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March 13, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. You couldn't be unhappy with that effort today?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was good today. The singles was great. Started serving well, which I struggled to do. Done a little work with Tony on it over the last few days, as well. Hit the ball pretty well. Played the big points well. All in all, today was really good.

Q. Do you think you played as well in that match as you did in your match against Philippoussis in the US Open? As I remember, you only made six errors.

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, you probably could compare it to when I played him in '97, US Open. Better comparison, when I played Rusedski maybe. Probably easier to compare.

Q. You played them both.

PATRICK RAFTER: But why wouldn't you compare it to the Rusedski match?

Q. I think you made fewer errors against Philippoussis.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it's one of those sort of matches that you don't get the opportunity to play a lot of baseline rallies. The areas that you do make, you might think they're unforced, but they come up as forced on the errors sheet. I don't know. I played solid. It's very hard to gauge your performance on a match like that because you don't get any rhythm. He doesn't get any rhythm, obviously, playing me, as well.

Q. You enjoy serving a big server off the court? That's what you did.

PATRICK RAFTER: It feels good because I've been serving so poorly. I started off the first couple of games with a very, very low percentage. I think I made two first serves out of ten or something. I thought, "oh, here we go again." So it was just a great feeling to serve well.

Q. A couple of weeks ago you were saying how well you were playing, starting in Barcelona through the Australian season. Your serve let you down in Dubai. The way you played today, is that the level you feel you were at at the Australian and Barcelona?

PATRICK RAFTER: Again, I think it's sort of very hard to gauge that performance as well, because of the nature of the match. But I did serve well, and I think -- when I do serve well, I do tend to start playing well. The rest of the game flows a little bit easier. I think it's the same with a lot of people. You can be a bit more experimental on the other guy's serve. Hopefully I continue serving well, I can step up and win those sort of games. Then I think the rest of my game, that should fall into place.

Q. You're playing doubles now, does that say your physical problems are pretty much behind you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, the physical problem is not an endurance thing. It was a problem from salt and a lot of liquid loss. I'm playing doubles because it's just another option there for the Davis Cup in case they want to throw me in. Last few matches I played, I played pretty badly in the doubles. I want to obviously play some more. I've always played well, great singles, when I played doubles. I feel the shoulder is strong enough to support it.

Q. Do you feel the shoulder is close to a hundred percent now?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is, provided that I continue to do my work and take my breaks. Unless I take my breaks, the shoulder will not hold up, it will fall apart. It's as simple as that. I need to take my breaks. Go hard the next few weeks, take a break and get ready for the next big swing through Europe again.

Q. How many weeks can you go without taking a break, not feeling it's going to be a bit dodgey?

PATRICK RAFTER: Now since I'm playing doubles, I'm going to try to play most weeks now. I don't know, maybe six or seven weeks. I'm hoping I can do that because in the past I was doing roughly that six, seven, eight weeks, then I needed about a three-week break to get it right again. This will be another good learning experience to see how I do go with the doubles, as well.

Q. When Rusedski came in here, he made the point that the court is playing sticky, as he put it, that it seems to make your serve even more explosive. He suggested that he thinks you have a good chance of winning this tournament. How would you respond to those remarks?

PATRICK RAFTER: If you look at the field, I wouldn't put my name on anyone. It's just too tough a field here. Everyone's here. Everyone wants to win. This is one of the big ones. I now feel honestly that there are 32 guys out there that can win this tournament, and I'm one of them. I'm going to try to take it one match at a time. I am confident enough of getting through a couple of good matches. If I can continue to serve the way I am, I think the other guys will find it difficult to return it.

Q. A little bit earlier Mark came in and spoke about a tough situation, but he said, "My body and myself has to come first, I have to be selfish, if that means missing Davis Cup, it means missing Davis Cup." Could you comment on that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Listen, you know, we've had a talk about it, the whole Davis Cup team. We've just said, hands up, "Whatever you want to do." We've tried the bickering and the fighting, and it hasn't worked. You know, from both sides, it hasn't helped either of us. We just want to go out there, and if Mark's available, he's available. As simple as that. He's got to be selfish. His knee has got to come first. If he does blow it out, that's another few months off it. He can't afford to do that. No one can really afford to take that sort of time off, especially coming up to the French, Wimbledon, US Open. It's a big three or four months coming up there.

