August 27, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You told Bob at practice this morning that you didn't have a chance against him. Didn't seem to help him much.
PATRICK RAFTER: No, no, no, no. He must have misunderstood. Mike hit a topspin lob over his head, and I just said, "I don't have that shot, so don't worry about looking for the topspin lob." I was messing around. I didn't say I had no chance against him. I just said I didn't have that chance.
Q. He made it sound a lot more interesting.
PATRICK RAFTER: No. He must have misunderstood what I said. No one really understands me anyway, so...
Q. Were you fibbing?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. Don't really have it.
Q. How was that match for you?
PATRICK RAFTER: Hit a lot of balls out there. I got through the match. It's pretty important to get yourself in the tournament. The first round is always a bit of a tricky one. I'm glad I got through it. Played pretty well, served okay, volleyed pretty well. I think Bob, you know, he played pretty well. Never really gave me a lot of opportunities. When he did, he served pretty well on the big points. To get out of it in straight sets was a relief, that's for sure. It was very hot and humid. You know, I was starting to get tired out there.
Q. You've been talking about taking a break at the beginning of next year. Now that you're actually playing the last Grand Slam of the year, this phase of your career, is it hitting you more?
PATRICK RAFTER: No, no.
Q. Is it just another Open to you then?
PATRICK RAFTER: Yep.
Q. The sky cameras, did that bug you at all?
PATRICK RAFTER: Listen, I think it's a good idea. When it's up there, it's fine. But when it's moving around, it's sort of in your line when you throw it up to serve. You don't want too many things moving around because it distracts you from the ball. It was just a little bit frustrating. I think it's just teething problems with it, the guys messing around. I think it's a great concept.
Q. How is your shoulder?
PATRICK RAFTER: Good, thanks.
Q. In your own mind, what is the likelihood this is your last Grand Slam?
PATRICK RAFTER: It could be.
Q. That doesn't mean anything to you?
PATRICK RAFTER: I'm not answering these questions.
Q. When you come into the US Open having won it twice, do you feel sort of different when you come over here than maybe a couple of the other Grand Slams?
PATRICK RAFTER: No, not really. I feel good here, but I think a tournament like Wimbledon gives you a better chance to get into the tournament because you feel like there aren't many guys that can win the tournament. When you play a lot of guys, you feel, you know, you definitely have that edge on them, especially on the grass. But not here. It's a good equalizer. The hard court, I think there are plenty of guys that can win here. So I'm always pretty weary of that. There can be upsets at any time. The guys are all too good these days. But it does feel good to be actually in the tournament for a change.
Q. What did you think when you saw the bottom quarter?
PATRICK RAFTER: I haven't seen it. But someone just told me. I don't really want to talk about the draw. I just want to talk about my next match and go from there. I really don't look at it. He thought I was pulling his leg. He kept going on and on about it. Eventually told me who was in it. I was like, "All right. Thanks." Yeah, I really just try to play one match at a time. That's all I want to think about in this tournament.
Q. Do you want to talk about your retirement?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. Thanks, mate.
Q. How would you compare your chances for this tournament compared to '97, '98, the way you're playing, the way you feel?
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, things look good. Because '97, '98, I came in with a lot of tennis. Again here I've come in with a lot of tennis. From that side of things, it's sort of like an omen going on, I guess. I'm just trying to ride the wave as long as I can. But, as I said, the draw is heavily stacked. There's a lot of really good players to get through. I'm obviously not in the great section of the draw. Probably aren't too many great sections, but I'm probably in one of the hardest ones. You know, it's going to be very, very tough.
Q. Considering your successes on hard courts this year, do you feel as confident, more confident, as you did back in '97, '98 coming in?
PATRICK RAFTER: No, probably the same. I generally approach most Slams the same. Just sort of try and play one match at a time, but knowing that you can go out at any time. I've always had that attitude with Grand Slams. I've never gone in saying, "I'm going to win this one, I think I'm going to win." Too many good guys in the field to ever say that. I always give myself an opportunity to win. I always think, "No reason why I can't get through." It's a very difficult task, as well.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about winning in Indianapolis?
