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August 14, 1998

Patrick Rafter


GREG SHARKO: Patrick moves into the semifinals here, becomes the first Australian to advance to the semifinals here in the tournament's history since 1979. Also his sixth ATP Tour semifinal of the season. He takes an eight-match winning streak into the match tomorrow. First question for Patrick.

Q. Glad it didn't go to a third set?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was starting to get a little bit tired. I don't know how he would have pulled up either. But I definitely would have been -- I would have been a little bit tired. I still would have battled. I still think had a good chance of winning, even if it went to a third set.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. Starting to feel it a little bit now. As I said, it's been a pretty big run for me so far. The weather's been pretty warm. So, you know, just got to keep doing all the right things. I'll be going for a walk and stretch after this, get myself ready for tomorrow.

Q. Petr said you were like the hot player. When you're the hot player, the ball jumps on the line. Can you talk about, are you seeing it from that perspective, too?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, yeah. When you're playing well, everything goes your way. You create your own luck. Someone says you're lucky. How many times is someone always lucky? You create your own luck through hard work or persistence. Petr's been known to have his luck at times, as well. But when you're playing well, everything falls your way. Just the way it goes.

Q. Do you notice it or does it take looking back on it?

PATRICK RAFTER: I could have very easily been up 3-Love in a match, never got to this situation today. So, you know, it could have been a different press conference if he didn't hit the line on one of his serves.

Q. Are you at all concerned? You have a heavy schedule this summer, how you're hanging in there.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I'm a little bit concerned, yeah. As I said in my other press conference, I don't usually fire this early on in my run. How things have panned out so far this summer, started off great, hitting the ball well. So, yeah, but I mean, once you're playing well, you've got to ride it. That's what I'm trying to do.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I did. But up until here, I'd gone second round (inaudible), Montreal second round and here third round. So, yeah, played a bit more tennis than what I usually have.

Q. Can you talk about that tiebreak and what was going through your mind as it was going back and forth?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, again, a little bit frustrated. I just kept preparing myself for the third set. I thought it's only a matter of time before he won one. But I just tried to keep the ball in play, make him wins points, just try to take the breaks when I got them. He was playing pretty good tennis there for a while, so I had to stick with him. Plus I was nervous. You know, I wanted to close the match out.

Q. When you're going as well as you're going, do the misses that you have not bother you as much? You gave him a set point on a double-fault.

PATRICK RAFTER: Right. It annoyed me, yeah. It annoyed me. But I'm not going to smash a racquet. I'm going to smash it at the end of the set. Does it annoy me, yeah. It annoys me just as much then as what -- well, I guess if you're really struggling and you need to win matches, I suppose it's a bit different if you do a double then because you think, "Let the advantage go." But, as I said, I have played a lot of matches, but I also knew there was a third set coming up, I would have another set, even if I lost that set.

Q. Can you pinpoint the point of the year where you sort of -- you talk about how you were struggling at the beginning of the year. Was there a certain point where things turned?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think Rosmalen things started to turn around for me, a week before Wimbledon. I was pretty low, flat in confidence. I only had a couple wins that year so far, or one win. But, you know, I was playing okay. I was just starting to go through a bad section. You know, clay courts were treating me really badly. The grass, didn't get off to a good start at Queen's, I was hoping to.

Q. What was the key, the one thing that Rosmalen gave you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I got through a tough round match. From then on I got through a tough second round match, as well. From then I just played better and better. The confidence just grew. I was down a match point, could have been out second round.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. My attitude was good then. Just started to enjoy myself, as well. When your attitude is good, you're relaxed, a lot more relaxed.

Q. How does this run compare to New York last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it's very satisfying for me right now. In terms of how I'm playing, Korda is a very difficult opponent to play well against. He makes -- he's a great player. He never lets you -- I don't know. I mean, his serve is so deceptively good. It never really allows you to get into the point. He controls everything. It's very difficult to play well against someone like Petr. Under the circumstances today, I thought I played as well as I could against him. Before that, I thought I played great against Todd last night.

Q. Are you as confident now as last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. But I still could lose tomorrow. I don't have a very good record against Kafelnikov either, so.

Q. Prior to The Open last year, did you ever doubt that you could get this high, win a Grand Slam event?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I'd never won one before. I guess the French Open, I had had a very good result. The US Open was -- obviously I came with a lot of good matches. I thought I had a pretty tough draw to start off with. But I just played better, I just played very well.

Q. But obviously people dream of this. Did you ever doubt that you could get there?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, yeah, there's always doubts there.

Q. But now you know you're this good?

PATRICK RAFTER: Now I know I've done it, so I don't need to doubt it anymore. It's already done. Do I doubt winning another one?

Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: Of course, I do.

Q. Do people treat you differently now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I have a lot more friends. It's great (laughter).

