Rafter wrestling with comeback
By John Thirsk
CONTENTED Pat Rafter is close to settling his playing future once and for all ... and it's looking increasingly likely the former champion will retire happy with his achievements.
Blithely settled in northern Sydney with partner Lara Feltham and son Joshua, Rafter acknowledges it will be a massive commitment to pick up a racquet again and be competitive.
And the stumbling block could well be his current joyful state of mind. Those who know Rafter well say he has rarely been happier. He has seen the other side of the net - and he likes it.
"I'll be making my decision very soon and when I do, there will be no turning back," Rafter said at this week's Starlight Cup charity event at the Sydney International Tennis Centre.
"I won't be changing my mind after I make this decision."
Many tennis fans would love the charismatic 29-year-old to have one more crack at winning a Wimbledon championship after reaching two successive finals and also to team up with the red-hot Lleyton Hewitt for Australia in Davis Cup.
Rafter admits chasing a Davis Cup trophy is "unfinished business" and a great lure for a comeback.
But whether he has the desire to continue in international tennis will be the deciding factor.
"If my desire is there (to come back), I know Lara will definitely support me," he said. "Time has really flown. I scratch my head sometimes and realise I haven't done a hell of a lot this year.
"But I've enjoyed my time and needed to break away from the game."
Fatherhood has given Rafter a new perspective on life. "Time at home with the little fellow has been a lot of fun. These are days I'll never forget," he said.
"It's been good to get another perspective on life other than tennis.
"Sometimes when you're playing tennis, all your focus is just on your sport and it has to be that way to play your best.
"But there's a lot more to life than just tennis and I always knew that.
"Having a family definitely gives you a different perspective and it's a change of priorities I've really enjoyed."
After years of non-stop travelling, flash hotels and the glitz and glamour, every day activities such as shopping in the supermarket and walking near his new Mosman home are giving Rafter a great deal of pleasure.
"We've settled in well and Sydney is a great place and we are in a great location close to the city."
Rafter said he was currently weighing up the pros and cons of a comeback after a 12-month layoff from tournament play.
"It'll mean a lot of hard work and a lot of training would have to be match toughness," he said.
"Hitting the ball, well, I don't think it takes that long to get that part of your game back.
"The thing is getting back into tournament play and dealing with big-match temperament."
Rafter will consult his long-time coach Tony Roche before announcing his decision.
But even Roche acknowledges his former star is enjoying life away from the tennis spotlight. "He's having a good time," Roche said.
The Starlight Foundation, in its 14th year, has raised almost $4m for children's charities.
Doesnt look to me like he was intending to come back when this was wrote.
Its the latest news I read on him.
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