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July 4, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Can we have the first question for Pat, please.

Q. Are you surprised how easy that first set was?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was pretty windy out there. Thomas didn't have any rhythm there at all on his serve. I think he struggled with it pretty well the whole match. It allowed me to sort of put the ball back in, if I could. He has a very big serve. Held my serve really well. Yeah, I mean, I didn't expect a 6-1 set, that's for sure.

Q. When he started coming back at you in the third set, were you happy the way you managed to hold him off?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, just sort of relaxed a little bit on my serve. After I got down an early break, I started serving well again. It's very hard to serve the way he does, I think, and keep getting them in. I knew that there would be a chance for me to break again, and I took it. He may have given me a double. Yeah, he did. Well, he gave it to me, so...

Q. Is your serve the best thing about your game right now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I would have liked to have kept it going today. Sort of fell off a little bit. The last few matches I've been able to maintain a really good serve the whole way through. It would have been good to have kept it going. But put a couple of pretty bad games together. Hung on there. But it would be the strongest part of my game right now.

Q. It's premature, but could you talk about what it would be like to face Andre again in the semis for the third straight year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I guess it's starting to become a little bit of a tradition here at Wimbledon. I know the English love their tradition. Yeah, it's probably a little bit premature. But, you know, nothing more exciting than playing a guy like Andre at Wimbledon. It would be better if it was the finals, actually (laughter).

Q. Would there be extra significance attached to this one, do you think, there won't be Pete waiting in the final this time around?

PATRICK RAFTER: Listen, you know, he's struggling out there, as well. I don't want to talk too much about that scenario. So until that really happens, it's sort of stupid to go into it too far, I think.

Q. Had you done any kind of preparation for the Enqvist match today? Did you approach it with a kind of game plan in mind?

PATRICK RAFTER: I got a little mate that hits with me every day. He tries to play a little bit like him. But it's pretty hard to play like Thomas. I think he had some like a ridiculous eight percent of first serves in the first set. Even my mate can't do that (laughter). Yeah, but with Thomas, you know, I played him enough to know what I have to do, just to get the ball back over, try and go from there. Because he likes to dominate the points, he's got a very big serve, hits his next shot very hard. It's more of just being patient and trying to take your chances when you have them.

Q. Will Paul Kilderry do a better Agassi impersonation?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, maybe. May be Escude. He has to work on his returns a little bit.

Q. Do you think you're playing well enough to beat anyone in the tournament at the moment?

PATRICK RAFTER: Mate, I definitely put it down as one of four. I still think that. Every time I go on the court, I feel I have a very good chance of winning against that opponent. I also realise that he has a good chance, as well. If you want to get to the semifinals of a Grand Slam, you have to be playing well. One of those two guys will be playing well when I get there, when we play on Friday. Yeah, so it's always going to be a difficult match.

Q. If you could compare it to last year, do you think you're in with a bigger chance this year with the way you're playing?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I don't know. I've been gradually getting better and better with each match. But I thought last year's match was pretty exceptional - from where I came from anyway. I played really well. If I can play that well, then I definitely have a chance. But I'm going to have to play that well to win.

Q. Compared to the last two years that you've been to the semis, how are you physically shaping up? Are you feeling stronger now than you did then?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. 1 hour, 54 minutes. If that's going to knock me around, I'm in a lot of trouble (laughter). I should be feeling pretty good. I felt pretty good today on the court. Grass is not that grueling physically, so there should be no excuses physically, I hope.

Q. Goran getting through to the semifinals, his story this week with all the different Gorans, do you have kind of a favourite Goran story that kind of characterizes him?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, Goran, he is a funny fellow. He's always been very nice to me. You know, when he was at the top, and I wasn't, he's one of those guys who would come in the locker room and have a bit of a laugh with him. Always treated everyone the same. That was a really good quality about Goran. You know, I think he settled down over the last few years ago. A bit of a wild boy before. But he settled down. He's a good fellow to be around. Even when he lost, he's funny. Yeah, he's a good fellow.

