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August 5, 2000

Patrick Rafter


Q. When during the match yesterday did you start to feel a problem?

PATRICK RAFTER: It has been there since Davis Cup. After Davis Cup I took a week off and it was just a lot of fatigue. I got very tired and I think the shoulder is -- it did its job during Wimbledon and Davis Cup, I really did not feel it that much. Then after that it just -- I came back and when I started hitting balls before I went to Toronto I knew then it was little bit sore, but I thought then I could work through it. And I would be able to get through it. It has just gotten progressively worse and worse as the tournament has gone on with a lot of treatment and I just thought if I could get through a few more matches, see what happens and it just never got any better.

Q. Did you go back to the doctor (inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, in hindsight it was a real problem, I should have gone back because I was talking to her quite regularly while I was at Davis Cup and before and during Wimbledon and she said she would have liked to have looked at me. Then at the end, I said about having a the whole day. She said, listen, have a whole day. She had a lot of confidence in the way I summed it up and obviously I misread my shoulder. I didn't -- I wasn't expecting something like this. I thought -- to me, it felt very strong and very stable. I didn't realize the implication of all those matches. So that has sort of set me back a little bit by not going to see her.

Q. Now what is your--

PATRICK RAFTER: I go to Bermuda now. And I start doing the rehab now; been talking to her quite a lot and she kind of assessed it okay. Obviously it would be better if she had a hands-on look at it, but I am pretty sure of the treatment and it really needs rest is what it needs. And something, as delicate as my shoulder, is and has been over the last few months, it really needs to be looked after very well and to rest. That is what I need to do.

Q. Do you know how much rest?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is a pretty week-to-week thing and I really -- I can't commit to anything at the moment, unfortunately. I'd love to say I have got two weeks off and it will be better, but I am hoping I will get a few matches before the US Open, but even that might be a little bit optimistic.

Q. Did she advise you that you were going -- you should pair down your schedule...

PATRICK RAFTER: Yes, but it is very, very difficult to organize a schedule because my whole year has been first round/second round and is it okay, I can go and play as many tournaments as I'd like when you are playing that many matches. Then you can organize your training, your practice, your days off all around that. But when you are playing matches at tournaments, you can't organize -- you got to play the next day. You can't have a day off, when you say, oh, I'd like a day off. That just doesn't happen. So all of a sudden I won the tournament before Wimbledon which I was not going to play, but I felt like I needed matches before Wimbledon. I played Wimbledon and all of a sudden I have had 12 matches in three weeks. And they are not easy matches. And then back for Davis Cup straight-a-way again. You can never count on how many matches you are going to play, so -- and I am not somebody that likes to -- no one likes to pull out of tournaments that you enter, you commit, and that is what you like to do. That is what I like to do anyway. I like to show up for them.

Q. How disappointed are you not to play here because you have had good success here?

PATRICK RAFTER: The hard court season has always been very good for me and this tournament has been great. Especially the last two years, and this is like a catalyst for me for the US Open and this is a bit of a blow for me because I know I am hitting the ball well, I am playing well. And now I have got to just sort of sit back and take it easy now and there -- my mine goal is now try to get ready for the U.S. Open however I can. But when you haven't got the matches and playing tough matches and this is what you get here in Cincinnati. It is a bit of a blow. So it is just -- it is something --

Q. Would you take back the Wimbledon final (inaudible) --

PATRICK RAFTER: No way. That is something that you get your shoulder ready for these sort of tournaments, the big tournaments. Maybe I look back and say maybe I shouldn't have played some of the smaller tournaments, but you never play -- the big tournaments is what you play for.

Q. Can you describe the level of pain? Is it about what it was before you had the surgery?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is in a different area all together.

Q. Oh, it is?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yes, it is from a different symptom. My muscles and everything are strong, like last year they weren't. They got weak. Then it put pressure on the tendon. This year the muscles are strong, but it is fatigue. They are all very tired so it is putting pressure on a different part of my rotator cuff. It is just pain pretty well on the impact of serve and on a lot of forehands. So every time you go to hit those sort of shots in the back of your mind, maybe it is going to be a bit of pain coming with it. And with the -- with my serve, it is just sort of a half-pace, 3/4-pace serve at the moment and you can get away witness on certain courts in Toronto it was great because the ball was kicking and biting and I am sure the same would happen here in Cincinnati for me, although I serve very well here. It is just not worth it. In the long run if I keep this going then I will keep myself out for a few more months.

Q. This isn't - you wouldn't need surgery right now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not right now. Let's say things don't happen in five weeks, six weeks, then I will be getting nervous. But I am hoping to knock this on the head in a few weeks' time.

Q. Maybe Doug can elaborate a little bit more on that particular aspect of it. Do you see this as something that is just a little minor hiccough, you know, rest and get back or?

DOUG SPREEN: I think the hope is that it is a minor hiccough. That is what we are hoping for. I think the one thing to remember about Pat is his shoulder has been through a heck of a lot really over the last 18 months. This is something that has been ongoing (inaudible) you have to remember he had shoulder surgery not many months ago. (inaudible) even after surgery, they come back. The rotatory recovery after shoulder surgery is not six month it is not two months. It is a year or two. It is a gradual progression uphill. That is what we hope to see. The fact that Pat was able to win a tournament on grass; made the Finals of Wimbledon, and then have a very successful Toronto, I think things are starting to come in place for him. But there is definitely no way that he can play the type of schedule that he would like to play. The shoulder is just not in the condition right now that -- it is fine when it is strong. He has got great strength. The fatigue is something that (inaudible) after shoulder surgery is kind of the last thing to get rid off. He built the strength back. These guys go out and hit thousands and thousands of tennis balls. All of a sudden you don't do for a while, the shoulder has got to adapt; has got to learn. (inaudible).

