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January 20, 2015

Lleyton Hewitt


L. HEWITT/Z. Zhang
6-3, 1-6, 6-0, 6-4
An interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was the most pleasing thing about that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just getting the four points, getting the win. It's always tough any Grand Slam, especially early on in tournaments, especially the start of the year, more so playing at home in your home Grand Slam. The first match is always tough to get through. It's obviously a big buildup to it, as well. You know, I was obviously the favorite going out there tonight, but I knew he was going to be really flashy and I was going to have to weather the storm when he had a run-on of games. Happened every time I played against him. I was able to do that and change the momentum when I needed to.

Q. In the last six years when you have gotten past the first round, you've made it to the Round of 16. Do you find getting over that first hurdle is massive?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It helps obviously. Yeah, obviously the draw can open up a little bit if you keep putting yourself in a position, you hang in there and find a way to win. That was important tonight, to find a way. Obviously I get another opportunity on Thursday. I'll look forward to that. It's going to be another challenge, another step up in class. But come Thursday, I'll be ready.

Q. What does Becker bring to the table?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Similar to tonight in some ways, you know, good serve, good forehand. Yeah, he's going to play with a lot more shape on his shots than the guy tonight. He hit pretty hard and flat tonight. Obviously I'm going to have to weather the storm with Becker's serve. He's an experienced player, as well. He's obviously had a really good win against Benneteau today in four sets, which going into that match, you know, you wouldn't have been the favorite. So he's obviously playing well and seeing the ball well. You know, I'll speak to Rochey and Looch and the boys and get a game plan, try to execute and get off to a good start.

Q. You took control in the third set. What was the key?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I just tried to stay in front early on. Yeah, I thought hopefully he was going to have a little bit of a lapse in concentration after playing really well in that second set. I wanted to try and change the momentum as much as possible. The biggest thing was trying to make as many balls as possible. I didn't feel like I made too many errors, unforced errors, in that third set. I can't remember a whole heap at all. So at least I made him play so many balls. But I felt like I was starting to dictate play, and he wasn't able to sort of stand there and deliver.

Q. The ball toss trouble early on?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I just lost my rhythm there for a short period of time. It was really only the first game. Just lost my rhythm. Sort of strange with the cloud, as well, sunlight and that. But got better as the match went on.

Q. How hardened are you by the past couple days with everyone getting through virtually?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's good. Obviously the young guys that have had a lot of pressure and expectation on them, they've handled it really well, which is important. I think for the most part those three guys, obviously Tomic, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, you know, obviously they have big futures. All three guys like playing on the big stage, which is really important. I've seen that in Davis Cup now. It doesn't get much more pressure than playing, you know, Davis Cup, where you're playing for your country and your teammates as well as yourself. It hasn't really surprised me the last couple of days, but they've got to keep kicking on now. It is only the first round. They've got to keep taking their opportunities when they present.

Q. Do you feel there's less expectation on you this year because of their success?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, yeah, for sure. Obviously there's other guys which can do damage in the tournament. It's great for Australian tennis. For a period, obviously when Pat retired and Flip had a few injuries, there wasn't a lot else that could go deep into a Grand Slam. Where now, these guys, they've had little flashes in the pan of quarterfinals, a couple of quarterfinals in slams. But they've got to try to do it on a more consistent basis now.

Q. Will you talk something about your Chinese opponent today.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's a talented player. This is the third time I've played him now. I knew pretty much what to expect. But, you know, to get the wild card from the Asian Wild Card Playoff, he destroyed everyone in that tournament. He was the quality player to get through. Last year he qualified for the Australian Open as well. You know, I think he's got better the last couple years since I played him in Davis Cup.

Q. Word on your next opponent?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's a tough competitor. He plays really tough. Good serve, good forehand. He's an experienced campaigner. He's been around for a long time. He's won quite a lot of big matches. I think he plays pretty well over five sets.

Q. 19 Australian Opens now. It's unprecedented. Are you still having fun? Is it still the same?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the motivation, the buzz is still there, absolutely. You know, I love walking through the corridors, the practice sessions on Rod Laver Arena, the week leading up to the slam. The start of the Australian Open, there's always a real buzz around anyway. But this is one of the things I really miss when I do eventually retire.

Q. This isn't a farewell tour?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I get asked that every day, so...
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