Rafter overcomes jitters
AUSTRALIA'S new crop of players emerged yesterday in the HK$2.47 million Salem Open Hong Kong tournament.
Forget the two 'Woodies', Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. Watch out for Patrick Rafter, a 21-year-old right-hander, currently the top-ranked Australian (26) on the ATP circuit.
Rafter, who turned professional only two years ago, moved into the second round of the men's singles after overcoming early jitters against Dutchman Jan Siemerink.
The tall Rafter, who stands 6 foot 1 inch in his socks, dropped the first set 2-6, before recovering superbly to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-4.
''I was very negative at the start and I was feeling down. I'm happy to have got out of it,'' said Rafter afterwards. ''My adrenalin started surging once I was on top and everything was then okay.'' Not only does he stand tall, Rafter also comes from the largest family of anybody on the professional Tour. He is the third youngest of nine children and started playing tennis at the age of five, with his father and three older brothers.
Two more Australians, while not in the same league as Rafter, as far as ATP rankings are concerned, but who were as successful yesterday were Jamie Morgan (No.71) and qualifier Michael Tebbutt (192).
Morgan defeated Italian Gianluca Pozzi 6-3, 6-4 while Tebbutt overcame Swede Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 6-3.