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January 25, 2001

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Questions for Pat.

Q. Cramps?


Q. It was more the heat this time? Obviously Barcelona was different.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. It was definitely the heat. It was very hot and humid out there. I think Andre and I both felt that it was quite hot. But I don't handle it quite as well, I guess.

Q. How disappointed do you feel right at the moment?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, it's more frustrating to know that I had a chance. I was playing very well, I was very happy with the way I was hitting the ball. To fall short because of some physical imbalance, that's just the frustrating part of it. It's been two of the biggest matches now in my career nearly - fell to cramps. Something that's got to be looked at very quickly.

Q. Is there any chance it could be an occupational hazard of being a serve-and-volleyer, with those sprints?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, that doesn't help. You know, there's a lot of lunging and a lot of pushing off, that sort of thing. But, you know, there still has to be another answer. I do sweat very heavily. I did feel it tonight. My shoes, there was a lot of sweat coming out of the shoes. I just knew after about the first set that it was going to be a long, long night for me. Sometimes I can control the sweating and I guess my intensity during the match. That sort of helps me relax a little bit better. But tonight was not one of those nights.

Q. The fact that your body did break down again in a really big match like Davis Cup, does it in a way make you think even more seriously about giving it away at the end of the year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Cramps are very different than an injury, you know. It's not the reason why I want to give it away, because I'm cramping. So I don't look at it like that.

Q. Did you really feel in a position to win at the end of the third set, or did you feel it was only a matter of time?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. In the tiebreaker, I felt the cramps coming on. I went, "Oh." It was frustrating. I thought, you know, "Maybe I can still somehow get through it or get by." I called for Per after the first game in the fourth to come out after the 2-1 game in the fourth. I knew I was in a lot of trouble then. I was definitely in a good condition, yeah. I was in a lot better position than what he was.

Q. Is that what is so frustrating about him, no matter how down you might have him, even if you're physically well, he's always there, just never goes away?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, the first set I played some great tennis, 7-5. The only time I got a free point on my serve is when I aced him. He just made me play, lunge, move. He was returning great. I was serving well, I thought I was hitting the ball well. I finally cracked at 5-All, the 5-All game. I couldn't keep up with that pressure he was putting on. I came out in the second, third, obviously a little different. My serve was probably a little bit slower, but I got a very good percentage in. It sort of mixed the pace up on it a little bit. Then I was away again. But Andre makes you work very hard out there, and that's what he did well tonight.

Q. What was going through your mind in the fifth? Was it, "Let's just get this over and done with," "Hang in there, maybe he'll twist an ankle"?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Sounds bad, but, you know, you never know. You don't wish that on anyone, you know, to injure themselves, that sort of thing. But you never know what might happen out there, and you've got to try. I wasn't going to walk off possibly playing my last match of the Australian Open with an injury. I was going to play it out, whether I lost 6-Love or whatever I lost it. But I was going to play it out. That was pretty well what was going through my mind. But I knew I was buggered.

Q. In another match, another place, might you have called it quits?

PATRICK RAFTER: The Davis Cup was a little different because you know you've got another match and you've got to try to save yourself. That's what I was doing there. No, I probably generally try to see them through, yeah, just cop it on the chin.

Q. It's pretty devastating for you, obviously for the crowd, to see a great athlete like yourself struggling to chase balls down which normally are easy for you.

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know what was going through their mind. It is tough when you want to chase it down, but your legs just seize up. My heart feels fine. It feels like it wants to run. I want to run, but my legs just won't do it. If I try to push off, I just seize up and they cramp. Yeah, it is disappointing for the public and myself, I guess. You never know what kind of reaction you get. But they were great. I guess they understood the situation there. It was still a really nice reception at the end.

Q. Have you seen any other player make only 12 unforced errors in five sets?

PATRICK RAFTER: You know, I was listening to Andre, how he summed it up. I think he summed it up pretty well. There was a few passing shots and lobs that he felt, "I missed that, that feels like an unforced error." That's what he thinks. Yeah, the stats can sometimes be a little bit misleading. But he was very solid. He made me play a lot of balls, you know. He really wore me down very well tonight.

Q. If you were listening to Andre, you probably heard him say he's going to have a little chat with you about this retirement thing, that you have plenty of life. What do you plan on saying back to him? How amused are you about that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, commented straight after it as well. I didn't talk to him just then, just in the locker room we were laughing about it. I never really want to say this is definite retirement. I'm going to take a long break and see what happens. If I want to come back, then I'll come back. But I don't want to come back from retirement. I want to come back from a retirement, if I want to come back. I'm committed to this year. I'm ready to play this year. I want to do well. I'd love to be able to leave the game saying, you know, "It was a great year and I'm glad to leave the game." But it's been my life for so many years that it may come back to me. You know, it's always going to be in my blood. I might want to pick it up after six months or a year again. I'm not getting any younger, though (smiling). But at this stage, you know, it was still a great tournament for me, and it could very well be my last one here, yeah.

Q. Do you have any thoughts what you're going to do during your long break?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I'm sort of excited about it. Yeah, I'd always stay very fit and that sort of thing. But just golf and relaxation. You know, I really want to get away from it for a little while and then settle down and see what I want to do. But, you know, I'm someone who I try to put life in perspective a lot. Tennis has been great, but it's not my whole life. I do have a life outside of tennis. It's something that I would love to get involved with.

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