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March 29, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Pat has withdrawn from his doubles match later today. Suffering from tendinitis in his right wrist.

Q. You looked like you played great?

PATRICK RAFTER: I played very well. Very sharp, first few games I was probably fortunate to get out of on my serve, down two breakpoints, had it got off to a 3, 4-Love start, it would have been very difficult to get back into that. But, I got through those games and the match pretty well, turned completely in my favor after. That-- that was his mistake for not taking advantage of those chances when he had them.

Q. How did you get so much stronger on the ground? Was it a conscious effort working at it month after month?

PATRICK RAFTER: I contribute this a lot to John Newcombe and Tony Roche and the work we did in Barcelona.

Q. Which was when?

PATRICK RAFTER: Last year when we were in Marbella for two weeks training for the week in Barcelona for Davis Cup. We did a lot of work, four hours a day on the court just hitting ground strokes and working on that, and how can we beat these guys from the back line on clay, and it is starting to really show in my game. Just added another dimension to my game which is something that is really enjoyable for me to go back to if things aren't working well with my strengths.

Q. Does it make sort of the bits that didn't work, work better? Is it a smoother feeling to your whole game?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just more of a complete game, I think. There are times when things don't work and there are times when everything you try does not work and you are very confused on the court. That is a frustrating time because when guys are out there they can sometimes make you look confused. So-- but right now I feel very confident with my all-court game. When I am from the baseline, I am feeling like I can now start controlling the points. Today was tough though, the conditions are tough and Roger found the wind not to his liking as much and I gave him a different pace ball too than most other guys so...

Q. How well did you feel you played today?

PATRICK RAFTER: Exactly how I wanted to play. I played solid; made him play a lot of games. I put him under a lot of pressure on his service games all the time; got to a stage where I started to hold my serve pretty comfortably. I couldn't have asked for a better scenario in the whole match.

Q. When you attack as relentlessly as you do, it takes a certain amount of concentration, you have to focus point on point. Being able to play from the back if you need to regroup -- did you ever need to take a mental breather, give yourself a little time to play from the back so you can pull yourself back together?

PATRICK RAFTER: A lot depends on how the match is going. The way I like to start out, I go full board, everyone, and say, if you can beat me in this, that is great. When they start doing that I have to start changing my game there a little bit. But, if you can come up with a lot of winners and a lot of make-me-stretch-plays, a lot of tough volleys, you are probably going to do very well against me. I am going to make it tough for you.

Q. You have played Agassi a lot. Quite a bit. Have you ever played Ljubicic?


Q. Who would you rather meet then?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I really enjoy playing Andre, whether you win or lose. We tend to match up pretty well and these courts are great for him right now. But if -- probably prefer to play Ivan Ljubicic to get through to the next round.

Q. What do you know about his game?

PATRICK RAFTER: He has got a big serve, great serve, very nice serve. From the baseline he is pretty aggressive, but, you know, I think I can deal with that, trying to get his serve back over.

Q. Talk a little bit about the Australian Open, the match against Andre?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was playing great. I was playing really well. I couldn't again ask for a better match. We were playing great tennis. It was fun being out there. Just disappointing to cave in the way I did.

Q. Would you play a little differently -- did you have a different --

PATRICK RAFTER: Trying to get all your questions in?

Q. How would you face this match? How would you go into it?

PATRICK RAFTER: The same way.

Q. How close to your comfort zone are these courts? Where do you rate these courts vis-a-vis your ideal hard court?

PATRICK RAFTER: It suits my serve well. It kicks well. Probably not enough speed on the court though for me on my serve. I'd like a court that had the speed like in Indian Wells, like a U.S. open, my perfect court. It kicks high and it is a quick court and a quick balls. These balls are getting very heavy. Probably don't suit my game as well but from the baseline it really helps me to get into the point. But where I'd like to be right now is getting to the net and playing the volleys, some quick balls and quicker conditions are obviously better for my game of the -- the way I am playing right now is probably 90%, I'd probably prefer to play on this court than many other ones.

Q. What about the conditions in terms of the wind, does that hurt your game when you do go to the net as far as --

PATRICK RAFTER: The wind is something tricky. It can sometimes help you; sometimes it doesn't. I haven't yet come up with a conclusion that it helps me or helps the other guy. I think a lot depends on the day and how you are mentally but you have to be very patient. Few balls out there you go to hit and they stop and they drop and it can be frustrating. I think the main thing being out there is being patient.

