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June 30, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Who is first?

Q. That looked a bit more comfortable than the last match. Did it feel that way?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not in the first set. I was a little bit out of sorts. I wasn't really happy with the way I was hitting the ball. Then second and third sets, just started playing a little bit better as the match went along. I thought I played really well in the third set. Very happy with the way I hit the ball. I served very well throughout the whole match.

Q. Is that just where you want to be now, with a rest day? Everyone says this is the next tournament.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it just gets tougher from now. So there are improvements starting to show up in my game. I thought I hit the ball a lot better definitely at the end of the match again. But, again, just really happy with the way I served. If you're going to win this tournament, you're going to have to serve well.

Q. Do you feel like you're peaking, your timing is right, the way your form has been improving?

PATRICK RAFTER: I sort of played some tricky guys, no one really standard yet. Just haven't really got into the rhythm yet. I think when I play -- who do I play, Youzhny or...?

Q. Youzhny.

PATRICK RAFTER: Youzhny. When I play Youzhny, you know, he's going to be a bit more of a standard type of player, he'll really test to see how I'm playing. If I'm off, he'll beat me. If I'm playing well, then my game will be in good touch for the rest of the week.

Q. What is your thought on Youzhny as a player?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't really know him at all. But I do know that he serves pretty well, pretty flat. Pretty good second serve. Stays back all the time. And probably a pretty good counter-puncher. Hits the ball pretty well, I'm sure. But if I serve the way I did today, I'll be feeling pretty confident of getting chances on his serve.

Q. Do you know him by reputation? He seems to have some pretty big wraps on him.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I've just seen a couple of results. I know he played pretty well against Wayne at Queen's. I saw a little bit of that. I watched a little bit of him hit the ball today. Maybe Santoro -- looked pretty good there. But he's a pretty accomplished player. He's starting to come along just in his results in the last six months.

Q. There's been a lot of questions about your various headbands. Could you explain when and why you decided to get rid of the ponytail?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I really was going to get rid of it the year before even, and if we won Davis Cup in France, which they did, but I wasn't there. I decided to hang on to it for another year. We lost the next one, so I kept it again. I really just had enough of long hair. The headband is just more of a joke than anything.

Q. Andre was saying in here a little earlier that he thought perhaps the way the courts were playing this year, because there were fewer and fewer serve-volleyers, the bounce on the court was going to perhaps favour the baseliners as the tournament went on. What's your verdict on that?

PATRICK RAFTER: He might be right. We'll wait and see in a week's time. But it is hard out there. You know, tends to suit my type of serve, as well, because I have a bit of a kicking action, and the court really takes to that. It's a lot harder, there's no doubt about it, this year. I couldn't tell you if it's quicker or slower, though. It's a harder court.

Q. More even bounce perhaps?

PATRICK RAFTER: I didn't really notice that.

Q. But harder suits you better?

PATRICK RAFTER: I hope so, yeah. I think it suits my type of serve anyway. It's still a difficult court to move on. Not just a difficult court. But grass is always that way to move on. I haven't found it better to move on or anything like that. It's just the same.

Q. He played a blinder in that first game of the third set. What was it that you said to him at the changeover?

PATRICK RAFTER: I said, "It's a nice way to start the set, mate." Which I thought it was. Hit the ball pretty well. He just had a bit of a giggle.

Q. Sorry to digress, but there were two very good Aussie victories out there today. There was another result somewhere else. Did you watch it?


Q. What did you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was bloody nervous for the boys. Yeah, I mean, it looked like playing someone in the game of tennis and they knew everything you were going to do, the way you were going to serve. And the way I read it, I mean, missed a few crucial kicks sort of put them back under pressure, and so did they. And just too good. Too big and too strong for us. We'll be back though, mate. Don't you worry (smiling).

Q. What are your thoughts on some of the older guys who are doing well in the draw like Goran or someone like Todd Martin?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I haven't -- you know, I don't look at them saying they're older or anything. They're good guys. It's great to see Goran play well, especially.

Q. Todd?

PATRICK RAFTER: Todd, he's a good fellow. It's always good to see Todd play well. He's a great player, I think. He deserves whatever he's getting here. But just to see Goran come back the way he has, you know, he's loving it out there. It's good for tennis. I think it makes all the guys in the locker room pretty happy, too. Good fellow.

Q. Are you pleased, too, that Lleyton's finally got into a Wimbledon, into the real sort of strong stuff of the second week?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, he's doing it the hard way again, though. He's still not comfortable out there, I don't think. But he's such a great little competitor that he knows how to win. I am happy because I've been saying it for the last couple of years that he's going to do something here. He's finally working his way in there. But I think he needs to lift his game a little bit. And I really hope he does well.

Q. Why do you think he's not comfortable out there? Is it just because it is what it is?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think he's just probably getting used to Centre Court action, yeah. Just such a great tradition in Australia of Wimbledon. We all just get so excited on playing here. And seeing Wimbledon as a little kid, I think it sort -- something sits in the back of our minds. We're in a bit of you a of the place, I think. I definitely am. I've gotten over that. I don't know if Lleyton's dealing with that. I expect Lleyton to get better and better as the tournament goes along.

Q. You talk about this might be the last year. Is it one of the places that you'll miss?

PATRICK RAFTER: You can always come back.

Q. You can't walk out there with a racquet in your hand?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I can. Over 35's or something. I'll be really looking forward to -- I'm just looking forward not to playing, yeah, putting the racquets down altogether. If I do miss it, this will be definitely the first one that I miss. That's for sure.

Q. Do you think if you do exceptionally well here this time around that the thought of coming back here would be enough to maybe make you reconsider your plans at the end of the year? Maybe you will definitely say, "I'll take X amount of months off and come back and have another shot at Wimbledon? "

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I don't think so. If I do well, I can probably leave this tournament and forget the rest of the year. Forget Davis Cup. Right, I'm joking. You guys are all sitting there like all serious.

Q. How long did it take you to start feeling comfortable here? You said you're over that feeling that Lleyton is going through still.

PATRICK RAFTER: I played -- I can remember playing very well here in '96, losing to Goran in the fourth round. That's when I started hitting the ball well and feeling comfortable at Wimbledon.

Q. What are you going to do tomorrow to relax?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I won't be relaxing at 10:30. I have Queensland versus New South Wales, State of Origin. A big weekend of footy. I'll be sitting in front of the TV. Be about 30 Aussies sitting down watching it. So that's going to be pretty exciting for a couple hours. Have a hit, put my feet up for the rest of the day.

Q. All going to your place?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, going over to another mate's place. Just cram in there. Mess their place up instead of ours.

Q. You've organized cricket matches in the past.

PATRICK RAFTER: The cricket is on, too. I snuck out there last year. Might sneak out again, see what is going on. Australia versus South African cricket. Yeah, if I lost it, I was going to play. I haven't played a game yet. So, bowl a few leggies.

Q. Are you aware that Saturday is a sportsman's day here, the All England invites various sporting personalities into the Royal Box? Did that message filter through to the players area before you went out and played?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not really. But Ted Schroeder showed me the list of guys who were in there. For some reason, he just said, "This is great. Look who is here." Yeah, but I didn't realise it was the day, no.

Q. Which name impressed you the most today?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think I saw Retief. Is that Retief Goosen. Yeah, Mr. Retief. Thought it was interesting. I think Gough was there, as well. But there were a few names I didn't recognize. I just sort of scanned through it very quickly. They had them by the first name.

End of FastScripts....

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