PATRICK RAFTER: It was good to get a win. I think psychologically it's pretty important, however it happens, "Okay, it's happened." '97, I had five or six losses in a row again, then I had a win. I kept winning my next seven, I think, in a row. Hopefully that will help, if I get in the same situation here. You know, if I did lose the last five or six finals in a row, coming -- and if I did get to the final, psychologically I couldn't imagine myself feeling great.
Q. What are some of the things you really want to do over your break, your five months?
PATRICK RAFTER: I really don't have a lot of idea what I'm going to do. Just get away from tennis for a while is really what I want to do. I'll be a little bit in Australia for Christmastime, showing a friend from Bermuda around Australia a little bit. Probably head back to Bermuda, chill out there a while, see what I want to do. I don't want to be around tennis for a while and see how much I miss it, if I do or not.
Q. Are you surprised at Agassi and Sampras, who have been around longer than you, having done the same thing, are still going strong?
PATRICK RAFTER: Listen, it's everyone to themselves. They're obviously feeling good. They really are enjoying themselves still. I think everyone has their threshold for it. I don't want to put myself anywhere near someone like Borg, but at 26 the guy was tired of tennis. I think Mats also had a bit of a letdown, as well. These guys were superstars at a young age. I was never that. I think we all hit our point where we say, "That's enough."
Q. There's obviously a lot of talk these days about the popularity of the women's game, the cover of Time Magazine this week. Have you talked amongst the guys, "We're playing pretty well, too"?
PATRICK RAFTER: No, I don't think -- we're not in competition with women's tennis. I think the only way that I think tennis can get bigger is by joining the two, men and women's together. I've always said that. If the women don't want it, they don't want it, fine. But for the health of the game, it would be good. But generally we've found in the past that a lot of times the tournaments have had more spectators at men's tournaments than women's. But the women's is definitely healthy. There's no doubt about it. You know, I quite enjoy watching women's tennis, as well.
Q. What do you love about the game right now?
PATRICK RAFTER: That it's nearly finished.
Q. That's about it?
PATRICK RAFTER: (Nodding head.)
Q. Australians have a great legacy, Newk and Roche working with the younger generation. There's a sense of national pride. Once you have accomplished what you've accomplished, maybe step away from it a little bit. There seems to be a sense that the time comes a little later on to give back.
PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely.
Q. I know it's early to ask a question, but when you --?
PATRICK RAFTER: At some stage in my career, I'll be putting back for the game, whether it's worldwide, but definitely back in Australia, as well. I will definitely be part of that. I enjoy seeing someone like Lleyton, who I've seen at the age of 15 just blossom, be a world contender. I don't know if I have anything to do with Lleyton's success, but it would be nice to have someone there and say, "I helped that kid." I think it's important, you know, we're going through a tough time with Australian tennis with young guys and young girls coming through. There will be some stage that I'll try to help out and put in my ten cents' worth.
Q. You've experienced victories, but can you take a moment and say how you dealt with the defeat at Wimbledon? I know it was not a happy memory. How did you deal with the results of that?
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, there's not much you can do. The match is over. You've lost your chance. I lost my chance for this year at Wimbledon. You know, it's just a matter of putting things in perspective. It's a tennis match. You're out there playing for a title. You put in your best effort, and it doesn't go your way. That's all you can do. No, I just went back to Bermuda. I sort of stayed with some really close friends. I didn't really want to go out and see people. I didn't want to hear people saying, "Great Wimbledon, bad luck." After a week, I went around, just sort of generally mixed back in Bermuda with all sorts of friends. But at the time I didn't want to see anyone.
Q. Harder than before?
PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, definitely. There were no real high bridges in Bermuda to jump off of (laughter).
Q. How long did you take to get over it?
PATRICK RAFTER: I just answered that.
