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September 4, 1997

Patrick Rafter

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Patrick, what kind of treatment were you getting?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just continuing with the shoulder treatment, just maintain it for this tournament.

Q. Did you have any trouble today?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. It was good.

Q. Some people have said that the turnaround for you this year was Davis Cup, first round. Then you went out in the first round of the Lipton. Your results really picked up after that.

PATRICK RAFTER: I was out second round at Scottsdale, first round Indian Wells, first round Lipton. Looked like I was going to lose first round in Hong Kong to Woodforde as well. I continued that on. I think initially the Davis Cup, I discovered something that I hadn't found before within myself. So I think that was the most important thing I got out of that match.

Q. What did you find?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just that I could fight, you know. I felt good fighting. You know, I felt confident within myself that I could still fight and have a good chance of winning, whereas before when you get down two sets to Love, up 5-1 in the second set, should have closed that out. I didn't. It was just good for me to bounce back.

Q. Who was that against?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pioline. So I thank Cedric Pioline for my success (laughter).

Q. Does he get a cut?

PATRICK RAFTER: Certainly does.

Q. Do you think this is a day that favored the better athlete, the guy with the quicker feet?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't really know. It's very tough conditions out there. It's tough on me; it's tough on him. I think with the slice backhand, I think that was a big advantage in today's match because he was rolling over it. It is difficult to do that in the wind when the ball is moving, swirling around like that. But, on the other hand, I couldn't hit my second serve as well as I could have either because of the wind. Very tricky.

Q. You're in the same spot now that you were at the French, right?


Q. How do you get to the next stage?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, you know, I don't think I can think too much. Can't get myself nervous about the situation that I'm in. I think because I've been in that situation, as I was in the French, maybe I'll handle this situation a little better. Only time will tell. But I'm pretty confident with the way I'm playing. If those guys can beat me with what I'm doing, then that's just too good.

Q. Did you get tight in your match at the French?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, no. I had a great opportunity to go two sets all, and Sergi got what I call a very lucky miss-hit on the baseline to get away with that set.

Q. You weren't dissatisfied?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I was pretty happy with it.

Q. Just about everybody that has lost in this tournament has come in and said, "Patrick Rafter is a pretty good player, but I don't think he can win this Championship." I'm sure you've heard a lot of that.

PATRICK RAFTER: That's good, huh (laughter)? I have a one-in-four chance of winning. That's the way I look at it.

Q. But do you enjoy going against that? Does it actually put you in a nice spot because you feel, "I'm an underdog"?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I've also heard that I'm going to win it, too, from a lot of other people. I prefer to be an underdog; it's always easier.

Q. You're likely to go into the Top 10 next week. What do you think that means for Australian tennis?

PATRICK RAFTER: You know, I mean, I only want positive things for the tennis world, especially Australia as well. You know, I'd love to be the reason why people want to pick up a tennis racquet. Mark Philippoussis has done a fantastic job for that. Hopefully, you know, I can carry that on.

Q. How is your very large family reacting to your performance here? Have you been in touch with them a lot?

PATRICK RAFTER: A little bit. After the Agassi match, it was fun. They were all on the phone to me. It was nice. They're in control. They know I've got two more matches to go. It's not a novelty like it was at the French Open to be in the semifinals. It feels like one still. I feel great. But I know a semifinal, I've been there; it's not a new thing. So let's go the next one.

Q. What time of day was it when you talked to them after the Agassi match, not here, but there?

PATRICK RAFTER: Must have been like three o'clock in the day for them.

Q. And how did you feel today? You basically were going until six in the morning, cramping, everything else. Did it affect you at all?

PATRICK RAFTER: My legs were a little bit tight today. Once I started moving and everything, it was like they were light again. Once the adrenaline was pumping, there was no problem.

Q. Was that performance on a par with the other night against Agassi?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think under the conditions, yeah. I mean, you know, when it's so windy like that, it doesn't make for pretty tennis. But I guess the way I got through with the match, you know, it was definitely satisfying.

Q. So which feature of your game pleased you the most?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just I didn't make a lot of silly errors, you know, with the serves. I served pretty well. I volleyed well again. I just got the ball over when he served, tried to get it back.

Q. Have you always been a good player in the wind?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I've had a lot of shockers in the wind as well, a lot of bad results. No. I think it's just, at this stage, it's hard for me to do a lot wrong. Everything seems to be falling in place for no particular reason. I'm just enjoying while it's there.

Q. Pat, you were close at the French. You've had five Finals and haven't got that extra step to the win. What do you think you need to do more to go further?

PATRICK RAFTER: Need to do? You know, I've just got to try to keep the same frame of mind that I have been. Can't let the situation control me. Don't let the excitement of it all distract me from where I have to go. If I can do that, play the same way, then that's all I can ask of myself.

Q. You talked about having a new fighting spirit, realizing you can fight. Could you talk about that for a moment? Is that something that you've worked with your coaches on out there? Is it something that comes naturally?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I think I've always put in a hundred percent when I'm on the court. You know, I'm never one to stop halfway through a match and say, "I've had enough." I've always put in a hundred percent. I guess it's always been there; it's just a bit more belief in myself that I can win instead of hanging in there and getting close.

