UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION
1998 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Flushing Meadows, New York
September 8, 1998
P. RAFTER/G. Ivanisevic, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.
What made the difference?
Was it your first serve not going in?
Yeah. I had maybe 40 percent first serve in. I cannot play on the junior girls with that kind of percentage
Did you try and do anything to correct that?
I don't know. Last night I served badly. So I thought, okay, now maybe I have one day, and I going to change something. But nothing changed. I continued to serve badly. With that, it's tough, you know. It's tough to keep up.
He gets everything back. Have to hit great shots from the back, you know. He doesn't miss. He doesn't do anything from the back, but he doesn't miss. He gets everything back. If I could not put my first serves in, then I'm always under pressurewith the second, he can chip and charge. Then again, I start important fourth set, 15-All, I play a shot between the legs without any reason, only idiot like me can do that.
It's 15-30, you know. Game is over, you know, break. Very bad backhandvolley. I had whole open side, I had cross. He was running five minutes before I hit the volley there. It's break. The way he was serving today was too good. I had a good return, he hit agood volley.
You've played him before. How is he playing now?
He's playing very good tennis. He won three tournaments this summer. He doesn't give you anything for free, you know.You have to work for every point.
Is this the best you've seen him?
I didn't play him long time. Last time was Wimbledon. But, I mean, if he continue to play, serve like this,he's going to be tough to beat.
How much did the break in play from yesterday, continuing ontoday, have an effect on the match?
No, was not effect. I started good, that game at 5-4, that was the best service game I play all the match, and I lost that game. I hit three first serves in the court. He hit three unbelievable returns, which you cannot do anything. It was too good.
But other break was just, I mean, from that, the next two sets, I wasmaybe putting one first serve in whole game. It's tough, you know.
He's there, he's waiting, you know. I have to play good, you know. I have to always play, play, play. And on his serve, I don't have any chance,you know.
I have to work. I have to wait. I have to try. Stay here. Stay there. Hit great returns. He hits great volleys back. Three breakpoints, and again three terrible returns. Was not one -- one miss-hit I hit like home run, one I just miss all theballs with the forehand, and one because he hit these not-so-fast serves, he hits very deep, 100 miles, and he comes very quick to the net, staysvery close, tough to pass him.
When you missed those breakpoints, you threw the racquet. Wasthat out of anger or just frustration at what was going on?
It was everything, you know. I was just -- itwas a chance to get me into the match back. He start to get a little nervous, not too many first serves. I hit a couple good returns, and that was the chance, you know.
And then I come up with three bad returns, you know, two miss-hitscompletely, one backhand. Then it's tough. 4-1, he's pumped. Then I got penalty point.
Did you lose your cool out there a few times?
Yeah, I lost. But is not because of that I lost the match. I lose cool so many times. I hope that I can just put some first serves in, and it was not the question today. I couldn't put the first serves in.
In your last two Grand Slams, Wimbledon and thisone, you've gone out against Sampras, and now Rafter. If those guys meet in the semi finals, how would you look at that match-up?
It's going to be interesting match. I mean,Rafter is playing very good tennis at the moment. He's confident, he's hot. He's going to be tough, you know. Has to win first the quarterfinals. But it's going to be even match.
You say he gets everything back. Is he fast out there? Does he anticipate?
Both. He's very fast and he anticipate verygood. He doesn't hurt you from the back so much, you know. But he just gets everything back. You come in and then he comes with some greatpassing shots, especially from the backhand.
You know, chips in, then if you don't hit a great volley, you're history,he pass you like you're not at the net.
How would you rank his volleying ability compared to some ofthe guys like Edberg you've played in the past?
Oh, he's somewhere up there, you know. Because he moves at the net great. He's there all the time, you know. He picks the side. Even when I broke him in the third set, you know, I had an easy forehand, and he was already there, you know. I had to hit another passing shot, but he's there. I mean, I thought today I hit so many good returns, so many passingshots, but always ball comes back. I don't know how. I hit a winner and ball is back, then again. I mean, he's moving great. He's very great,good athlete.
How about his serve? I know last night I was watching him, there was one serve that was maybe 95, 94 miles an hour, he would kick, he would slide one.
Doesn't hit big serves, but he's very -- I mean,a lot of percentage in, and he's mixing a lot, one kick, one slice, one in the body, and very deep serves. Every time today when he was 30-All, 15-All, he hits the first serve, he's on the line. These lines are sofast. I mean, not once I had the chance, like play. 30-All, I see the chance,and then two big serves, that's it.
Are you disappointed at going out in the fourth round or is this just the kind of day where he's the better player than you?
I mean, I have to accept that he was better player today. I played all the summer good tennis. I can be happy the way I play all this one month. I lost to some good players. Is just a day, you know, a day that he played better, and he deserved to win.
When your first serve doesn't come in, do you try and change anything?
I don't know what did I try. I mean, I tried,but I didn't try, you know. I just -- today I was maybe (inaudible). I was a little stupid today. I was hitting the same stupid serves all the time, and same stupid mistakes all the time.
Is it strange to be here for a US Open and hear all thistalk about baseball and home runs all the time, or not?
No. When I go to the hotel, I heard on TV, youknow. But I don't follow baseball so much.
Does it seem strange, since it's a sport that's not reallyknown in Croatia or other places, that it's such a big deal?
In Europe, nobody cares about baseball. Is just here in the States big. I mean, okay, I following only because the guy is hitting the home runs. Now he has one more and going to break the record, so it's interesting. Otherwise, no way I going to watch that.
Probably for American people, it's a great sport. For them soccer is boring. For us, baseball is boring. It's normal
Looking at Rafter's game, on this surface, is this thebest surface for him, number one? Number two, is there someone in the field that you think will give him particular trouble for a reason?
I mean, anybody can give him trouble now. I don't know who is he playing. Bjorkman?
Bjorkman can give him trouble.Bjorkman is for sure best returner in the game. I know anybody can give him. From now on, you have so many guys up there, Agassi,Kucera, Pete.
How about his style of game on this surface?
This surface fits him the best because it's fast, you can play from the back, you can come in. I think that should be his best surface to play, in my opinion.
Bjorkman's returns are better than Agassi's? Yousay he's best in the world right now.
Yes. For me, yes.