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March 15, 2000

Patrick Rafter


GREG SHARKO: Questions for Patrick.

Q. Certainly you'd be disappointed, but I guess you can still take a fair amount of heart out of the fight you put up today and the last couple of days.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, not really that disappointed. I guess in a way. Yeah, I'm just really happy to be hitting the ball pretty well. Shoulder felt okay. You know, I've come away from this match feeling pretty good about myself, yeah.

Q. You were able to stay with him from the back court pretty well.

PATRICK RAFTER: Not too bad. I thought Alex played really well tonight. Sort of hard for me to gauge, because I haven't been on the tour for a while, how my game is right now compared to the rest of the guys. I thought I played pretty well. I was really impressed with the way Alex played as well. I don't know if he said the same.

Q. Very much so.

PATRICK RAFTER: Beauty (laughter).

Q. When it came down to it, what will you pick out as being the one thing that made the difference?

PATRICK RAFTER: He served well today. I've only played him here five years ago, but I would have thought going out on the court that I had a bit better chance of putting more pressure on his serve tonight. I didn't really get that. Alex served well. That's probably the one thing that won him tonight.

Q. He suggested that perhaps because you've not played much, towards the end that you might have been getting a wee bit tired.

PATRICK RAFTER: No, the fitness was okay. It was just the serve. The first two or three serves I served in each game were very flat, nothing on it. It starts to get fatigued, a little bit sore. After I've warmed it up, I'll start popping it a little bit. I wasn't really going for it the first few serves because the shoulders didn't want to. I felt like I was behind in each of my service games. But physically, I felt pretty good. I think I continued to move pretty well throughout the match. It's very hard to go out knowing you're probably going to be down the first couple of points. Puts too much pressure on your serve, I find.

Q. In Delray you were kind of just back, weren't sure how long it was going to take you to be back at your peak. Do you have any more of a sense now? Still too early?

PATRICK RAFTER: Maybe, you know, after Davis Cup, another three or four weeks. I hope for it to be, you know, good and strong, and I can last three solid sets anyway. But, you know, it's still a day-to-day thing. I won't really know. I'll know when it's ready. Right now, I'm just happy to keep it working and I think it will build the strength up as I play more and more these sort of matches.

Q. If there's any one thing that you felt you really had to build on in this comeback, what would that be? Would it just be down to a case of match practice?

PATRICK RAFTER: At this stage, I think it's pretty well just the shoulder. I think if I have a hundred percent confidence in my shoulder, I think I'd have a lot more confidence in my game. You know, I don't often come into a press conference feeling really good about myself after I've lost. So when I start coming in here being really upset and pissed off, that's when you know that I feel like I'm back (laughter).

Q. He said he's a baseliner, likes to play against a guy like yourself who is coming up. Do you like to play against a strict baseliner or would you rather play against a guy who you can hit some passing shots?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I prefer to play a baseliner, yeah, because if someone serve-volleys, chip-charges all the time, it stops me from playing a bit more of my style of game. When I play Sampras, he first and second serves all the time, he doesn't allow me to play my game. Someone like Alex, we match up pretty well against each other. He likes me to come in; I like him to stay back. We're generally going to have a pretty good match-up.

Q. Are you surprised that only 6 of 16 seeds survive?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. It's just so competitive these days. It's good to see. It's been a while since I've been back on and playing. I think the game is starting to get more and more character to it, is what I see. These tournaments, I don't know how many direct entrants, 64 I guess, 64 guys that are all very competitive and very close. You've got Goran who wasn't even in the main draw, is a draw card, a character. It's just good for the game. He's outside that ranking. I think we've got a good 20 or 30 guys on the tour now that are making it a lot of fun. The other guys can go out there and beat you on any given day, as well. I think it's just really good.

Q. What part of your game takes longer to come into the fold, the serve-and-volley part or the baseline part of your game?

PATRICK RAFTER: The baseline I don't really care about too much. Just try to get it over. Serve-and-volley is what I really need to work on, a few little particulars of that. If I'm serving and volleying well, the rest of the game will take care of itself. I think obviously serve-and-volley is what I've got to work on.

End of FastScripts….

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