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September 9, 1998

Jonas Bjorkman


Q. A lot of great volleyers out there on the tour, but something separates Patrick Rafter from just about everybody else. Can you describe what it is?


Q. That's it?


Q. He's just great?

JONAS BJORKMAN: What else should I say?

Q. Is it possible to talk a little bit about what he looks like looming up there at the net when you're trying to pass him?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I'm not trying to, you know, focus how he's playing, how he looks when he's coming in. I don't have time for that when I play matches. It's easy for you to do that than it is for me.

Q. How disappointing is this loss?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It's very disappointing. You know, my confidence has been on top, I still after the first match felt that I've been playing good tennis, playing better and better every match. You know, I've been beating Pat before. So far I have a positive record against him. I know it's going to be a tough one. He's playing well, too. Today he just played too good.

Q. How did you feel you played? Did you feel you were playing really well and just couldn't touch him anyway?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Not well really, but I still thought that I played some good tennis in the beginning. I started off pretty good. I sort of didn't make my returns like I normally do. Normally, I have much more winners. But it was hard to control in the wind. I didn't manage to get back in the normal situation of making more returns, and have much more use of it than I had today.

Q. Did you have to change things as you went along because of the conditions?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I don't think I had to change too much of the conditions. I had to change because Pat was playing too good in the beginning. You know, I was trying to come in a lot. But he surprisingly was returning, and passing shots was working better than I ever seen. You know, I had to stay back and try to rally a little bit more, have to mix it up. You know, I couldn't just stay back because it was too tough in the wind, so I had to get up there once in a while. That was the change. That was because Pat was playing some good tennis out there.

Q. Did you sense in the third set you had a chance at getting back into the match?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I broke him. I broke back, had a close game. Then I had another close game to go up. But, you know, he played some two tough service games. Then, unfortunately, I didn't manage to hold my last one. If I could have done that, it would have been even more pressure on Pat. You know, you never know. You have to fight all the way in. Sometimes you get the third set. You never know, you could turn around everything. He played on a level, you know, what I think is his best. If he would have lost the third, you never know, he could have had a letdown and it's a match again. You know, I was fighting. I just felt if I just got that chance, anything could happen.

Q. He seems very focused on things. When he comes in here, he seems to not notice the wind, whether he's playing night or day. By playing doubles with him, can you sense that he's very focused, that he's really playing well, tuning in on this thing or can you not tell so much?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Doubles is a little different situation. I think both of us is much more relaxed when we go out there playing. We both focus -- before today, we were both focused to go out and win the singles, and then have fun and play doubles and see how it goes. Definitely, we want to win, you know, everything. But, doubles is coming in the secondhand. Especially I think both of us is much more relaxed in doubles. It's very different in the doubles.

Q. I came in a little bit late, but how is he playing? Is this as good as you've ever seen him play?

JONAS BJORKMAN: That's what he told me, at least, that it was probably his best match he played. You know, I played him before. I haven't seen him playing like this, especially the returns and the passing shots was, you know, just too good today. It was not too much to do. I tried everything I had. You know, it didn't work out this time. Hopefully next one.

Q. In that first set, you lost 6-2. Have you ever played so well and lost 6-2?

JONAS BJORKMAN: If I have, I probably forgot it. It's nothing you really put in your mind and think positive about.

Q. But you didn't make many mistakes?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I didn't make too many mistakes. I didn't have enough pace on my volleys. That was the main problem. And I still -- I mean, I've been returning much better than I did today. So it was not the best set, but it was on a good level, and I still lost 6-2.

Q. A lot of players come into this tournament, they like to conserve a little bit of energy the week before, have a break somewhere along the line, so they come in here fairly fresh. Pat has played an awful lot of tennis coming into The Open, also playing doubles here. Are you surprised at the energy level he shows when he gets into the second week of the US Open with all the tennis he plays?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. I think that's the way he's been playing since I met him the first time. You know, I do the same thing. I like to play a lot of matches. I think for his case, he likes to play a lot of matches, as well. He doesn't want to have a week off and sort of settle down, waiting to get into the tournament. He wants to be up there, play good tennis, just get ready, go in, start off really good.

