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August 15, 1999

Patrick Rafter


PATRICK RAFTER: I'm not coming in here and saying this is an excuse or anything. Sort of halfway I think through the tiebreaker, but it didn't affect my serve in the tiebreaker. And then when he served, I think the first game, I felt it a couple of times. Just catching his serve late, the balance skidding off the court very quick. He was serving hard. And I think jarred it trying to return his serve.

Q. He felt the conditions were just too fast.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think they were a little bit too quick. For our style of game, it probably wasn't a great match-up on that sort of condition, unfortunately -- not a great match-up, but great tennis.

Q. Did it start seeming harder than it usually is?

PATRICK RAFTER: Very hard. I don't know how he felt about it, but it's as good as he's served in a long time against me. It was just bouncing up all over the place, and you're serving 125 with the ball bouncing, it's not flat. I can return a flat one, but not a ball that's bouncing all over the place. It's very difficult.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: I think that would be nice if they did have that. I think keep it quick until we get to the finals, and then make it slow. (Laughter.)

Q. (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: You know, I started serving pretty well, and the second serve just couldn't quite get the pop on the serve and get the ball to bounce up on him. But the first serve I felt like I was riding the -- I think I had the best opportunity to go out and have a set point, but it was too good a serve. I think I had the second serve at like 30-All points, and I think that was probably my best opportunity right there. I had to make him play a tougher volley.

Q. Your shoulder, is it pain or you just can't --

PATRICK RAFTER: It's pain, but you lose the kick on it. You can hit it flat, but it's a hard to get the wide serves and the heaviness on the serves.

Q. Is this something that you'll think maybe you won't play next week?

PATRICK RAFTER: We'll see how it goes the next few days.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: When you catch a ball like that in that sort of area, it's going to probably break. But I can't remember anything like that happening. That is a little bit extreme. That was a big serve. A bit mad, because it was 3-2 in the tiebreaker and they gave him another first serve. It sort of annoyed me more than anything. At least I had a chance at a second serve if he missed it, but I broke the string; so it was a bit annoying. I looked at it and I just thought that's pretty indicative of the way he's serving.

Q. What tension are you at?

PATRICK RAFTER: On my strings? 69 pounds.

Q. How much do you think the shoulder affected you? Was it serving?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty well only serving. The first set was fine, as I said. But the second set, Pete, would have been very difficult to stop. I really had my answer for him in the first set, anyway, on his serve. He was just too hard, too consistent.

Q. This is still about the best you've been playing this year?

PATRICK RAFTER: This summer is great. It's good to be playing well again. Today, Pete never let me play well. Simple as that. Couldn't get into the game. He just served too big and too hard. There weren't long points out there, and it's just too hard to play tough tennis.

Q. Is there a chance you won't play next week?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's got to be pretty bad if I don't play next week.

Q. You had a shoulder injury before. Is this something new for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've had it for a while.

Q. So no one has said you should take the week off?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's been great all week. I'm not making excuses here. It probably does need a break, but I really can't afford to take a break. I may have a break after Davis Cup, if I can last that long.

Q. If Pete had just an above-average serve, would he be as tough?

PATRICK RAFTER: You know, he would adjust in other ways, I'm sure. It's a question that's very difficult to answer. And he might have groundstrokes like Agassi if he didn't have a quite as big a serve. I'm not sure.

Q. It's not just his serve?

PATRICK RAFTER: He's got everything. We all know that.

Q. After a couple games of his serve, do you just know how he's playing?

PATRICK RAFTER: The first set I remember at the U.S. Open last year was very similar tennis. We both weren't returning serves very well. The ball was getting up. It was very difficult to get down. But then after that, we started getting the hang of it, and that's the sort of way it went a little bit in the second set, too. You'd miss a couple of first serves or you started making a few returns. It was -- but at the same time, I felt intimidated on his serve the whole time. Even when I was there, it was very difficult to get back.

Q. What did they do for your shoulder.

PATRICK RAFTER: Just stim machine, that sort of thing. A lot of stretching, strength work.

Q. Can win the Open like this?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not like this right now, I don't think. It's got to be better than this. Playing best of five sets, it's got to be pretty well 100 percent. 90 percent, anyway. 100 percent, it's got to be.

Q. When did you call for the trainer?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was going to call 1-Love in the first after Pete served, and I just thought no, no, I'll just see what happens. And then I thought: Well, I'm not going to call him out now; I just lost. And then when I broke back, I thought: Hang on; I'm still in this match. I called it halfway through my next service game when I knew it was a bit sore.

Q. When will you decide if you play in Indianapolis?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll still be there. I'll weigh up the decision when I get to Indianapolis. When I felt like it's going to slow down, it's just going to be bad. If I can get it better in one week, then I'll problem take the week off. If I feel like I can't get any better -- or if it gets better, I'll play as well.

Q. Do you adjust the tension in your racket?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I didn't. I need the bigger racket, I think.

Q. What did you guys talk about at the net?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was a very nice conversation. Is he was very complimentary at the end he was saying: Well done. I really enjoyed the match. I just hope we can have some more fun next time. It was just a really nice conversation. I said well done and too good and good luck the rest of the summer .

Q. (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, confidence. 23 in a row or 22 or whatever it might be, it's starting to become scary for the rest of the players, and becoming a habit for Pete. You know, if he's got that sort of form going into the U.S. Open, it's going to be very tough.

Q. Is it more about form or more his confidence?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's both. It goes hand in hand.

Q. Do you think he's the one everyone has to beat?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pete? He's probably the No. 1 guy to beat. But there are plenty out there to beat. I'll be one of 128 guys that says he's the one to beat.

Q. Are you glad you walked out there today and not have had any of that other stuff hanging over you to have the match?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was. It was a good-spirited match. There were no bad feelings out there. I wouldn't like to be out there -- you know, because there's no rule or reason for us to dislike each other. If I honestly dislike a guy, then I don't mind not being friendly with him.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: In the end, it was. I probably need to make him play. I didn't miss too many volleys for the day, but that was, you know, the big one, and I just pushed it a little bit too much. Probably went for the corner a little bit too much.

Q. When you called him on the phone, was that one of the longest conversations you've ever had with him?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. No, no. We've talked about before.

Q. Last year, what sort of pressure did you feel about defending?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really. Because I had come off a couple of really good wins in Toronto and here, and also Long Island. I just felt like I defended everything and I was going into that tournament very relaxed and very happy, and whatever happens, happens.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: That helped definitely in the finals when it came down to crunch time. I've been there and I've done it. And it was a more relaxed final feeling for me.

End of FastScripts....

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