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September 6, 1997

Patrick Rafter

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Congratulations, first up. Did you think you'd do it in three sets?

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely no. There's no way. Michael is too great a competitor. It was just one of those days everything worked for me. It's hard to explain.

Q. Was it easier than you expected?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, you never go out there expecting you're going to beat Michael 3, 3 and 4. You just never expect those sort of matches.

Q. Why do you think it was so easy?

PATRICK RAFTER: Because I just -- everything worked for me today. You know, I served great. Every big point that he had, I came up with something that I don't usually come up with.

Q. Patrick, Michael said when he won the French, it was like a two week fairytale. Do you feel like you're in the middle of one?

PATRICK RAFTER: I am. At the same time, nothing has sunk in yet. That's really important. I've got to try to keep my feet on the ground here at the moment. I'll have a few days off after this. I can let everything soak in then. You know, it is important because there is one match to go. I haven't won anything yet.

Q. Pat, in the beginning of the third set when Michael hit those fantastic shots to hold serve, did you sort of have a feeling that maybe this was the start of a come back or something?

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely. He had the chance on my serve. Came up with something big. He was trying to get the crowd involved. The crowd was getting involved. It was making for a good atmosphere. Looked like it could have been a great match, a very competitive match.

Q. Back home we haven't had anyone be as successful as you for so many years. That's got to have some pressure on you for tomorrow.

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I'm not feeling anything from back home. You know, I'm not seeing it. All the well wishes I get from back home, it's just a positive thing for me. I don't feel anything, any pressure at the moment.

Q. What was your game plan out there today?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, to get to the net, get into a good position at the net. Just mix up my serve a lot, as I did. When I do get in rallies, try not to panic too much. It's just been the same game plan pretty well every guy I've played. They all play similar. Now I have to play Greg Rusedski. He plays a big difference, his game is a big serve. He likes to get to the net. I haven't played anyone like that yet.

Q. Patrick, you have two guys in the final who both like to serve and volley. We're talking about that kind of being the dying style a while back. Is this going to be the future, do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: Maybe. You know, you're likely to see that in another ten years. I guess only time will tell. I think the reason that it is dying is because everyone is hitting the ball hard and it's hard to move to the ball. But, you know, Greg is a pretty good athlete. He moves around the net pretty well. He can afford to come to the net.

Q. What did Chang say at the net, Pat?

PATRICK RAFTER: Michael was great. You know, must have been very difficult for him because he did have a lot of pressure on him going into this match. He was the one who was supposed to win. He was the one who was supposed to win this tournament. At the end of it, you know, as excited as I was, I felt -- you sort of have to feel something for the other person, and I did. He was very, very supportive. You know, he was a fantastic sportsman at the end of the match. It's just so nice to see that.

Q. How are you going to prepare between now and tomorrow for this match? Do you feel you have enough time to rest?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, yeah. I think so. It was only a two-hour match. Just a lot of stretching, a lot of massage. It could have been a really, really long match. They're the ones that you really fear.

Q. Pat, how is the shoulder? Did it bother you at all?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, the shoulder was good today. It held up well, like it's been holding up for the last two weeks. Just been doing a lot of treatment on it, a lot of maintenance. As soon as this tournament finishes, I'll have a few days off from it. Then it will settle down.

Q. What's the feeling going into a match facing someone with a 142-mile-an-hour serve?

PATRICK RAFTER: Get the thing back, just try and get it back. There's no secret for that.

Q. How do you feel about your return?

PATRICK RAFTER: How do I feel about my return?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty good (laughter). That's a great answer, isn't it? You know, it's very difficult to get Greg's serve back. You have to sort of guess a little bit. The way I'm sort of chipping it back, I think I have to keep it low though. As you said, he will be coming to the net. So if I can keep the ball low, you know, it will give him some problems.

Q. Did you have any sense, you've played Michael a lot, that maybe mentally, emotionally, he just didn't have it all there today because of his two previous tough matches? Any sense of that?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I don't know how Michael was really feeling today. He did have a lot of tough matches here. You know, it is very difficult to keep bouncing back like that. You know, Michael is such a great competitor. Even if he is down, he looks down, he's going to make you work really hard and put a lot of pressure on you. So I thinking about anything with Michael, if he was feeling bad or anything. I was just thinking about myself and my game the whole day. I guess that's why everything worked.

Q. Pat, you say you aren't feeling lot of pressure. You are playing a POM.

PATRICK RAFTER: I am playing a POM.

Q. It will be unbearable if you lose.

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm thinking. I've got to be careful.

Q. Think of him as a Canadian.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Playing a POM. He's got us a fair few times this year. He gets a little bit cocky about it. It was good to get him at New Haven. Greg, he's a great player. That's the way I'm addressing the match, not that he's a POM, that he's a great player, and I'm going to have to play the same way or better to beat him.

Q. Pat, with as well as you're moving around the net, do you feel like it's almost impossible to pass you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, definitely not. No. I think the thing that Michael does very well, he doesn't necessarily go for a winner off the first pass, he makes you play a tough and low volley. I felt like I could read him. I've been volleying well, putting them in the corners. Greg hits the ball a bit flatter and harder, a bit more difficult to read those sort of balls. So, no, I feel Greg, if he gets in position, he can definitely pass me as well as anyone.

