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August 31, 1997

Mark Woodforde

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Mark, what was the difference between the last match with Agassi and today?

MARK WOODFORDE: I think today he came out there with a totally different game plan from last time. You know, he came out with a purpose, and I think it worked very well for him. You know, last time I actually served very, very well and was able to win my serves comfortably. You know, it allowed me to sort of free up on the returns. I was able to keep into the match and keep my nose in front. Today, I served very badly compared to what I have for the rest of the tournament, and even the last couple of tournaments that I've played. That was really the major difference. I think he played better than last time, a smarter match. You know, he was very focused out there, so.

Q. Who do you like between him and Rafter?

MARK WOODFORDE: I'd like to say my countryman is the person that I'm going to be, you know, supporting all the way. But I think it's going to be a great match to watch, and hopefully I'll still be here in a couple of days to watch it because I would like to see how Pat can play against Andre. You know, Pat is playing great at the moment. His basic game plan is going to be to serve and volley everything, try and hustle Andre. It will be interesting to see whether Andre's up to the task of returning a great serve, sort of having the answers or pushing away the attacking player as much as he can. So it's hard to really pick, but I think the way that Pat's playing, maybe it will give him the edge.

Q. Did you play Andre at all during his hardcourt run in '94?

MARK WOODFORDE: No, thankfully.

Q. Can't really gauge where he is?

MARK WOODFORDE: No. But I was beaten love and love by him when he was playing pretty well. It's not a nice feeling. I think when Andre is probably on form, you know, doesn't matter who he's facing or whose serve he's returning, he stands there and clocks them. He certainly clocked a few today. Maybe that's why I didn't serve so well, because he started off returning quite strongly. So, you know, as I said, Pat has one of the better serves around at the moment and is very confident with his service game, serve and volley. I think Andre, even from where he played in Washington to the next tournament to Cincinnati to Indy, where I played him, to now, I think there's been an improvement. You know, a win today against someone who had beaten him previous time, you know, that's going to give him a good boost in confidence. It's going -- it's going to be a great match. You know, it's not going to be long points and everything, because obviously Pat is going to want to make them short. See what happens.

Q. Do you think Andre is close to that top form?

MARK WOODFORDE: He's getting there. He's getting there. I mean, even in the third set there today, once I started to serve a little bit better, trying to just place it a little bit better, try and work on my rhythm, I got a few free points there. And Pat obviously is going to be serving better than what I did. Just remains -- basically it will come down on the day, how Pat handles it out there. You know, he's played a heck of a lot of matches up until now. Andre wants to steamroll anyone up the other end, doesn't matter who it is. I know Pat has beaten him in other matches, so I don't think Pat is going to be too frightened of the occasion, hopefully.

Q. How much has his game improved since Cincinnati, Mark? And is he a genuine threat?

MARK WOODFORDE: Well, I played him in Indy, Indianapolis is where I played him. I think even after I played him, I had said to the press people there that, you know, while he's got through some matches, and even though he lost to me, I think he's going to be just a real dark horse for the US Open. I think I also said back then, you know, depending on his draw and if he can work his way into the tournament, you know, he's going to be a frightening figure for some of the guys. He sort of manhandled Voinea the other day, got through me pretty comfortably. You know, I think he's looking forward probably to the task of Patrick Rafter. As I said, there has been an improvement. That's, I guess, all he's looking for, to get better and better.

Q. What did you say to Andre after the match?

MARK WOODFORDE: I said, "Well thought out today. Well played. Good thinking, and good luck for the rest of the tournament."

Q. Didn't you say something in regards to Rafter?

MARK WOODFORDE: Yeah. I said, "Even though it's another Australian, good luck. Don't take it the wrong way." He said, "Of course, of course." It was pretty easygoing out there.

