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July 6, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Silly question, but how are you feeling right now?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. Still hasn't really sunk in yet. I don't want to get too carried away with the whole situation. I still have one more match to go. Sort of relieved and excited at the same time.

Q. Can you reckon how you won it yet?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I mean, funny games. Not over until the last point's played. Not too many matches, maybe one in a hundred, one in 200 matches that you play something like that happens, it turns around for you. Just got to hang in every match. That's pretty well what I did. Got very lucky, yeah.

Q. How were you able to overtake him, especially in that fifth set?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, once I broke, you know, it was a 50/50 ballgame, and I knew that. I knew that if I kept serving aces - which I sort of found I had to do to try and hold serve - that I would have a chance to definitely break his serve. And I got that opportunity.

Q. You say you were lucky. Is that just an expression or are you referring to anything in the match, line calls against him, whatever?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I think the big turning point in that match was the 15-40 game that he had, had that pretty easy forehand. I guessed the right way. I knew if I lost that game, the match was over, as simple as that. Being down double break against someone like Andre, it's not going to happen. You're not going to come back from that. So I knew that. That was a big turning point for me.

Q. Can you think of better matches that you've played? Not many, I guess.

PATRICK RAFTER: When you're on the court, it's difficult to know how well you're playing and to gauge it. You're just concentrating on the match. From a spectator's point of view, it might be easier for you, for you guys, to sort of judge the match and how it went. But, you know, I don't want to get carried away. I've got another match to play. Don't want to lose sight of that.

Q. Obviously it was a big point. Were you surprised that he got distracted by those calls, got distracted? You've played him many times before. He really let it affect him.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think the fourth set, you know, that's when the points didn't go his way. You know, they were close, though. I think that was sort of 50/50 anyway, whether in or out. I don't think they were definitely clear-cut out. They could have been called out and I would have accepted the call. The turning point was not then. I still think it was -- what affected him was that lady who reported him. You know, I think just let it go. Only one person heard it. It's not that big a deal.

Q. Speaking of another match, could you size up your prospective opponents in the final, what you think you need to do against either one?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, Goran, you've got to get his serve back. There's no secret about Goran. And Tim and I play pretty similar games. It will just be who can deal with the pressure better on the day.

Q. Can you talk about fifth set, you go down the break early, the whole set to get it back, what goes through your mind as you're going game by game?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, going through that fifth set, I was struggling to hold serve. The last couple I did okay, held them pretty comfortably. Andre was holding his serve very easily. He was serving very well and playing very well. Just thought, "Just got to hang in there, see what happens." I got the first point of his service game. I thought, "Here we go, we've got a chance now." I played a couple of really good points. That's what I needed to do. I was aggressive, and I stayed aggressive. And it went my way. Could have very easily not gone my way.

Q. Were you aware that he almost hit that line judge with a ball at the end, the one that reported him?

PATRICK RAFTER: Listen, I don't want to look around. He was shaping up after to hit a ball in that direction after the match. You know, listen, I'm sure he's very upset. He had his chances. As I said, I thought it was a little bit unfair of that lady to report him . I guess she took the rules a little bit seriously. (Lights go down in the auditorium.) You guys look great (laughter).

Q. Do you not watch the Wallabies? What do you do to try and keep the lid on it now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Watch the footy tomorrow.

Q. You will?

PATRICK RAFTER: Bloody oath.

Q. They're going to help you stay calm, though?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. It won't help me at all to stay calm. I'll be watching the footy, wishing the boys all the best. Pretty exciting match.

Q. Apart from the football, is there anything you're going to do tomorrow and Sunday differently than you did last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: I can't remember what I did last year. No, pretty cheap to change my routine of what I've been doing on my days off. I'm not about to change that now.

Q. How much do you think about last year, good and bad, getting ready for Sunday?

PATRICK RAFTER: I haven't thought about it much at all. It was one of those occasions that happens. Never really that big a deal. Right now, I don't know, I'm in the final again. I'm going to have to probably think over that situation and get some positive thoughts out of it.

Q. When you were on the court, could you tell that Agassi was affected by the lines calls?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't think -- as I said, I sort of answered this question, and I don't think he was really affected by the lines calls. He got up, he was cruising in the fifth. The line calls were in the fourth set. I think it was that lady that really got to him in the end. Nothing was going his way. I think he pretty well snapped.

Q. Did you realise straightaway that the lady affected him, or did you realise just afterwards the way he was going on to play?

PATRICK RAFTER: He played a pretty loose game at 7-6. After about the second or third point, I thought, "He's a little bit upset here." He was a bit hacked off. I could tell then that that lady had played a bit of an influence on the match.

Q. Would you say that you tried to do anything particularly different in the match this year compared with last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Against Andre?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: No. You know, a lot more aggressive on my groundstrokes. I was aggressive, like last year. I had to be. I had to take my chances and give myself opportunities, and hopefully get the right bounce of the ball. And it worked the same way.

Q. Were you a bit tired in the fifth set or were you afraid to get tired after what happened to you at the end of last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was pretty confident the match wasn't going to go on that long. I was pretty sure there was going to be a result within the first few games. I didn't think it was going to go much past 10-All, anything like that. You're playing on pure adrenaline.

