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January 17, 2001

Patrick Rafter


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Pat Fiona from Fox Sports. Tough in some ways?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, in a lot of ways. It was -- I never hit the ball well from the word go. He sort of kept me on the back foot a lot. I just couldn't get my momentum going forward, and my serving wasn't as sharp as it was the other day and I knew I had to pick that up if I was going to win. But I definitely saw defeat there at some stages through that match.

Q. When did you feel like you had the match, the last point?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty well. Even when I served for the match, he's one of those guys that swings on returns quite a bit. I probably took a little bit off my serve and missed a couple of first serves. He took advantage of that. So to his credit, he got back in the match. And I played a good breaker there.

Q. It was quite swirly when you played Scott. Was it as bad out there today?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, against Scott it was also going the one way, pretty steadily. But at times the wind would pick up, and he handled the conditions probably better than what I did today.

Q. The match, I mean, the four-setter now. It's given you that extra set. Is it good to have matches like this or do you prefer to stick to three?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it would have been nicer to have come off the court and say, "Wow, it's another great match, I think I'm on track." It sort of sets me back a little bit I feel. I have to go out there tomorrow in my training session and look for a good quality workout and work on the things that I wasn't so sharp on today. If you want to win a Grand Slam, you have to be hitting the ball very well. You can't play matches, too many matches where you're not hitting the ball well and expect to win. But I did what I had to do today, so that was a good thing. It's always good to walk off the court and know that you didn't play your best tennis but you got through.

Q. In saying that, what was your main problem do you think today? What's the one thing you think you do need to work on?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was a little bit defensive from the baseline today. I let him control me, and that's not the way I like to play the game. I like to try and be in control and -- but to his credit, he did keep me back. He did keep it very deep and didn't allow me to dictate any of the points on the baseline. So he did do that very well.

Q. Paul Malone, if view of Davis Cup final, was there any sort of special (inaudible) -

PATRICK RAFTER: No, it made us all very different. The conditions are very different. No, I mean, it's just a very typical thing that happens in tennis. You can go out there and you're No. 4 or 5 player can beat a No. 1 from any other country at any given time and vice versa. It depends on the surface, it depends on the conditions, and certain players like certain conditions. But it is very entertaining to watch Andrew play, and everyone enjoys it.

Q. On that issue, I mean it seems like Andrew's very demonstrative involvement of the crowd gives him something. I know it's not maybe your personality, but is it something that's -- that's a tactic, that's something that could be used here?

PATRICK RAFTER: It is. I was talking to a guy on the piss trough today, I was talking about that. (Laughter.) We were laughing. And anyway, we just said that, hey, how can you go out there and play like that in those conditions and keep winning. We're just laughing, laughing at the way he plays and the way he draws a crowd in and how entertaining it is. It's also a distraction for a lot of players. I find it a distraction if I'm trying to do that all the time, and it's just not my nature I guess. I mean, we just said, you could probably play half a dozen tournaments like that a year with that sort of intensity, that getting pumped up. There's no consistency to it at all. At the same time, I said it's great to watch. He plays well here every year and he's a lot of fun. And he's great. He's got a cult following down here. He's really good.

Q. If you got to the final, he invited them into the match, they got there. Would you, in a circumstance, want them that much in your corner like that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Listen, there are certain times when it calls for it, for me, you know. I'm only talking on what works for me or what works for Andrew doesn't work for me. And what, you know, vice versa. So I draw on it after a big point or when they're saying, "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" as you walk out, they're yelling and screaming when it's 4-all in the fifth, or 5-all, that's when I draw on it. I'm probably more secretive with my intake of it I guess than what Andrew is.

Q. Did you find it a lot better, more crowd support today, obviously not playing another Australian? Did you notice it more?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, the crowd are great. I enjoy it. I think the crowd this year are more jovial than I've ever seen them as well. It's become a good social event to go to, as much as watching -- sitting down watching the tennis, watching the festivities out in the park the other day, the karaoke, whatever is going on. That's just a lot of fun. That's something that's added to the tournament.

