Saturday, August 11, 2001

Tennis Masters Notebook


Rafter is crowd favorite

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — There is no question who most fans are cheering for at the ATP Tennis Center: Patrick Rafter is clearly the crowd favorite.

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Joanie Harrison of Mobile, Ala., and Kathy Hannah of Cleveland cheer for Patrick Rafter.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        He has been for years, dating to his final in 1998 against Pete Sampras when fans were so pro-Rafter it prompted Sampras to say the crowd afterward: “I was beginning to wonder if we were playing in the United States. We are in the United States, aren't we?”

        Greg Rusedski, from Great Britain, noticed but didn't mind.

        “They like Rafter,” Rusedski said. “It might be his last year in tennis here. That's only normal. No problem with that. Just makes me go harder. It would be nice to have the support, but they wanted Pat to win; and they'll be pleased because that's what happened today.”

TODAY'S GUIDE
  • Schedule, results
  • Television: 1-3 p.m., ESPN (live); 10 p.m.-midnight, ESPN2 (tape delayed)
        One sign read: “Rafter: 1st Rate Mate!” Two women were waving blow-up kangaroos. And throughout the match, fans shouted encouragement, mostly to Rafter.

        “If I play Andre, I expect the crowd to root against me,” said Rafter, a native of Australia. “I do seem to have quite a good following here in America because of the results I have had here in Cincinnati and the U.S. Open. It's always nice to have them on your side.”

        HELPING HEAD: Rafter needed a place to rest his hat when he went to wipe the sweat off his face between games against Rusedski. So, he put it on top of the hat being worn by line judge Bob Barr.

        Rafter used his towel, reclaimed his hat and told Barr, “Thanks, mate.”

        Barr has been a line judge for 18 years and said he recalled another time a player interacted with him. “Yannick Noah finished a great, great rally and jumped into my lap,” said Barr.
       

       



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