Q. Are you over it?
PATRICK RAFTER: I'm fine, thanks (laughter).
Q. How much do you hope Lleyton gets help from other Aussies?
PATRICK RAFTER: He's got a great circle of people around him right now with Darren and Fitzy and Wally doing the Davis Cup now, Newk and Roche doing it, spending a few years with Lleyton, as well. I don't have -- what's the word? I think Lleyton is well looked after amongst the Australians. If ever Lleyton needed some company, sure I'd like to help him out. No, he's fine. He's got a lot of good friends around him.
Q. Speak of the way of younger players coming through, as well.
PATRICK RAFTER: In what sense?
Q. In terms of younger Australian players.
PATRICK RAFTER: We try to involve them in the Davis Cup matches as well. They come along. I've hit with a few of them with Rochey a few times. There's a little bit of promise there. It's a big step to make.
Q. You're mentioning the future of Australian tennis. If you look at the men's game as a whole, do you think the men's game, with the attention going to the New Balls, a few young Americans getting a lot of promotion and attention, do you think the men's game is in sort of a generational transition?
PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, definitely. The young fellows are taking over, and it's great.
Q. Why is that great? Why is that important?
PATRICK RAFTER: Because it just happens. It happens in every sport. The young ones take over. They're the new crop. They're the ones who are going to carry tennis on to the next ten years. There's some great personalities. Andy Roddick is a great story for tennis, as well. You don't want to put too much pressure on the kid, though. I think it's pretty important to try to let him play as much tennis as he can without naming him as one of the top two or three contenders at the US Open. Sit back and give him some time to develop a little bit.
Q. Do you think the men's game needs to promote these new personalities?
PATRICK RAFTER: I think they will, yeah. I think they're doing a really good job. I like the campaign they're doing. I don't know how much more there is to do. Maybe you're a promoter. I have no idea what it takes to promote.
Q. Why do you think that's necessary?
PATRICK RAFTER: Why? Well, it's pretty important to promote things, isn't it? I don't know.
Q. First set, 11th game, second point, Bob hits two balls from on his knees -- three, excuse me. Is that the kind of thing that's just fun to watch?
PATRICK RAFTER: It's a bit frustrating. Love-15, good opportunity, good rally. I set the point up. I've got him on his knees literally. Played it back to him. That's not really smart when you think about it (smiling). But, he came up with some really good shots. You know, a little bit like that during the whole match. I felt like I gave myself a good opportunity, set things up, then I played a stupid shot, or he came up with something special. They're the points you like to try and win. Bob won a couple of really good points like that today. He's a good athlete. He's a good mover. He's got some good hands around the net. It was fun.
Q. How concerned should we at Tennis Australia really be with the state of our men's game with you finishing, Philippoussis out injured, Stolty retired, Woodforde retired, there's just Lleyton, the kids coming up are 13, 14, 15? How concerned should we be?
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, you know, I think there's only four Australians in the draw here. That's pretty low. Generally at the peak we've had eight or nine guys. Seen a bit of a decline. But as we saw in '95, '96 -- '93, '94, '95, '96, for four years, we saw a transition of tennis going through that, Australian tennis going through a bad spell. "Tennis has no one. Who is going to be the next blah blah coming through?" All of a sudden you had three guys in the Top 10. This has been really healthy for tennis in Australia. I think something will happen. I think there's too many good sportsmen in Australia for someone not to come through at some stage.
Q. Second round match will be against Rochus. Do you know Rochus?
PATRICK RAFTER: Little fella (laughter)? I don't know which one it is, Christophe or --.
PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, no, they're great little players, great little athletes. They're very quick. Beautiful groundstrokes. Seriously. They're great little competitors. I've seen them -- seen some good results from the Davis Cup. I don't really know a hell of a lot. I know they're not the tallest people running around. But what they make up for, they're very, very quick. I'm sure it's going to be a very difficult match.
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