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January 18, 2019

Lleyton Hewitt

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

(Transcribed from Room Two audio recording.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is that your final Australian Open match, Lleyton?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Possibly. I don't know. Yeah, I still enjoy playing some doubles sometimes on the tour. Yeah, for me, I've enjoyed playing with some of the younger Aussie guys. Gives me an opportunity to see them firsthand, as well, how they handle pressure in different situations.

It certainly helps dealing with the guys on the Davis Cup court when I'm out there with them on the sideline. But, yeah, I don't know right now. Sorry.

Q. Would you consider yourself a full-time player? You're playing another tournament in New York after this, you played three this month. Played more tournaments last year than Serena did. I remember your retirement vividly in 2016, but you're still here.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I retired from singles. I never retired from doubles. So for me, I've enjoyed playing some doubles at times. Yeah, it's something that is a lot easier on my body, to play half a court, obviously. Yeah, it is a totally different game to singles, as well, just what you got to work on on the practice court.

But, yeah, I don't know how much I'll play.

Q. Both feet into doubles now or sort of half?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'm not full-time, no. Not full-time.

Q. What did you make of Bernie's comments?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah, well, Bernie, that is what we've come to expect from Bernie. Pretty much whatever Grand Slam it is, after a first-round loss, he'll come out with something.

Yeah, my relationship with Bernie... We're trying to set cultural standards for the Davis Cup and representing Australia. He hasn't really been close to those in the last couple of years. Since then, I haven't had anything to do with Bernie at all.

For me, the biggest frustration is I feel like I really went out of my way to help Bernie, especially when I first came into the role. Spent a lot of time with him one-on-one at a lot of tournaments. Tried to get a coaching structure and physical team around him to give him the best opportunity.

At the end of the day he still kept making the wrong mistakes. For me, it was probably the abuse that I caught from him that, yeah, in the end I drew a line in the sand. Yeah, haven't spoken to him since.

Q. (No microphone.)
LLEYTON HEWITT: He won't play Davis Cup while I have anything to do with it.

Q. So you haven't spoken to him since Monday night? You won't reach out to him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. No. I think the threats that I've received, for me and my family, that I've had for a year and a half now, I don't think anyone would reach out to a person that speaks like that, so...

Q. Directly from Bernie?

Q. Or from his team?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. From Bernie.

Q. (No microphone.)
LLEYTON HEWITT: Nick, absolutely. Bernie won't. Right now for Nick, I feel like, as I said, the biggest thing that Rochey and I have moving forward with the Davis Cup team is we feel like we have a responsibility to set a cultural standard. Right now Nick is not meeting those either.

The things that we feel like we have to push and all we ask for is commit to the sport, go out there and give 100% every time you step on the court.

Davis Cup, with the new Davis Cup system, it's only possibly twice a year, but it's got to be every week of the year. You're representing your country every single week. You have kids back in Australia idolizing these guys. So that's one thing.

The other thing is to go out there and be a great role model the whole time. I'm happy to help anyone who's willing to meet me halfway. I think you have to enjoy going out there and playing.

I think Nick, with what he said in Brisbane, not actually wanting to be there really at the tournament, I think that hurts one of our Australian events. So he's got some work to do I think to get up to those standards.

Q. Were they physical threats or verbal threats?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Both. Blackmail, and physical, yeah, yeah.

Q. You mentioned your family, as well, threats.

Q. Can you tell us? Is that partner or...
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah, fair amount. Just close-knit family. But I still have those.

Q. Do you feel threatened by him?

Q. Are they empty threats to you?

Q. How did you feel about the allegations of preferential treatment for certain players? How did that make you feel?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It makes me disappointed, the biggest thing, because deep down Bernie knows what I've done for him, you know, how much time I spent. Flown up to the Gold Coast to try and put teams around him when he was struggling mentally with certain issues, as well. With his family situation at times.

So for me, it's been more just disappointed. Probably the first two years that I was in this role, been a bit or three, the first two years Bernie and Nick were my two priorities. For Bernie to come out and have a go, but more to get all his facts wrong, that's probably the most disappointing thing.

Q. Is the position basically that Nick is salvageable?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely, 100%. Yeah, I've spoken to Nick. We continue to speak. Nick and I have had a great relationship. But I think there's still standards that have to be set. The role I'm in now, you have to have standards. We see it in all different sports, as well.

Yeah, all I want guys to do is to commit to the sport and work hard, want to play for Australia. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Q. Do you feel vindicated by your wild card selections with players?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's unbelievable. They got an opportunity and they've taken full advantage of it. I'm not surprised. The biggest thing is what we want to get back to, and this is the biggest thing Rochey and push with these guys day in, day out, whether on the practice court or behind the scenes, one thing you control is how hard you work.

