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August 31, 1997

Patrick Rafter

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Well played.


Q. Seem to have your rhythm there, your timing was all together.

PATRICK RAFTER: Last two matches it's been fantastic. I got through the first one; first one is always the toughest one, especially playing Andrei. From then on everything flowed. Serve flowed, returns, approaches. Just didn't miss a volley all day.

Q. Were there times out there when you thought that it was almost too easy?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. But you've got to be careful thinking like that. If you psych out that way, the guy is going to come back and kick your ass. I was aware if I am starting to get a little bit cocky, if I do start playing around, he'll get straight back in the match. The one thing, I didn't let up the whole time.

Q. When you are traveling that well, do you start fine-tuning?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. Keep everything solid, keep the game going. This is the way I've been winning the matches all year. This is the way that if I continue playing this well, I can continue to keep winning matches. This is the way I've got to play for my ranking and for my results.

Q. Pat, a couple years ago in Melbourne, you were regularly hitting the 200K mark, which is about 125 or something.

PATRICK RAFTER: 120, isn't it?

Q. Something like that.

PATRICK RAFTER: 60 miles is 100 kilometers.

Q. You slowed your service down a bit.

PATRICK RAFTER: I wasn't regularly hitting 200 at all. I probably hit six to ten times a match. Out there, I'm going close to that. The thing is I'm mixing the pace up a lot. I feel that there's a lot of kickers, a lot of slow body serves, a lot of swinging serves. Can't serve 120 out wide in the first court. It's impossible to get the bloody ball in.

Q. Sampras said some interesting things yesterday, like placement is just as important as power.


Q. You can serve 130 up the middle, it doesn't really help.

PATRICK RAFTER: The other thing is that, different speeds as well, which is what I've been trying to work on, try to mix things up, my ball tosses so they can't get into any rhythm.

Q. Is this something you've really worked on?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's just come to me. Last few weeks in New Haven especially, I thought, "I'll slide this low into the body." All of a sudden it starts working so I keep it going.

Q. He said that you gave him very, very little to return.

PATRICK RAFTER: Lionel Roux did?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, you know, as I said, I think I served pretty well. His strength is that he's a great returner. I didn't really let him get into the match.

Q. Is it fair to say a year or so ago, have you changed your game at all? You've always been a serve and volleyer.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think I was a little more confused going back a year ago, wasn't quite sure if I needed to hit it over my returns. A little bit confused on the serve as well. Now I've made up my mind this is the way I'm going to play. All of a sudden if you have that mind set: This is the way I'm going to do things. Then you're not thinking, "What will I do this time?" When you start thinking about what you're going for, that's when you start getting into trouble.

Q. Are you surprised at least on score and everything else how easy the first three matches have been for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I'm playing against world-class players and having results like that. I am surprised. I never would have thought, never would have put a dime on the results that I've had.

Q. I'm sorry if it's been asked, do you feel like your game is on the level as it was in Paris right now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think.

Q. Same thing?


Q. Just maintaining then, right?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Just cruising along again. But I know Woodforde and Agassi, they can both beat me. I know I can beat them, too. I'm not expecting to go and breeze through these guys either. I'm going out there expecting that I can lose this match.

Q. Who do you like in that match?

PATRICK RAFTER: I haven't really seen enough of Agassi's play lately. It's hard to pass up Woodforde.

Q. Pat, could you address playing the two of them individually, if you were to play Andre and if you were to play Mark?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, Andre is obviously a great striker of the ball; that's his biggest strength. I know on his serve, I'm into every rally, so he's not going to get too many free points. He likes to move you around. He's very good from the baseline. I'm going to have to put a lot of pressure on him at the net. I'm going to do it anyway, regardless of who I play. That's his biggest strength. Woodforde is an incredibly smart player. For me to play, I'll probably have to mix things up probably a little bit more. I have a lot of respect for Mark's game and the way he thinks on the court.

Q. Remembering what Agassi did in '94 when he came through unseeded, is there any talk among the players yet about how he's gone so far, or is it just too early for that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Everyone is aware he's playing well again. He beat Corretja in Indianapolis. He's had a couple of -- he's had probably not the toughest draw so far here, so he's going up against Woodforde who is going to put him under a lot of pressure. Very interesting to see how he handles against Woodforde here, if it does go a long match, if he can last.

