Rafter in Davis Cup team despite retirement talk

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Former world No 1 Pat Rafter was included in Australia's Davis Cup team today, for its quarter-final against Germany less than 24 hours after hinting at retirement.

Rafter, a two-time US Open champion, missed Australia's Davis Cup final triumph against France in December and its 2000 opener against Switzerland last month while recovering from shoulder surgery.

Rafter was named to the Australian team alongside Lleyton Hewitt, Mark Philippoussis and Mark Woodforde for the match against Germany on grass at Adelaide's Memorial Drive, in South Australia state, from April 7-9.

Australian captain John Newcombe said the team was Australia's No. 1 combination and, provided all players were fit, he was expecting big things.

"Anything can and does happen in Davis Cup," he said. "Form and fitness are two very pliable commodities, so we will wait and see how the guys pull up - particularly Pat's shoulder and if Mark (Philippoussis) is suffering any knee soreness - after a week of training on the grass.

"The Germans want this as badly as we do, and all of us know we're in for a long haul next week."

Germany defeated the Netherlands last month to advance to the quarter-final.

Rafter, who underwent shoulder surgery last October after a nagging injury to his right shoulder, told The Australian newspaper he was starting to get "bored" with tennis.

"I don't want to put a date on when I call it a day," said the 27-year-old Rafter during a tournament in Florida.

"I'm enjoying coming out here, I really do get a lot out of that still. But the body finds it hard and I'm starting to feel it's harder and harder the longer time goes on, the grind, the travel, the hotels."

Rafter said he was confident in his own ability to survive but after "living out of a suitcase since I was 17," he was starting to enjoy having a life away from the game.

He said he'd had time to reflect on his career while sidelined and didn't miss the circuit as much as he thought he would, although he was still motivated to play Davis Cup.

"If we can keep winning Davis Cup, I'll continue to have goals throughout the year."

Hewitt said he was stunned to hear Rafter was contemplating retirement.

The 18-year-old Aussie said that if would be a major blow for Australian tennis if the 1997 and '98 US Open champion retired.

"He has been an icon to Australian tennis, particularly in the last five years when he's given everything in his career to win two Grand Slams and perform heroics in the Davis Cup," Hewitt was quoted saying in The Australian newspaper.

"I still think he's as good a player now as he was when he won" the two Grand Slams, he said.