August 15, 1998
Q. Kind of a one-sided match?
PATRICK RAFTER: The first set was pretty tight. The second set, he sort of lost concentration early. I knew once I got on top of him, he could be a little bit fragile. That's the way it worked out.
Q. You've been playing a lot of tennis. Was a match like that a welcome for you?
PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely. I was pretty tired out there. Especially it was a very hot day, hottest conditions we've played in so far this summer. So it was very difficult. It was only just over an hour, the match. It's just what I needed at this stage anyway.
Q. Did you realize early in the second set that he was giving up?
PATRICK RAFTER: I think once I got the double break, and the way I was serving, I thought, "Okay, this is probably all mine now." But you never quite know. Someone digs in there, gets out of a tight game on their serve, all of a sudden you can get a little bit tight, it's 2-All again. That's the situation you don't want to happen. I guess an example is like against Korda yesterday. It's too dangerous to do against guys like Korda and Kafelnikov.
Q. What are you most pleased about your game? Is it your movement?
PATRICK RAFTER: Just the whole game's come together. I'm serving well, volleying pretty well, returning well, hitting my groundstrokes okay. That could always be a little bit better, but at this point I'm not hitting many. So that's good.
Q. How do you compare your level of play this week to last week?
PATRICK RAFTER: Very similar, I think. Been returning very well. Probably the biggest thing that's stood out, that is standing out at the moment, I'm returning. Usually I don't return that great. I get them over, but they don't do much, so.
Q. How long can you stay on a roll like this?
PATRICK RAFTER: This is my best effort so far, nine matches. I'll tell you tomorrow. I'll find out tomorrow how long.
Q. I remember a similar occasion when you lost to Scott Draper. Came in here, talked to us, you were so depressed, everything seemed to be going wrong. Now you're playing the best tennis of your life. How has it all turned around?
PATRICK RAFTER: I was very dejected at that stage. I remember talking to you there, David. I don't know. I felt like I'd done a lot of hard work, but the whole mental side was off. I didn't have any confidence. I came to a point thinking, "What do you do at this point?" Now when I go out and play, I make up my mind what I'm going to do, I go ahead and do it, I have confidence in what I'm going to do. That comes with winning matches. Enjoying yourself is really important because my attitude all of a sudden changed when I went to Rosmalen. I got good doubles matches in, and at Queen's. I had a couple of wins, even though it was doubles. I went to Rosmalen. My whole frame of mind just changed around. I knew I'd done the work, and I just had to be happy on the court. I just felt good within myself. Things just flew from there.
Q. Do you feel now that you're a more complete tennis player than even when you won The Open?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. I don't think it's much better than the US Open, Mate. I can't play any better than that.
PATRICK RAFTER: I already have. I've done that. I did that last year -- I mean, beginning of this year. It's a heavy schedule again. Because I know 2000 will be a very heavy year for me. It will be a heavy year for everyone. Certain tournaments we have to play. Doesn't fit well into my schedule so well. Next year will be a (inaudible) year for me.
Q. Your defeat of Krajicek last Sunday, Sampras shouldn't frighten you too much because (inaudible)?
PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know too many people that have a good record against Pete, except Larsson. You never like to play Pete, even going in there with that frame of mind. Like Korda, Kafelnikov, Krajicek, Henman, you know, I lost to them all recently, pretty badly I guess. So it was good to turn it all around the last two weeks. But Pete, I don't know, I'll go out there and hopefully I'll win. I'll go out there with the same attitude I have with these matches. I know I'm hitting the ball well. I don't think have to thinking about anything. Just got to go out there and play tennis.
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I have a lot of trouble reading his serve. He's got a great serve. I had a lot of trouble with Krajicek's serve. I could never read his. Last week I returned it great. I'm hoping it's going to work for me that way as well.
Q. Is there anything you can do to prepare for that?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. Just go out there and play. I mean, it's important to move well, get that power base when he serves, because he's got a fast serve. You got to be able to explode pretty quickly. If you're a little bit tired, a little bit flat, you can't get to the ball effectively enough.
Q. You're not assured of playing Pete.
PATRICK RAFTER: That's exactly right.
Q. But because you're playing so well, would this now be the optimum time to play Pete?
PATRICK RAFTER: (Inaudible).
Q. Do you have any thoughts on how to resolve the need not getting too tired before the US Open with the need not to lose matches?
PATRICK RAFTER: No. I've committed myself to the tournament now. When I do play these tournaments, I give a hundred percent each time. At this stage, a mistake on my part.