Q. Are you surprised, given the kind of year that he's had, not playing in a Grand Slam, that he is in the semis here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Given the last few years he's had, I'm very surprised. I think everyone is. But the way he's played out there today, the last two weeks, it's been exceptional. It was Goran at his peak. He's really shocked, I know not just me, but a lot of people. It's a great story. He's a good fellow and he deserves it.

Q. Do you actually think he's playing better, at least for this moment?

PATRICK RAFTER: Haven't faced him for a while, don't know. I can't remember him at his peak peak. Probably playing his best tennis early '90s, so I don't really know. He looks to be very strong out there with that serve. It's pretty awesome.

Q. What will you do tomorrow? Some practice? Try and relax?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, yeah, just a pretty standard day of practice and massage, put your feet up, watch TV.

Q. Going to watch a bit of the cricket?

PATRICK RAFTER: Starts tomorrow?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think I might (smiling).

Q. What do you like best coming to London every year to play Wimbledon, the experience of coming here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, Wimbledon's Wimbledon. It sort of speaks for itself. It's just a great place to enter, enter this whole arena. It's just got a lot of special qualities about Wimbledon, a lot of tradition. You just come here. If you can't get up for this tournament, you can't get up for anything. I don't know. It's grass. It helps my game. It's over five sets, I like that. I don't know, it's just Wimbledon.

Q. I want to clarify. I see stories saying this is your last Wimbledon - it may not be, it may be?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've never said no to anything. I've never said definite to anything.

Q. It's just a matter of, what, the end of the year you're going to reassess?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm going to take a few months off, six months off, see what I want to do.

Q. With that shoulder injury that you had, have you learned how to manage your game in a slightly different way? Are you still playing pretty much as you always used to?

PATRICK RAFTER: Last year I really did. I cut out doubles. I tried not to do as much kicking on my serve. Then I just said, "To hell with it, I'm going to go hard with it next year. I'm going to play singles, I'm going to play doubles." That's what's best for my game. I did like doing that. I've played doubles when it suits me; not as much as I used to. Just go hard. If I want to kick my serve, I'll kick it. I also take a lot of breaks now. I'll play six or seven weeks on, then I'll take four or five weeks off to rebuild it up again. The schedule really doesn't allow me to do it. You just have to say to hell with it and do your own thing. That's what I've done.

Q. So when you go to the court, you still play exactly the same way that you used to?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. If I can't play my game, then it's no use me being out here. If that ever comes to that, where it stops me from playing my game, then it's time to hang 'em up.

Q. Do you still need to pop the few pills for the elbow? And is that manageable?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, at this stage it's very manageable. I'm getting through. Once I get off these courts, out of these conditions and these balls, my elbow will be a lot better. When I get to the American summer, the conditions are a lot quicker over there. It's a lot easier on my arm.

Q. Escude is close to winning the first set.

PATRICK RAFTER: He was close before, too.

Q. He's closer now.

PATRICK RAFTER: What's the score?

Q. 5-1 in the tiebreak.


Q. What would it be like playing him?

PATRICK RAFTER: I played Nicolas on every surface. I've had success on every surface. Listen, I'd prefer to play Nicolas, don't get me wrong, than Andre. But he's been playing some exceptional tennis, this year especially. He's very dangerous now. I think over the next year or two he'll develop into a Top 10 player. From there -- you can go anywhere from there, as I've proved. I consider him to be very dangerous now, a lot more dangerous than what he was. I would prefer to play him, but I don't think it's going to be that much difference between Andre and Nicolas.

Q. What makes him so dangerous?

PATRICK RAFTER: He's serve-volleying very well, he's got great returns, he's very flashy. He's French. The French are very, very flamboyant. They've got a lot of talent. They all seem to be the same, with a lot of talent. He's got it all.

Q. You've probably been asked this a hundred times, but the decision to cut your hair?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I've been asked that a hundred times (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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