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August 27, 1997

Patrick Rafter

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Pat, what are your thoughts overall on that match?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was just great to get through it. First round is always very difficult. I didn't really know how it was going to go. As soon as I walked out there, first game, Love-40 down. Great to get through that game. Then as the match progressed, I think we both found it very difficult, the conditions out there, very swirly with the wind. I think I just handled it better at the end.

Q. I mean, he came in here and said he played terrible.


Q. Did he make it that easy for you? I mean, what --

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, he didn't play well. The first serve, I didn't serve -- I served very badly. The second serve got me out of a lot of trouble though. I remember when I played him in New Haven, he didn't handle my second serve very well at all either. But, you know, he didn't play well. I put a lot of pressure on him early, and I don't think he ever recovered from that.

Q. Pat, he said that he was aware of your shoulder injury. What's the story with it? Was it bothering you?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not really at all. I've been doing a lot of treatment on it the last few days. And I knew that, you know, the reason -- I could have served hard in the Finals in Long Island, but I would have been very sore the next day. I saved it coming into this tournament. But I knew it would be okay to play. It's still a little bit sore, but with constant treatment, I'm sure -- I know I can get on top of it.

Q. Is it something new or is it a long-standing problem?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's been coming and going for quite a few years now.

Q. It's the same one, same injury?


Q. Is it chronic sore?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not at all.

Q. What are they calling it? Is it a muscle problem?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. It's up on the machine.

Q. You're coming in off two back-to-back Finals. How much momentum or how confident are you coming into this Open?

PATRICK RAFTER: I feel pretty good. I mean, I'm in a very tough section of the draw. You know, I know that I can lose to anyone on any given day. But I also know that, you know, I have a chance to win here. I've beaten these people as well. You know, I'm quite confident, I guess, but at the same time I know I can lose to anyone.

Q. So apart from your second serve, what else pleased you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think I volleyed pretty well. I was very happy with the way I moved, considering last week. I felt like I played a lot of tennis. I didn't know how I was going to feel today. I thought I might have felt a little bit flat. But I got up really well for it. You know, I rallied okay.

Q. They built all this new stuff here and put you in the old stadium. I wonder, how did it feel? Did it feel the same as when you played in there last time?

PATRICK RAFTER: I played a couple times in there now. I've never really played that well. You know, it was good with the crowd because everyone up in the bleachers, everyone was sort of close to you. There was quite a few people there. I really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Q. Pat, when the draw came out, were you concerned that you had Medvedev in the first round, having beaten him in New Haven, you said you were going to be more pumped. Did you have to raise your mind set to another level to counteract that today as well?

PATRICK RAFTER: I didn't know how I was going to feel today when I woke up. Went out to practice today, and I just felt on the ball. I did, I felt really good. I did feel good. I was just happy that I did wake up and feel good.

Q. What's the whole year been like for you? I mean, five Finals. Do you feel like it's a breakthrough but you're still waiting for one more to get over, maybe that one hurdle or one more hump?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I mean, people have come up and said, he said something in Spanish. I said, "What's that?" He said something along the lines of, "You come second place." I said, "At least I'm coming second place, at least I'm making the Finals." If I had to make a choice of making the Finals or losing second round, or losing Finals or losing ten second rounds, I know what I'm going to take. At least I'm getting in there and taking the opportunity.

Q. How do you feel compared to this time last year as to how you're playing, how you're feeling out there?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've made a lot of changes this year. It's just obviously working. It will be interesting next year, hopefully I can continue on anyway, another six or seven tournaments to go, Davis Cup and things, it will be interesting to see for the next year if I can back it up. But at this stage, I'm just trying to play this year out.

Q. What changes are you talking about?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just been a bit more relaxed in my attitude. I think that's the way I'm approaching things.

Q. Pat, you said something that intrigued me in New Haven. You said with the type of game you got, sometimes you're talking about it as if your days are numbered.

PATRICK RAFTER: It took me a few days to recover from New Haven. Even yesterday I didn't feel that great. Sorry, from Long Island. Two weeks of a lot of tennis for me. You, know, if I'm not moving well, then I'm not going to play well because my whole game is sort of centered around the movement, getting to the net and intimidating. If that's not working, then I'm not going to play well. So it's important for me -- maybe if you're a baseliner, if you're half a step slow, maybe you can overcome that a little bit.

Q. I was just going to say, so you feel you can move better than what you did today?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I felt I moved great today. It was like how I want to move. If I can keep moving like that, then I'm sure I can play well.

Q. You're kind of suggesting you weren't sure how long you could keep that kind of game going?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, wait and see.

Q. Do you think you can hit with the good baseliners now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I've only hit a few times with them. Every second serve I'm trying to get to the net, put a lot of pressure. It's when I get the first serve back and I'm trying to rally. What happens is I only get a few of those opportunities. When I do do it, I feel really relaxed. I feel like there's nothing to lose. Whenever I'm serving, I'm serving first and second serve, so I'm not really rallying on my second serve either. There's a few occasions when I do do it, I feel really good doing it.

Q. So your groundstrokes have improved?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yes, they seem to. But I've got to remain relaxed on them.

Q. Over the last two weeks, by reaching the Finals, is that the best stretch of consistent tennis you've played?

PATRICK RAFTER: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Finals and semis there, I did this year. St. Polten, the French Open, Finals and semis at French. Put a few weeks together this year. It's been great. I usually haven't been able to do that in the past.

Q. Can what happened in the last two weeks, can you carry that through here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Let's just wait and see. I don't know. Hope so.

Q. You think the courts are fast enough? I mean, Todd said after his game today that he thought the courts were better this year and were fast enough for a serve and volleyer to win. What do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: What court did he play on?

Q. It was an outside court.

PATRICK RAFTER: See, I don't know. I thought the court outside the other day in doubles was a little bit slow. The court in there was actually quite quick.

Q. So there's a difference in speeds?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty well every tournament is like that, though.

Q. Have you sought out anyone to seek advice on what you need to do to go beyond getting to the Finals, that little extra step?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, that's just mental.

Q. You haven't gone to see Neale Fraser or someone like that?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I don't feel like I need to go see anyone, like a psychiatrist or anything.

Q. I was thinking an older player.

PATRICK RAFTER: It will come. I'm not worried about it.

Q. Pat, looking at the clock, the speed clock, it was like your serve rarely even got up to even 120. You're like a serve and volleyer without a serve really.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I didn't serve well today, so I had no rhythm, so I wasn't really cracking it as well as I have been. I mean, it's just all to do with rhythm how I'm serving. I didn't really want to go for it because there's no use hitting the back fence on every serve. So I thought I would just take a little bit off of it, try to get it in.

Q. It wasn't the conditions? Andrei didn't serve fast either.

PATRICK RAFTER: It was just rhythm for me. I don't know what it was with Andrei.

Q. You said you had quiet confidence, quiet confidence coming in here. In your own mind, I mean --

PATRICK RAFTER: -- what expectations do I have?

Q. What's a good tournament for you here?


Q. You think that's obviously something you can expect?

PATRICK RAFTER: I won't be happy if I lose in the quarters, because once I'm there, I won't be satisfied, I'll want to get to the semis.

Q. Some players have said this feels a little bit like a different tournament because of all the different courts and the different situations. How about you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, a little bit. Lose your way around here a little bit. It is different, a different setup.

Q. And do you remember the last time you played in there?


Q. Do you like that court?

PATRICK RAFTER: Difficult to play on. Very swirly.

Q. Because of the wind?


Q. Have you been inside the big one here yet?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not yet.

Q. No practice or anything?

PATRICK RAFTER: (Shaking head.)

End of FastScripts….

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