski in the finals. I mean, that was very memorable.
Q. Do you have any particular memory of that that stands out?
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it was my first Grand Slam. You know, it was a really special moment, the first one. It was definitely the highlight of my trips here, for sure.
Q. On CBS they were speculating you might have had something wrong with your leg, especially in the first two sets.
PATRICK RAFTER: No. I've had a little bit of a hip problem, but there was nothing in the match at all. I've been getting through fine. Today I felt it once or twice, didn't want it to get worse, just tried to stretch it out a little bit. No hip problem. Leg problems are fine.
Q. Starting with Game 3 of the third set, you really turned your serve around, or else Pete stopped hitting service returns very well. Was it a combination of the two?
PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I had made up my mind it was time, I just had to go for my serve, because I wasn't serving -- the way I serve, I serve very hard as it is, but I try and hit my corners. I just wasn't hitting them. I just had to turn around, got to go for it, first and second serves. I've got to be aggressive with it. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, I've lost nothing anyway.
Q. Did you change your service pattern at all?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. I just tried to hit it harder, then I found some rhythm.
Q. Seemed like you were coming to his forehand side a bit more.
PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, no. I was just serving well. Had good rhythm. When I have good rhythm, I can mix it up. I was just trying to mix it up. I served well from then on.
Q. Were you feeling pretty good when you took the tiebreaker? Your serve was going well in the fourth. Were you thinking maybe you turned the corner and could pull out the match?
PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I thought, as long as I could keep serving well, try and take my chances on his serve. There's really only one end you could maybe break Pete from - that's when he was serving against it. Otherwise, it was very difficult. He serves just too heavy, too hard. He came up with some great second serves, as well. I didn't pass very well. That was another part of my game which I wasn't happy with. Just never got set on the passing shots, was disappointing. One or two occasions where I could have made some passing shots that could have given me opportunities, and I didn't do it. So, you know, that puts a lot of pressure on your serve, knowing there's really only one end you can break him from. Even then, there's not much of a chance. You've got to make the most of it, and I really didn't.
Q. The other day when you were in here, you were asked what you like about tennis right now. Your answer was: "That it's almost over." Now that it may, in fact, be over --?
PATRICK RAFTER: I have a few more big events coming up.
Q. What is your schedule?
PATRICK RAFTER: Davis Cup now. Go home, back to Australia, to work on that. After that, I'm going to take a good break. I'll be injured for Stuttgart. Then I'll get ready for Stockholm, Paris, then Davis Cup, then the Masters hopefully. Hopefully we'll win Davis Cup and then the Masters, as well.
Q. Have you decided about next year?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. I'm going to take a break. That's what I know.
Q. You definitely will take a break?
PATRICK RAFTER: How many times you want me to say it? Gee.
Q. With great respect Pete talked about you. He said if you retire, you will be greatly missed. If this is your last Grand Slam match, is there any consolation that you ended it going up against one of the all-time greats and a player you also respect?
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, in Grand Slams, you know, as I've always said, you don't want to play Pete. I knew he was just playing better with each game. I mean, yeah, I guess if you want to lose, it's good to lose to one of the greatest of all times. You know, it's never fun losing.
Q. Besides being disappointed, does it mean anything to you to have come back into the match, to have given him a good fight?
PATRICK RAFTER: I'm glad it wasn't 3-2-1, and I got booed off the court. That's not a memorable way to leave a Grand Slam. You know in New York it can happen (smiling). It was a relief. It was good. You know, I'm always going to fight. Some days it doesn't work. Some days you keep fighting, you do lose 3-2-1. You have to say, "That's all I could do." Today was an occasion I got back into the match and kept fighting. It is good to know that I got back into it. The end result's always the same.
Q. Did you hear the guy shouting, "We don't want to go home"?
PATRICK RAFTER: I thought he said, "Do you want to go home?" I said, "Yeah, I do." (Laughter) Yeah, I want to go home. I've still got to try and win this match.
Q. The disappointment, doesn't it make it more likely that we will see you again at a Grand Slam because you don't want to go out with this disappointment in a career which has had so many highlights?
PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know if it's the worst point of my career.
Q. Unfinished business.
PATRICK RAFTER: The unfinished business for me is Wimbledon, for sure. But there's no guarantee I'll be there.
Q. Speaking of Wimbledon, you played the final in front of that truly extraordinary crowd. Today, fourth-round match, the stadium was about as full as it's ever been. What does that mean to you in terms of your own role in the game of tennis, your appeal to fans? Does that say something to you inside?
PATRICK RAFTER: I think the TV built it up pretty well (laughter). No, listen, that's really special. Obviously, you have -- I've always played well in America. I've had a lot of success pretty well from '97 till now, the last four years that I played - five years, sorry. The five years from '97 to this year, I had pretty consistent summers. I always played well in America. You know, it was always -- it was hopefully going to be a good match today. It turned out pretty good. Disappointing from my behalf. I guess it's something I'll look back on, reflect and say it was a great experience, because I've never really seen the stadium that full before, even the finals have never been like that. Sometimes a little bit disappointing walking away thinking, "This is a final and it's not full." I've definitely seen an increase in the fans this year just coming to watch. The audiences has been as full as I've seen, even from day one, even on Monday night or Monday afternoon.
Q. Tennis has been probably the major part of your life for more than half your life. You're really not that old yet. How long does it take to wrestle with yourself and decide it's time to step away from this, at least for a while?
PATRICK RAFTER: When did I make that decision?
PATRICK RAFTER: I made it -- I've been thinking about it for a little while. There's new things I want to do. You know, tennis has been extraordinary for me. I've really enjoyed it. I've got the most out of it that I've ever expected. I never expected to do what I've done. I feel like I've come away from this game - if I do happen to leave and not come back - that I've been really, really blessed to have a career that I've had. For me, it's just all relative, I guess. There's new things I want to do. I just want to step back and see what life is. I think it's time to step into reality a little bit.
Q. After you won the first US Open, we asked you how winning The Open is going to change you. You said you'll be the same sack of "fill in the blank". Over the years, do you think you're the same person since you became a Grand Slam champion?
PATRICK RAFTER: That's not really my decision. I think it's your decision, how you find me. If I've changed, then I have. I don't know.
Q. What do you think, though?
PATRICK RAFTER: I think I'm just a top bloke (laughter).
Q. Last game going out to serve, was there an unusual amount of nerves because you had two backhand errors, double-fault. Did you lose focus after the first point?
PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, it was a bit disappointing just to go out. I don't think there was any nerves. Just maybe a lapse of concentration. You know, I was never happy with the high volleys at all today. It just never felt right. I don't really know. It may have been just a lapse of concentration. As I said, from the very first point, I never hit the high volleys well today. It was definitely a weak point of my game.
Q. How close to his best was he today? He's obviously been struggling.
PATRICK RAFTER: He's playing pretty well, yeah. No doubt about it, he came out on fire. He was very pumped up to me. I just had to sort of calm it down and get myself back into it. I did. It would have been interesting if I hung in there, seen how the fourth set had gone, what would have happened in the fifth. It's never going to happen now. I think Pete is still playing well. I think he's a contender. He's going to have a very, very tough match against Andre, though. As you know and I know, you never write off Pete.
Q. Did he say anything to you in the locker room after?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. I'm not in the mood to have a chat right now to him. I just saw him for three hours on the other end.
Q. What are some of the things you want to do away from tennis?
PATRICK RAFTER: Just sort of live a life. Just see what life is. You live in an unreal world. I just want to touch down a little bit. Maybe I might not like it. I don't know. Wait and see.
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