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January 26, 2012

Patrick Rafter


THE MODERATOR:テつ Patrick Rafter is here to announce the Davis Cup team.
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Davis Cup in Geelong against China, we're going a take Bernard Tomic who has made himself available; and Lleyton Hewitt, he thinks his toe will be fine; and Matt Ebden and Chris Guccione will be the four that we'll be taking.
We'll take two orange boys, Blake Mott, who is a 15‑year‑old boy from Woolongong who is playing the futures circuit.テつ We have high hopes for him in about four or five years' time.
Also Nick Kyrgios from Canberra will come along and make up the six.テつ We'll get them introduced to the Davis Cup scene, as well.

Q.テつ Out of those, which was the toughest decision?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ None.テつ They picked themselves.テつ It was easy.テつ I enjoyed this decision (smiling).

Q.テつ Obviously with Lleyton's toe, that would have been a concern?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Yeah.テつ We'll see how he goes, how he pulls up the next few days as well.テつ We'll go to training.
Yeah, if it comes up badly, we'll pick another player to come along.

Q.テつ How important has this tournament been for the likes of Matt and Bernard?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ I think it's been great obviously for Bernard, to see the way he deals with pressure, how he handles the big stage.テつ He's very, very comfortable out there.
With Matt Ebden, just gave him that little bit of confidence to know he can win in Grand Slams and he's not far away.
I also think James Duckworth was exceptional, who is a real standout in my books.テつ He just took everything in stride and performed very well against Tipsarevic.テつ I'm very confident the way he's going the next couple years as well.

Q.テつ What else did you like about Bernie apart from the love of the big occasion?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Everything.テつ He started off this summer really well.テつ I noticed the first match up in Brisbane when he was winning comfortably; he then went on to get down a break in that first match in a tight third set.テつ He found a way and fought hard.
In the past I would have expected Bernard to let it go a little bit, but he hung in there.テつ I thought he moved really well, especially in the first match against Verdasco.テつ His fitness has improved.テつ His whole mental well‑being is going the right direction.
I was very critical of him last year.テつ He wasn't in the right head space.テつ I think the improvements he's made now, he's gone the right direction, and he really impressed me over this summer.テつ He's going to be a very, very good player.

Q.テつ That must be heartening, because you weren't backward in coming forward in challenging him almost after the last Davis Cup tie.
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Yeah.テつ I find it hard to bite my tongue sometimes.
Yeah, you know, hopefully that sort of sank in subconsciously, as well.テつ We had a little issue over there in Sydney.テつ He probably wasn't at that maturity level back then with what I had to tell him.
But he's certainly done something over the November, December time.

Q.テつ I would have imagined you spoke to him privately about it first.
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ We had plenty of conversations during that Davis Cup.テつ To me, he had a poor performance in the US Open as well.テつ I wanted to make sure they got there and they trained really hard in that Davis Cup leading up to play Switzerland.
He was just sort of struggling with life, I think, then.テつ I probably caught him at a weak moment, and I was pretty tough on him.

Q.テつ What do you think changed for him?テつ Is it just maturity?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ I don't know.テつ Yeah, I guess so.テつ He was ready to accept everything.テつ That's come from his father.テつ His father's done a terrific job on him, getting him ready for the summer.

Q.テつ How was he at the time?テつ How receptive was he at the time when you had those conversations with him in Sydney?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ I thought he was receptive, but he obviously wasn't.テつ He said it wasn't his time to listen and take it all onboard.
Like I say, he's just gone to a different level.テつ He was exactly where he should be right now.テつ His attitude was great over the summer.

Q.テつ Was it an attitude thing?テつ You need a certain attitude to make this squad.テつ How big a factor is that?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Yeah, well, also his performances are outstanding, as well.テつ You're right, I am keeping an eye on attitude, making sure guys are doing the right things.
But as I said, he picked himself very, very easily.
What's great, it's not all about Davis Cup either.テつ It's about his career.テつ These were the things that I wanted him to work on to make that next step to be the best player he can.
He's learning all the time.テつ He just needs a few more miles in his legs and he'll start getting stronger and he'll start winning those matches.

