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January 15, 2001

Patrick Rafter


THE MODERATOR: First question for Patrick, please.

Q. Paul Malone. (Phonetic) It looked to be a very good first round. Looked pretty sharp.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I knew I had to be sharp. I'm trying to think back to how I was playing at Wimbledon, how intense I was in the first few rounds, and just try to cut out all the errors. For me to play well here, for me to have good results, I'm going to need to really knuckle down, play well, serve well, volley well and get myself an opportunity to their serve. That's exactly what I did today and I'm very, very happy with today's result.

Q. If you win the Australian Open, do you think you'll still retire this year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Maybe I might retire straight after it. (Laughter.) But the -- oh, mate, who knows what will happen then? I mean, that's a long way away. It's six matches away, and six very, very tough opponents. It just keeps getting tougher as well. I don't even think about that right now, but I'm committed to this year and I've made my commitment to tournaments and I'm ready to play for the whole year.

Q. Good luck.


Q. David James. (Phonetic) Have you changed your training from last year? Have you sort of --?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not really. I've been working with Tony now for many years. Now it's more just one-on-one with Tony. I think I'm hitting the ball pretty well at the moment. I think that's because at the end of last year I did play a lot of tennis, although I did take a couple of weeks off all over Christmas and didn't start hitting the ball until nearly the beginning of January. I still felt like I had all that tennis behind me from early December. So I don't -- I don't see any real drastic changes in my training schedule.

Q. Did you enjoy yourself out there today?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. You know, it's always very nervous going out there and playing. You want to win, and so that's on your mind. That's pressure. So you got to deal with that and try to enjoy yourself in a funny sort of way. So my main -- it's very hard to sort of separate the two because the pressure definitely overrides the enjoyment part of it. But when you come off, that's when it becomes enjoyable.

Q. Just wondering, is it hard to overcome an Australian player rather than an international player?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it's a bit of both. Scotty's had a good record against me in the past. I don't think I've beaten him -- probably about 12 years since I've beaten Scotty, back to junior days. I remember the first match, he was about 7 and I was 9 and he beat me back then. But it is tough, and that's why I knew I had to sort of block all that out and do what I had to do. I think Scott struggled with it more than I did today. Maybe I've been through that more times than Scott. I went through it at Wimbledon and I probably learned my lesson at Wimbledon in '97 when I played Todd Woodbridge, the year I lost to him. I was probably a little bit kind to him and myself. And I vowed that I'd never let that happen again.

Q. The tennis balls are six percent bigger this year. Do you feel a difference out there on the court?

PATRICK RAFTER: I did not know that.

Q. Do you feel the difference out there with the bigger balls this year?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've not heard anything about the bigger balls.

Q. You don't notice any difference from last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: I wasn't here last year. But I don't know anything about the bigger balls. I don't know if that's a fact or not. Is that a fact you're saying?

Q. It is.

PATRICK RAFTER: Nice of them to tell us. (Laughter.) But, you know, the balls are quite lively still. I actually haven't noticed it. No.

Q. How were those conditions playing in comparison to how they were when you last played here? How do those conditions impact on your game?

PATRICK RAFTER: I find the surface probably kicking a little bit more. I remember struggling a lot against Thomas Enqvist in particular two years ago, where I found that my serve was continually going into his hitting zone and I find that when I do kick the ball I can get it out of the player's hitting zones. Today I was able to do that. At the same time, I had a high percentage, mixed my serve up well today, and if there is any change to what I've seen two years ago, I feel the court might just be grabbing the ball a little bit and kicking it.

Q. Sally Finch (phonetic). How did you find the crowd's reaction today?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's very tough, again. The Australian crowd's always going to support Australians. It was two out there. You know, I guess I had more support than Scotty and, you know, it's very difficult. I think even the crowd found it difficult to know who to go for. But the crowd, the Australian Open has always been lively, has always been a lot of fun, and it's a great atmosphere playing out there. I've played a few big matches there. They've really lifted me up. Today wasn't one of those cases, and I knew that that would be a little bit flat, not knowing who to go for. But as I said, the crowd's always good here.

Q. You play a qualifier next round. It looks like it might be a nice section of the draw for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Mate, that's all I know. All I know is I think he's a Russian kid that I play next. I don't know who's after that. I just play one match at a time. Yeah, but the biggest mistake anyone can make out here is taking anyone lightly, and I'm going out there fully prepared for it to be a very difficult match. I know I'm going to have to play like I did today to beat this guy because there's no one bad out here. He's played three good qualifying matches and he's won again. So to go out there, knuckle down, play the same and win and don't give anything away.

Q. How do you go about playing him not knowing (inaudible) --?

PATRICK RAFTER: Rochey just said that I play a Russian qualifier. He knew a little bit about him because he said he went out and watched a little bit. But a lot of times even if you know how the guy plays, it doesn't necessarily happen on that day. I know even myself, I do certain shots differently on certain days. If you're hanging on one shot from that player, for instance if his backhand goes down the line, you work on it. If his shot's not working that day, you go crosscourt, you're going to lose it. My idea is to go out, assess him the first few games of the first set, win the first set and take control from there. That's the way I like to play anyway.

Q. It could be your last Open. Do you treat it any differently?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, no. I'm just trying to concentrate on what I've got to do here this week. I'm hitting the ball well. It doesn't add any pressure. I haven't felt anything different. I'm really glad now that I've said it, it's been out there and the media and the press ran with it for the day. They had a bit of fun. Now it's -- the next day there wasn't anything there, so it was just beautiful. Perfect. And it is there, sure, you know, I am trying to go out there and deal with the pressure and try to -- try to enjoy myself as much as -- well, as little as I can I guess without trying to lose my concentration.

Q. Has your mom caught up with you?

PATRICK RAFTER: She hasn't said anything yet. She knows. She won't say anything. (Laughing.)

Q. With regards to your comment about trying to remember about Wimbledon, what did work at Wimbledon that fortnight for you and I guess Flushing Meadows?

PATRICK RAFTER: Probably my movement was key, my intensity, my concentration. I reckon they were probably the keys. When you have all those three things working for you, that's a pretty good combination. Your game will come together. I think if you can think about those three things in the back of your mind, then a good tournament should come your way. Sure, you have to be hitting the ball well. You can't go out there, think of those three things and hopefully everything will go in. But I'm at that stage now where I feel confident enough to rely on -- just concentrating on those three things and let the game take care of itself.

End of FastScripts....

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