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July 9, 2000

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, first question to Pat.

Q. Second set tiebreak, will that haunt you for a little while?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. It was a little disappointing not to close that one out. I did get a little bit tight. There's no "but" (laughter). It was an opportunity for me to go up two sets to love. From there it's a very tough position, as Pete knows, to come back from that. Yeah, but that's what happens when you get tight.

Q. He said that at 4 -1, he really felt the match -- in the second set tiebreaker, really felt the match sliding away from him. Then two minutes later, everything had changed.


Q. Is that how you felt, too?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. But, you know, you still have to get up there and serve. If I felt very confident in being up at two sets to love, I guess I wouldn't have been nervous. You know, I knew I still had to do some work. Probably made me a little bit tight. I never really was serving very well. I was still struggling with my rhythm, and getting up to serve at 4-1, when you're not doing something very well, you're a little bit tight. The errors will start showing up. That's what happened.

Q. How dark was it out there at the end, could you see his serve?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, no, I wasn't getting his serve back anyway. I didn't really care if it was midnight really.

Q. Was it inordinately dark or was that not a factor?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not when you're down 5-2 in the third, double break, mate. It's sort of hard work being out there. Mentally, I sort of had done my bolt. It was really hard to hang in there.

Q. Before the match, did it feel different to preparing for any other match you've played because of being Wimbledon and the final here?

PATRICK RAFTER: Everything was pretty much the same. I've been in the finals of a Grand Slam before. Obviously, this is Wimbledon. It would have been a great one to win. It was the same as every other day I'd come out. I walked on the court, you know, a little bit nervous and everything. It was still another day. It was a good feeling to get out there and win the first set.

Q. You lost those two serving points at 4-3 in the tiebreaker. You did have a short forehand passing shot there. Is that the one that really did you in, do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: After I missed that, I knew I was screwed. "Gee, 4-All." Then I just thought, "Oh, God, this is really going downhill." I was really going to find it hard to deal with the nerves, I think more than anything. Yeah, that was sort of a mental blow more than anything.

Q. When you're defending breakpoint after breakpoint, fighting off a couple of set points on the tiebreak, are you thinking, "This is my day, I'm destined to win this, I'm just playing too big on the big points?" Or is your attitude, "Eventually he's going to get me with ..."

PATRICK RAFTER: More that. I think if I keep giving him opportunities, it's just a matter of time. I couldn't put him under pressure, couldn't win the first point on his serve to put him under pressure. He was either doing a big serve, big second serve. Not making him play enough. He had me under a lot of pressure on his serve. When you can serve comfortably, you can swing away on his serve. I never felt like I had the great rhythm or the pop I needed to put him under pressure on my serve. You know, he just started to find his way. It was just a matter of time before he was going to break me down.

Q. You joked about defending your countrymen's record. Can you talk about the significance of Pete's accomplishment with the 13 Grand Slams?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I mean, it's a great effort, no doubt about it. You know, for Pete to be the greatest of all time - which he probably is - but to seal it, he'd have to win the French, I think. I think he knows that, as well.

Q. How frustrating were the breaks in the weather?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's the same for both of us.

Q. Should there be a roof on Centre Court, do you think?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've got no idea, mate. Listen, this is Wimbledon. I'm just happy to be out there. Whether it rains or shines or whatever it does here in England, just good to be out there.

Q. It's probably hard to think of now, but what do you think this tournament will mean to you as far as your comeback goes, getting yourself back on track?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, now I'm going to go in every tournament knowing I've got a chance of winning again, whereas before I've really gone into each tournament, Am I going to win my first match, get to the second round? When I come up against guys ranked 20 or 30 in the world, I feel like I should be beating them. It's a good feeling to have again because there was a time when I was coming back not knowing exactly how it would go against each guy, and feeling, you know, like I never really had a chance of winning a tournament. It feels good to be a bit more confident.

Q. How are your parents doing after the long flight?

PATRICK RAFTER: You know, I saw them this morning. Mum was very happy and chirpy. I'll get a few alcohols into them tonight and see how they go (laughter).

Q. Are you going to dinner?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. There's a group of guys coming back. We're going to enjoy the moment.

Q. Was there any one person who has helped you more than any others in this comeback?

PATRICK RAFTER: I know this sounds a bit weird, but not really. You know, I've been talking to my doctor a lot. She's just sort of guided me through it. She's been good to tell me what to do. At the end of the day, you've got to do it yourself. I'm a real stubborn bastard. You know, when I don't feel like doing it, I'm not going to do it. If I feel like I'm ready to do it, I'm going to do it. It just had to come from me. You know, having guys like Rochey around has made it a lot of fun. I really enjoy working with Rochey. If anybody, I'm sure Rochey has been the main man behind me.

Q. Standing there during the awards presentation, could you tell any of Pete Sampras' emotions vicariously?


Q. Of all the great qualities that Pete has, if you had to put one or two at the very top of the list that makes Sampras such a great champion of our era, what would you say?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's one hell of a serve, awesome, can't read it, can't pick it. When you serve as well as that, you know, you put yourself -- take a lot of pressure off the return. But he has to come up with the returns. He does have a complete game, but having an awesome serve like that just takes a lot of pressure off each game.

Q. Is it tough to think about Davis Cup so soon?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I've been thinking about it for a while. And I really enjoy Davis Cup, and I enjoy celebrating - well, hopefully we win. I just enjoy playing a team sport. That's what I love so much about Davis Cup. I'm ready for it.

