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June 28, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: First question, please, for Pat.

Q. How difficult was the wind out there, also what Slava took to the court?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, the wind was sort of a little frustrating at times because you'd think you'd be against it, all of a sudden, you were with it. Very tough to judge the lobs. We both had a bit of trouble with that. He probably had more trouble with the ball toss. It sort of worked in my favour, I think. You know, Slava is a very unpredictable player. I wasn't quite sure how he was going to play. Sort of tightened me up a little bit because I didn't know what to do, what his weaknesses were, what his strengths were. I was really trying to just study him in the first couple of sets. I probably came out -- I was very tight, just freed up in the last few games. It's good to finish on a good note. I served and volleyed very well again today.

Q. On Tuesday we saw the red band, today we saw the blue one. I wondered what else was in the locker?

PATRICK RAFTER: Whatever my mate Paul has got for me.

Q. Change for the next match?

PATRICK RAFTER: I better get the green and gold for the Rugby Union. If it rains, on Sunday I'll get the maroon for Queensland versus New South Wales in the State of Origin.

Q. Given Pete's struggles yesterday against Cowan, do you think he seems any more vulnerable this year? What would it mean to get another crack at him for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'd love to have another crack. That means I'm in the finals. Love to be back there, mate. Very, very tough tournament. I think it's getting tougher and tougher. I think there are new guys out there believing that they can do it now. It's not just such a one-horse race anymore. I think Pete, it appeared to me he took his foot off the pedal a little bit in that match. Barry took full advantage of it. To his credit, he was great. You could just see Pete suddenly lift his game. I don't necessarily put that down to being vulnerable just yet. I think it's more a lapse of concentration. To Barry's credit, he played very well.

Q. Are you enjoying Wimbledon as much as ever? Has it changed much since you started coming?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess when you first come here, especially for me, I was never really a contender. So I'd always enjoy myself in London. Always could go to the pubs, couldn't you? Now it's not like that anymore. It's strictly business, do what you have to do to get to the next round, the next day. It's very professional. I feel pressure now, whereas before I didn't. It's good to feel that because you know you're a contender.

Q. In your next round you might be playing a Belgian, Rochus. Do you know him?

PATRICK RAFTER: I know he's short (smiling). He's the one that beat Norman last year?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I know him well (laughter). No, I don't know him much. I know he hits the ball great from the baseline. He's obviously very quick, returns well, probably lacking a serve-and-volley game. What he lacks there, he makes up for in speed and good groundstrokes. Did he win the first set?

Q. No, he lost in a tiebreak.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I don't know really a hell of a lot about him. I know some guys said he's very talented. He's a good little competitor.

Q. You're not afraid of him?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, listen, I'm afraid of everyone. I think you have to respect everyone. I'm having a bit of a joke. To be in the third round, if he beats Arazi, he's obviously playing well.

Q. You spoke about the pressure before. How does that manifest itself at a tournament like this? How does the pressure affect you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it really affected me today because I wasn't really sure on how Slava played. I was trying to find weaknesses, trying to find out where I was going to serve, what I'm going to do on returns, from the baseline. I was just constantly sort of studying the match as it went along. When you play someone you don't know a lot about, it always starts off like that for me anyway. But if you come in and play someone like an Andre, you know you have to go for it. Puts you in a different frame of mind.

Q. You just spoke about preparing for matches with guys you don't know. How might you prepare for the next round if you would play Rochus?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess I'll go and ask a couple of guys that know his game, you know, what he does.

Q. That's the way you normally proceed?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I didn't ask anyone about Slava, and I couldn't remember how he played. I don't know, I guess I didn't prepare too well, did I (smiling)? To me, you know, you can play one way. On certain days, certain shots work better for you. You can go out and say, "Ferrero loves a backhand lob." That day he may not be able to hit one in. He has this backhand cross-court going. You go, "Hang on, what am I going to do now?" I think it's always pretty important to be pretty relaxed with that sort of game plan, sort of go out there and assess it yourself.

Q. What's the white mark on your head? We've had people asking because it's picked up on the TV.

PATRICK RAFTER: It's a bit of gray hair.

Q. Is it gray?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. It's not a vanity thing, don't worry.

Q. Can we assume you'll be watching the Lions' first test against the Aussies?

PATRICK RAFTER: When will they be playing?