Q. Given the improvement in your groundstrokes recently how much more confident does that make you about playing Brazil in the Davis Cup?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, well Davis Cup on clay is a whole different game again. But I feel like I can now be a threat from the baseline and be aggressive and have some fun out there when I do play someone like Guga or Meligeni. I think when I get on the clay a lot depends on the serve and volley game of mine. That is the main -- if I serve and volley well, then I play great on clay. If that is slightly off then I can get hurt on clay pretty badly.

Q. How do you see the balance at the moment between playing big matches here and practicing on clay?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't think there is any student to match practice, whether you are playing here or down there training. I still think at the end of the day you want to be here playing matches, competing, getting confident and get down there, you get five or six good days on the clay, that is the ideal preparation.

Q. How is your wrist at the moment?

PATRICK RAFTER: It has been good. It has been holding up pretty well. I am on anti-inflammatories for it. That is something that I don't like to take. I have been on that now for the past couple of weeks. And it is something that I am going to have to knock on the head but I just don't have time. While I am continuing to playing tennis and training it is aggravating it. It is not good for it. And classic tendinitis, if you don't look after it, or if you continue to play through, it will just continually get worse and worse. And it is -- I want to get through to Brazil, play Brazil; then take a few weeks off and see how my wrist goes, if it does need attention. If I do continue to play with it, it will be a problem that, you know, will never go away or might require surgery.

Q. Is this just bad timing for the injury considering that you have been playing so good?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is an injury that I have been able to maintain. It is something that is progressively getting slightly worse and worse and I just don't want to deal with it right now in the doubles and go out and play another match on it and risk or sacrificing a possible result in my favor tomorrow night. It is just not worth it. Doubles have been great. I have really enjoyed it. I would have loved to have played and Lleyton would have loved to have played. We come in here. We don't know how we are going to go in the doubles or the singles. You sort of play it by ear. It is very hard to play singles and doubles. You just don't see the guys doing much of it anymore.

Q. You have and Tony have been together for a long time. Can you give us your impression of what he does and still keeps you motivated and how the partnership works?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I think his dedication and commitment to me has been superb. As someone -- I guess, you know, all coaches are like that with their pupils, I just have a lot of respect for Tony. I think that is very important if you are going to work with someone, you have got to respect the guy. And I respect Tony, you know, like a brother or like a father. So it is something that when you are on the court you are not just playing for yourself but you are playing for Tony, if you put on a poor performance, Tony is going to be upset as well. You just can't do that. And it is a good feeling being out there playing. And he is I think the greatest coach in the world. I don't think anyone -- obviously I can't say you know how good he is or he is, but to have done what he has done with me, I think he is the greatest coach in the world.

Q. Can you just perhaps a mention a couple of specifics regarding what he has done for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, a lot of it is good for my mind as well. He is very calming, he is positive and he is good tactically as well. He will tell you just one or two little things but he doesn't try and fill your mind with a lot of things. He is simple and it keeps your mind clear. I think that is very important. That is probably one of his biggest attributes as well. But he knows what to say and when to say it. He says all the right words. I think we have a good communication over the years we have been working together.

Q. You said a couple of years ago that you didn't really want to travel with a permanent coach that, you know, having to keep him happy and deciding where he was going to go to dinner that night wasn't really a problem that you wanted. It is not quite like that with Rochey, it is different?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it is. We are good mates and he is not travelling that much and he will do the swing from the French Open through to Wimbledon and then he will be off for quite a while again. So we are not seeing a hell of a lot of each other. When we do it is great to see him and hang out. He is a good fellow to hang out with. He really is easygoing. And he is a good mate, I really enjoy hanging out with him. I'd go for a beer with him. Yeah, good to be around.

Q. Considering the improvements that you made on your groundstroke do you think that that will help you just adding that element to your game against Agassi if you face him again?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't think I could hit the ball any better than the way I did at the Australian Open against him. I was playing great and I was -- but not just playing great, I was feeling great and I was having fun and that is the stage you want to try and get at when you are on the court. With Andre you need to be able to do that. If you have got to a chance of winning you need to be hitting the ball very well. So I am taking that confidence in with me and I know that I have to be aggressive from the baseline.

Q. After you feel that moment that you will, you know, in that game, how often do you feel that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Confidence from the baseline?

Q. No, just, you know, you keep referring to that match against Agassi where you did lose but you felt it....

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I just felt like I could have won and to beat Andre in Australia, he plays very well down there and I haven't had the success I would have liked to have had down in Australia, but I just felt like it was a court now that I could have played very well on and I was playing well on and I was beating Andre when he was playing great tennis as well. And I was playing great tennis. And it just makes for a good matchup. I just -- I really enjoyed playing him. As I said, you come off, you win, you lose, you feel good about it because you know you have had a good match and it is good for tennis.

End of FastScripts....

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