Q. In the last game, how surprised were you to find yourself with three match points?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think things just went very quickly for Andre. He's probably a little bit still rattled from the decision of what the lady said. I played, you know, a couple of okay points, put a little bit of pressure on him. And he was still thinking of other things. Then he tried to fight back. Probably a little bit down over it.

Q. Do you see a symmetry, the fact that maybe the match in Australia this year when you had the cramps, maybe you deserved to win that one and you didn't, and this one maybe he deserved to win it, and you did?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I guess that's more fate, isn't it? I don't know if anyone deserves it. You just go out there and see what happens. I don't feel -- I didn't come off and say, "He should have won that one, so I should have this one." Didn't flip a coin over it. I don't really, so...

Q. Last year when you reached the final, knew you had to play Sampras, obviously very difficult. With Henman or Ivanisevic, do you go there knowing that you think you have better chances to win?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess so. I guess you feel like you're more of a contender now. With Pete, you know, you might be 40 on, 60 off. Now you're definitely 50/50 opportunity. That's always a nice feeling going into the final.

Q. Who would you like to play in the final, and why?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't really have a preference either way. You know, both have got very different games. They're going to serve and volley. Don't really know. Doesn't really worry me that much. It's the finals match. I'll just accept whoever's there. I don't have a preference.

Q. Let's say it is Henman, how good are you at putting the crowd out of your mind when you play a highly partisan match, as that would be?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I don't know, mate. I'll wait and see (smiling).

Q. Have you been in a position like that before?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've been in the situation a lot. I've had a lot of experience at it. I'll just look to my bench and my group of fans and friends and focus on them, if that's the case.

Q. You've talked about how you tightened up in last year's final. Do you think this time around, if you get into that sort of position again, like you were in the second set last year, what do you think you'll be saying to yourself this time around?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I don't know. I hope I get in that situation again. It would be a nice position to get into. Well, I was saying "relax" last time. "Relax, relax." It didn't work. Maybe I might say, "Choke, choke." See what happens (laughter).

Q. Do you think you'll be in a better position to handle it this time around?

PATRICK RAFTER: That I don't know.

Q. How much does Wimbledon mean to you compared to the other Grand Slams? Is it the Grand Slam you always wanted to win or was it the Aussie Open?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll take any Grand Slam, anything, you know. They're all very difficult to win, and they're all very prestigious in their own little way. Wimbledon has always been something that's been pretty exciting for a lot of Australians. It would have been great to have won the Australian Open, as well. Don't get me wrong. I think Wimbledon has always been probably traditionally the most exciting for us to win.

Q. Does Rochey deserve to coach a Wimbledon winner?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, he does. I think he's going to coach Sampras next year if I don't win it (laughter).

Q. Andre took that first set rather easily. Did you think it was his day at that point?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. It's best-of-five sets. When it's best-of-five, I know there's time to work things out and to try different things.

Q. Did it take a while to do that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, sort of went backwards and forwards a little bit. The game sort of went up and down a little bit from both of us. You know, even in the fifth set it was all over the place. Five-setters are very different to three-setters. You've got time to experiment with things. When Andre comes out pretty hot, you know you're in a bit of trouble.

Q. Because you're taking time off, do you relish this Wimbledon any more or is it just like any other Wimbledon, any other Slam?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm just playing it like any other Slam. I don't feel any pressure to win it. From that point of view, if I miss again, which it may happen, I'll always come back for Wimbledon.

Q. Did you have a chance before going out on Centre Court to read the Kipling poem?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've actually found it hard to find it. I looked it up every now and then. I've read it a couple of times. Yeah, I don't know, I looked the other day and I couldn't find it. It was probably there, I just didn't see it.

Q. Of the match-ups this weekend, who do you think has the better chance, you, the cricket team or the rugby team?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, the cricket team.

Q. Take them out of the equation. You or the Lions?

PATRICK RAFTER: Me or the Aussie team. Well, after their last performance, you know, I guess I do. You know, they'll be fighting hard, the Aussies. They know what it takes to win. I don't know, mate. I don't know.

Q. Did you send a good luck message to the Wallabies?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I'll try to send a fax or get a message through to them. We've been talking about it for the last couple of weeks here. It's always something pretty exciting for us. I'll probably give George Gregan a call and wish him all the best.

Q. Did you get one from them for today?


Q. You did.


Q. It came through.

PATRICK RAFTER: Even if you didn't get a fax from them, I know they're thinking about it, because Wimbledon is a big event. You know, I know all Australia's behind me. It's always good. Always nice.

Q. How much strength do you draw from that? You said you know all of Australia is behind you.

PATRICK RAFTER: We're a pretty proud country, I guess. You know, we're a pretty good sporting nation. I remember last year, getting phone calls from Greg Norman, as well. I've had that a lot from him. From actors, all the Australian people. They're always thinking about it. Even if you don't get messages from them, they're always thinking about it. I know I'm always thinking about other people in big sporting events, as well.

Q. In the tenth game of the last set, when you broke back, you were going very quickly to the net. Seemed almost an element of desperation. Did you feel it was a big gamble, what you were doing or was it just normal?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just give it a go and see what happens, you know. All you can do is just do it and see what happens want. When you walk off, you hold your head high, "Bad luck, gave it my best shot, lost 6-4 in the fifth." I go in, here I am talking with a big smile on my face.

Q. Can you talk about what this means to your family, what they've meant to you?

PATRICK RAFTER: They don't give a shit (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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