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August 13, 1999

Patrick Rafter


ATP REP: The 1993 Wimbledon was the last time all top four seeds played.

PATRICK RAFTER: In any tournament?

ATP REP: Top 4 ranked.

PATRICK RAFTER: Really? I didn't know that. Shows how close the tennis is these days.

Q. Do you feel like you have a little bit of destiny in your hands, just because any of these three guys could be No. 1 on Monday?

PATRICK RAFTER: (Laughs.) Not going to give me any more incentive to beat up one than the other. I'm playing out there for myself, and I want to win for myself.

Q. Can you take us through the match today? It just seemed so effort less. What was working for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Everything worked for me this evening. Usually, I'm not that aggressive on my forehand, but today it worked. Served the corners well. And just was very consistent from the baseline. Put him under a lot of pressure. Everything worked.

Q. Can you take this same game plan into tomorrow night?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll be trying to anyway. It's going to be a little bit different. Kafelnikov hits the ball longer and flatter, and doesn't give you that opportunity to work the point around there quite as much; where Chang sort of hits it a little bit softer and allows you to get the point better.

Q. He has a winning record against you, Kafelnikov. What did he do well the times that he's beat you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think he's a better player than when I played him last year. Definitely his mind is screwed on a lot better. But yeah, you never know with him, though. He looks like he's pretty serious at the moment. He's got a very effective flat, low serve, and gives a lot of people a lot of trouble. If I can serve like that, I can nullify his returns, and that's what I've got to do.

Q. Can you gauge Michael's progress?

PATRICK RAFTER: I never let him in the match. You know, his second serve was -- I thought he served his second better like '97, I thought, but he seems to have gone back to his old serve, about '94, '95. And his first serve can be dangerous, and I think he served as well as he could tonight with his first serve. But his second serve was -- failed to get on top of it.

Q. You're worried about your own game on the court, but were you surprised how easily you were getting on top?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, you know, after -- like 6-1, you start doubting yourself, or 6-2; you wonder if you can do it again. And I had the opportunities early, and I didn't take the first one of the second set. And I thought: Well, you don't want to give this guy too much -- don't want to give him any free points or give him a chance to get back into the match. Because once he gets back into it, he's very tenacious.

Q. Patrick, through the first through games of the match, did you feel that you had Michael on the ropes from the very beginning?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, yeah, but you never really know and you have to keep the pressure on him and never let him get back into it, because once he gets psyched up, he gets the crowd into it. He enjoys the battle, and the best thing is to try to knock him on the head as soon as you can.

Q. What was your reaction to Steffi Graf's announcement that she's retiring?

PATRICK RAFTER: She's playing the U.S. Open, isn't she? It must be tough. I sort of read in the newspaper yesterday that she was retiring. She's going to make that announcement. It's a big blow for tennis. Germany now has lost it's biggest profile people of all time in tennis, definitely. And you're probably going to see an effect throughout tennis throughout the world, in Germany, anyway, with those two people missing. So it's going to affect us a little bit when we go back to play the German tournaments, I think.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, the I don't think you can really compare the women and the men together at all. I think you don't really have the depth, I don't think. Not that sort of depth in the women's. You're going to get more of the women winning more Grand Slams. I wouldn't put her in front of Pete, and I wouldn't put Pete in front of her. It's like putting Laver with Sampras. Just two different situations.

End of FastScripts....

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