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July 5, 2000

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: First question to Pat, please.

Q. When did you last make such few mistakes?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was tight today. I knew I didn't want to give away too many shots. I tightened everything up and just made him play a lot of balls. Probably a little defensive at times, but at the end it sort of worked. I wanted to make him play a lot of balls. He was a little bit tight today.

Q. Semifinals, Andre Agassi, Wimbledon. Does this sound familiar?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yes. A little fresher than last year. Had a lot of tennis end of the week here last week, a lot of doubles, as well. Andre is obviously playing very well. Hopefully the result can be a little bit different for me.

Q. Were you surprised by the result with Mark and Andre? Did you think it was going to be tougher for Andre?

PATRICK RAFTER: You know, I think the first set was very big for Mark today. You know, psychologically, if you get up, you get a bit more adrenaline, you probably feel a little bit fresher. Mark has just done really well to put in two big back-to-back five-set matches. I was very surprised he came through even against Tim, the way he must have been feeling. You know, today, if he got that first set, I think anything could have happened. When Andre gets ahead, he's a tough man to stop.

Q. There were times today when Mark was serving 130, 140 plus, and Andre was giving them back as good as he got.

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I'll go out there and play my game. That's all you can do. You can only go out there and play your style. If it's not good enough, then obviously you're dealing with a lot better player. There's no use changing something, because if it's not your natural game, you're not going to win anyway. You give him your best. If he beats you, you take your hat off to him.

Q. You played undercover on Court 2 and 3. Today you were on the No. 1. How did you deal with the first week, the cover, now you're on semifinal?

PATRICK RAFTER: Is your question saying I've been on the outside a lot?

Q. Yes, that you are a little undercover.


Q. How did you deal with that?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, well, it's a lot easier dealing with it when you're not in the limelight than when you are. I slipped through the draw pretty quietly. I think that's always a very nice way of going through a draw, people not expecting very much of you. You just take each match at a time. That's all I've been focusing on. It's just nice to be back in the semis. Now we're down to four players, or three and a half - I don't know what is going on there - four and a half, whatever. It's a good opportunity now for all of us.

Q. What is the main thing that occupies your thoughts when you prepare to play Agassi?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, you have to be on top of your game. You hope Andre has one of his bad days. I've played Andre a few times when he's had some really bad days. I just hope he has one (smiling). It's very hard to get him under a bad day, though. He's playing good tennis to beat Mark. I'm not expecting a bad day out of Andre. Conditions today were a bit heavier than what they have been. I hope it's a little bit quicker. The No. 1 thing is you've got to serve well, and you've got to do it well all day. If you can do that, you've got a chance.

Q. Does it worry you that you haven't been on the Centre Court? It does tend to play a bit differently.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it has in the past, I know that. I'm sure it's playing differently here, as well. Nearly all the courts have played differently, though. They've all got different atmosphere. The courts probably all played a little bit differently - 2, 3 and 1 - that I've been on. It would have been nice to be out there. But, you know, I'm just happy to be in the semis, I guess.

Q. How far are you from your best form?

PATRICK RAFTER: Today was a match that wasn't exactly a very pretty match. I think Alexander just struggled with everything there today. I could feel him just being a little bit tight, a little bit nervous, being on a show court, in his biggest match ever. All I knew, what I thought to do today was just get the ball back and he's going to make the errors. That's what I had in my mind. I didn't necessarily be very aggressive out there. The tennis probably wasn't that pretty, but it was good enough to win. Against Andre, I'm going to have to step that notch up again. There's no weaknesses in Andre at all.

Q. You seldom hear anybody talk about Agassi's serving, possibly because he doesn't register those big numbers. He was in absolute command of the match today against a guy who hits well off both sides. What is it that makes his serve so surprisingly effective?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I remember last year he served great. I think I had two set points, two breakpoints, 15-40 on his serve. I never really got into his service game at all. He mixes it up very well. He can be tough to pick at times. I remember here last year he was very hard to pick. He had a lot on his serve. He was serving very hard, in the corners. I'm presuming that's what he did again today. Someone like Andre, you can't just get the ball back over the net on your return; you have to do something with it. He opens up the court on his serve, and he just rips the next one. Grass is not an easy surface to move on once you're out of balance. He opens up the court; he's in control. That's another part of his service game that works very well.