Q. You two played doubles. Yesterday you played. Was there any tension at all? Was it strange?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. I mean, we are so used to it. We play doubles all the time. You know, it happens that we have to go in and play singles against each other, then we have to go back and play doubles. You know, it's the same sort of match like anyone else. Even if it's your doubles partner, and a very good friend of yours, you know, it's another day in the office out there. Both want to try to win. We just go out and give everything we have. The best guy wins. When we get off the court, you know, we're not going to sit down and talk about it, you know. He played the best tennis today. You know, we still talk about something else and have more fun about that instead.

Q. What did you say when you got back after the match?

JONAS BJORKMAN: In the locker room?

Q. Yes.

JONAS BJORKMAN: I haven't seen him yet.

Q. Before, did you talk?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Before the match?

Q. Yes.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Oh, yeah. I mean, why shouldn't we? We're not enemies.

Q. What did you talk about?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, that's between me and Pat.

Q. After, you would not go back and talk about this match at all that you played today? You guys will probably not talk about it?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I mean, that will come in a later situation. But, I mean, like for Toronto, for example, I lost to him. The next day we had to play doubles. It might take a couple days before we talk about it. Like I said, it's another day in the office, and the best guy wins. No matter what points or what happened, you know, that's history. You've got to look forward. I think that's the way to keep friendship, good partnership alive.

Q. Has he changed at all as a person since he won last year, his personality?


Q. Not at all?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Not at all. That's why he's still doing so good.

Q. Does that surprise you, just because to win a Grand Slam is such a huge thing?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I mean, I don't know. The Australian mentality is so different. I think the Swedish mentality is different. Some countries is having a problem that the guys is getting really cocky. But that's not going to happen with an Australian, a Swedish guy, or a Dutch guy. You know, we are totally different in that way. That's not going to happen.

Q. Have you noticed, though, that things around him have changed? Are people treating him differently this year than they did last?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. He's still having a tough time getting in the locker room. I think he had to show his badge today. We all had to show that badge when we got in there. That's the same way. Probably it's going to be more people around him, want to be his buddy, his mate. You know, I think he's having everything under control, knows who's his best friends. He knows which people he's going to have around him.

Q. Sampras certainly is low-key. People say he doesn't change all that much. He does have the aura of a No. 1 player, simply having won 11 Grand Slams. Has Pat gotten any of that? Does he have sort of an aura to other players? Or really because of his nature, his openness, he's not thought of in any bigger way than he was before he won?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I mean, it's more interesting in him now because he's doing so well. When we started in '97, we were like 65, 69. Nobody was talking about him at that time. But that's the way it works. You know, you Top 10, Top 5, No. 1, there's definitely going to be more interest in you. It's always been a lot of things happening around him, because Australia has been waiting for the new Pat Cash. It's always a lot of media around, a big country like that. That's like England, for example. Before Tim, you know, if a British guy won a match on a satellite, there was maybe headlines back home because they wanted to get a top tennis player. That's the way it is. Sweden is a little bit more quiet. It's always going to be like that, even if we have Wilander as No. 1 or Edberg at No. 1. That's the way it works out.

Q. Have you been invited to Pat's Bermuda digs?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I don't know if he's been inviting me or not. We have talked about it once in a while. You know, it's a busy schedule. So far I haven't been there yet.

Q. I was going to ask you what it was like, but you obviously haven't been there.

JONAS BJORKMAN: No, I don't know. He said it's supposed to be very nice there.

Q. Is it only the Americans who get really cocky after they win?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It was you that said Americans. I didn't say that. But, you know, that's the way it is. I mean, I think it's a few other countries that have the same problem, that the guys change after they have a lot of success. That's the mentality they have, unfortunately.

Q. Looking ahead a little bit for Pat. If he runs into Sampras, how do you think that might go?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, the tournament is finished for me. I hope Pat's going to win it, because he's my partner and mate, like he's calling me. You know, it's over for me, so I don't really look ahead who's going to win the matches in the tournament now. I've lost and I'm disappointed about that. I have to be focused on my own tennis, my own life. That's my main thing for the moment.

Q. You're not going to go to see Pearl Jam with Pat tomorrow night?

JONAS BJORKMAN: That might happen. That's an off-court situation. If it works out, I'll have to see what I'm going to do. We got Davis Cup coming up. You know, if I'm available and have a chance, you know, I might join him. I didn't see them in Indianapolis, so it should be good fun if I could do that.