Q.テつ A lot of people are convinced he'll be top 10 within the year.テつ Are you one of those believers?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ I think he can do it.テつ It's hard to say, though.テつ Top 10 is a big step.テつ It's another one.テつ He's showing me all the signs he can be there.
I'm interested to see how he goes on the clay.テつ It's probably his least comfortable surface.テつ But he did also mention that he had a couple good matches in Monte‑Carlo last year and he felt pretty comfortable.テつ I'm interested to see where that is.
That's a big part of your rankings right there, as well ‑ although I did very well to avoid it because I really couldn't play on clay.

Q.テつ Semifinalist, Pat.
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Yeah, got lucky.
So, to me, it will be interesting to see how that part of his game develops as well.

Q.テつ You said he made himself available.テつ Up until this week, was there a doubt?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ No, sorry.テつ Probably the wrong choice of words.テつ I ask every one of them.テつ I ring every one of them up and say, Are you available?テつ Of course we are.テつ The first thing that comes out is, Yes, of course we are.
I didn't want any misinterpretation of how I explained that.

Q.テつ What did you take out of Lleyton's heroic deeds here?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Those last couple sets against Djokovic were amazing.テつ It just took me back to those days when he was playing great tennis.テつ He moved really well.テつ You know, I thought he lost a step over the last couple years, but he seemed to find it.
I thought he was going to struggle physically.テつ He didn't.テつ In terms of his heart and can he last those matches, and he had tough matches, he just surprised me everywhere.テつ His whole game seemed to be back to where it was.テつ It was really exciting to see.テつ I was really proud of him.
Obviously his toe was giving him issues.テつ Have to monitor that very closely, especially this tie and throughout the rest of this year.

Q.テつ Has what he's done here changed your opinion of what he might be able to still achieve in his career?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Yeah, I think so.テつ I guess it went off last year a little bit and he was struggling with confidence to win those tight matches and get over the line.
But to see what he did against Raonic was great.テつ It was such a great win for him, gave him a lot of confidence.テつ Beat Roddick.テつ He performed, you know, very well against Djokovic when you thought he was just going to get creamed.
To me that's such a great example of if you try your hardest out there day in and day out, you give yourself the best opportunity on that court, you can nearly turn those losing situations into a win.テつ He nearly did that.

Q.テつ Timing was a bit of an issue in the Swiss tie coming so close to the back of the US Open.テつ What do you think of the timing of this one?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ This is great for us.テつ The US Open, I wanted the guys to get back early.テつ I wanted them to train hard.テつ I thought they were a bit low on tennis really.テつ As I say, I was really tough on them over that tie.
This tie I feel like they've had the tennis.テつ It will be a couple of intensive days, and then we'll take it very lightly.テつ To me they've had all the tennis, they've got the confidence, and now it's trying to get them in a good head space.

Q.テつ Are you leaning towards a doubles team at this point?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Our strongest team at this stage is Lleyton and Gooch.テつ They're the ones that have played the last couple times and performed really well.
We'll have to wait and see again how it unfolds.テつ Also Matty Ebden is our next doubles player.テつ Whether he and Gooch might play, that's a possibility as well.
I don't even know until we name it.テつ We have a couple of combinations there.

Q.テつ What about China?テつ How big a threat are they?
PATRICK RAFTER:テつ Well, I guess I was talking about Lleyton before.テつ When you try your hardest out there, you never give in, you prepare as well as you can, and you always have a chance.
That's the way I see the Chinese team.テつ On paper, they're nowhere near as strong as our team.テつ Over in Beijing, they showed just such great fight and attitude, they could have been sort of semi‑close to a bit of an upset.
We lost the first rubber.テつ We were struggling in the second match.テつ If we were down 2‑Nil, it would have been very interesting.
Again, it's all to do with their attitude.テつ But I hope to think we can get through it pretty comfortably.

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