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March 26, 2001

Patrick Rafter


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. How well do feel you played?

PATRICK RAFTER: I played well in patches. I went to sleep a little bit. The intensity dropped. I was pretty relaxed the whole match. I knew in the third set I had to pick it up and be a bit more consistent and be - what's the word? I was just playing a little bit lazy, not really committed in the second set. That's for sure. First set was sort of just working each other out. In the third set -- but it's dangerous doing that. It's dangerous letting him get back into a match like that because he can get a bit of confidence and that result can be the other way around very easily.

Q. Did you feel any danger after the second set?

PATRICK RAFTER: There's always a sense of danger, yeah. I had to get up there and serve. But I served pretty well the first couple games, put some pressure on him the first service games. I knew I was well in it.

Q. That was a strong finish out there. On a very hot day, that's a strong finish, isn't it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was. It was good. As I said, I needed to pick up the intensity, I did. It's sometimes hard, you know you have to do it, it's sometimes hard to do it. When you're in that sort of frame of mind, I was really happy with the way I got back up.

Q. What about the weather? When you're sitting in the stands, it feels like it's 84, 85 degrees. I suspect it's hotter when you're on the court playing?

PATRICK RAFTER: I reckon it's hot. I hate watching matches in the sun. I feel it's very, very hot. When you're out there playing, your sort of concentration's on the match. You're sweating, you're cooling yourself down. But it must be just brutal in the sun out there watching as well.

Q. You feeling okay for the doubles?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, bloody oath. Yeah. I'm ready.

Q. Tired?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not at all.

Q. What about playing Alex next, you've beaten him recently. That must help, does it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was very good conditions for me last -- on that last -- in Indian Wells. I served a very, very high percentage in the second and third set. I think I served 80, 85 percent in two sets. And so I mean I'm going to have to go out there and play at a very high standard to beat him again. He'll probably try something different out there. He's a smart player. He knows what it's all about. He might come out with a few different tricks. I have to go out there, assess it in the first set and see what's going on.

Q. Do you have to make any technical adjustments from a right-hander to a left-hander?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really. I just -- when I play someone who's a lefty like that, he's a little bit like a Jeff Tarango, Meligeni, they swing their serve a little bit instead of hitting a serve. It becomes quite tricky to return a serve like that. They put a bit of spin and height over the net. It's definitely different to a right-hander. It's a bit trickier. I'm looking forward to getting back to playing a right-hander.

Q. This is the third time you've played Alex, and they've all been during big tournaments. Does that have a subconscious way of putting you in a mindset that you have a very big match coming up? You know with Alex it's going to be a big match?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it's going to be a tough match. I'm just going to pretty well address it like any other match, though. I don't look at it any differently. It's not the biggest match of my career. It hasn't been the biggest match of my career. I'm not going to be out there panicking or anything. I'm playing very relaxed and pretty confident right now. I'm going to go out at that same stage -- same frame of mind and hopefully I'll play well again.

Q. Is there one thing in particular in Alex's game that you have to neutralize out there?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, if he serves a very high percentage of first serves with that big serve, he's going to be very tough, very hard to make a lot of serves though when you serve that way. He's very hard. He's very flat. When I played him in Indian Wells, he returned just beautifully in certain games. You just had to be very careful. He was swinging and just making great returns. For a while there, he was just far too good for me. So if he comes out hot like that, there's not much I can do. I still got to play my game and he knows what he's going to get from me.

Q. Will the conditions here be a little slower, though?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, definitely slower. Probably going to be, you know, favorable to him. But I'm very, very happy with the way I'm hitting the ball still so I still think I have a good chance.

Q. How do you feel physically?

PATRICK RAFTER: So far, so good. Yeah, I'm enjoying playing singles and doubles, I just feel like it's just a bit of extra fitness work and a bit more fun out there. Otherwise, I have to go out there and hit balls and I don't want to do that. And it's good for Davis Cup as well, you know. Just helping on the fitness, I've got five-set matches over there. So that's why I address this doubles match and just try to learn a little bit about Lleyton and myself and see if we might have an outside chance of combining for the Davis Cup as well.

Q. In getting this far in the doubles, is that like a bit of a bonus for you, do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think it's just -- it's important, you know. We're just learning a bit more about our games more than anything. That's the good thing about it. And whether I play with Lleyton or whether I play with Wayne or what we're going to do there, we don't really know. But I mean, it's just good to have an understanding of Lleyton's game as well for that very reason.

Q. Do you know when Fitzy's going to announce the team?

PATRICK RAFTER: We won't know the team until Wednesday. There will be guys playing off all over the place for, you know, probably for the four spot anyway at least. As far as I'm aware. But yeah, I mean there will be -- there's no set grounds on that yet. Probably till Wednesday.

Q. So it's you and Lleyton and Wayne so far?

PATRICK RAFTER: Looks that way.

Q. As a man who's not a creature of the night, do you have any special influence here in playing -- getting you to play day matches here?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's why I play doubles. (Laughter.) So I cannot play night matches.

Q. You're a very sly man.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I learned that in Delray. I try to avoid night matches as much as I can. Every now and then they throw you one. Every now and then you deal with it. I just don't like them.

Q. Why don't you like night matches?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. Just don't really like it. It's a little bit slower. The ball comes off the court, reacts differently, doesn't get quite that same bounce. Sometimes it's hard to pick the ball up at night as well.

Q. Bjorg used to hate playing at night. He said he couldn't see the ball properly. Is it the same sort of thing?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it is. I find I lose my rhythm at night as well. When you go from a night match back to a day match the next day, which invariably happens sometimes, it's very difficult to make that transition. It happens a lot of times. It's not a nice position to be in, having to do that.

Q. Just want to be clear on one thing, when you said I'm not a creature of the night, that didn't extend to things beyond tennis, did it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Going out and partying, is that what you mean, Charlie? You better make yourself clear, mate. This is on record here.

Q. Well? You didn't answer me.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, you didn't have a good enough question. (Smiling.) That's a news-of-the-world question. I don't go out much, no. Not very much. Thanks. (Smiling.)

End of FastScripts....

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