Q. Mark, do you feel the same in the new stadium as the old one?

MARK WOODFORDE: You know, I would have liked to have tried to electrify the crowd today. I think the way that I was playing, I guess the crowd were hoping for a stronger match by me. The feeling wasn't quite there, you know, today, thanks to me unfortunately. The other day when I played out there, they really got into the match. I've noticed from other decent matches out there, it seems very, very loud. You know, it's going to take -- don't expect for it, just because it a new stadium, it's instantaneously going to have a fantastic feeling out there, and everyone is going to be hoo-ha'ing out there. Takes a bit of time to build up a bit of emotion and history to a new stadium. This will certainly have it in years to come. There are some big matches left for the rest of the tournament. I think it's going to be a fun rest of the week or coming week for the fans.

Q. Mark, you've had a couple days to cool off since the doubles debacle. Are you and Todd going to be able to get through this rough patch?

MARK WOODFORDE: You know, we lose a doubles match, it's no big deal. I mean, I think it just goes to show that we're not infallible. You know, sometimes the favorites lose. For me, it's no big deal. I was disappointed. I'm sure Todd was disappointed. But the thing is, you forget about it. You have to forget about it. It makes you stronger. We've always worked on that aspect of making it a stronger union between us when we do suffer a loss or unexpected loss. That was certainly unexpected. We didn't want it to happen. I mean, I think it will work out to be a positive. We'll be roaring to go come Davis Cup time.

Q. Mark, after your last match, you said that the true test would be whether Agassi is on the ball. He wasn't when you played him in Indianapolis. Is he really on the ball right now?

MARK WOODFORDE: He was on the ball for me. The way he came out, I mean, he specifically played a certain way, which is not really the way perhaps maybe you're all expected the way Andre plays. Usually he hits the crap out of the ball, hits a lot of winners. He hit a lot of winners today. He was setting up the point, giving me a lot of slow balls to my forehand. Usually he hits the trigger, going for shots early in a rally. Today he extended the rallies. You know, I just couldn't get enough pace off of my shots, especially off my backhand chip, to get into the point. He played very smartly out there. Just shows you that he was on the ball for me. I mean, he's got to now play a totally different player from what I play. Patrick Rafter, like I said to this gentleman here, is going to serve and volley everything, chip and charge. He's not going to give Andre any time. It's now for Andre, tomorrow, the morning of his match when he plays Pat Rafter, to see if he can mentally prepare himself for that. That will only be answered on the day. He's certainly getting better and better.

Q. Mark, it's always been an article of faith that a great serve and volleyer will beat a great baseliner. Has that turned at all because a change in technology? Do you still believe Rafter, being on his day, serve and volleying, can beat a great baseliner?

MARK WOODFORDE: I like to think of myself as a serve and volleyer, finish up he at the net anyway. I always feel if I'm playing a baseliner and it's close in a match, as long as he doesn't have a humongous serve and is able to get free points or something, I always feel like I'm being an attacking person who can put enough pressure when it counts, to edge it through. But, you know, some of these baseliners today, you know, just have huge serves. When it does get close, towards the end of a match, they're able to still get a good percentage of big first serves in. That makes it tougher. You know, I think -- and that's the new generation of players. The older generation of players, the baseliners just rolled their serve in and started a point basically. But I still believe an attacking player, late in the fifth set, should be able to -- the odds go with them winning a match.

Q. How surprised were you that Agassi had a totally different game plan for you than he did the last time you guys met? How come you weren't able to counter?

MARK WOODFORDE: You know, I was surprised that he came out and played that way early. It took me by surprise. It obviously took me, you know, a long while to sort of try and get comfortable with it. Last time I played, hitting with more pace, I was able to use some of his pace to better effect. I just couldn't really find an answer. I was always in two minds, whether to try and serve volley my second serve, but I was frightened of his return, the quality of his return. I should have just taken the chances and come in and tried to say, "Hey, my volleying game up at net is a strength, and let's see how good your passing shots are." And I didn't go head-to-head. That's what disappoints me. Of course, I didn't serve well. I let him really dictate the game. In Indy, I was sort of dictating a little bit. That was the difference. So, yeah, I mean, next time, the good part of tennis is that I can play him again somewhere, somewhere soon hopefully, and I can try and work out, if he plays that way next time, that I can do something a little bit different to stop him from doing that, see if I can end up being the victor.

End of FastScripts….

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