Q. What was kind of the lowest point of your shoulder problems, and did you ever think you'd be back in this position so relatively quickly?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was hoping I'd probably get back quicker than what I did. There have been many low points. It's hard to pinpoint one. It's sort of gone in waves, it really has, up-and-down, my shoulder. There's been plenty of low points. Before the French Open was probably the last discouraging moment with the shoulder that I had. But I thought it may have come back sooner. I was hoping it was going to come back sooner. Now it's just more a relief, just satisfying that the work's starting to pay off that I've done with the shoulder. Now it's back to a hundred percent.

Q. No one likes injury, of course. Do you feel a certain freshness or eagerness now that you have the first great result in a huge tournament?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. I think as much as anything, it's a little bit unexpected for myself, a little bit probably unexpected for everyone else in the locker room, as well. Probably haven't expected me to do as well or come back maybe because I've showed no real signs of coming back very well after the shoulder surgery. I guess it's very satisfying.

Q. Are you surprised yourself?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, no, because I've always felt like if I got my shoulder right, if I do the hard work again, good results pay off. It's always paid off for me in the past. I thought there was going to be no difference in why it shouldn't pay off again if I'd done the work. I was starting to do the work again.

Q. You mentioned at home you struggled because of the attention you get in Australia. Do you almost prefer to play away?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it's a little bit more hectic. I don't know. I get myself tied up in a knot a little bit when it comes around Davis Cup time. I become pretty stressed out - a lot of nerves, a lot of stress running around. You want everything to run smoothly.

Q. In Australia, you mean?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, pretty well everywhere actually. I think the big reason why I haven't performed very well in Australia, I don't think it's because I can't deal with it, it's probably because I just don't have the matches. I've just probably been unprepared. At the Australian Open, I generally go in a little under done.

Q. You mentioned low points maybe that you faced. This is certainly a high point. You have seemed very calm when you're in there. Is it fun for you to be back in doing this again?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it's very satisfying I think more than anything.

Q. But not fun? You're not really letting yourself enjoy it till it's over?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'll enjoy myself after Davis Cup. I know I've got this week and next week also back in Australia. The next couple of weeks are very hectic for me. I'm just trying to remain pretty focused and not get ahead of myself. Sometimes I've found if I get in a tournament, get really excited, I probably go out a little bit, don't concentrate as well on the next match. I've learned to sort of keep my emotions under wraps a little bit.

Q. Did you get too excited last year?

PATRICK RAFTER: Last year? No, I was too tired to get excited.

Q. Would you say the fact with this shoulder injury, the fact you've been on the outside courts, slipped through the draw, these last few months have been a character-building period for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, got to work on my character, mate (laughter). I think I've learned a bit about it. I've been pretty moody, actually. When the shoulder gets sore, I've been a little bit uptight, upset. I probably haven't learned much. I probably should have learned to control myself a little bit better, but I got a little bit upset, disappointed, down in my press conferences, lost a lot of matches. But I've always believed that if I've done the work, the draw opens up, you can slip through very quickly and quietly. That's exactly what happened here at Wimbledon.

Q. A couple of things worried you in the first week. One was the footing on the court. The other was trying to flatten out your second serve. How are you doing with those things at the moment?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I found when I flattened out, my second serve, the guys have been onto it the last couple matches. I've just stuck with the kick serve. It seems to be working well. The movement. The court is sort of brown and hardened up a lot. It's a lot easier to move around the baseline. But if you get back ten feet behind the baseline where actually I found myself a couple times today, the grass is still very slippery back there. Everything has hardened up. It's just coming into place a little bit better.

Q. You really won't be changing your game?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't really have a change of game anyway.

End of FastScripts….

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