Q. You seem to almost know where Michael was going to hit it when you both came to net. Were you anticipating?

PATRICK RAFTER: I played him a lot. I do know where he's sort of going. He knows what I'm going to do. It was just that, I guess I had one or two more tricks up my sleeve today.

Q. How do you prepare for tomorrow? What do you do?

PATRICK RAFTER: I just hope that I can sleep tonight. That's the important thing. There's no real secret. Go out and have a nice dinner, relax with my brothers and my friends, just go to bed.

Q. Both Michael and Andre are known for their service returns. Yet they've had very difficult times with yours. Is that simply because you're coming in behind them to volley or is there something special about your serve?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think my second serve is winning me a lot of points at the moment. That's been the biggest key to my game. I can afford to go for more on my first serve. When I can go more for that, I can go for the corners, more difficult for them to return. When I played Andre at the Australian Open in '95, his returns were so good, didn't matter what I served at him. My second serve, he was killing it. This time he wasn't crushing as much, because I got a little bit more, I think. I think the serve has developed a little bit.

Q. How much do you think all the attention that's been given Mark over the last year or so has helped you kind of develop on your own?

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely. Oh, yeah, for sure. The attention has been centered away from me, and rightfully so. Mark's potentially a fantastic player. He is going to be wherever I am at the end of this week, not in the too distant future. May take him another year or two to mature, but he'll be there.

Q. You said handling your nerves is going to be the key for you. Is that something you can work on and practice or how will you handle them in the match?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think you just have to be in the situation a few times. Greg and I are pretty excitable people. You know, it's a big thrill for us at the moment to get that far, to get as far as we have. To go that one set further would be just an even bigger thrill. You're going to see a little tension out there. It's normal, it's natural. Just the person who can control the nerves better is going to be the victor at the end of the day.

Q. Are you due?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think so. 5-0 this year. Hopefully I can get 5-1.

Q. Does that worry you, 5-0?

PATRICK RAFTER: I just think it's got to turn around sometime. If I keep getting myself in this situation, someone is going to have to do an (inaudible) or something.

Q. Pat, you're one of the few guys in the pros who uses a forehand slice approach shot. Why do you think that is, especially off the return?

PATRICK RAFTER: Because I have the same grip with the forehand slice and the slice backhand. If he goes for my forehand, I can punch it and come in as well. I don't like to really change it when I'm reacting that quickly.

Q. Why don't you think other guys use that shot?

PATRICK RAFTER: Maybe because they don't feel comfortable doing it. It's just not their shot. You have to do whatever feels comfortable for you. It works well for me, so I'll keep doing it.

Q. Have you thought about what it would be like tomorrow walking onto that court?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not really. You know, it's just something that -- I don't think it will be any different than the way I walked onto the court today. Sure, it's the Finals. You know, it's a big occasion, but I think I'll be pretty relaxed when I walk on the court. I'll make sure of it anyway. I'll make sure I'm relaxed.

Q. There's been so much hype in the American press over the women's final with Venus and Martina. Did you follow that? What's your take on it? Are you more into what you're doing yourself?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I'm not really interested in what happens in terms of them or me. I mean, definitely my attention will be centered on myself, not their match. But, you know, women's tennis is becoming a lot stronger. They've got some great personalities in the game. Are you trying to get me to give you a prediction? I don't know who is going to win it. . No, I'm just thinking of my own game at the moment.

Q. Chang said that it was a little different for him today because he hadn't played a serve and volleyer before this. You haven't played a serve and volleyer.

PATRICK RAFTER: He played a bit of a serve and volleyer today I think in Bjorkman. Is that what you said?

Q. No. I'm saying for you going in tomorrow, also you haven't played a serve and volleyer.

PATRICK RAFTER: And Greg hasn't either?

Q. Now you'll play Greg. He has, the Krajicek match. Would you have preferred to have had one serve and volleyer under your belt?

PATRICK RAFTER: Probably a left-hander would be a bit more important. I haven't played a lefty for a while. It's a different swing on the ball. More important, I think. But, you know, at the best of times when I'm playing left-handers anyway, they can serve it and get you right out of court a lot better than what I think the right-handers can.

Q. Pat, you're from a long tradition of great sportsmen in Australia. On the other side, we have these two teenage girls who spend a lot of time trash talking, sniping. We have Spirlea with obscenities. What is your take on that? Is there talk among the men about these two girls?

PATRICK RAFTER: No (laughter).

Q. Don't go there, don't answer.


Q. Did you see the bump or hear about it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I saw it. Brad Gilbert, David Wheaton, Grand Slam Cup. Would have been good if they got into it (laughter).

Q. Can you sum up how you've turned your form around this year? What has been the turning point in your year to get this far, to improve so much?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's a pretty broad question. A lot of things. I guess me being myself, working a lot by myself, having the Davis Cup match under my belt, was great to be part of a team. Australian Davis Cup team means a lot to me. Me working by myself, I've been able to make a lot of decisions for myself. My family, again, have been very supportive. Fitzy and Rochey, everyone has contributed. Gary Stickler (ph) back home, a lot of these people have done a lot of hard work over the many years I've been around. These are the people that really have helped me.

Q. What if you win the Finals tomorrow, what will you do to Australian tennis?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know, Mate. It's hard for me to say because I'm not there and I can't really see it. I don't know how much press is getting back home. I'm sure it's getting a lot. How much attention it is getting. I mean, I'd love to it to make a big impact. Hopefully it does.

Q. What's it going to do for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I'm going to be the same sack of crap I am (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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