Q. Mark is obviously not someone to get awed by the moment. I remember in Melbourne a couple years ago, Philippoussis had that big win over Sampras, Mark blew him apart.

PATRICK RAFTER: His mind is one of his biggest weapons.

Q. In a sense, would you almost prefer to play Agassi?

PATRICK RAFTER: In terms of -- I mean, that's the other thing. If Agassi is playing well, he's cut me up a lot of times. I played Woodforde a few times this year. I think I played him three times this year. I've got him all three times. Every time I go out there playing him, although sometimes the score has been a bit easy, I felt like it's been a bloody tough match mentally.

Q. If Woodforde beats Agassi, do you think there should be another look at the Davis Cup?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's not my decision, mate. I don't know. I think obviously Woodforde has probably proven himself. On the other hand, Philippoussis is our biggest weapon. He's dangerous; he's extremely dangerous, can do anything.

Q. What's wrong with his game at the moment? He bowed out yesterday.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it's time for a lot of hard work for Mark.

Q. In your mind, should anyone other than the Woodies be playing the doubles in the Davis Cup or is that --

PATRICK RAFTER: If they can't come to an agreement, then someone else has to play. They have to go out there, they have to sort things out themselves. They have to work out their differences. They've done it now for so many years. They've got to sit down, when this tournament finishes, and talk about it. If they can't come to an agreement, then they shouldn't play.

Q. Do you think it's got to the stage where an actual split is possible?

PATRICK RAFTER: They've gone through some rough times before. They're the best doubles team in the world. I'm confident they can beat anyone. They haven't got the biggest serves, but they've got the best volleys in the game. Whoever returns their serves, I'm sure they can put the ball back. Once they're at the net, they're the best team in the world.

Q. Have you all got your heads together since those remarks were made by Mark about Todd, the Australian players getting together to sort this out?

PATRICK RAFTER: The great thing about the Aussies, when we do get together for Davis Cup, we're a good unit. When we do get together, the team will become close.

Q. You're not doing it yet?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, Todd has gone to Orlando. It's an individual effort at the moment for all of us.

Q. Have you spoken to Todd or Mark since?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've spoken to Mark. He's still around. Todd left that night, I think, he got out straightaway. They do need to sort it out. They are the best doubles team at the moment.

Q. If push came to shove, down to the nitty-gritty, would you be prepared to play against the USA?

PATRICK RAFTER: If I had to play, I'd be more than happy to play.

Q. What's your best guess for the US doubles team?

PATRICK RAFTER: Depends on how Sampras goes in his first match. If he has a toughy, if he has a long match -- I think it also depends on the scores in the Tie. Mind you, I find it hard to jump straight into playing doubles as well. There's a bit more than picking up the racquet and playing. It's a team effort out there for doubles. That's why the Woodies are great. Pete can't go out there and play a single's role.

Q. Can you point to one or two things concerning the resurgence of Australian tennis beyond it simply being a cycle? Have there been a couple of things that have been the key?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think everyone is pushing each other. That's the great thing about it. A lot of hard work done. Everyone seems to be pushing. I guess that just happens naturally. I'm not thinking about it. If I make the Top 10, you might see two other guys just go straight past me because now they believe that they can make it.

Q. You said Mark needed a little bit of hard work at the moment. Have you mentioned that to him?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I mentioned it. Mark is someone that gets away a lot on talent. To do the hard work, you have to have that desire. I got my desire when I had the injuries. I sat back and looked at everyone just cruising past me. I just thought, "This is not where I want to be. I want to be on The Tour. That's when it gave me the desire to come out and work hard.

Q. You mean physically hard training?

PATRICK RAFTER: Physically hard on the court.

Q. Does the prospect of playing with Woodforde excite you in doubles?

PATRICK RAFTER: I played with him in Croatia. We performed pretty well under the circumstances. This is probably a lot more pressure, if I do play. You're sort of digging the barrel here. I'm confident the Woodies can sort things out and be the best team for us.

Q. Given the changes you've made to your game, are you better off at the baseline, mixing up your serves? Are you going to end up more like a Pete-Sampras-type player, do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think he stands back a lot more on his second serves. If the guy is just going to put his second serve in, I'm going to be all over it. Pete doesn't do that all the time. He does it once or twice. I'm going to be there every time.

End of FastScripts….

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