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September 7, 1997

Patrick Rafter

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Patrick, in that last game, you seemed to be free of all doubt and celebrating every point. Could you talk about your feelings then and now that you've won?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. You know, to win the first point is a very big thing to do. You know, especially when you're serving for the match. If you get down to Love-15, you become pretty nervous. As soon as I won that first point, I felt pretty great. I probably shouldn't have been celebrating that hard too early, but I just couldn't control it.

Q. And now?

PATRICK RAFTER: And know, how do I feel?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty good. It will sink in later on.

Q. Patrick, is there a way to prepare for the moments after, the initial moments after a Grand Slam win, as far as those emotions are concerned?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I guess I've got to talk to some of the guys that have done it. Never done it before, never been in that situation. So I either learn from what they've done or maybe there isn't a difference. You know, maybe I don't have to come down from anything. Maybe I just keep riding the wave. I don't know. I guess only time will tell.

Q. Were you worried about it slipping away in the fourth set as he was coming back?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, definitely. You know, you get into that situation, you got a Grand Slam Final, a title under your belt, all you want to do is get the thing over and done with as quick as you can. Last thing you want to do is lose two sets to Love up.

Q. Did you plan to step into the stands?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Cashy did it. I thought it was pretty cool (laughter).

Q. Has it sunk in that you're now with the John Newcombes and Tony Roches?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not there yet, mate. Got a lot of work to do to get in that status. I don't think it's fair to put me in that category yet. Hopefully I can have a couple of good years and maybe you can put me in it then.

Q. Right at the end, was that exhaustion, relief? Just exhilaration? What was it?


Q. When you hit the court.

PATRICK RAFTER: Total excitement. It wasn't tiredness. I think I could have jumped up and down for the next half an hour.

Q. What were you thinking last night or today? I mean, you haven't had much success in your other Finals this year.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I think it's so hard not to think about the Finals and what to do, how you're going to play, how the situation is going to be if you win. This time was the first time that sort of sunk into me, "Get your mind off it." Continually, even when I was trying to sleep, I was thinking about the match. I just had to stop thinking about it. Then I fell asleep, which is a big thing for me, when you've got all those things going on. When you are excited like that, it's so hard to sleep. And today, I just tried to keep myself preoccupied and not on tennis at all, just doing little things like if I had to, I was packing my bags, just so I could keep off tennis.

Q. How much honor is it for you to be the No. 3 of the world?


Q. Top three.

PATRICK RAFTER: Top three, oh. It's very, very exciting. It's a big thrill for me just to be in this sort of company. I've gone from 14 to 3. It's such a big jump. There's a lot of great players, you know, that are 4, 5, 6, that I never would have dreamed of being ahead of. But I am. You know, it will be interesting to see how I handle it now.

Q. Can you go back to a year ago and where you thought your career was going and how far this idea of winning a Grand Slam might have seemed to you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I never thought it would ever happen. You know, Newc and Rochey always said, "You're this close, you have a little, ten percent to go, you're there, but it's just not happening for you." I never, ever believed that. People can say things, but unless it happens practically, you know, you don't realize it's going to happen. It's happened. I mean, I don't know what to say about it.

Q. How much do you owe those guys?

PATRICK RAFTER: I owe probably my whole year, don't I? Putting me in the Davis Cup, giving me a chance. Having confidence in me to perform for the country and for myself. You know, there's a lot of people I can thank. Would be here all day if I did. Definitely a big backbone to why I've done so well.

Q. How do you define your career goals? Is it No. 1 ranking? Grand Slam titles? What would you say?

PATRICK RAFTER: For me, I think I'd like to be No. 1. I mean, I never would have said that a while ago. Pete is so far ahead of everyone, I think, at the moment. But I haven't got anything to defend for another four to five months. So, you never know. Things might happen again which I'd never dream of.

Q. Is there a certain point during the two weeks when you start to think, "I can do this, it feels right, this can happen"?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I always felt like I could lose, what I felt like. I did. I did. I felt like, sure, everything is going great. But I also feel like, "These guys can kick my bum as well." I thought Michael could have done it. Obviously, he can do it. It was my day. It was my two weeks. I think the best way to take stress off it was, off myself, come into this tournament, just let fate take hold, fate or whatever, I don't know. I've done all the hard work, just let things flow, try and keep everything out of your control.

Q. Something happened in the last three months that let you bring up your game to a new level. Could you comment on what it would be?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess I started working things out for myself as well. I had great people around me, Tony Roche and Newcombe, John Fitzgerald, my family. They've always been behind me. They've always taken a backseat when I didn't want them there. For me to work out what I want, you know, what I like, you know, just maturing within myself. I think everything just came together.

Q. They said on TV that your brother started calling your parents after the second round to come, because he had a feeling you would win this. Is that true?

PATRICK RAFTER: Is that true?

Q. That's what they said on TV.

PATRICK RAFTER: After second round?

Q. That's what they said.

PATRICK RAFTER: That's a big call (laughter). I would never have wanted him to do that. I don't think I would have. I mean, I speak to my parents quite a bit anyway.

Q. Have you spoken to them today?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not yet. I just did a TV thing. I could hear them in the background, but they couldn't hear me.

Q. Now that you're a champion, what are the ingredients that makes a champion?

PATRICK RAFTER: To continually be a champion, I don't know. I've never been in this situation before.

Q. What do you think makes a champion?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I mean, I don't care, as long as I'm happy. As long as I just keep -- you know, I don't want to change from this experience. It's been a great experience. But if I fall to 50 in the world, I'm happy, it's a lot better than being No. 1 and being a pain in the ass. I just want to keep being a happy person, you know, just enjoy life.

