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March 9, 1999

Patrick Rafter


GREG SHARKO: First question for Patrick.

Q. Can you put a finger on the reason why you got to a little bit of a rough patch with your tennis?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it's just not doing the hard work so far. I'm playing a lot better than what I was last week anyway. So things are starting to come along. Hopefully next week will just be better. Just a matter of not playing enough at the moment.

Q. Can you talk about how frustrating it is for you on the court?

PATRICK RAFTER: Today wasn't too bad. I just knew it was, you know, just trying -- just finding the form a little bit. I felt it coming back a little bit. I've still got a ways to go. Today wasn't a matter of a lot of frustration out there.

Q. What have you been doing between the Australian Open and Scottsdale?

PATRICK RAFTER: I had a week of commitments to do. I did a little bit of tennis. I went skiing for a week, played golf for a week. Not a lot. I mean, not been doing a lot of training. You know, I came into this year knowing that anyway. But now I've got to do a little bit more. The training, my tournaments, I actually will be playing steadily now all the way through pretty much till the end of the year with a few weeks here and there in between. So I've had my fun.

Q. Do you feel mentally fresh, eager to go, eager to play?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I mean, I think the mental bit comes with winning and everything again. I'm not in the position where I'm drained from playing too many matches. It will come back, I think, yeah.

Q. Did you hurt yourself in the third set?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I just started cramping about 2-All. I think it was 3-2 when I was down in the third set, just started cramping for no reason. That was a little bit annoying.

Q. Do you think that's lack of conditioning?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, no, no. I've been able to keep up the conditioning while I've been away. I feel fit and everything and strong out there. It's just I've always had a problem with cramping. It's just another one of those unfortunate things.

Q. Did that last throughout the entire third set?

PATRICK RAFTER: From then on, my whole movement was restricted. I didn't get off from my serve and take off.

Q. The same problems at Pete Sampras, playing too much last season?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't have the same problem? Is that what you mean.

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Last year was a lot of tennis for me, as well. Last two years have been a lot of tennis. I think it's important to take a step back at some stage and just look at life a little bit. Sometimes, you know, you don't actually do that. I'm well aware that this year's going to be sort of one of those up-and-down years, and I'm someone who needs to play a lot of tennis for my form to remain the same. It will come back.

Q. When you say "sit back and take a look at life a little bit," what do you mean by that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, just sort of live life a little bit. As I said, I'd never do something like skiing before. That's something I just felt like doing. Whether it was stupid or not, I don't know. It's just something I feel like, enjoying myself a little bit, where I've just been so sheltered and tennis, tennis, tennis the whole time.

Q. Where did you go skiing?


Q. Did you enjoy it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Had a good time.

Q. Were you good at it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really (laughter). I had a good time.

Q. How is your golf game?

PATRICK RAFTER: My golf game is good, too. For me anyway.

Q. Ski or snowboard?

PATRICK RAFTER: I did mostly skiing, one or two days of snowboarding.

Q. Were you better at snowboarding?


Q. Had you done either before?


Q. Your first time on skis?


Q. Planning on going back, not any time soon?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yes. I have a place up there, so I'll be going back.

Q. You didn't do any black diamond slopes?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. A lot of powder. I felt like running down there and falling over a few times.

Q. Did you have any pressure from people who advised you and people around you saying, "You go skiing, it's a high-risk sport"?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, everyone told me not to do it.

Q. They did?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Anyway, I'm here. I'm fit.

Q. In one piece?

PATRICK RAFTER: In one piece, yeah.

Q. Lleyton Hewitt earlier was saying he was going to be the orange boy for Davis Cup, which led to an in-depth discussion about the position of orange boy. Were you ever an orange boy?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I was an orange boy there for a lot of '95 and most of '96. It was very frustrating sitting back there and doing that. I think Lleyton is in a position now where he has an opportunity to really play. It's great for him. He deserves it at the moment.

Q. What exactly did you do when you were an orange boy? He said he didn't peel any oranges.

PATRICK RAFTER: Just a term, I guess. Just sit back there and watch the other guys play. At that stage, we were loosing a lot so it was very frustrating sitting on the sidelines and watching that. Hopefully it won't be the case. But I think Lleyton is someone who is definitely in position to play until hopefully I can pick up my form in Miami and show some results and give Rochey and Newc a reason for me to play as well.

Q. You think it's conceivable that he might actually play Davis Cup and you sit out?


Q. Because he said he's planning on sitting on the side again.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I mean, I think he sees Davis Cup pretty similar to the rest of the Aussie boys where we all love playing. He'll be giving it a good shot to play. He's had the results on the board. Listen, if I go to Miami and go out pretty early again, I can't see myself taking a lot of confidence into Davis Cup. But then again, Davis Cup turns things around for a lot of people. It has for me in the past.

Q. Could you actually see yourself, if you felt like you weren't on form, saying to John that, "I think you ought to play Lleyton, he'd be a better man"?


