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January 21, 2001

Patrick Rafter


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Tim Henman thinks you can win this title. Do you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess everyone's got a chance, that's the way I always look at it. Today was one of those matches that make you -- you get a bit more confidence out of I guess. I'd been hitting the ball pretty well, but that was something a bit more exceptional for me today. I didn't know I had it in me right now. It gives me added confidence going into my next match. The guys that remain are playing very well as well so I think I have an outside chance.

Q. John Parsons, Daily Telegraph, London. The fact that you haven't gone beyond the fourth round before, was that an even better point for you? Was it a bit of a barrier?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think it was at the end, I just looked across and went, "Oh, finally." It was relief as much as excitement for me. I was very, very satisfied and very happy with the way I played and where I am right now.

Q. Is that the sort of level you think you played in the last two matches at Wimbledon?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. You know, this is as well as I've been playing I think. This is as well as I've played. The way Tim came out in the first few games, I just thought that score line could have very easily been the other way around if he got off to a good start. And he got his momentum going in the right direction. And I was able to hang in there and turn it around. So it's probably as good as I've played and it's time to pick the game up right now.

Q. Andrej Bucko. How much are you surprised by Dominik Hrbaty beating Safin?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess you have to be a little bit surprised. You'd probably have to, you know, if you're a betting man, you'd probably have to bet on Safin. But Dominik is very, very talented and is playing very good tennis. He's come off a win in Auckland. He's going to be very difficult. He's going to hit a lot of hard balls past me in our match. But I don't know if he's really going to like the way I play either so I'm going to have to try to outserve him with my solid game.

Q. Ubaldo Scanagatta, La Nazione, Italy. The only disappointment of the day must have been to be unable to break your shirt. (Laughter.)

PATRICK RAFTER: I thought I was stronger than that. Reebok make good quality shirts, mate. Very tough. (Laughter.) I cut it with a knife and I still couldn't tear it.

Q. So you hadn't practiced that one yet then?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I hadn't practiced it. I'd done it once before as a tribute to Andrew, we all did it in Boston. This again was a one-off thing for Andrew. He didn't get a chance to do it today. Looks like I won't be doing it again.

Q. How do the conditions here compare with the US Open where you've obviously had a lot more success?

PATRICK RAFTER: The ball jumps around a little bit more at the US Open. It's probably about the only difference. It just hits the court and reacts really well. This court is playing a little bit -- as far as I see -- a little bit more like that than it has in the past. It's definitely not as quick or as bouncy as the US Open. That's probably got to do with the balls as well. But it still is a court that's reacting more than it used to in the past.

Q. Given that you've sort of broken that psychological barrier, could this still be your last Australian Open?

PATRICK RAFTER: Listen, I'm going -- I'll probably take a break at the end of the year and it will be an indefinite break. I really don't know how long it will go for. So, I mean, I'm committed to the whole year. I want another really good year this year, and this is a good start. But, you know, what will happen next year, at the end of this year, you know, will definitely be a break. Whether I come back will be another story.

Q. Do you have a theory on why you've not succeeded here in the past?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, but it might not be the right one.

Q. What is it?

PATRICK RAFTER: I consider my not playing great tennis here is somewhat to do with the conditions at times, the court is played more like an indoor court where I've never really had good results on indoor courts before. Coming off Christmas, I'm someone who needs to work very hard to play well, and probably haven't given myself the best opportunity, enough matches, enough tournament practice, and I think Barcelona's really helped for this year. That is the way I see it. But it might be all in my mind, I don't know.

Q. Do you think then this is the best you've ever been prepared at the Open here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, and I put that down purely to the Davis Cup. Yep.

Q. Do you think you're under any more pressure at home than when you're playing overseas where you've had better results?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, Bruce McAvaney asked me that question today as well. I've come back here to play Davis Cup and I felt that I played good Davis Cup matches back in Australia. I feel that's more pressure than anything. So I don't consider that ever being a problem for me. I consider a preparation being a problem for me in the past.

Q. Did you have a word with McNamee about the conditions this year? Did you talk about what might suit you?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, listen, he's got to be unbiased in the way he does everything, and I've -- obviously if I wanted a court that suited me, I'd want the US Open court and the US Open balls. So, you know, you don't say those sort of things. This is a tournament, he's got to be professional about it. He can't favor anyone. Yeah... Put in a grass court if I wanted a favor.

Q. Have you been coached by Paul to play Tuesday night's session?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know what's going on. I'll leave that up with Tony Roche, Paul McNamee and my brother. They can decide on what they'd like to do.

Q. How many brothers and sisters are here to follow you, I mean out of nine?

PATRICK RAFTER: One, two, three, four... (Laughter.)

Q. Okay, you can see --?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've seen five of them. (Laughter.) Yeah. Actually, it's not that funny. I've only seen five. There's another -- yeah, there's another three and my father. If I can continue, they'll probably make their way down.

Q. You're not very popular in the ticket office?

PATRICK RAFTER: They actually have gotten a lot of -- they're not liking my brother at all. Because he's the one responsible for picking up 20 tickets all the time, and, yeah, I don't think -- they're not happy with me. They like to see me out of the tournament.

Q. There's a report you've got a new tattoo on your leg. Is that the case?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. This is a thing for Scott Draper. He's putting tattoos for the cystic fibrosis thing. Some of the players put them on.

Q. Stick-on?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it comes off.

End of FastScripts....

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