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July 3, 2000

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: First question, please, for Pat.

Q. Pretty easy, compared with Mark.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah. But I don't think I could do what Mark has done right now. I'm not that fit and strong. At this stage, I'm very happy the way things are going.

Q. What do you know about Alexander Popp?

PATRICK RAFTER: He's big. Seemed to me he served pretty well. Even today - I think I saw a little bit - he passed well and returned well. He doesn't look like he's going to serve-volley, though. But if I can serve as well as I am, I'm sure there will be opportunities on his serve.

Q. You're on a really nice roll right now. You've had a nice draw here at Wimbledon. For the people you're playing, you're playing a very high level. How do you know in your own mind, or do you have to know, how well that level will stack up against the best players in the tournament when you get there, if you get there?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, I guess I haven't run into anyone like Tim has. He's had a pretty good -- pretty tough draw. Yeah, so, you know, I guess only time will tell. At this stage, I'm gaining confidence, believing I can win again. I think that's pretty important when you're going against those guys, big guys. I don't really know until I get to play them how I'll go. I'll be a lot more confident than what I have been in the past, that's for sure.

Q. Do you have a hunch, based on what you've been hitting this last week, whether those same shots will be effective against Andre Agassi?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, if I serve well, it will come off. You know, yeah, I think so. I guess only time will tell, though. I don't really know. And I've got to win my next match.

Q. Is returning another aspect of your game you've been pleased with?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, today I felt like I just wanted to get the ball back over. Thomas is not playing as well as he was a year ago, so I was just thinking about getting the ball back and getting into play. Like today, I just wasn't really that aggressive with my returns. And if I feel I have to be, then I will go for my returns a little bit more. At this stage, I'm getting the ball back and getting it into play, so I'm doing what I have to do to win.

Q. Were you a little bit annoyed not to close it out in the third?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, it was tough. I had a lot of opportunities. I was serving very well. He didn't have one opportunity on my serve. Quite often that sort of thing happens when you come to a tiebreaker. It's a little bit frustrating. But I kept it together, and I think that was an important part. I knew I would have another opportunity to break him in the fourth set. You know, when you put that sort of pressure on someone all the time, they've got to break sooner or later.

Q. You looked quite pumped up today. A little something extra there?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. The last few matches I've been pretty pumped up, pretty excited. Just good to be out there feeling good again, playing good tennis. And I want to do very well.

Q. Didn't look very happy when you had to go in at 5-Love up. Didn't feel it was completely necessary?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was a strange one (referring to the rain delay). I think everyone was in the locker room shaking their heads, "What's going on?" We're watching Court 1. I guess they thought something more was coming. That's Wimbledon.

Q. Didn't do you any favors?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. He came out, started serving very well. He actually served well in the second set, I think, as well. Then his serve went out a little bit. In the third and fourth, I was on his games. I could return his serve. He came out on fire and I knew I had to hold that off.

Q. The amazing Pete Sampras said that he got a very weak handshake from Jonas after the match, and it sort of suggested to him that there's some people in the locker room who are questioning whether he's really hurt. Never heard Pete talk like that before. He seemed convinced that Jonas might be one of those people spreading rumors that Pete was just sandbagging an injury.

PATRICK RAFTER: What did Jonas say here in the press?

Q. I think he basically said that's ridiculous, it's not true. Are you hearing anything in the locker room?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I played Pete in '98 at the US Open. He had a thigh injury. It was frustrating because he was out there, he was sort of complaining. He'd come out and serve some big serves. Someone like Pete, when he's injured, he's very capable of playing good tennis still because he has such a great serve. He can hold his serve and have a crack every now and then. He runs only when he needs to run. He saves himself. I've seen him do that at the US when I played him. I guess he's doing that again here. There's been comments passed in the locker room about it. But I think all in all, Pete's pretty genuine. It is funny in the locker room. There's a few comments that fly by. At the end of the day, you've got to trust the guy and how he's feeling.

Q. Do you think it's the general fear factor of Pete that always exists among top players, trying to rattle him?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. No, that's not the way I'd see it. You don't want to rattle someone like Pete, it just gives him more ammunition.

Q. So what's the motivation for someone to say something like that or start that rumor?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's just sometimes you see him run for balls. You think, "Is he injured or not?" I guess everyone is thinking, "What's he doing? Is he injured? Is he not injured?" I think Pete probably saves himself and runs only when he needs to, on the big points. Someone who serves as well as Pete does, you don't need to move too far to get a good first volley.

Q. It's emerged that Jelena Dokic has sacked Rochey as a coach. I want to get your view on how good a coach he is.

PATRICK RAFTER: You guys are hammering me. I don't really know the ins-and-outs of it. If you want to speak to him, you speak to Rochey about it.

Q. I guess I want to know how high will you rate him as a coach?

PATRICK RAFTER: I find him not just a great mate, but an excellent coach. He's very good mentally, as well, in his own little way. He doesn't say much. He only says something when he needs to say something. Rochey, he's great. I think he's the best in the world. But I haven't used anyone else really.

Q. It looked like you enjoyed it too much in the third set, and you were toying a bit with him.


Q. Toying. Was it true?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. No. I wasn't trying to send anyone up out there. I was just trying to do my job and win.

Q. When you said Mark is sort of fit and strong, how fit and how strong do you feel?

PATRICK RAFTER: Mark is naturally very strong. I've found Mark to be -- in the past, I don't think he did much off-court work. He might do some gym work, that sort of thing. The amount of work I've seen him do, go out there and play a big five-setter, he is naturally a very strong boy. Matches like he had with Schalken, he just always seems to be very strong and gets through it. I think a lot of it's very natural.

Q. You're also saying you don't feel fit.

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm feeling better, but I need to work a lot harder. I feel I need to work very harder than I did.

Q. In the darkest days of this shoulder injury, is there one person who kicked your rear-end and got you back out there?

PATRICK RAFTER: The only one that can do it -- no, it's got to come from yourself. If you're not ready, no one can push you. I can't listen to anyone because if I don't want to go out there and do it, I'm not going to do it.

Q. Were there days where you were ready to chuck it in, had to rethink it?

PATRICK RAFTER: It was frustrating times out there. Hard to put in one a hundred percent. At the end, I got through it. That's by doing the right correct work for the shoulder. Makes it so you can do it. When you're out there struggling, you've got to do it yourself. No one can tell you. No one can tell me, I'm too bloody stubborn.

Q. When you look back, is this a turning point?


Q. Yes.

PATRICK RAFTER: I think it started last week even in Rosmalen when I started winning some matches again. And again here, because I think people in the locker room probably think that now I'm probably coming back to somewhere where I was before.

Q. Did you notice with the courts today that your second serve was kicking a little higher?

PATRICK RAFTER: I started slicing, he returned it well. I went back to the kick serve, which he was struggling with. The courts are very hard.

Q. Are you getting more height?

PATRICK RAFTER: A lot more than I can ever remember at Wimbledon.

Q. When you say in the locker room people think you can beat them, is there a feel when you're in there? Do they ignore you?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, no. The guys in there are always pretty friendly. I'm pretty sure in the past, the last few weeks, "Pat, not a bad draw." That's fine with me. I've been pretty happy to have that going into the matches. Within myself, I've been feeling, "How am I going to go today?" I had no idea. Today I feel like I can win this. It's a whole different feeling - not just within myself, but within the other guys, as well.

End of FastScripts....

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