Q. Is it is sort of like somebody who is a weekend athlete and maybe would just go out and play on weekends, you know, they have to build up to the point where -- the muscle just kind of atrophies; is that what you are saying?

DOUG SPREEN: What happens is the muscle fatigues. It gets inflammation in it. It gets sore. The weakness comes in. And that happens. I mean, it is like anything, if you go to lift -- do the bench press, and you do ten times, after that 10th time you can't get it up anymore. It is not because you are not strong, it is because the muscle is fatigued. It is the same thing, in Toronto to watch him serve, you can definitely tell that he wasn't at his -- at nearly at the top of his game with his serve.

Q. Is all this normal? Is it something you would have expected to go on?

DOUG SPREEN: I wouldn't say "normal" because every injury in the shoulder is individual and everyone is different. But I would say that it would be normal that you don't have just a completely smooth progression.

Q. So it doesn't surprise you?

DOUG SPREEN: No, it doesn't surprise me. I have always said this was something you see a lot of times, you see a lot more baseball pitchers get surgery. It is not the first year after the surgery. It is the second year after the surgery that you really look for them to make the comeback and to hopefully be back to 100%. That first year back, it is always a battle for them. I think that is the way it is with Pat, and I think one thing he found out here is that just -- it is not so much the tournaments that you play. It is the number of matches you play.

Q. You wouldn't expect him to be painfree 'til maybe a year after or longer?

DOUG SPREEN: I expect him to be painfree at times, but I don't expect him to be able to play week after week painfree.

Q. You are going to try to play Long Island if it feels better?

PATRICK RAFTER: Totally up in the air. I really think (inaudible) I will probably need to take a week off, ten days from tennis all together and do the treatment and then see how it goes after that. Long Island, if we get another longshot, if I am ready by then, then I will be happy - be ready to play a few matches before the US Open and then go on to the Olympics.

Q. Is the US Open a longshot or you don't know?

PATRICK RAFTER: All I need to do is if I feel my shoulder is right. If it is not right, I won't be fine, it's as simple as that. As Doug said, the first year -- and my goal for this year was to remain injury-free and not let the shoulder blow up again. If I can remain and keep the strength that I have got now and make it stronger; keep a bit of confidence with my tennis which I think is also another important part of it, and keep the ranking so I can get into tournaments; then hopefully next year can be another good year for me like 1997, 1998 and even 1999.

Q. How much do you want to make sure you don't miss the Olympics?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I have never been. I'd like to go. I still think tennis is probably an event that doesn't belong with a number of other events in the Olympics. There are plenty of others that I think should be there, but I can't wait to go.

Q. Because you are an Australian --

PATRICK RAFTER: I think all of that would be nice. I'd love to see a lot of the other athletes too. I think it will be pretty special.

Q. What events would you --

PATRICK RAFTER: I will get in to see any events I can. I don't think we have a choice of tickets. They give you -- "This is what you got, mate." I will take anything I can get.

Q. Who do you pick as the favorite here?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is very hard to pick a favorite in any of these tournaments these days. Pete came off probably three, four really tough matches. (inaudible) The courts are traditionally quite quick. Very hard to not pick Pete as one of the top players. I think you pick Pete as the favorite in any tournament he plays. (Inaudible.). It will be interesting to see how Andre goes. He has got a very tough first round match. Probably lacking a little bit of form right now, but once he gets a bit of form, we all know how dangerous he is. I think Pete is probably the standout guy. He is a guy that everyone would not like to play.

Q. When are you going to Bermuda?

PATRICK RAFTER: I have got a car in 15 minutes to take me out to the airport.

Q. What made you come here today?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I need to come here to get a checkup from the doctors because I couldn't pull out before the draw was done. And I think it is also for the respect of the tournament to come here as well and show up and do what you can. Paul has really been great for me here. So Paul, if my ranking is terrible next year, I might need a wildcard (laughter). I haven't missed a tournament -- I think this is my eighth or ninth time here and I have been here -- I have been here since 1993, so it would have been my ninth time.

Q. Would you have been more upset about the setback had you not had the results you have had this summer?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think so. I really do think so because during the clay court season is very tough time for me. I was taking very little confidence, very little form, very little practice into that tournament, and also with the clay, of am I going to come back and people starting to take it as a bit of a joke again, Rafter is coming back; he is not a bad draw (inaudible). That is not a nice feeling to have around the Tour. It is a bit of fun. I know the guys. That is just the way you feel. That is the way we all used to feel about Michael as well. And Michael now has proved himself that he is coming back, so you want to keep away from Michael again. That is a good feeling. You need that psychological thing with the other players. That is nice to have that back and nice to know that I can come back and the shoulder is capable of coming back and being strong and healthy again. That is what I am excited about and I am glad I have done it once and I know I can do it again.

End of FastScripts....

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