Q. If he says you're playing, you're playing?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm playing.

Q. What goes through your mind when you see the top Americans not playing?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I don't know. I really don't know their reasoning for not playing. Maybe they have another reason. But it's the first thing that goes into my schedule, is the Davis Cup. Brought up with different values. I'm not quite sure if that's got anything to do with it. I'd love to be able to speak on their behalf, but I really can't because I don't know the reason.

Q. On match point against you, you double-faulted. Was your serve not working too well for you today?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I really haven't been doing any serving practice since my knee. So this week has been the only time I've done actual serving training. And the last week was bloody awful, my serve. This time it's just awful. But I can feel it coming together, so it's not a frustrating thing. It's getting there. It will be there at some stage.

Q. You probably learned a lot from the first part of last year where things were not going too well for you. Do you look at things a little differently now, taking things a bit more in a cool manner?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I was very frustrated last week, very disappointed. When you get off your ass and you do some work, you feel better about yourself. I think that's what I've been able to do over the last few days. Going out there and losing, I feel like at least I put in a little bit of an effort and prepared for this tournament. I think I'll be going into Miami, you know, with a -- I'll be doing a lot of training as well. Hopefully I can get a lot more doubles matches here.

Q. Just to go back to Davis Cup. You're playing Zimbabwe that first round. They came down and shocked you last year. Kind of a revenge match. You're going to their backyard. How do you see that all playing out?

PATRICK RAFTER: I only see winning, hopefully. I don't want to be sitting there at the end of the day and know that we've lost. There's not a worse feeling than losing Davis Cup. There's not a worse one.

Q. You had a numerical shot at No. 1 this week. Did that even cross your mind?


Q. Or is your form nowhere near there?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not near there.

Q. Do you see it possibly coming in the next couple months?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I really don't know.

Q. No. 1, it comes up so often, has been for the last six, eight months, do you maybe get fed up seeing it in the ITW each week?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't read it actually. I know what you're saying, though. Those sort of questions, do you get frustrated with that? I don't know. You get used to answering that at the end of the day, Craig. Like you coming in and saying, "What happened today?" I'm just good at saying, "It's just another one of those."

Q. What I was getting at is when it happens, it happens. Is that the way you're looking at it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, yeah. I just want to play well again. If I play well again, I'll be happy. If No. 1 comes along, it comes along.

Q. I suppose the time to worry about it is when people stop asking you when you're going to be No. 1?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess there's a negative side of it, too.

Q. How much is the Lipton going to be a bit of a benchmark for your year, in view of the difficulties you've had so far?

PATRICK RAFTER: Really hard to say. I hope it will be a platform for me to get into the Davis Cup and go from there. I think it's important that I do play well there. Again, I don't really know.

Q. Have you ever done any other bungee jumping, something you shouldn't be doing?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, done bungee before.

Q. Any other kind of dangerous things?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll jump out of a plane, that sort of thing. To go snowboarding down a black diamond run for the first time is something probably a bit stupid, so I wouldn't do that. I don't see anything like the other things that bad.

Q. What was bunjee jumping like?


Q. Off a crane?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, off a crane.

Q. I understand you don't travel with a large entourage?


Q. Who do you travel with?

PATRICK RAFTER: I have a brother Peter that travels with me a lot. Rochey is around quite a bit. This week I have another brother here. I have another two brothers here.

Q. You don't travel with a coach?

PATRICK RAFTER: Tony Roche. He's with a lot of the players, so he comes and goes.

Q. What would be the next thing you'd want to do?

PATRICK RAFTER: Extreme thing?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't have any real immediate plans right now. I don't have that many plans just yet. Whatever.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Kiefer, how good is he and how well did he play today?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've never played him before, so I really don't know. How good is he? I think what he is is what his ranking suggests. Nothing really exceptional I didn't find.

Q. So it was more you're not playing well today?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Well, it has a lot to do with it, yeah, if I'm feeling good. I thought I volleyed pretty well and I returned okay. I just didn't really take my chances early in the first set. But he's not one that really stands out to me.

Q. Can you go into a little more detail about your knee, how you hurt it, whatever?

PATRICK RAFTER: The knee has been an ongoing, long saga that's come and gone for many, many years. Last year it just sort of came to the point where it frustrated me a lot. I decided to take that time off to get it better. Ever since then, it's been great. I've been able to do a lot of strength work on it.

Q. You've run into Lleyton a couple times already. How good can he be? Where do you see him?

PATRICK RAFTER: I like him because he's got a great mentality. He's a really good fighter. I think when you have a quality like that, I think there's really no limit to how far he can go. I put him in the same sort of boat of like a Michael Chang. Very, very quick, good counter-puncher. Can be aggressive and strong from the baseline. But he's tough. He's tough. More people that cheer against him, the better he gets.

Q. Real big heart?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, he's a tough little fella.

End of FastScripts....

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