Q. Can we get your thoughts on Mark Philippoussis withdrawing?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it's disappointing. I guess he doesn't feel like playing Davis Cup. He just put -- I just wish he'd come out and say something, how he's feeling, just clear the air. I'd respect him a lot more for it than jerking us around, telling us he's going to play, then not showing up to play.

Q. What effect does that have on the team members?

PATRICK RAFTER: We always sort of -- it's 50/50. Even though he says he's playing, you always think it's 50/50. We try to give him the 50/50 benefit of the doubt. In his mind, it's probably ten percent.

Q. Are you feeling that if you can't commit, buzz off?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it comes to that point right now. Just say something. If you don't enjoy playing, that's fine, I don't have a problem with that. He has a problem either with the players, with playing for Australia, or Davis Cup. I've got no idea. Just tell us what it is, then we can leave him alone. We don't have a problem with that, but just don't say you're going to play and pull out.

Q. Will you be speaking to him about it?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. If he wants to make contact, he can. I've had enough of it.

Q. I know unfortunately you lost, but what is it like playing in a Wimbledon final?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, it was great. It was a great atmosphere. The crowd were fun. You know, I think the crowd appreciated when it rains, us sticking around, we'd come out. I really appreciate them sticking around, too. I am glad that it wasn't a bad match. You know, sometimes they can be ugly. I think they're going away saying, "It was all right." It was a good experience. I'd love to be back there, win or lose, again because it was a very nice feeling being out there.

Q. Had you ever seen Pete as emotional as he was after the match was finally over?

PATRICK RAFTER: I've seen him pretty mad before (laughter). He was very emotional against Jim Courier at the Australian Open that year, too, after Tim left. Obviously, it was a different emotion. You know, obviously Pete is a very emotional guy. You know, and good on him. It's a good effort.

Q. How long do you think he can continue? He has this incredible record here - to carry on as the King of Wimbledon?

PATRICK RAFTER: As long as his body holds up. He's very, very tough out there. I mean, even before the tournament starts, it's like you look through the draw. Even if you see someone tough in there, "Hmm," you always have to pick Pete in front of everyone else, don't you?

Q. It was a pretty dramatic happening with the rain delays, the record, darkness. Have you been involved in other matches that have this level of drama, would you say?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, nothing to the significance, I don't think, of being a Wimbledon final, no. That was a big moment for both of us.

Q. What did you think when you saw all those bulbs flashing in the darkness?

PATRICK RAFTER: That was pretty cool actually.

Q. Pardon?

PATRICK RAFTER: Pretty cool.

Q. Do you have to sort of go easy on the celebrations tonight before you head back?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, you know, it's not going to go down quite as well as if you win. I guess it will just take care of itself.

Q. I mean, in terms of getting back fit for the Davis Cup.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. But I don't want a big night anyway. You know, a long flight ahead of me. Again, you know, I want to be ready for Davis Cup.

Q. You're heading back first thing?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I'm trying to get a midday flight.

Q. Pete had this foot thing the whole time. Did you have any kind of approach to that, thinking that it might be bothering him?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. It was not showing on the court. You know, there was one instance where it was showing. A few balls hit by, he got to them quite comfortably. He knew he could put everything into this last match. That's what he did. I don't think it was really an issue.

Q. Did you and Roy talk about this match at all?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, I haven't really seen him too much. Actually, no, no. It would have been good, just another sort of nice thing if I'd won it. I think it's only amount of time before Pete wins it anyway.

Q. Can you explain your comment with the French Open Championships, needing to win that big championship on clay to seal the deal?

PATRICK RAFTER: You know, I think that's Pete's probably last big challenge. It's one very big challenge for him. We all know he can play well on clay. The weather has got to be fine, have great weather in Paris. You never know what you're going to get there. He's a potential winner, I think he is. He's got to get himself very, very fit in order to win it, though. I think that's his setback. If he got himself very fit, he'd feel very comfortable out on the clay courts. But, you know, like all great champions, I think you've got to win on all surfaces in majors. But, you know, Pete in my eyes still goes downs as the greatest player ever. It would just be something that would really concrete it.

Q. What do you think Roy is thinking?

PATRICK RAFTER: He's an easygoing bloke. I don't think he's really going to give two shits. Do I get fined for that (laughter)?

Q. How did you spend the rain break?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was laying down. They showed a replay of my Agassi match (smiling). Then I slept for 20 minutes, fell asleep. Had to wake me up. Just sort of chilled out, just stayed in the locker room.

Q. What is the main feeling you'll take away tonight and tomorrow?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, it was a great two weeks. It was a lot of fun. People are going to say to me, "Pat, you've done great, well done."

Q. Will you agree with them?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, but it's sort of hard to put in perspective right now. I just lost the match. Hard to be really positive about it. It will be something that will sink in later on.

Q. Once you had been presented the trophy, how aware were you of what to do with it, whether to put it on the table or take it? You put it back, then took it.

PATRICK RAFTER: I didn't want to take any thunder from Pete. He was going to walk around with the trophy. Alan Mills said, "You should walk around with it. They want to see it, as well." It was sort of hard for me to get up there, pick it up, take it around. It was a good experience.

Q. You won your only other two Grand Slam finals. Was the pain of losing one today greater or less than you expected?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really. It was tough, but, you know, I've always said if I lose in that situation, I'll hold my head up and cop it on the chin and be very positive about it. That's the way I felt today. I had a great opportunity. I was very, very disappointed. I held my emotions in pretty well. I just wanted to sort of put it in context a little bit under the circumstances. I really was a good experience for me.

End of FastScripts....

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