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September 3, 1998

Patrick Rafter

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Your serve came off a lot better tonight than it was in the past. Are you happy with it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Still not completely happy with it just yet.

Q. What aspects?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think my percentage is down a little bit tonight. I picked up though midway beginning of the third set, so I am pretty happy with that. Hopefully I am going to do a little bit of work on it tomorrow.

Q. On the stadium court it is very fast. Is there enough grid on there to give you the kick you want on your second serve?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't think these courts are really taking it quite as much as the previous ones that I have played just recently. Maybe not. But it is still in my favor, I think, more so being quicker than slower against a lot of other guys. I mean, if you play someone like a Sampras it probably wouldn't be in my favor quite as much.

Q. Ball is kicking enough for you on the second serve?


Q. You did engage in kind of a few baseline rallies which was surprising.

PATRICK RAFTER: Started off I started off getting into a few rallies. I wasn't really competing too well at those. So I decide to come to the net a little bit. On some big points I decided not rush it and just make him play a couple extra balls. He started missing few more than what he probably used to. Tony Roche said you don't need to come to the net. You can rally with these guys and just don't be too impatient. So I took that on to the court as well. I don't need to get to the net.

Q. Is that something you were doing the other day a little bit too much perhaps?

PATRICK RAFTER: Maybe a little bit. I probably could have been a little bit more patient at the beginning, got into the match a little better.

Q. After a very emotional match on Monday night, it would be very easy to come back and be down just a little bit. Maybe the day in between helped a little bit.

PATRICK RAFTER: No, exactly right. It was tough. Today I found it tough to get up. So it was very important to get off to a good start, because if I got down, I think I would have been very hard on myself. You are right, you feel like you have accomplished so much just after that first match, such a big effort, then you come out, you feel a little bit mentally drained. But it was a good match to get through because Hernan can be very dangerous. He beat me last time on this sort of surface so as you are aware that it could go -- could be another very tough match. It went my way early, then I was able to keep the pressure on him because I didn't want to be out there too long.

Q. Did you watch much of the Sampras/ Goldstein match?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just little bits and pieces.

Q. Did that affect you sort of mentally, get you more focused?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't think so.

Q. I just thought that --

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I was taking photos of Andrew Florence (phonetic) bottling career days up around the locker room. I was entertaining myself with those things. I was pretty relaxed.

Q. You said you were probably too relaxed the other night. How are you getting yourself up to match mentality?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I don't know, sometimes you can put too much pressure on yourself and I mean, I am in that position where I probably could, being the defending champion, so I feel maybe that I have got to win. This way I am just trying to be very relaxed. Maybe I need to get a little bit more intense. But tonight I got off to a pretty good start. Had break chances early, didn't take them.

Q. Do you think the season is too long?

PATRICK RAFTER: The whole year?

Q. 10 and a half months, whatever it is.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, the season can be as long as you want to make it.

Q. If you don't play the last couple of months, you wind up chasing people for points.

PATRICK RAFTER: Right. Yeah, it is true. I don't know what they can do. Maybe they are working on something. But because it is an international sport, every country wants to see tennis. It is not like baseball where you just play here in America.

Q. What is good for the players? Do you think that the more you play, the more injuries you pick up, the more burned out you get at the end of the year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Again, I mean, Pete has been able to be the No. 1 player in the world by playing 17 tournaments for the last five years. This year he is probably going to play 21 or something, playing a little bit more. If you are good enough, you can be there. But for someone -- yeah, it would probably be nice to be shorter, have a bit more of a break at the end of the year. But you don't need to play it, I don't think. I think Pete is just -- he is a good example to look at, but not every one can be as good as Pete.

Q. He is up there where he doesn't have to chase his points?

PATRICK RAFTER: That is true.

Q. Just defend them?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, don't know mate. You have to talk to the ATP about that one. I think they are trying to work out something.

Q. Just reflecting on the other night's match again. What was the procedure after that? Did you sit down or chat with someone about what went on in that particular match with a view in how you would go about today's match?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, we had a bit of a talk about it that night. But it was nothing to do with today's match. I was playing a complete different player. I think we all sat down and realized that the guy was playing too well. I was getting outplayed against Arazi. Sometimes you have just got to take those things on the chin a little bit.

Q. When you say "We" you are talking about?

PATRICK RAFTER: Myself, Newc and Rochey.

Q. Advice where he said don't rush to the net, that is fresh advice, last few days?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, he was just keeping me aware. It is not that I don't do it anyway. He is just trying to keep me from stop thinking. I think he is trying to stop me from thinking too much.

Q. How important are those little chats from Newc and Rochey?

PATRICK RAFTER: They are very good. I had another good chat with Newc today after the match and Rochey as well. They are very good. It is very important to have those guys in my corner. I have never experienced a tournament like this. Never had to be defending champion of such a major tournament. They have been through it. It is good to talk to them about it.

Q. The final point of the third set against Arazi, what does that set in your catalog of greatest points you have ever played in a set?

PATRICK RAFTER: I have had a lot of comments on that. To me it was like Arazi was just playing with me. I always thought I am not going to try -- I thought I am not going to let him do that to me. It was a good fun point, but at the time I felt like he was just toying with me.

Q. You mean, the first drop -- the first crosscourt --

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't even remember.

