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July 2, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is that a good test for you to have passed?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was. Came out on fire. It's a very different pace court, as well, that one. Took me a little bit to get used to and find what worked for me. But I still thought I played all right in the first set, and just got killed. I thought I was going home, I really did.

Q. Did you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, too good. Sort of started accepting defeat there for a while.

Q. When did you start to think you may be staying on?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, when I broke him in the second, I thought, "Okay, we got a chance now." Up until then, I wasn't on his service games at all. He was playing the first two points on each game of his serves very well, putting me under a lot of pressure on my service game every time. After that, I just found a way to break him down and started holding my serve a lot more comfortably, took my chances pretty well in that set anyway.

Q. How was the humidity out there for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I found it very hot today. Just muggy and sort of difficult to breathe, more than anything. I guess I struggled with it a little bit today. Just such a change of weather. It's been generally dry in Europe, so the humidity sort of got to me a bit today.

Q. Is that as humid as it's been since that night in Melbourne Park?

PATRICK RAFTER: Miami was very hot, as well, and humid. Brazil was hot.

Q. Talk about where your head is right now? Are you rounding into form? You're not quite where you want to be yet?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think I'm doing really well to figure out the matches at this stage. When you find yourself in trouble is when you're trying to figure out matches and you can't do it. That's the time to really panic. Today I took a few chances, and they worked well. My game plan started to come into play really well in the second set. If he was able to counteract that, then I was in trouble. What happens is you generally find -- sometimes when you play a guy like Agassi, you'll change the game, he'll be there ready for it, as well. Against the top guys, it's tough to do it against. But I feel my game is pretty close. I'm getting better and better with each match. Today I was very happy with the outcome.

Q. Do you still feel that you can perhaps compete with anyone in your section of the draw, based on the way you're playing at the moment?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, take it one match at a time. But I do feel, you know, reasonably comfortable out there. I definitely give myself a 50/50 chance against whoever I'm playing. Yeah, I guess I'm quietly confident. But, you know, the guys are good. You've got to be careful.

Q. Who do you fear the most at the moment, looking at your section of the draw?

PATRICK RAFTER: In my section, either Lleyton or Andre, one of those two guys I think in my half are the two toughest. It will be interesting to see who comes through there in that section.

Q. Assuming they both win today, what would your prediction be for that match?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, it's a 50/50. It really is.

Q. Could you just tell us a bit about Lleyton's strengths? Obviously he's impressed a lot --?

PATRICK RAFTER: I find Lleyton and Andre play pretty similar. They have different types of serves, but they return as well as each other, they pass as well as each other, they move well, they read the play well, they're both smart guys. Apart from their serving, I think they're very similar.

Q. Did you find that Lleyton had a little bit of a breakthrough, having won on Centre? Is that a big deal? I know you mentioned it the other day.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think he's won two there now. Yeah -- probably he hasn't been hitting the ball as well, but I expect him to start hitting the ball well. He's too good a player. He's a tough little bugger. He knows how to rise for the occasion. I'm looking for him to start playing better and better throughout this week.

Q. How big of an occasion is it going to be if he faces Agassi? How big of a match is that for his career?

PATRICK RAFTER: You'll have to ask him that question.

Q. What do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: I can't answer that question for him. I don't know how he's feeling about it. I think it's probably fairer if he answers it.

Q. But is it a big step-up match for him to be able to beat a player with Andre's reputation, titles, all of that on Centre Court in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon?

PATRICK RAFTER: It would be the semifinals if he plays him.

Q. Semis.

PATRICK RAFTER: Is that right?

Q. Quarters.

PATRICK RAFTER: That's right, a tough little quarter. Excuse me. Well, yeah, he's got to make that breakthrough sooner or later. He's giving himself opportunities. He's getting into semifinals consistently of big tournaments. He's got to make the breakthrough, and eventually he will. You know, I wouldn't panic. He's only 20 years old and he's already made half a dozen semifinals on big occasions. If he continues to do that, he'll have his breakthrough.

Q. You've been traveling the circuit all these years, big tournaments, small. If you could step back and, aside from winning, what's your favourite quality of the tour that you really like that's really sweet?

PATRICK RAFTER: Of the tour?