Q. Corretja reportedly had a heartfelt conversation with you about the Spanish fans. What did that mean to you?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was good of him. He came and approached me. Thought that we had a bit of a problem, I had a bit of a problem with him. There were a few things I told him that I thought could have been handled differently. You know, it was good of him to talk about it because it is a sensitive issue. We got it out and there's no worries.

Q. How do you think Brazil will compare to Barcelona?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, mate, you're going to have to ask me that later on. It will be an interesting experience, for sure. Guga and Larry said there will be 10,000 screaming fans and it should be a great atmosphere. We'll see.

Q. Do you like playing in front of those soccer crowds?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, Barcelona was tough. I'd have to say it's more disappointing to see the way people take sport, different culture, than the way we get brought up in Australia. Sort of hard for us to handle at times, but that's the way it is. It does create a great atmosphere and a great tie, even if it is against you, and even if they are bitching and fighting. Every fan that was there at the Davis Cup, even the Australians, just loved it.

Q. Are you saying you feel it goes beyond a sporting fairness?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I think in tennis it does, yeah. I think it goes a little too far. Maybe it's a New Age fan, I don't know. Everything else is changing.

Q. Question about an important subject. What are the plans for your hair, what's the future?

PATRICK RAFTER: I really don't know. I'll just let it go and see what happens.

Q. At this point are you going to let it grow out?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not too long. Probably could be off again quickly. I don't know.

Q. It was an important subject.

PATRICK RAFTER: Very important.

Q. Has Andre Agassi given you any advice about going from a long-hair to a short-hair player?

PATRICK RAFTER: He didn't have much to say on his. He's already receding. I'm not receding.

Q. Have you thought about going Andre's way, all the way?

PATRICK RAFTER: I haven't got a great-looking head, mate. I want to keep a little bit of hair up there, hide it.

Q. Are you still batting mentally around the idea of retiring or are you not going to deal with the thought until the end of the season?

PATRICK RAFTER: Unfortunately it comes to my mind. I would like to think that I wouldn't be able to think about it. But I'm excited about slowing down, that's for sure. That's exciting.

Q. When you're playing well, like you did today, don't you think --?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, you don't.

Q. Don't want to think about it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really. But when you jump on a plane, you think, "God, this is great, I can't wait to stop doing this. Just can't wait to stop going to another bloody hotel room." Done all that, mate. Can't wait for that to finish. When you're on the court and doing the hard work, that's the fun bit.

Q. Have you talked to anyone who has retired, like Mark Woodforde?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think Mark and I probably would be in a different situation. Everyone's different, as well. Some people miss it; some people don't. You have to talk to them individually. Everyone's very different about how they accept it. I really won't know how I accept it until I've done it.

Q. Where do you think you'd spend most time, if it did happen? Bermuda or back at home?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's really hard to say at this time. I would like to spend a lot of time in Bermuda and see how I like that. I have a place on the beach in Queensland, as well. It's going to be pretty hard to leave that place. Right now I'd just sort of play it by ear and see how I feel, see where I fit in.

Q. You were talking about a lot of things changing. What are some of the big changes you've seen since you've been on the tour? Mostly in terms of the fans?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think I was being sarcastic a little bit about the fans. I think things are changing, crowds are changing. Probably being a little bit sarcastic, mate.

Q. You're known for your athleticism, movement on court. Can you describe what it feels like when you're really in the groove?

PATRICK RAFTER: Mate, it's enjoyment. It's being out on the court and having fun. When you're moving well, when I'm serving well, it all comes together. When I move well, this is fun. You can walk off the court, "I got to that ball, he hit it, I ran and got that." It's fun playing that way and I do enjoy it. When all that stuff is in the groove, you can come off a court and lose and say, "That was fun, I enjoyed that." You try to get as many days of those a year as you can.

Q. Does an instance or two come to mind?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it was '98 French indoors against Todd Martin. We had a beauty of a match. Came off, said, "That was great fun." I played great tennis. I lost 7-6 in the third. That was fun, yeah.

End of FastScripts....

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