Q. If Chang wins tonight, what are your thoughts on that match-up?

PATRICK RAFTER: Good match-up. We have had some good matches. His game is a return of service sort of game. He's quite aggressive from the baseline. Mine is that I'm going to attack him at all opportunities. It makes for some fun tennis.

Q. And Rios, thoughts on that one?

PATRICK RAFTER: Going to be a little bit similar. I probably won't be able to maybe control the points as well.

Q. That first match point, the serve was called out, did you think it was in?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. So did Magnus, I think. Then I started thinking, "Just don't choke here. Do a good job with it."

Q. Pat, a lot of finesse points, a lot of touch points. Seems like you won almost every one of them, maybe every one of them. Did it make you feel like you were in control of this match all the way?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's my game, you know. I'd like to think that playing someone like Magnus, he's not uncomfortable at the net, but he's not as comfortable as probably myself. I'm not comfortable hitting those off forehands like he is either. When it comes to that situation, I feel pretty confident with controlling the point.

Q. This is the only Grand Slam where you have to play the semi on a Saturday, final on a Sunday. You have the tougher half of the draw. Does that worry you at all?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I mean, I've got to play this match. If it win it, I'll be happy. Then I'll take the next step at a time. There's no reason why Rusedski and Bjorkman won't be out there for five hours either. Well, Rusedski, there probably is. I guess he's not going to be out there for five hours. Could be out there for a long time. Could be 7-6, 6-7 sort of score line. Might take an hour and a half instead of two hours.

Q. I mean, you could be in a five-setter and the other guy in a three-setter.

PATRICK RAFTER: Could be three sets, too. You never know. It's hard to say at this stage.

Q. Did you learn anything from that match against Chang?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yes, a few things that popped up.

Q. You going to tell us?

PATRICK RAFTER: Right (laughter). Chang will be in here later on tonight probably. You can tell him.

Q. The last Australian to reach the Finals was Rosewall in '74. You have to feel good about your chances.

PATRICK RAFTER: Do I feel good?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I guess when I wake up in the morning, I'll see how I feel. Every day is a different day. I've got to try and keep the same way I've been feeling every other day, if I can. I'm quietly confident that I can do well. But I also know, you know, that they've still got as good a chance as beating me as I have of them. I don't know if that makes for confidence at all.

Q. What are the main reasons you think you failed to succeed at the Grand Slams this year as opposed to two years ago? What do you think are the main changes in your game?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not just the Grand Slams, it's been every tournament. Sort of approached them all the same way. Going out there, I enjoyed my tennis a lot more this year. Worked pretty hard the last few years. I guess the hard work is starting to pay off. I can't really explain it.

Q. Technical changes at all?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really. Just sort of playing just good, solid tennis.

Q. Do you think serve and volleyers take a little longer to develop?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know, but I do (laughter). Edberg didn't seem to. He was there pretty kick. Cashy was pretty quick as well, to get up there. I don't know, it's just me.

Q. You were injured a lot of '96. Did you ever get frustrated to the point you didn't know if you could return to a level --

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely. Even the beginning of '97, most of '96, beginning of '97, I didn't realize. If you said I was going to be in this situation by this time, I mean, I just would have laughed, I'm sure. Things happened so quickly, again. Be good at the end of the year to sit back and reflect on that. At this stage, everything is happening so quickly, I'm just sort of cruising along. Haven't had time to think about it. I never would of expected this to happen.

Q. How close were you to taking a break for an extended period?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, never close. Something I've always loved doing was playing tennis. If I was still 60 in the world, I'd still be working my butt off, trying to get to hopefully where I could be.

Q. When you were growing up, what kind of effect did Rosewall, Laver, those great players have on you? Obviously you were aware of their Grand Slam wins, but what kind of effect did that have on you?

PATRICK RAFTER: More like they're a little bit older, those guys. I was sort of just born when they were sort of finishing their careers. But, you know, I've always heard of them. I just thought that was some sort of God or something in Australia. My father loved tennis; he always talked about those guys. He loved Newcombe, the way he played. You know, when you get to meet these sort of guys, was such a big thrill for me.

Q. Pat Cash played a similar game, and his body kept breaking down time and time again. Have you learned anything from that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just got different makeups, I think, Cashy and I, we got different builds. Hopefully mine will last a little bit longer.

Q. How did you become a tennis player? Why did you pick up the game originally?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. Had three older brothers that played. My father enjoyed it. I guess I enjoyed it from a young age. I don't know the reason why I actually played. Just fate.

Q. How come one of your three older brothers isn't here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Two of them are.

Q. I mean in terms of your place.

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh (laughter). Why aren't they where I am?

Q. I guess I'm asking why the younger one succeeded.

PATRICK RAFTER: A lot of sacrifices that they made for me. I definitely put a lot more into it than what they did.

Q. The TV is calling you the heartbreak from Down Under. CBS did a special. What does it feel like to be the new Playboy of international tennis?

PATRICK RAFTER: How did you handle it, Wally (laughter)? I don't know. It's something that everyone has sort of talked about, I guess. It's bloody tough. It's all right. No complaints.

End of FastScripts….

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