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June 27, 2000

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, Pat Rafter. First question, please.

Q. What did you think of your performance?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's got to be better than that, I think, if I want to progress a bit further on. The serve started off a little rusty again. It's a part of my game over the last couple of weeks that hasn't been great. It picked up in the third set, and the end of the second. I think I found what's wrong with it. Now I can go out there and hopefully play a better match. But the rest of the game is pretty good, so I was happy with that.

Q. Can you tell us what the secret is?

PATRICK RAFTER: No real secret. Just getting rhythm, I think, and that's what I needed. I'm going to go out there tomorrow and have a good hit and hopefully it will still be there.

Q. Did that occur to you during the match?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I've been working on it. I changed a few things around during the match just trying to look for that right rhythm and the right feeling on my serve. I probably changed little things that you wouldn't notice two or three times throughout the match, just trying to find it. Just found the right way.

Q. As someone who relies on his serve, because of the style you play, are you surprised at how few players are actually playing serve-and-volley tennis these days, and if so why? How do you explain it?

PATRICK RAFTER: The way I see it, it's very difficult to chip-charge. I didn't chip-charge very much because I find it very difficult to stand up on the grass. It's always been a problem. I heard something the other day, it's psychological. But it's just very difficult for me to cover the net when I get in because I feel like I have to guess at this stage. Maybe the early matches, the grass is still quite green, and it's still a little bit slippery out there. The second week, if I can remember from last year, it was definitely a little bit better to stand up on. If I can get through this first week, then hopefully second week I'll be able to move better.

Q. How are you feeling overall? You said last week if you could get a good week of practise and matches in - you did, so how do you feel?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's a good match to get through today. The first hit I've had at Wimbledon. The courts are very, very different to what I played last week. But I think the wins, having a bit of confidence definitely helps.

Q. The shoulder, have you had any problems practicing or anything?


Q. How encouraging is that then?

PATRICK RAFTER: Very. It's just fun. It's just good to feel good again when I'm out on the court and to know that it's going to hold up.

Q. You're obviously one of the seeds to benefit from what happened to the Spaniards. What's your take on the situation?

PATRICK RAFTER: It would have been nice to see them here regardless. I think Pete Sampras said a pretty good point the other day about, you know, they should be here. If they're not happy with their seeding, then prove it. Maybe they can do that at the French, as well. I said that before. If the French want to seed that way, then they probably should.

Q. Were you expecting to be seeded?

PATRICK RAFTER: I wasn't really expecting to be seeded. I was just very happy to get a seeding, very relieved and very happy. I think the way I look at it is do you prefer to play a guy like Krajicek or do you prefer to play a guy like Ferrero on this surface? Then you go straight back to the clay courts. Do you prefer to play a guy like myself or do you prefer to play a guy like Gaudio on the clay? Then they should seed that way, as well.

Q. If there was a computerized system in the ATP Tour which weighted court surface, player's last six weeks, for example, and their history at this particular tournament, spat out the seedings out of the computer rather than a committee of human beings, could you support that, not just the French and Wimbledon, but the entire tour?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I haven't really thought about it. I think the hard courts you can probably leave alone a little bit. You know, I'd probably leave the hard courts. I think the Spaniards - I'm just using them as an example - and the South Americans play very well on the hard courts, as well. I think the clay and the grass can be an exception, though.

Q. Everything you've been through since the shoulder surgery, what perspective has it given you on the game and your life in general?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I realise that it can be over at any time. I'm just pretty happy out here doing what I'm doing and trying to enjoy the most of it right now. There's no guarantee the shoulder will be ready or fit in three years, so I'm doing everything I can, all the strength work, I'm at the gym all the time. I have a lot of other little exercises I have to do every day. If I can continue that, then hopefully I can get through another couple years.

Q. It's not something you really realised beforehand; you felt more invincible?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I hadn't had too many serious injuries that knocked me back like the shoulder. I hadn't had the problem. It's a career-threatening injury. This is the first one I've really had to deal with.

Q. How do you compare your sort of hunger for success now with a year or two ago? Do you want it more or is it waning?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, it's pretty similar, I think. As long as I'm fit and healthy, I think at this stage that seems to be the major thing I've had to contend with. When I felt like the shoulder has been sore, then I haven't enjoyed myself. But right now it feels good and I'm starting to enjoy myself again. I will continue to play well.

Q. Can you assess Lleyton Hewitt's season so far and his run here?

PATRICK RAFTER: How do you assess it?

Q. Can you do that? Are you surprised at all?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not at all. I think the assessment of Lleyton, what I will say is the same as anyone here will say. He's a great player on every surface. He may be ready this week. I said he wasn't ready at the French, but I think he could be ready to do something here. He's great. He's awesome on every surface. He's going to be someone who is going to have multiple Grand Slam titles beside his name.

Q. Has it bruised your tennis ego to have the year you've had so far after all the success you had in the previous couple years?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. Because I've done so well in the past, I feel like this is a bonus thing. If I can get fit again, then I can play good tennis and be competitive at the Slams again. That's really what I want to do, get to that stage again. Now, I guess the players have probably looked at me as someone now that is a lot more vulnerable than what I used to be a few years ago or a couple years ago, even last year, probably someone that you can pick on a little bit more. That's okay. I've got to go out there and prove to myself and them that I can play good, competitive tennis again.