Q. Of being a pro.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I think it's the success, knowing that you put in the work and you've taken a gamble with your life and your career, and it's paid off. To me, to win a Grand Slam, I've tucked one away, I've tucked two away. It's really satisfying. It's a life goal.

Q. When did you know within yourself that, "I've got it made as a touring pro"?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, there's different ways of looking at it as to how to make it as a touring pro, whether being Top 50 is satisfactory, Top 20, Top 10, or winning Grand Slams. I guess I just ticked them off as I went. Top 50, great. Top 50, beauty. Top 20, great. Top 10. It was just all -- you know, it was just really exciting for me. Then a Grand Slam. To me, that was the pinnacle of it.

Q. And the least satisfying quality of the tour?

PATRICK RAFTER: The traveling would be the number one, easily. Constant traveling, on the road, different countries all the time, different hotel rooms, different cultures, different languages, all that rolled into one makes it very difficult.

Q. Can you talk about Enqvist? You lead him 6-2. What will you need to do against him on Wednesday?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just keep doing what I've got to do. There's not too many secrets, grass court tennis. I don't know how he's been playing, if he's been serve-volleying or staying back. But Thomas has a very good first serve, and I think quite a good second serve, as well. He's very aggressive with it. Probably Thomas' biggest weakness is his movement, he's a big man, big, strong fellow. Grass is a difficult surface at the best of times to move on. We all find it tough to move on grass, and Thomas does, as well. That's probably his biggest weakness. But a guy that hits it that hard, sometimes you can't make him run. And I've just got to go out there, assess the situation as it goes, hopefully get off to a good start and keep it going from there.

Q. You seem to come in here maybe a little bit underdone, Lleyton is maybe overdone - played every week since Rome. Can you comment on your two situations maybe.

PATRICK RAFTER: Probably Lleyton has been one who plays very well when he actually doesn't play a helluva lot of tennis. I'm probably the opposite. I love playing all those sort of matches, so it would be good if the roles were reversed in the situation. I still don't see a downside from playing too much tennis. This is a Grand Slam. If you're not up for a Grand Slam, then you'll never be up. Doesn't matter how you feel. And he's in the second week now, day on, day off. Don't think there's been a helluva lot of tennis. When you have that day off, it's just not bad at all. He's got himself in the second week, in a position where he's going to give it all he's got for this week, and I'm sure he'll handle it well.

Q. Do you mind being asked about Lleyton all the time? Seems like you're getting as many questions about him as you are yourself.

PATRICK RAFTER: I like answering questions about Lleyton. He answered a lot of questions about me, retiring me, coming back to this place. I don't mind. Generally there's nothing bad, you know, it's good.

Q. Good, because I have another Lleyton question. You said he was a tough bugger. When was a good example, best example, in Brazil, anyplace else?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, Davis Cup.

Q. Is that the best?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm just so glad he's on my side in Davis Cup. You wouldn't want to play him in a Davis Cup match. He just doesn't give anything away. Continually puts out and fights. He's team spirit is great. In Davis Cup, he impresses me more than anywhere else.

Q. And what happened in Brazil with Guga?

PATRICK RAFTER: He was too good and too strong. Simple as that.

Q. Did he shut them up?

PATRICK RAFTER: He shut them up quick, yeah. It was a tough job.

Q. You said you're getting better at figuring out matches. What did you figure out today?

PATRICK RAFTER: He started off very well. Figuring out matches? My second serve, I was hitting pretty well, but the court was so much slower that it wasn't doing what it was doing on Centre Court and Court 1. I just wasn't getting the reaction off the court. Just decided I've got to hit the crap out of it. You don't have to be Einstein to work that out, I guess. Just tried to come in a lot on his second serve, put his first serve under a bit more pressure, take a few more chances like that because at that stage he was really dominating.

Q. When you think of players here, obviously Pete Sampras is the guy who has done pretty well here. What's the thought on how someone beats Pete on grass?

PATRICK RAFTER: You've got to get his serve back. He just serves so bloody hard. It's a very, very difficult thing to do. It's not only hard, it's very heavy. You know, he backs it up with a good volley. He moves well. He plays the right shot at the right time when he needs it. His strength is definitely his serve on this surface.

Q. What about when you serve to him?

PATRICK RAFTER: When you serve to him, I don't know, some shots are on, some shots are off on certain days. You've got to try and find it.

End of FastScripts….

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