Q. Patrick, five second-place finishes, the near misses, did that prepare you to take that final step?

PATRICK RAFTER: The other five before?

Q. Five runner-up positions.

PATRICK RAFTER: Get back to school (laughter). Yeah, it definitely did. I learned a lot from those five experiences, those five losses, how to handle myself today, definitely.

Q. How will it feel going into tournaments now, especially the Australian Open, being one of the favorites?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've got no idea, mate. I don't know. Going to be a lot of pressure around me, I'm suspecting. No. 3 in the world, I guess I'm going to be seeded No. 1 in a few tournaments. The pressure is on me to win them. I've never been in that situation before. Always quarterfinals is good enough. I was seeded maybe 8, 10, get to the quarters. That's pretty good, you know. Now, I don't know. I don't know how it's going to be.

Q. What did you do differently in this match?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just kept my mind off the game.

Q. While you were playing?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, while I was playing?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: I always felt -- I think it was mainly a preparation before that won me the match. It wasn't necessarily on the court. Whatever I was doing on the court was working well. I knew it was going to work well as long as I took my mind off the game, not get too nervous before the match.

Q. Do you see yourself as a role model, bringing back the serve and volley game?

PATRICK RAFTER: I hope so. People always say to me, "We enjoyed watching you play, enjoy the tennis." Not just saying it to be nice. Hopefully they do enjoy watching that style of tennis. If we can get more people doing it, it is a lot of fun doing it that way.

Q. Are you playing as well as you possibly can? Is it just a matter of consistency? Do you think there's room for improvement?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it's pretty important to keep the consistency going, have good results quite often. I think that's why Pete is No. 1 in the world, why Michael is No. 2, on his heels. These guys, that's why these guys have always been there for so long.

Q. That's all you're missing, do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, if I keep making the Finals like I've done, then I guess I'm going to keep moving up, aren't I?

Q. Pat, what effect do you think this will have on Australian tennis?

PATRICK RAFTER: Hopefully it's only positive. I'm sure it's getting a lot of press back home. Can only do good things. Not going to be a negative, I hope.

Q. When Greg was hitting the serves today, clocked at 143, 146, what was going through your mind?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty bloody big. I just thought, "Oh, no, he's going to win the tournament, and he's going to take the record with him." I wasn't there to compete with him with that. I'm not trying to. My arm would fall off. I thought, "He's got one record. He's going to take another one." I tried not to let the second one happen.

Q. Greg just said if you passed Pete and became No. 1, he would bow down to you.


Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: That's a long, long way away. Yeah, that's a pretty safe call at this stage (laughter).

Q. Patrick, how has the Davis Cup, the team format of the Australian team, Davis Cup, all the other things, helped you win this title?

PATRICK RAFTER: How does it help me win this title?

Q. Working together with Mark and Tony.

PATRICK RAFTER: I mean, Mark and I, Philippoussis and I are great mates. I've been by myself for the last few weeks, eight weeks. Having Mark always there with me has been as a great companion, working out together a lot. He's a big reason why I've done so well.

Q. Tony and the whole Australian thing?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just to see him here, be in my corner, can't get better guys in my corner.

Q. What did you expect to find in there when you opened it up?

PATRICK RAFTER: Someone asked me to look in there.

Q. Someone asked you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I wasn't expecting to find anything.

Q. Do you have to get an agent now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Do I have a new agent?

Q. You don't have an agent?

PATRICK RAFTER: I have my brother (thumbs up). He'll have some fun.

Q. Any special feeling about being the first champion in the new stadium?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, yeah. It was just a great stadium for me. I played in the Louis Armstrong one the first three matches, out here for the next four. Every time, it's been a great atmosphere. To play so well on the big court out here in front of all these people, I guess it's pretty exciting. You know, it is exciting.

Q. Can you talk again why the Pioline Davis Cup match was so important in your turnaround?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it was because the guys actually did have a lot of confidence in me that I didn't have in myself. To play for your country, you feel -- if you lose, you know, if you're playing a tournament, you're losing for yourself. But I was playing for my country. I was playing and I felt like I had so much to give. I had to give out more than I'd ever given out for myself personally. I guess I found something, you know, that I hadn't found before within myself. It's carried me through, the guts and fighting hard. After the win, is confidence.

Q. The Davis Cup match in a couple weeks against the United States. How difficult is it going to be for you to mentally stay up for that time?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm going to take four, five days off, then I'll start preparing in Washington. To get up for a Davis Cup match is not difficult.

Q. Pat, you returned really well today, even off his first serve. Were you reading his toss?

PATRICK RAFTER: A little bit. He started getting into patterns, as I did as well. He read my patterns a bit as well. I played Greg a few weeks ago and returned his serve pretty well, as well. I think it helps having that chip return, getting it back.

Q. Have you had a beer yet?

PATRICK RAFTER: Have I had a beer yet? Not yet. I'm not having anything tonight. I'm going to drink water and go to bed (laughter).

Q. Patrick, when you were coming off the court, it looked like Newc was about to interview you. I wonder if you shared a moment or what he said to you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Newc did interview me. Oh, yeah. Everyone is so excited for me. I think they're more excited than me at the moment. It's so nice to have all the Aussies guys, Wally Masur, Darren Cahill, McNamee, Newc, Roche, Cooper, all the other guys, they're all in my corner. So good, because they've been through these experiences. It's so nice to have -- it's nice. They know what it feels like.

Q. He's the last guy to win here. Did he bring that up?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, he did (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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