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Chat Reel: Patrick Rafter

Australian star ready for Wimbledon

Posted: Wednesday June 21, 2000 08:10 PM

  Patrick Rafter Patrick Rafter's shoulder is 100 percent as he heads into Wimbledon as a No. 12 seed. Michael Steele/Allsport

CNNSI Host: Welcome to today's Wimbledon chat with Patrick Rafter. Hi Patrick. Thanks for joining us.
Patrick Rafter: Thank you.

From KC in Long Island, N.Y.: How do you feel about being a No. 12 seed at Wimbledon? Do you think it's fair that Wimby is the only slam with a seeding committee?
Patrick Rafter: I think it is fair, but I also think that the French Open could do it as well. There are many players out there that don't play well at all on grass who are highly seeded. So I think it is fair, especially at Wimbledon. If the French Open wanted to work it back the other way to help out the clay courters, they could do it too.

From Guest: What's your goal for Wimbledon?
Patrick Rafter: I'm just starting to hit the ball a bit better now. I don't know my whole draw, and I don't like to look that far ahead. I've done well there the last three or four years; especially last year, I did very well. I'd like to at least make the fourth round or quarterfinals.

From Gernblandston: Patrick - Thanks for coming! Are you preparing for Wimbledon any differently this year, to help keep the shoulder in good shape, etc? Also, how do you feel about the upcoming hard court season?
Patrick Rafter: I'm not preparing differently this year. The shoulder is 100 percent right now. I'm just trying to get some confidence. The hard court season has always been very good to me. I really hope I can do well there again, and if my preparation is good, I'm sure I can have good results there again.

From Linde Rich in Houston: Have you looked at your quarter of the draw? What do you know about your first round opponent?
Patrick Rafter: All I know is who I play first round; I don't know any more than that. I don't like to know anymore. I like to play one match at a time. The guy I play is an English boy, and he'll have a lot of local support. It's a match I should win and I'd like to think I will win it. But I never take it for granted, so I never play any match easily. I'll be playing 100 percent.

From Guest: What's the weather outlook for London right now? I hear it is bad. Does that affect your practice at all?
Patrick Rafter: I'm not in London right now; I'm in Holland playing a tournament. It just started raining today. The English weather, you never know what you're going to get.

From Carol Showalter in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.: Could you tell a little about your visit with the Pope?
Patrick Rafter: It was a bit of a nervous experience. It was a very quick meeting; very short. We didn't know what to say or what to do. We kissed his hand and asked his blessing and walked away. It was as quick as that. A very amazing experience at the same time, to even say hello to him.

From KC in Long Island, N.Y.: What is your best memory of Wimby as a pro? And what is your best childhood memory of Wimby?
Patrick Rafter: Best memory as a pro would be... probably playing Andre Agassi in '93 and qualifying. Playing center court was a dream. For childhood, it was staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. in the morning in Australia, watching Wimbledon on television. Then to do and play where you watched as a kid is a dream come true, to actually be there.

From Guest: Are you aware that Pete Sampras has not mentioned you as a contender for Wimbledon, but that he has mentioned your fellow Aussies? Do you think you have the element of surprise working for you, now?
Patrick Rafter: Well, I have not had great results, so it's fair for him to say that I'm not a contender. I know where I'm at, at the moment and my preparation is getting much better than what it was. So, maybe it might be a surprise, but it's fair for someone to not put me in that category right now as my results haven't been that great up until now.

From Sarah: How has skipping the Australian Open this year contributed to your desire to win Wimbledon?
Patrick Rafter: No change... each tournament I play, I'm very excited just to play and to try to win. So I don't approach Wimbledon as any more special this year because of not playing the Australian Open.

From Guest: I read at some point that you felt uncomfortable with being a celebrity - has it calmed down now, or not? Have you become more comfortable with it?
Patrick Rafter: Well, things have definitely slowed down -- I don't have to do as many appearances, which is nice. The public has probably died down a little bit too. It's a nice change that's been good I think, because I have a little more time to myself.

