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June 26, 2001

Patrick Rafter


Q. How would you assess your performance today?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty happy. Pretty solid. I always was wondering how Daniel would handle it. I asked him before had he been on centre court. He said no. Probably got off to a bit of a sluggish start. But he was pretty sharp. Second set produced some pretty good tennis. Overall I served and volleyed pretty well. Pretty happy with that part of my game.

Q. What were the emotions coming back onto centre after the last match you played there?

PATRICK RAFTER: Felt a lot more comfortable. Didn't have any nerves or any jitters. Been a few times now I've been on that court. I felt more and more comfortable every time I walk on it. The court is different to the practise courts. My first few shots were in the crowd. Hoped that it wasn't going to continue on. Just getting used to the different pace of the court. But it's a beautiful court.

Q. What did you do between the time you arrived here - treatment on your arm, practise? Anything special at all?

PATRICK RAFTER: I got here on Wednesday and just went straight on the courts. It was really good. I found the positive in losing early there in Rosmalen. Just got on there and hit some balls. A lot of good workouts with Rochey. Got my hour at Wimbledon every day. Settled in really well. Yeah, for the arm, I just popped a few pills and it feels better, I'm back (smiling).

Q. That's not a problem for you at all, the arm?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not at the moment. It feels really good.

Q. You said last week that you felt you had choked in the match last year. As I remember, you had a long flight back to Australia immediately afterwards.


Q. That can't have been a great flight to have so much time to think about what might have been. What are your recollections of how that felt?

PATRICK RAFTER: We had Davis Cup. I didn't really have time to sit down and think about it. Got back Wednesday, played Friday.

Q. You really didn't think back on what might have been?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. Listen, it was a great fortnight. You know, I had my opportunity, and I slipped. Doesn't keep me up at nights. Still won't. It's just a tennis match. It would have been great to have won it. I was nervous, I choked, all of the above. That's the way it goes. You know, I went out there, gave myself the best opportunity. No one died over it. I don't feel, you know, devastated. That's the way it is. I wasn't meant to win.

Q. Where did you get that headband? How long have you been wearing it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Little killer, Paul Kilderry gave it to me. Had kind of a joke over it. He gave it to me in Halle. I decided that I'd wear it. Walked on the court, couldn't bring myself to wear it. Looked like an idiot. Then I thought, "Oh, stuff it, I'll do it." Just sort of got a few laughs from everyone for the first couple days. Everyone knows it looked like an idiot. Don't care anymore.

Q. Didn't lose a bet?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, didn't lose a bet. That's what I said about my hair. People must think I'm crazy.

Q. Does it serve a purpose, the headband?

PATRICK RAFTER: It does catch a lot of sweat. Since I've had the hair short, when I had it long, it was dripping out the back. When I wear hats now, I need to take two or three hats on the court because they get so soaking wet, they just drip off. I've found that the hair, when it sweats, just comes straight -- I don't know what it does, but it doesn't go out the back like it used to. Now it's just sort of a bit of a mechanism to stop it from getting in my eyes.

Q. How much more conscious are you of the hot weather, needing to keep your fluids up, after what happened in Australia? Has it been a factor?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think grass is a surface that - touch wood here - that doesn't create long points and cramping sort of situations. If it does, I'm in a lot of trouble now.

Q. Lleyton said earlier this is definitely your last year. I keep reading "perhaps." He says definitely.

PATRICK RAFTER: Little bugger is making up my mind now for me, is he (smiling)? A good chance it would be my last year, but I really would like to take six months off from the game.

Q. Nothing is definite?

PATRICK RAFTER: Nothing is definite. It was never definite, was it, Leo?

Q. You left it open.

PATRICK RAFTER: I broke the news to Leo in Australia this year. I probably said I'm pretty sure I'm going to retire at the end of the year. You know, as in life, nothing is a hundred percent definite. I've always kept that little window open in case I miss it again.

Q. As it gets closer to the time when you're going to have the break, does it seem more or less likely to you? Has it changed?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've definitely been thinking about it, what it will be like when I retire, what will I do, blah, blah, blah. Sort of pretty excited to have a bit of a life and see if I like it or not.

Q. What sort of things would you do?

PATRICK RAFTER: What sort of things? I don't know. It's secret because I don't know (laughter). I don't know. I just want to wake up in the morning, go for a swim on the beach, might go down and do, I don't know, some Yoga, play a bit of golf.

Q. Would you move back to Australia or do you plan to stay in Bermuda?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll be in Australia after Christmas, then I'll have to see if I want to spend a bit of more time there. I'm sure I'll go back to Bermuda for a few months, as well. Spend the first couple of months over Christmastime, January, in Australia with the family.

Q. Are you under greater pressure this year because of expectations?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think I now know that I have a good chance of winning. Last year gave me that little bit extra confidence going into the tournament knowing that, "Hey, I probably can do it now." So, yeah, I've maybe put a little more pressure on myself. There's always dangerous guys out there waiting to upset the big guys. I never take any match lightly. We all know that anyone can lose to anyone on any given day, especially in this game, men's tennis, as well. I'm aware of that. I'm hoping that that statement I just said won't come true for me.

Q. Have you put any more particular pressure on yourself because it is your last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've had a really good start to the year. I know it was pretty well sure that I wasn't going to go back to those tournaments next year. I'm very sure I won't go back there. I played great in those tournaments. I don't consider it any extra pressure at all.

Q. Did you see much of Andre before you went out?

PATRICK RAFTER: I saw a little bit, yeah.

Q. What did you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, pretty sharp. You're not doing a special on Andre, are you (laughter)?

Q. Sort of.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I thought his hair looked great, a bit of growth coming back (smiling). Yeah, I think, you know, Peter was always someone who was going to give him a bit of trouble.

Q. In light of what happened last week.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, sure. Yeah, I thought Peter was always going to give him trouble, and he did. You know, Andre just, as you expect, played the right points at the right time. It was a pretty solid effort. He's a guy you want to watch definitely for this week, these two weeks, at Wimbledon.

Q. Rivalries in this sport are difficult because it just depended how many times you play somebody. You are now having some big matches in big tournaments against Andre the last couple years. Do you feel a rivalry with him?

PATRICK RAFTER: Gee, I'd just be really happy to get there. If I'm there, I'm probably playing him in the quarters, semifinals, in that situation. Yeah, I mean, I enjoy playing Andre. I think we match up pretty well. I'd really love to say that we had a rivalry going. Unfortunately, I don't think it's fair to say that right now. But it would be great. It would be a great thing to say about each other.

Q. Dosedel, he's beaten you the only time you've played. What do you remember of that match, 1999 Adelaide?

PATRICK RAFTER: I thought I had him once. I know I lost to him. I thought I'd beaten him. He's pretty talented. He sees the ball as well as anyone. I consider him a very dangerous sort of player. Depends on what mood he's in. I've seen him put in some pretty ordinary efforts, and some really great efforts. He's a very dangerous guy, a guy that I've got to be very committed, very concentrated against, play some really tough tennis. That's how I'm going to have to go out there and play. If I'm a little bit loose, if I'm not really there, he'll have a good day, I'm pretty sure of that.

Q. If you were not to win Wimbledon, would you leave with any regrets?

PATRICK RAFTER: Let's ask that question in a couple of weeks.

End of FastScripts....

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