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May 9, 2000

Patrick Rafter


Q. Pat, is it a question of coming back little by little this time and getting it right, especially on the clay?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I mean I was hitting the ball all right. I found I was able to put one and a half, two sets together, then I've been falling away a little bit. The conditions out there weren't really that favorable for me to play my solid game, and Bohdan really exposed that in the end.

Q. Was it about as slow and heavy as it can get after all that rain?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was pretty heavy, and a few of my serves that I like to do weren't working on the court today. I tried to mix it up, but I found that you had to serve very, very close to the lines and very hard. And that's not really generally the way I like to play.

Q. What is the state of your shoulder right now? Is it completely fine or...?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, no, it's still got a ways to go. But today out there was -- there was no excuse for the shoulder. It felt fine during the match. I probably will find weaknesses as the week goes on and if I'm winning matches. I haven't really gone that far yet, but it will be interesting to see what happens when I get into the five-set matches.

Q. What's the longest workout you've given it on a practice court other than the match today?

PATRICK RAFTER: The other day I hit about three and a half hours, and during the Davis Cup we were training pretty intensively. It's just a matter of after one heavy day it's just hard to pull up the next day. But in the three-set matches, it's been fine, like Lipton -- sorry, excuse me, Ericsson. (Laughter.) Ericsson was a tournament where it felt fine.

Q. Is the weather a factor for your shoulder or not?

PATRICK RAFTER: It just makes it heavier and you feel like you have to hit the ball a bit harder, only for that reason. But it's not good when you stop and start all the time. But, I mean, it only happened once today so it was fine.

Q. So with the French and Wimbledon now on the horizon, what do you give your chances at being 100 percent right with the shoulder by then?

PATRICK RAFTER: Only time will tell I think. We'll just wait and see.

Q. How confident are you about your chances?

PATRICK RAFTER: I -- maybe -- I have no idea. I really don't. I'm hoping it will be right - definitely be right by Wimbledon, but there's a lot of factors that are going to occur before then.

Q. Why exactly didn't you play between the Davis Cup and now? Is it because of the shoulder or because of other things?

PATRICK RAFTER: I had enough, I'm glad to say. (Laughter.) Yeah, my shoulder.

Q. So really, you're still kind of shooting in the dark, are you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, for instance, I mean today it was okay. I mean it was -- there's no excuses for the shoulder today. And every match I've played recently has been pretty good, probably the last half dozen matches I've played have been good. So... So far, so good. But I am a little bit weary about the five-setters. I'll only know when I get into one. That's all the shoulder questions.

Q. So if the shoulder is fine, why after one and a half sets does it seem to go a little bit amiss?

PATRICK RAFTER: It didn't. I went amiss.

Q. I'm not talking about that part of your body that's around there. Why did you go amiss?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was serving very well in the first set and a half, and I -- it was hard to keep that standard of serving up. I kept it in the corners when I needed to, and I hit some really big second serves. It was just a matter of time before his return game would sort of take over in those conditions. It's heavy, slow and you need to serve near the corners. It's very different from here last year, and the balls are heavier, the conditions are a lot heavier. And it's hard for me to play my solid game. All in all, I was pretty happy with it. I played okay.

Q. A little bit of conditioning perhaps?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I was -- I was, you know, I was holding out there in the match. I was struggling. And that's always been a part of my game that's been pretty strong. And since the injury, I've found it hard to get motivated, hard to do -- it's hard for me to do the work again. I've definitely slipped back on my conditioning and my fitness, and I've got to try to find that motivation to get me through, you know, for the rest of the year because it's a very long year coming up.

Q. So what's next for you before the French?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I'll go to Hamburg, we have the World Team Cup after that, and then the French Open. So I hope to, you know, to pick up a couple of good matches anyway and just a bit of confidence would be nice.

Q. This time last year you came about as close as a serve-and-volleyer could get to winning this thing. Given the conditions - the weather's not going to be like this every day - but the balls and everything, is it tantamount or possible for a serve-and-volleyer to win this?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's just a lot tougher here. I've always said in order for me to do very well on the clay, the weather has to be good, the weather has to be hot, it has to be flying, the balls have to be light, and last year was just -- and you have to be playing well and get the breaks. Last year everything happened for me, and I just ran into someone who was just too good on the day in Kuerten. When the conditions are like this, I'm always a little skeptical of how I'm going to go. It's just trying to do my best and work it out and generally come off losing.

End of FastScripts….

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