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September 1, 1998

Patrick Rafter

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. I think I am out of finger nails with those first two sets. What happened?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, got pretty well outplayed. Took me a while to work him out. He played me very smart. He had a

very -- he mixed it up very well on his serve, different ball for me to hit, it was swinging away from me. Everything he was doing was just breaking me down. I just started not probably getting enough on my serve either, it was not heavy enough. I think the conditions probably a little bit slower at nighttime, so I couldn't get quite enough out of the ball that I would have like to.

Q. What turned it around for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, he had chances early in the third set. He didn't take them. I took a bit of a risk on one point and picked the right way for the volley. And then all of a sudden I am up 5-3 serving for the set. And it is a good battle. Once I won that third set, I am still feeling pretty confident from then on he never had another look in.

Q. I saw you talking to yourself. What were you saying?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I was just trying to really knuckle down. A few things educated me on the court that got me fired up, agitated, which is what I needed. I needed something. I didn't want to throw my racket in frustration, I just wanted to -- I needed something to get me fired up and it did. A couple of points got me fired up and then some things happened, yeah.

Q. What things happened?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, there was -- I just didn't appreciate the way he moved around on my serve on big points. He was really -- I didn't think that was really cool. And then that sort of really -- that made me upset and then he went on and on about line calls. He just really let it get to him. They weren't really in the wrong. The first one just got the outside of the line. Just was in. He had a bit of a bad break there, but it was a 50/50 call, didn't go his way. From then on, every other decision was correct, I thought. He just -- that got me fired up. I wanted to really beat him up then.

Q. You were shaking your leg and doing bends, was there any physical problems or is that just what you do?

PATRICK RAFTER: That is just what I do. That is just before my serve, because I put a lot of pressure on the outside of my leg. I need to get the muscles warmed up before I serve.

Q. Do you feel like that hurdle is over for you; are you ready for the rest of it?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it will sink in tomorrow, how big enough it was. It was pretty important to win that one. I don't really want to lose, but I was really getting outplayed. He was just too good for me.

Q. Four times you have come back from two sets down in five setters. What is the secret? Your endurance?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know, if it is endurance. It is just determination. I just -- I don't want to lose. And I don't know, I guess having that record also makes you feel pretty good going into those sort of matches. I know that I have been there before, and I know what it takes to do it. It wasn't an endurance battle out there tonight. The match wasn't really that long. Just a matter of mentally wearing him down. I was down two sets to Love. I still felt I had a chance. I never felt like I was out of the match.

Q. I saw a couple of times, I think third set, almost meditating between points, eyes closed.

PATRICK RAFTER: That was in the fourth, I think. Trying to do some positive thing, you know. I don't usually do it. I just felt like doing it.

Q. Can you tell us what you were thinking?

PATRICK RAFTER: Sort of pretty personal, that one.

Q. What was the difference between what you went through this last week; that you have gone through during the course of this year - learned how not to think about it again - was that a problem tonight, were you thinking about it a lot tonight? Nervous going into the match?

PATRICK RAFTER: I wasn't nervous at all. If anything, I was probably a little bit too mellow. I was going into the match knowing I was hitting the ball pretty well, but the conditions were different tonight, they weren't quite as quick that I was used to. I didn't get enough out of court that I would have liked to. Everything was coming out too slow for me. My serve was too slow. I just had to find a way to win then. It was just trying to work things out.

Q. He is such a different sort of player, too?

PATRICK RAFTER: He is a very good player. I mean, if he can knuckle down mentally he will be a Top-10 player. He is very good.

Q. Your level of performance tonight, how do you --

PATRICK RAFTER: Under the circumstances, great. Volleys, I wasn't happy with at all. Serving, I think will come with the different change in conditions. Get a day match.

Q. What was it with the volleys?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know, little bit lazy. Ball had a different sort of -- different sort of a flight to it than what I am used to. Had a lot of spin on it. And I guess under pressure, because he moves so well, you have to go for a little bit more on your volleys as well. All those things combined didn't make a good day at the net for me.

Q. How important is the crowd support? Awful lot of people screaming for you.

PATRICK RAFTER: It was a great Australia contingent up there and singing some pretty familiar songs, some I haven't heard for a long time.

Q. Are they friends?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I don't know. No, I don't know. It could be the same group of guys from last year, I am not quite sure.

Q. I spoke to your next singles match opponent tonight. He says it will be a cute match, a match of two really good looking guys?

PATRICK RAFTER: (Laughs) He said that? Hernan is a great guy. He is a good mate. I can't believe he said that though.

Q. Yes. You reckon he was half right?

PATRICK RAFTER: I am not saying that. I am not saying anything.

Q. Enormous amount of tennis for you in the last month. What can you do to try and lessen five-setters in the first round?

PATRICK RAFTER: Got doubles tomorrow, so just want to get used to the conditions again, the day conditions see if I can get something out of the ball, so I am looking forward to the doubles match tomorrow.

Q. Physically what can you do to try and counteract the amount of tennis?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just a good diet. Try and put my feet up whenever I get a spare minute. I didn't want to start off with this sort of match, but it has happened and try get through my next one. Hernan beat me quite comfortably last time on the hard court, so it is going to be -- should be a good match.

Q. Is fatigue a mental thing --

PATRICK RAFTER: Mentally, I am up for it. I am ready. I am ready for that. Physically, I am still feeling okay. I took it pretty easy in Long Island. I wasn't training too hard. Just playing the matches. But mentally I thought that could be a battle, but it is not.

Q. How different was it out there tonight compared -- do you have memory what it was like?

PATRICK RAFTER: Played Agassi last year I could feel the conditions were a lot hotter. I felt the ball flew a lot more. I don't know if I am just in a different -- just not hitting the ball quite as crisply as I was then, I don't know. It is hard to say. Or it was just a different match, ball didn't come on, I don't know.

Q. Everybody has come in here saying that the court is much faster. But you didn't feel that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, they probably played during the day most of them.

Q. There is a difference at night?


Q. What makes it slower?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess it is the night air, the cool air. Yeah. Ball doesn't respond the same way.

Q. (inaudible)

PATRICK RAFTER: Plenty of guys to beat. Top half is very heavy with, I think, a lot of very potential winners there in the top half. Bottom half now there are still -- Krajicek, there is still a few guys there at the bottom.

Q. Are you somebody that looks ahead in the draw or concentrate on the --

PATRICK RAFTER: I didn't know who I had to play second round, but I am guessing Ivanisevic is in my section just by the way the matches went the other day and I was just thinking: Well, if Agassi plays him, I am saying, oh, God, go to Goran, beauty. I guess I will start looking, yeah.

Q. Was this tougher than anything from last year or it was just that you weren't ready?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I think a combination of him playing very smartly and not giving me the sort of game I wanted to play tonight, and the conditions probably being not quite as quick as I liked for them to have been played a bit of a role there.

End of FastScripts....

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