Q. Not going to jump into the mosh pit?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. I'll let him do that.

Q. Obviously a lot of success by your countrymen here. How much of this do you think you can carry over into Davis Cup match against Spain? What do you anticipate?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It's definitely going to help when we have a strong team and everyone is in good shape. That's always going to help. We always seem to pick up a good timing into the Davis Cup matches. So definitely that's going to be an advantage for Sweden to have for the moment three strong guys coming with a lot of confidence into the Davis Cup. We are going to have a big battle, who's going to play. I hope, you know, we have -- with the team spirit we have, we're going to get through and get to the US and defend the title here.

Q. Of course, you may play the United States in the final. We all know how much Davis Cup means to Sweden. But it doesn't seem to mean very much to a lot of US tennis fans. Have you often thought about why the United States doesn't seem to care very much about Davis Cup? .

JONAS BJORKMAN: First, comparing Sweden and US is a big difference. That's maybe why. Sweden is a small country. We are real happy about all the success we have in different kind of sports. Here you got so many more sports here, like baseball. Even if I can't see how you can get into it, that's the way it works out. You know, you got the baseball, you got the basketball, ice hockey and everything. That seems to be -- that is such a long season all the time, that seems to pick up the TV and everything. I think it's a hard competition for tennis and the Davis Cup to get into that competition.

Q. Not even the players, our top three players are not playing.

JONAS BJORKMAN: That's back to your mentality again. We definitely feel Swedish, and we definitely want to represent our country. That's something you have to work out with your guys.

Q. What would happen to you in Sweden with the media if you said, "I'm not playing this next Davis Cup tie"?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I already did that once. But I had a good explanation. But, unfortunately, it turned out to be some trouble anyway. But, you know, it definitely is going to be a big thing if you don't have a good excuse. For example, Kulti wanted to be with his fiancee when they had the first child, and he didn't play the first match. You know, everyone understands that. You got a lot of things that are much more important than the tennis. So everyone thought that was a good excuse. You know, everyone welcomed him to get back to the second match instead.

Q. Looking ahead to the latter part of the season, you have a lot of points to defend. Coming away from the US Open, how much confidence do you have?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I got a lot of confidence. I played really good tennis, much better than I've done the last five or six weeks. I've been having much more fun on the court. That also helps. That's been my main problem lately. You know, I haven't been able to get my fighting spirit back, get the motivation. I definitely turned that around. Even if I have a lot of points to defend, that's the way it works out. If you play good, you're going to have a lot of points to defend. Hopefully I'm going to continue to play well in the fall. Hopefully take even more points than I have to defend.

Q. You and Pat have a similar situation in some ways because you both had a great year last year, then even though Pat won a couple of small tournaments, you really didn't have a great start to the year either. I wondered whether the two of you compared whether it was difficult for both of you to handle the sudden fame that came along with doing well?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I think we both had a little struggle in the beginning with the situation. I know Pat told me in Sydney that he was really -- in Melbourne that he was really glad to get away from Australia because there was so much around him. You know, I had a tough time in Sweden in December, as well. Those sort of things you need more experience, and that's what we've been having. I mean, he still had much more around him than I do. You know, it's still the way it works out. We started to learn a little bit after a couple months. That's something that you'll always -- that's something new, you have to get back and try to learn from it. I think we both made a mistake that maybe we started too early of the year. I got burned out. Even Pat got burned out around the Davis Cup. That's the way it works out. We are both fighting for every point, every match. Sometimes our body says no. We maybe need to think about having some more rest. He had the chance after Wimbledon, which I didn't, because we had the Davis Cup. You know, that's maybe why he's been playing so good again.

Q. No one understands what went on in today's match as well as you and Pat do. You know what it's like to be in that situation. You said you will never probably talk about this match, just something that won't come up between you?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Never? We might, you know, say a few words about it. But it's not going to be like we're going to talk every point, every game, every set. We have more hopefully things that is more fun to talk about. We definitely going to look for that instead.

Q. But is there also a competitive aspect; you guys don't want to talk about it because you don't want to open up to each other that much?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. We know each other so well. I know his game to a hundred percent, and he knows my game. We don't have to talk about it. We just know each other so well, we have things that is more fun to talk about. Tennis is so much in our life. When we finally have a chance to do something else, we rather go out and hit some balls on the golf course and talk about some other things. We need to take the tennis away sometimes.

End of FastScripts….

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