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March 19, 1999

Patrick Rafter


MIKI SINGH: Next up for Patrick, Nicolas Kiefer.

Q. Don't you think everybody should have the experience of playing Andrew Ilie at least once in their life time?

PATRICK RAFTER: He's very entertaining. It was good fun. I mean, at the end of the day, it's good to win. I'm happy I got that win underneath my belt now. Hopefully now I can continue on.

Q. Does anybody hit a backhand groundstroke as hard or with as much pace as him?

PATRICK RAFTER: He just comes up with some shots that you just don't think he's going to make. He did that to me a few times today. I thought, "Wow." The position he gets his body into, you think it's not possible to make that shot. But he is able to do it. I think it's more surprising than anything. He hits the ball very heavy as well.

Q. From the point of view of your service game, it's probably a good game for you because he's going to go for a lot of shots, tough volleys.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think he's the sort of guy you need to get into the net against, come forward to. I think I've got a game that's a good game to counter-punch his style. I think I match up pretty well against him.

Q. Are you satisfied with the service return?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I think so. I think in the second set, I made him pretty well struggle every service game. I think I had game points on every one of his games. I played a few tight, negative points. Other than that, I was happy with putting the pressure on, yeah.

Q. Can you put the whole thing in some perspective, your game right now? You need matches.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think that's it, Mate, just need some matches. Otherwise it's been going well. Doing the training, I feel I'm hitting the ball a lot better each week. Now I need to get some of those wins out of the way, get through it.

Q. You feel like this match you made some progress?

PATRICK RAFTER: I made a little bit; I need some more.

Q. Against the top four or five guys who are gunning for Pete right now, who do you stack up best against? Who do you see as your biggest threat among those five guys?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't really look at them until I get to the semifinals. I really haven't put myself in that position yet this year.

Q. Could you give me an example? Of those guys, who is the most difficult to play?

PATRICK RAFTER: It all depends on where you play them, on what surface, what the weather is like, all those sort of things. I can't give you one player who is standing out more than the rest at the moment. At this stage, I just need to try to get to them.

Q. Can you tell me what it's like to play against Kafelnikov?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I haven't a lot of success against Yevgeny. He's got a very good style of game against me. But, again, if I have the right conditions and I'm playing well, it really depends on the day.

Q. I'm just asking because I'm doing a story on him. I'm trying to get a sense of what he's like to play against.

PATRICK RAFTER: He does everything very well. He's a very good player that's got all the shots. A problem that he probably runs into a bit is that he plays so much tennis, that there are some days he's just not quite there. He's a little bit out there. The those are the days you want to try to get him.

Q. Have you ever had a hit with Andrew before, practice session?

PATRICK RAFTER: Andrew came to Davis Cup in '95 when we played South Africa. That was pretty amazing.

Q. As a hitting partner?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. We were very scared at the net every time we were there. I can remember all of us up there not feeling the best when he was at the baseline.

Q. What did you know about him before he came along?

PATRICK RAFTER: Obviously, I had seen him play quite a bit. He's a fantastic guy to watch. I really enjoy watching him.

Q. Quirky, isn't he?


Q. All those habits on the court.

PATRICK RAFTER: He makes it fun. He's fantastic to watch. I love watching him play.

Q. Next time you play Kiefer. Play him the same way you played him at Indian Wells?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm pretty disappointed with his attitude a little bit. I'm going to get in his face, serve it right up to him.

Q. What happened there?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just a bit cocky for me. I'm not a big fan of his at the moment. I'll be out there getting right into him.

Q. The fist waving?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really that. Just a few comments that he passed. Mate, it's going to be pretty fiery. I'm looking forward to it.

End of FastScripts....

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