Q. Can you tell me what the distractions are of being a top player?
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, you meet some great people when you do well. Funny, you get to meet some of your idols, people you'd love to meet, you get to meet them. You can get wrapped up in that if you like, say, "I'm going to go here and hang out with this bloke for the week, he's offered this, this would be great." I think it's very important to keep your -- you know, the (inaudible) on and go straight ahead with tennis. That's one distraction that's very easily avoided. In terms of other distractions, like distractions for me are not having my own time when I go out. I'm someone who enjoys going out having a beer at a bar, going out for dinner, hanging out with my mates, people really not noticing me. Now when I go out, I feel like I can't even pick my nose the right way or someone is going to look at me strange. It's those sort of things always in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, "I've got to watch out what I'm doing."
Q. You can't (inaudible)?
PATRICK RAFTER: No.
Q. What would you do?
PATRICK RAFTER: You know, I'm someone who can do some crazy things at times, but very harmless crazy things. I just enjoy doing things. When you're in the spotlight, you can't do that sort of thing.
Q. Who are some of the people you've met?
PATRICK RAFTER: I recently met Ben Harper, who I'm a big fan of, singer, American singer. (Inaudible) from Pearl Jam, who loves tennis. I'm another big fan of Pearl Jam as well. These people are normal people, they're great people. I want to sort of spend more time with them because they're really friendly people, and people I look up to, you know. Then we've got all the sports people back in Australia I've been lucky enough to meet: golfers, cricketers, rugby players, you know, all got to meet them. It's something you always want to do when you're a kid, "I'd love to meet that guy." You get the chance. It's a real big thrill. To find out that they're normal is even better.
Q. Do they think you're normal?
PATRICK RAFTER: I hope so (laughter).
Q. Were all your idols growing up tennis players?
PATRICK RAFTER: All sports. I'm a big sports person. As I said, all the rugby, cricketers, basketball, all these people you see on TV, you think they're great, musicians, actors. You know, you get to meet them all. It's great.
PATRICK RAFTER: Pardon me?
PATRICK RAFTER: I think you can lose your way a little bit, yeah, you've got to be careful. But for me I know I'm pretty strong-headed with that, you know. I don't -- when I'm in a place like LA, when I got to meet some people there, it was great, hang out. But, you know, when I come to work, I do my work.
Q. Who did you meet in LA?
PATRICK RAFTER: Caught up (inaudible) there, got to hang out with him and his manager, had a great time.
Q. What brings you back to earth?
PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, I can do it myself.
Q. You can?
PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Because I know my brothers are waiting for me back home. I made that mistake before.
Q. The guys you're beating now that used to beat you, are any of them surprised?
PATRICK RAFTER: I think it's the little things that are changing for me. I don't think it's anything drastic. I've always played the same way, but now I'm making a few more first serves, I'm mixing it up maybe a little bit more, volleying a little bit better. Just the small things turn the table. I don't think it's all of a sudden, "Where did he get that forehand from?"
Q. Do you think they're a little surprised that you're playing this way? Anybody ever say anything to you?
PATRICK RAFTER: Not really. I mean, Rohan Goetzke, Krajicek's coach, the other day said, "That's the best you've ever played against Richard." And it was, the best I played. Everyone gets on their streak sometimes. Because I'm not -- I haven't been a fixture in the Top 10 for so long, people might take it as a little bit of a surprise. But now it's sort of happening more and more, so people aren't quite as surprised.
Q. Pete is No. 2, you're No. 3. What's the gap between the two of you?
PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it will be very interesting, if I do happen to play him tomorrow, to see if I've gotten any closer to him than I have before. I think at the best of his tennis and the best of my tennis, he's a better player. He's just a very solid, all-around player.
Q. Did you watch last night?
PATRICK RAFTER: (Inaudible).
PATRICK RAFTER: No, I was going to go check him out tonight. I've got to relax tonight.
Q. When you played him, how close to you come to (inaudible)?
PATRICK RAFTER: I thought I played okay in Hannover, but he was playing great there. He was playing very well. I lost 4 and 2. I played very well against him in Philadelphia last year. I played well against him here last year, 6 and 3. I had a couple breakpoints. I thought I was dominating the first set, and it didn't go my way last year. So definitely that's the best I played against Pete was here and at Philadelphia.
Q. If it's Magnus, how do you stack up against him?
PATRICK RAFTER: I think I've got him the last two times. I think we've only played twice, as well. So I'll be fresh, a bit more confident playing Magnus. If Magnus beats Pete, he's also playing very well. Whichever way it goes, Mate, it's going to be a tough match.
Q. Getting all these points in the bag, will that help you mentally going into the US Open, be more relaxed about it?
PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. At the same time you've got to be fresh. I think it's important that I stay fresh. As I said, if I keep doing this week in, week out, it's not going to help me for the US, is the main thing. As I said, the commitment has been made. I will go out there. I won't be trying to think about that. I'll be going out trying to win every match.
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