Q. Casually hit it -- the lob?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I can't remember. I can't recall every shot of it. I know the last point when I lobbed him and he jumped about ten seconds too early, so I am not quite sure I think he was just having a bit of fun. He sort of conceded that set because he --

Q. What were your emotions (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: End of that set?

Q. Why?

PATRICK RAFTER: I wanted to get exited, but it is hard to get excited about a point that he was toying with -- that he didn't really, really put in. So it was sort of a funny feeling.

Q. Newc has said that you guys have talked a lot about handling expectations. Do you think, especially at the end of this summer, are you handling the expectations of coming in being the Open champion, the expectations of always having to get near to the finals at the end --

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I have been able to take a lot of those expectations and pressures off me by being able to win Toronto and Cincinnati back-to-back. There are points right there for this tournament. Winning the Hamlet again, I have been able to defend all my points in three tournaments, so it was coming into this tournament takes a hell of a lot of pressure for you.

Q. How much did beating Pete at least do for you psychologically that you know you can go out and beat him?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was encouraging because I was getting -- I was getting a lesson out there for a while then -- but I knew I was playing well so it was good enough that I could turn it around. That I know even when I am playing well, I can beat him. Otherwise he was beating me very easily. This time it was good to find a way and know that if I run into him here that I have beaten him recently.

Q. Did he seem invincible; that you couldn't beat him?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is a bit monotonous, I think eight losses in a row. Starting to get to a point saying: What do I do?

Q. Look forward to the next match here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Probably looks like Kuerten at this stage. Never played him. Don't know. I was in the locker room -- I didn't even know who I had to play. After the match they said: Him. I said, oh, beauty. I looked across and said what a draw; then I realized he is playing Ivanisevic. Then I thought, oh, sorry, mate. No. (laughter) -- yeah.

Q. Is Bermuda a get-away, a hideaway, a refuge for you where I can go, where I can live in comfort and yet not be too accessible to everybody?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it is -- it is very nice. I went there straight after New Haven this year, packed up my bags and went there and did nothing for four days; just went straight to the Hamlet not picking up a racket. It is a place where no one really knows -- I mean, the locals know who I am, but they don't care about me. It is a great feeling. Sort of proud of what I have done, but they don't get in your face all the time.

Q. How did you come into Bermuda?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was looking -- being Australian, we have to set up somewhere, it is too far to go back. So I was looking at Monte Carlo and America, London, and Bermuda and Bermuda sounded a lot more attractive to me.

Q. Very quiet place?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is. But I found a really good groups of friends. If I didn't have those friends, I probably wouldn't be there, I wouldn't enjoy it so much.

Q. A lot of people think of you - maybe it is People Magazine - think of you as a very high-profile partying-type of guy and yet you are living in a rather quiet place where you really don't want to be too accessible. Is that something people don't understand about you perhaps?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it has definitely just been really the last end of last year and beginning -- pretty well beginning of this year that I have stopped the partying. Last year I always -- I was really enjoying it. I could do it and without too many people noticing. This year, you look over your shoulder, people know who you are a bit more. I just don't enjoy that feeling. So I have quieted down a lot.

Q. Do you miss it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I do sometimes.

Q. There has been some discussion today with a few American guys and their attitude towards the Davis Cup. You are obviously a very passionate member of the Australia Davis Cup team. Share with us your thoughts about how important it is to play Davis Cup for your country, the sort of things that you do to ensure your schedule allows you to do that?

PATRICK RAFTER: I do my schedule around my ranking and where I can play my best. Davis Cup just fits into it. If it becomes a real heavy schedule, then it becomes a heavy schedule; that is the way it goes. So because you know where you are going to play Davis Cup, so you can't play in tournaments in certain countries around those sort of dates. So you just plan your schedule and then you hopefully get a Davis Cup match around that place where you are playing as well. But for me, it is my next biggest goal -- my next biggest achievement that I would love to be part of, be part of a winning team.

Q. One of the things Sampras talked about was that in the States no one really outside of tennis circles gives tennis or Davis Cup much heed. That basically he had an incredible run in Russia a couple of years ago, a pretty much heroic effort and really nothing was said much about him in the States. How is it in Australia? Is it much different outside the circles?

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely. It is very big in Australia. I don't understand why it doesn't really get -- I guess there are so many other sports that just take over here. We have our big sports too. We have cricket, but Australians, I don't know, I think they are more into their sports. I don't know if that is true. I don't know maybe you guys know better than me. It just -- they are very passionate about their country, very proud of it. I know Pete is too. And I know Andre is as well. But it is a shame that they don't get the recognition that it does.

Q. Americans always bring up the idea of: Let's scale it back to every two years, but do you find that there is any sentiment of that outside of the Americans?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I just want to have as many chances I can of winning it. It is good that you have a chance each year. That is probably being a little selfish. I don't know what the crowds are like in America, but I know in Australia we get great crowds. They are very supportive so it is a good feeling.

Q. What are your thoughts on the next round?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is dangerous. You still don't know who is going to win that. I am presume it is going to be Gustavo. Never played him. I know he has got a good first serve and great groundstrokes. I don't know, I guess I have to raise my game up a little bit more. Dangerous, geez, very dangerous. I guess that is my new comment about that one because I don't know much about him.

Q. Just on a lighter note, are you attempting to grow the beard?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I can't really grow one. I hate shaving. I just sort of --

Q. It is not -- I am not --

PATRICK RAFTER: I am saving money on the razors, mate. I am going to get that new Mach 3, I want to give that a go. I see the ads on TV so I want to give it a go.

End of FastScripts....

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