Q. Is there anything particular the crowd can say or do that gets you going during a match?

PATRICK RAFTER: Again, it depends on my mood as well, what I'm looking forward to. If I know I have to control my nerves or control what I'm feeling inside, I'll sort of go into myself a little bit and then it all depends. You know, yeah, I just -- yeah, I mean whatever gets the crowd involved. I mean everyone gets up and does it, I think that makes it a lot of fun. When they all get involved, it creates a really good atmosphere in there and it's a nice court to play in. The noise really comes down.

Q. Hasn't been a great tournament for you in the past. You've said sometimes you come here, you felt as the main Australian, you had to perform. It's obviously good for you now, Lleyton's playing well, the two other Aussie boys, Wayne and Andrew. So it's not affecting you as much, doesn't seem to be?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess it was really good for Lleyton to win last night for me as well. Not just for Lleyton, but for me. I was sitting there, I'm always going to go for him anyway. I guess it was that little bit extra there, I'm saying, "Please win," you know because it does take a bit off me at the same time. But, you know, it's stupid to look at it that way as well. From my point of view, I should be just concentrating on what I've got to do. Andrew in the past has had good performances here. He's always been good entertainment as well. And Wayne, it's great for him.

Q. Do you know who you will be playing next?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I play a Swiss guy.

Q. Do you know much about him?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not yet. But I can find out a bit more. This young kid I played today, I knew nothing about. But this one's been on the scene a bit longer so I'll find out from other people.

Q. Is that what you do, Pat? I know John was saying in the interview, in the Davis Cup interview today, he said we'll go out and ask other players how people play. Is that what you do?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, you get on, you find out what they do, what they like, what they don't like. At the same time, you can't go in there with that soul purpose, that's his weakness, it's always going to break down. Certain days you hit shots better than others. I know that. So you just sort of put it in the back of your mind and you play your game and maybe call on that when he gets a bit tight, their weaknesses.

Q. Just on the subject of crowds again, I mean Lleyton seems to have annoyed some of the -- talk-back radio people. There were a few bleeps over some of the audio on TV. In your opinion, is it something he needs to get right in his game, certainly he does seem to annoy a few people still.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think Lleyton is always going to have that problem that people don't like what he does. And I can see their side of it as well . Listen, Lleyton's in my corner I guess, so it's sort of hard to say anything. All I know is that I operate differently. And Lleyton's got to do what works for him. He's one of these guys that he knows that and if he knows it's going to work for him, then he will do it. Regardless of what anyone thinks or says about him, he will just do what he has to do to win. And he's got a lot of -- I guess you need that, you need to really look after yourself out here; it's too hard. Yeah...

Q. Have you changed in the years you've been on the circuit in your way of thinking, like you're one of the boys, you were hanging out, as you get older?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think so, Coach. I've sort of settled down a little bit. I don't think I would have ever won the Sportsman of the Year Award a few years ago, five or six years ago, bit of a brat. Even as a kid, I was a real mongrel as well. So, you know, things change I think with age, and they certainly have for me.

Q. With the major titles, how much did --?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I guess it relieves pressure off of you as well. You don't feel like you have to go out and perform in the way like, "You have to win this, you have to win this one." I feel like I can go out there and enjoy myself now because I've done the work and this is a bonus.

Q. Hugo Ribeiro, Portuguese Tennis Magazine. You said two days ago that you were able to serve out of the striking zone of the other players this year more than before. Would you say that as far as the condition of play goes, this is the best Australian Open you ever found and in that sense do you feel it's the best chance you have?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I'm just going to have to sharpen up though and I'm going to have to play better to get through my next round. You know, I feel pretty confident. I'm happy with the way I've sort of finding a way to win and doing the right things. Today was one of those matches, and the conditions here have been good, I think, for me and, I mean I think it's a pretty standard pace court. It's not overly quick. It's not jumping overly -- like the US Open or certain conditions at a French Open, for instance. So I think the conditions are pretty consistent, but I have enjoyed them a lot more this year, the way they work, than I have previously, that's for sure. I give myself an outside chance now. I'm down to 32 players, so I do consider that as a chance.

End of FastScripts....

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