Q. You're 0-3 with Kafelnikov. Can you talk about that match-up?

PATRICK RAFTER: He returns serve very well. If he wants to play tennis, he's one of the best players in the world. I mean, again, it depends on his frame of mind. As you found out in the press conference yesterday, how fragile he is at the moment. He came out today, played pretty well. He won't want to lose to me either. It will be a good match.

Q. Regardless of your victory last year at the US Open, can you talk about the tournament, whether you like it, not like it?

PATRICK RAFTER: I always like New York. I just like the town of New York. It's a Grand Slam. Every Grand Slam has its own unique feeling. I can't describe it to you. It will have a very nice feeling about it. They all vary. It's a different atmosphere at every tournament. But it's a Grand Slam.

Q. What makes this one special?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I won it. That's what makes it special for me. It's just New York, I guess. It's hard to describe.

Q. Do you like New York?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I have a great time in New York. Fantastic city. Big fan of New York for a couple of weeks (laughter). I've never lived there. Always a lot to do. A great town. Very happening. I really enjoy it for the couple weeks while I'm there. After that, I have no idea. Never spent more time than that there.

Q. Do you ever get taken aback or surprised at what all is involved in being a top class player?

PATRICK RAFTER: Everything that is involved?

Q. Well, everything.

PATRICK RAFTER: I see what you mean. In terms of what comes along with it, the attention, et cetera?

Q. Right.

PATRICK RAFTER: It's something that I guess if you don't have it, you want it. When you got it, you don't want it. It's one of those Catch-22 situations. But I try to be positive and take the best out of everything. I know I can't please everyone. There's going to be someone down the line, if I don't sign their autograph, they abuse me. I can't do anything about that, because I can't sign everyone's. I'm sorry. And they're the parts that aren't enjoyable, when people don't understand quite what it's like for you either. That's probably the worst part of it.

Q. Do they forget when you were ranked whatever, that they didn't even ask you?

PATRICK RAFTER: They don't even think about it. You don't even want to sit down and try to talk to them about it.

Q. Was that a hard part for you? My perception of you is that you really wanted to satisfy everyone.

PATRICK RAFTER: But you can't.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. You have to learn. Something that I always wanted to do. When I was 50 in the world, I could satisfy everyone, it wasn't a big deal. But now, it's pretty well impossible. And for you to have your own time, it's very important for you to have your own time, as well.

Q. Do you find you still can do that, go places and not be recognized, not be bothered?


Q. Do you have to go to hideaways?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. There's plenty of places. America, I mean, is becoming a bit more popular for me. But still, it's no big deal. I can walk anywhere. Europe is great for me. I can walk anywhere.

Q. For those that say changing racquet technology (inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: What's the latest technology? Long body?

Q. (Inaudible).

PATRICK RAFTER: I've never seen them play with titanium yet.

Q. Have you heard it makes the men's game too fast?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's an old question, this one. I think tennis sorts itself out pretty quickly. To me it appears we have more crowds coming to the tennis, people are enjoying themselves. At this stage, I don't see too many negative things with it. I mean, there was obviously a stage going back a couple years ago when they wanted to bring back the wooden racquets, or experiment with it. But I think things go in a cycle. Once people get used to quicker racquets, the game gets quicker, everyone becomes better.

Q. You said America and Europe. Is there anyplace besides your home that you can go and be let alone?

PATRICK RAFTER: Bermuda is becoming a bit more popular for me. I'm recognized more. But they're really laid back about it. I'm just one of the many people that live there in Bermuda.

Q. And in Australia?

PATRICK RAFTER: In Australia, it's tough. Not too many places. You can't do your own thing. If you want to run naked, swim on the beach, you can't do that, can you (laughter)?

Q. Did you ever talk to any celebrities or any people about this?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, there's a time you wonder how people deal with it. But you have to deal with it your own way. That's the bottom line, how you feel within yourself, how much you can cope with.

Q. Did anybody give you any advice?

PATRICK RAFTER: I can remember talking to Todd, Pete's trainer about it once. Just told me what Pete did. Yeah, I can do that a little bit. But I'm probably a little more open than what Pete maybe is.

Q. Kafelnikov was talking about certain matchups, he plays well against somebody, beaten them every time. When you're 0-3 against somebody, does that factor in your mind?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I know he's got a better chance of beating me than I have of winning. At this stage, I'm playing really well. I don't want to think about it. He's a very good player. As I said, you just never know quite what he's going to come up with. Depends what frame of mind he's in. Hope he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: I beat him years ago, '93. This is when he was not doing too well. The last couple matches we played, the last one was a 6 and a 4, the finals of New Haven. I feel like I'm a better player, as well.

Q. What has come together for you in the last year other than overcoming some injuries? Anything special that catapulted you from the 50s?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just hard work and being mentally positive. You got to keep believing that things will turn around for you. When you have your bad weeks, you take it on (inaudible), get on with it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

PATRICK RAFTER: Nothing special. Just hard work, mate.

Q. Harder work than before?

PATRICK RAFTER: Harder work than everyone else. That's what you've got to keep thinking about when you're on the court.

End of FastScripts....

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