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March 24, 2000

Patrick Rafter


ATP: Questions for Patrick.

Q. How are you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Fine, thank you. It's been a while. It's been good not seeing you guys. Today was good. It was a little windy out there. I didn't try to overhit my serve at all. Just sort of got a lot of high percentage in, coming in for the volleys. Playing someone like Grosjean, whole different story next match.

Q. How is the shoulder?

PATRICK RAFTER: I generally get twinges when I fatigue, during the end of the match. This was an occasion that it didn't get that far into it. But the more I play, I think the stronger the shoulder is going to get and it is getting. I'm pretty happy with that.

Q. Is that as good as you felt since you've come back?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's probably as well as I've played, yeah. I was very happy with that. Sort of reminded me of the way I played against Philippoussis at the US Open. Same style of game. It's as good as I've moved, as well, since I've been here. Everything has just taken its time. It's just part of the course of getting back into it, I think.

Q. You're a pretty patient sort of bloke. Was there anytime when you got a bit worried about it?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, because I was enjoying my time off. I wasn't missing tennis at all. The thing that was sort of getting at me more than anything was the rehab and then the amount of travel I was doing. I didn't want to spend all the time down in Melbourne so I'd fly up to Queensland for three or four days, Sydney for three to four days, back down to Melbourne. I was traveling twice a week, which is more than what I do on the road. That was probably the main thing that was getting to me.

Q. Were you surprised that you didn't miss it or not?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was a little bit, yeah. I thought I would have missed it a lot more than that. But I got to do a few things that I really enjoyed doing. The training was very difficult to get motivated for. I had no goals. Even now, it's just starting to get back into it. My goals are to be fit for Davis Cup. I love playing Davis Cup. I'm working very hard toward that goal. If we can keep winning Davis Cup, I'll continue to have goals throughout the year, I think.

Q. You're obviously moving forward quite well now. Looking back to Cincinnati when you started to get the problem with the shoulder --?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was the French Open.

Q. -- Would you have done anything different after that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, definitely not the French Open. A lot of guys always get twinges in certain parts the body. This is a twinge I thought I could knock on the head. Going into Cincinnati, it was feeling pretty good. I started taking antiinflammatories then pretty well for the first time, although I did take them in Boston for the Davis Cup. I went off them again for Montreal. That was pretty painful there. I thought, I'm going to take them again for Cincinnati because it was quite sore. Probably after Cincinnati was the time when I started feeling the pain. Even though I was taking antiinflammatories, I think the damage was done. I took a week off and tried -- I played Indianapolis, I pulled out. I took the week off before the US Open. That probably should have been the time that I addressed it well and truly then.

Q. If the US Open hadn't been coming up, would you have been more cautious?

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely, I think I would have taken the time off. I was playing well. I thought if I could just get through this, maybe the Davis Cup against Russia back in Queensland, I could take six weeks off before playing a couple tournaments and end the year with Davis Cup again. That's the way I was thinking.

Q. When you have this sort of time away to think about tennis and what have you, careers and life, do you sort of reassess your position and the things you're aiming for a little bit? Do you sit back and think that perhaps you want to go for different things?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I sort of made my mind up anyway that I wanted to start doing very well in the Grand Slams, these big tournaments as well, the Masters Series. I think it's great how everyone is playing them this year. It makes it feel like a Grand Slam, so every match is very competitive and very tough. Also the Davis Cup, these events are sort of driving me, I guess. But while I was having that time off, you know, I didn't really reflect much. I just thought, What in the hell am I going to do if this thing doesn't get better? I wasn't getting too worried about it.

Q. Sorry to sound such a parochial Londoner, but what are you going to do about Queen's this year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Playing Halle.

Q. Is that still because you're pissed off about what happened?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I played Halle last year and I really enjoyed it. It was probably more that I really had a great time there. You know, Queen's, I played it seven years in a row, but I am missing it this year again. I don't really know. Just Halle was a lot more attractive to me.

Q. If that's what you like.

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll be there for Wimbledon, though. I did enjoy my time at Queen's, no doubt about it.

Q. Don't need to make us feel better.

PATRICK RAFTER: You make me feel really bad now (laughter).

Q. When you move like you did today, does it start to make you feel excited that it's starting to happen, or are you trying to contain that?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think I try to contain that because I know that the next day could be a bad day. I'm fully aware of that. I was very happy with the way I stroked the ball today. I've been hitting the ball well for the last week. I knew it was a matter of time before I started coming into my game. I guess today was just a result of a lot of work I've done on court with Rochey and a lot of off-court work. But the shoulder things is a day-by-day thing. I can wake up and it can be quite sore tomorrow, but I'm feeling really confident that it's not going to be. If I get a couple of back-to-back matches, that's when I can find it getting sorer and sorer a lot quicker.

Q. Regarding Davis Cup, there's now three of you vying for two singles places.

PATRICK RAFTER: What a great position that is right now. The way the new system works is that we may put three guys in and put a doubles guy in, and any one of us can play the doubles together. I know Mark and I have played a bit together. I think Lleyton has yet to show his full potential in doubles, and he's done well already. I still think he's very ready. Then you can chuck in the Woodies or Wayne Arthurs or whoever. That's the way I see it anyway.

Q. What if you are the guy, "Sorry, Pat, you're sitting on the bench"?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's fine by me. I can understand that. If I was fully fit, I might be a little upset, if I was playing well. But I can definitely take that and I'll be ready for the next one.

Q. We all know your commitment to Davis Cup. We're not really meant to mention Davis Cup with Greg around. Could you ever envisage a circumstance in which you would be saying to yourself or refusing to make comment about availability for Davis Cup, that sort of thing?

PATRICK RAFTER: There's always -- there could always be something wrong that I'm not happy with, yeah. But while Newc and Rochey are in there, I'll always be available. I have a lot of respect for those guys. I can see how if someone came in that was really bad news to me, which I don't know if there is anyone out there in the Australian camp that I wouldn't be happy playing with anyway. I don't know what Greg's reason is for not playing the Davis Cup. But I'd like to think having someone like that, someone you didn't like or respect there, I still think you should be able to see through that. I'd like to think that I could see through all that and put my hand up and be available for Davis Cup, represent your country.

Q. Presumably you'd have to make that decision, "Am I playing for my captain or Australia?"

PATRICK RAFTER: That's the way you've got to look at it. There's always little things. Maybe you being there, your presence, is a negative, as well. Maybe it's going to drag the rest of the team down.

Q. Do you suspect that Tennis Australia will ask the players their suggestions once Newc and Rochey go at the end of this year?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'd really like to think that we have an input on who becomes the next Davis Cup captain and coach, whether they take the two or whoever. I'd definitely like to be part of that anyway. We were with Newc and Roche.

Q. When will that be done?

PATRICK RAFTER: I have no idea. I don't know. When is Davis Cup next year? Probably not until after the Lipton, I think the first match would be. It may be addressed by Junior Aussie Open. I remember we did it last time with Newc and Roche. They set us all down. I'm presuming probably the same time.

End of FastScripts….

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