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October 23, 1997

Patrick Rafter

Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle Stuttgart, Germany

Q. After losing a first set like you did, how much more confidence do you have this year that you know you are going to come back and win?

PATRICK RAFTER: I didn't have very much today. I just had a lucky break go my way. It was a very close way. It could have gone either way. Once I got the break up, I just felt a lot more relaxed. I felt like playing some tennis. In the beginning, I mean the first set and halfway, the beginning of the second set, I felt quite tense and tight with the way I was hitting the ball.

Q. When you wait so long before your first match, a "bye" and a"walkover", is it tough to get over? Is that where the sluggishness comes from?

PATRICK RAFTER: I guess it is more of a nervous start because you are not quite sure how you are going to go and playing someone who has already five tough matches, you know, you are out there thinking, you know, well, you feel like you have to sort of get off to a good start because you know he has had some good wins.

Q. Patrick, we saw you last year lose to Moya at the French Open. You would have to admit that was a pretty easy toss, but this year you have totally, totally turned that around. Your volleys are terrific. How did you do that?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't know. I guess it has been a combination of a lot of things this year for me. I have decided this year that I will probably travel just by myself a lot and then have Tony Roche and John Fitzgerald travel with me a little bit. And I guess I worked a lot harder than I have ever worked before. I guess a change of attitude a little bit, just sort of hanging out, having a good time, enjoying life a little bit. I wanted to continue to go out and go out with my mates a bit. I think it is important to get everything in perspective a little bit. Be professional at the right times, though. I think it makes for just better tennis, more relaxed tennis.

Q. Your knee was taped. Why?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I have had this problem for a little while. I think it is something to do with a meniscus. It is not the best thing. Just overuse, I guess, playing so much tennis this year, I guess after a while something has got to break down. At this stage, it is fine, but, I have got to keep an eye on it. Do you like the shave job? Looked pretty good, aye? I shaved the leg.

Q. Are you alone here or is some of your big family --

PATRICK RAFTER: I have got a mate here with me. I have brought a friend over, a mate over from Australia. Sometimes I travel with a brother. I don't know, sometimes it is good to have a mate. Brought one over here for four weeks and he also is quite a good tennis player, so we got to do a lot of work leading up to Hannover. So we are looking forward to that tournament.

Q. Last year Becker also talked about hard work and how he improved his serve. Specifically when you talk --

PATRICK RAFTER: Becker said that?

Q. Last year at Munich, yes. How, particularly, did you improve with hard work, I mean, what did you work on?

PATRICK RAFTER: I started doing a lot more work on the court than off the court. I used to do a lot of running and a lot of sprint work. This year I just said -- I have a friend, a coach back home, a guy called Gary Stickler, who I work with in Brisbane. He said, "Listen, start doing all your work on the court and forget about your off-court work." So, instead of doing two hours on the court, and then two hours off the court, I might do three and a half hours on the court. So, this way I am hitting a lot more balls and it is more tennis specific. So, that is the way I have incorporated hitting more balls.

Q. A lot of people ask you how excited you are going to Hannover. I mean that is a new experience for you. How do you describe it?

PATRICK RAFTER: Well, I guess I will know when I get there. Just being part of the last eight is a pretty amazing thing. I don't really know until I get there, I guess. At this stage, I got Stuttgart, Paris, then Stockholm. I guess after those tournaments are finished, I can start thinking about Hannover. At this stage I am concentrated on these tournaments first.

Q. You are one of the best tennis players now in the world. Is tennis now your life?

PATRICK RAFTER: It always has been my life. Yeah. It always is. The rankings say I am one of the best, but I am not necessarily one of the best.

Q. Who are the best?

PATRICK RAFTER: There is about 50 guys, I think, that are very capable of doing very well who could be in the top 10.

Q. You and who else?

PATRICK RAFTER: Me and 50 other guys are the best.

Q. Speaking of best, Gustafsson told the ATP television the other day that your volley is the best, period. How have you been able to accomplish that?

PATRICK RAFTER: I have accomplished that by Edberg leaving the Tour. Once Stefan is gone, I am about the only other serve and volleyer, I guess. Who else is he going to say?

End of FastScripts….

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