From Guest: With what female player would you like to play mixed doubles?
Patrick Rafter: Never played mixed doubles... But if I had to, I'd probably play with any Australian girl, I suppose. I'd like to play with people from my own country -- any Australian girl, I'd say. I imagine they're looking for Kournikova. (laughs)

From Mariza Galvao in Wiesbaden, Germany: I just would like to know, if you feel tired of playing tennis at the moment? That's the impression I got while reading and listening to news when it comes to your shoulder injury. As a big fan of your kind of tennis and therefore a big fan of you, I think it would be sad to see you stop playing soon.
Patrick Rafter: I get tired of not being able to play 100 percent when I've got problems with the shoulder. It's sort of depressing. It's also depressing talking about my shoulder all the time to the media. I answer that question many times each week. The shoulder is good now, and I'm starting to enjoy myself a bit more.

From Guest: Have you seen the photos of your bungee jump in Hamburg that are in Tennis Week? How was bungee jumping?
Patrick Rafter: I have not seen the latest issue. The bungee jump was very scary. I will not do it again.

From Guest: Is there a player that you least likes to play?
Patrick Rafter: I've always had trouble with Wayne Ferrera. Also Lleyton Hewitt. I haven't beaten him before. And no one likes to play Sampras.

From Jason: Who was your inspiration as a child?
Patrick Rafter: I loved Borg for a long time. He was one of the first players I ever really liked and respected a lot.

From Benjamin Eliasoph in Washington, D.C.: There has always been two major different styles in tennis, those of the patient clay court player and the hard court attacking player. But recently it seems there are different tours (American & European) for each style, and players choose the events and venues that suit their style. Do you think this separation is hurting the pro tour?
Patrick Rafter: That's a good question. I don't like to go to the clay very much. If I'm playing well on clay, I can have some very good results, but for me, it's better that I take my break that time of the year. I like to save myself for the hardcourt season in America. The clay courters are the opposite. I don't know whether it's hurting the tour, but you might be right. I'm not sure.

From Guest: Hichan Arazi called you a "warrior" after your first round match against him in the 1998 US Open. Do you feel that same kind of determination and drive as you face Wimbledon after having been a semi-finalist there last year?
Patrick Rafter: Well, that was a unique match at Arazi because he was beating me comfortably and I fought back. When you're down, you fight harder and I always fight hard whether winning or losing. Every match I play, I'm always playing at my hardest. If that means being a warrior, I guess I'm like that every match.

From Guest: How do you like the current ranking system? I have read that many of the players dislike it.
Patrick Rafter: Well, I think it's as confusing as the last one. For many of the players... It's the first year, so maybe it will be better next year. We're still learning it. So far, it's not making things easier; just more complicated for us.

From Ani: You have good results on grass as well (one of a handful of players who have multiple grass titles). Are you getting to like it more as a surface?
Patrick Rafter: I play well on certain grass courts, more so than others. The ones I feel very comfortable moving on, I generally have very good results on. The tournament I'm playing on right now is a very good surface. Many other ones -- like Wimbledon -- are quite slippery. So I sometimes struggle to have my best results.

From Joanie in Mobile, Ala.: Patrick, your high backhand volley is one of your most beautiful shots--has that come naturally to you or is that something you have spent thousands of hours practicing?
Patrick Rafter: It was something that I used to play around with a lot; we used to try to bounce it over the back fence when we were young. It has taken a while since the shoulder surgery for it to come back strong. It's feeling a lot better.

From NYC: How do you keep fit off court? I have heard you like to surf. Are there any other activities you enjoy that also keep you in shape?
Patrick Rafter: We kick an Australian rules football around a lot. We like to play that game. I've just taken up surfing. I like to try to do many other sports to keep fit -- maybe touch rugby. Those are the main sports I like to do

CNNSI Host: That's all the time we have for today. Thanks again for joining us, Patrick. And good luck at Wimbledon.
Patrick Rafter: Thank you very much.

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