Q. There's been a heavy emphasis on the returning game in recent years. Have you noticed people's service returns have gotten better and better? Are they still on the upswing? The emphasis seems to be on the return game.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I remember back about four or five years ago, people saying, "You know, these big servers are all coming out of the game now. What are they going to do to deal with that?" I said, "Well, I think the game will evolve around people starting to move better, returning better to deal with the big serving." It seems to have probably evolved that way a little bit at the moment. I think it's going that way.

Q. Is it tougher for you in a typical match, are you facing guys who are doing more with the return?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. I still think -- I'm not someone who serves a lot of aces. I try to serve into the corners to get a first volley. I don't serve for aces. But I still think if I serve well, I can still have a lot of opportunity. I still think it's going to be better than someone who returns well. It doesn't matter how well they return. If they can't have a good swing at it, then the service is still a stronger part of the game.

Q. You mentioned - excuse me if I have it wrong - at one point you were thinking if it really wasn't going to go well this year, you might retire. When was that and what were you thinking then and what are you thinking now?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, it was a problem with the shoulder again. Every time I trained hard, the shoulder would break down. But a lot had to do with the sort of work that I was doing too. I probably wasn't doing enough of the right work on my shoulder. Now I've gone back to the basics and done the hard work again on the shoulder. When I seem to do that every single day, which I have to do for the rest of my career, it seems to be good. Yeah, at this stage, I'm working hard, playing a lot of matches. It's holding up well. While that's happening, then I'm happy to play.

Q. Do you have any kind of plan on maybe this year or next year?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not really.

Q. Do you know now how often you have to stop playing for a couple of weeks before you play again? Do you have a feel for that?

PATRICK RAFTER: When I have my breaks?

Q. You go back a couple years to where you played virtually every tournament leading up to the US Open.


Q. Then you relaxed a little bit the next year going into the US Open. You were at that time also playing a lot of doubles. Since the shoulder surgery, I'm sure you've thought about, "I need to take a blow here and there to give it a rest." Do you have a sense of when to back off and take that rest?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's one of those Catch-22 situations. When I play a lot of matches, I play a lot better tennis than when I don't, than when I go in fresh to a tournament. My attitude now is I've got to play those matches. I'm going to play a few more doubles. I'm going to go in the summer to America and play doubles, as well.

Q. With Lleyton?

PATRICK RAFTER: With whoever wants to play. So I feel like I've got to play the matches in order to play well at the Grand Slams. That's what I'm going to do in the summer in America, just get fit by matches, as well.

Q. How do you assess Delgado's game? He's been a top junior. What do you feel about his prospects?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I think he's just come back from injury, is what I understand. He's not taking a lot of confidence in. I think as the match got on during the second set, he probably gained a bit more confidence and probably realised he can do well. When you do come back from injury and searching for those wins, when a big point comes, it's very hard to know what to do. I think that's the indecision he's in right now. I think it's a lot of his confidence. He seems to move very well. There's no reason why he can't be a top hundred player. From there, it's sort of up in the air.

Q. You said Lleyton might be ready. Do you feel you're ready?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I'll take one match at a time. That's the way I want to look at it. I'm not trying to put pressure on Lleyton here at all. If it's not now, it's going to be the next couple of years for Lleyton. Am I ready? I don't know. I'm just happy to be out there playing each match. That's what I'm looking at right now.

Q. What's your take on the Mike and Boris Becker involvement with Mark Philippoussis?

PATRICK RAFTER: That's Mark's call. If Mark is happy with that, then perfect.

Q. Mark has admitted that, "I'm not really achieving my potential, been maybe a little bit lazy." Do you agree with that assessment?

PATRICK RAFTER: I'm not really around Mark very much to see. I hardly see him in the locker room. We don't really talk about his training and that. What I probably -- I probably speak to Gavin a bit and ask how Mark is going. He said he's training very hard. Maybe someone like Becker is going to be great because he'll look up to Boris and really respect what he says, the work ethics he needs to do to be a top player, because we all know his potential. Maybe it might be great for him. We'll just wait and see.

Q. I've read recently that you did a bungee jump. Was that true? With your shoulder injury, did you not sort of worry about that?

PATRICK RAFTER: They tied me to the ankles, not my shoulders, mate (laughter).

Q. Still a risky thing to do when you have an injury.

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, yeah, I think I read over here in England they gave someone the wrong length of rope, as well.

Q. What made you do it?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. Just got to do these things every now and then, don't you? Keep challenging yourself. I guess over the last couple years, I've been a little bit looser with things I've gotten up to. For instance, that sort of thing, skiing. They're not smart things to do, but.

Q. What was it like?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's my second time. That was a lot scarier. I'll leave it alone now. I've done it.

Q. Where was the jump?


Q. How close were you to the ground when the rope stopped jiggling?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. Everything was a blur.

End of FastScripts….

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