Q. About 10 in the morning.

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't want to get that pumped up, you know (laughter). I don't want to come down if they lose and try to beat the shit out of some English guy, you know (laughter).

Q. Are you worried?

PATRICK RAFTER: Am I worried? I think it's a 50/50 game. I think the Lions are obviously a very good team. No, I think it should be a great game. I'd love to watch it. Have to see when I'm playing. If I'm playing late, there's a chance I'll watch it. I'll be trying to pull myself away from it. You know, I'll try not to watch it if I can. It's like a sex question now. Control yourself (laughter).

Q. The other night you were talking about retirement. Why would you lean toward it or consider it at such a young age?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think everyone is different. Everyone has their own plans. You know, what might be right for you, might not be right for me and vice versa. You know, it's my decision. I know where I'm going with it. It's just what's right for me.

Q. Have your parents on standby to come back?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. Bad luck (smiling).

Q. Even if you made the final, you'd go without them?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll tough it out.

Q. Away from tennis, is rugby your favourite other sport?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was sort of brought up in rugby league. Rugby Union, you know, whatever is Australian I'll watch.

Q. And the cricket boys?

PATRICK RAFTER: I just caught up with a couple of guys in the locker room.

Q. A few around today?


Q. Who was here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Gilchrist and Ashley --.

Q. -- Nofke.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. From the Sunshine Coast, yeah. I think Pontino and Wall were there. I just caught up with Ashley and Adam just then in the locker room. They're all fired up, okay (laughter)?

Q. You're obviously expecting Queensland to win?

PATRICK RAFTER: The State of Origin?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Gee, I wish. Going to be a really tough match, I think. I'd like to think they will.

Q. Do you think it's a good thing that you've been moved up in the seedings from the entry list?

PATRICK RAFTER: Mate, listen, I'm really happy whatever they want to do. If they want to seed straight off, then seed straight off. I'm a bit of a believer in having a bit of luck with the draw. If you're not seeded, you're not seeded. I think there is a place for seeding for grass and for clay. I think if you're going to do it for grass, do it for clay, as well. I think it's only fair. You know, I think the withdrawals of some of the guys, a boycott or anything, I think it's a total schedule plan, them knowing they're not going to be successful on grass, so why come? I think the schedule needs to be changed around a little bit. Too many clay court tournaments. The guys play all the way through, are absolutely knackered before Wimbledon. They realise that Wimbledon is not a good surface for them.

Q. You seem very relaxed for someone who didn't have the easiest match today. Now that you've made your decision that you're going to have an indefinite break at the end of the year, does it make it easier to play the time you have left?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I guess you can look at it the other way - it could be your last time here, so you want to make the most of it. Just got to try and prepare myself. Always going to be relaxed after you win. I think you're going to be in a bad mood if you lose.

Q. If you do decide to retire, do you want to stay within the game, like Pat Cash in a coaching role?

PATRICK RAFTER: I certainly hope not (smiling).

Q. What about the media?

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely not the media. I wouldn't like to do commentary. I don't think so. You know, the tennis has been my life and my game. I'd like to take a step back and see how much I really miss it, how much I love it. I'm sure, for instance, ten years there will be some capacity that I'll be involved with tennis. I think it's a great sport and I love it.

Q. You said you don't want to do commentary, but could you make one on the match, the young American Taylor Dent is up 5-1 over Lleyton. Can you make a comment?

PATRICK RAFTER: A bit surprised. I know Lleyton is not a big fan of Centre Court yet, but he's going to have to get over that if he wants to win this tournament. I'm a little surprised at that result right now, 5-1 up.

Q. 6-1.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, even more surprised (laughter).

Q. How do you get that confidence out on that court? Lleyton has had some problems out there in the past.

PATRICK RAFTER: Mate, it's not the court. There's a psychological thing. He has to get over that. It's not as if it's a completely different court. Lleyton is too good a player to have that in the back of his mind. I think -- I don't know how seriously he takes it. I hope he doesn't take it seriously, that Centre Court is his nemesis or it's against him. He should be out there performing on any surface. He's too good a player. But I'd like to think that he'll get back into that match. Yeah, I'd still -- if I had to put my life on it, I'd still think he'd win that match. But I'm not putting my life on it (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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