Those guys have worked their butts off this pre-season, all of them. You can throw John Millman in that category. Jordan Thompson has had a great summer. They've had massive pre-seasons. There's no secret, 50% of tennis is going out there and doing the work. For Alex to be able to last tonight, that comes back to the work he's done with Tom Couch, performance team here in Melbourne throughout November, December.

For me, it's satisfying seeing those guys get results. You know, that's the first time for Bolty being on the big stage, too, tonight. To last five sets against a seasoned campaigner like Simon is, yeah, something to tip your hat to.

Q. When Justin Gimelstob was arrested, you were the one prominent voice that said the ATP need to do something about this. He's now being charged with aggravated assault. But the ATP board voted he should continue as an active member. Are you disappointed by that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: That's all news to me. I don't know that. That's the first time I've heard it, that he got charged or whatever.

I would be disappointed, yeah. But I have to know a little bit more about it first.

Q. You of all people know about the passion about Davis Cup matches, particularly at home. Talk about the new format. Are you disappointed by that? Do you think something will be missed?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed. I've been very vocal from the start. I think the one great thing that Davis Cup had that kept its difference to anything else that we have was the home and away aspect. You get a token now once out of the year. But if you end up making semifinals, you don't get that opportunity.

My greatest memories in tennis is playing Davis Cup Finals home or away. They're an unbelievable team-bonding experience, something that I'll treasure forever. I'm disappointed that our young guys won't get that chance.

On the other hand, I don't know how this Davis Cup format it's going to go. I really don't. My goal is just to get through Adelaide and get ourselves the best opportunity of going to the final. We'll work out what the best plan of attack is for the final, but we have eight or nine months to do that if we can get there.

I would like to think that it's going to be a feature piece where a lot of the top players are going to play, but I've heard rumors that they may not either.

For me, I will be fielding as strong an Australian team as we possibly can. For me, it's still representing Australia. It's wearing the green and gold. I have guys that would do anything to do that. We're going to use that as our cultural standards, is playing for Australia. We're going to do everything to win.

Q. Can you explain when these threats from Bernard started and how frequently they were?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it started because -- it started because of blackmails to do with wildcards. This was over a year ago.

Q. Has he stopped now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't -- yeah. I don't think he's got my number hopefully any more.

Q. Given the talent that Bernie and Nick have got, as an Australian particularly, how frustrated are you by the fact that that potential they've got isn't being realized?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. When I was working with Bernie, the biggest thing I probably saw with him was he didn't work hard enough. I realized pretty soon if he didn't pick up his game fitness-wise, he's game style, he didn't have as big of weapons as Nick to finish points off when he needed to. He was going to have to seriously commit. He was so far down the line from not training, though, that it was going to take four or five pre-seasons and years for him to even get close to Murray, Djokovic. That's why he's got very little chance of going deep in majors.

Q. With the change in format of the Davis Cup, does your role change at all? Does it change aspects of how you go about your job this year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Into the Davis Cup?

Q. No, into (indiscernible).
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not for me, no. It doesn't have any difference with what I'm doing. For me, I've still got to focus on the men's pro space. It's not just the Davis Cup guys. There's 19- to 23-year-olds that we fund as well, are part of our pathway, that fit our criteria that I have to work out the coaching situations, the physios, fitness, the best things for them on the road as well. That goes down to the challenges where those boys are going to (indiscernible) in the next couple weeks. For me, no, there's still plenty on my plate.

Q. Bernie said that you were getting some percentage of profits from some of the guys you gave wildcards to or your management company.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't have a management company.

Q. Are you getting any of their earnings?

Q. Why does this keep happening with Australian tennis? Why is there so much more drama here for the past seven, eight years than almost any other country in the world? Is there something fundamentally broken in the Australian tennis landscape?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that I know of. I'd like to think that -- you know, I don't know what's happened, why Bernie is Bernie. I have no idea. Probably his upbringing, I'd say, has a big part to do with it.

As I said, Nick, I feel still has a lot to learn, absolutely.

Q. There's been a lot of problems.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Things have happened, 100%, yeah. Yeah, I don't have an answer. But then I look at Alex de Minaur, Alexei Popyrin, Alex Bolt, John Millman, what he did at the US Open, there's a lot of good stories, too.

For me, the most disappointing is what I said the other day, you know, on day one we had these great wins by a lot of our guys, and all these Bernie comments overshadows it. It's one clown making a silly comment, and that's the main news.

I just feel like we should be talking about, we got some exceptional players doing exceptional things here. They get one, two weeks a year to shine on home soil. I don't really want to take the limelight away from them.

Q. Did he claim he has something on you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. It was all with Davis Cup, to not play.

Q. Threatening not playing?

Q. (Question about social media.)
LLEYTON HEWITT: That's one of the standards we can't put up with, absolutely. Just for the culture of Australian tennis moving forward, can't do it. I don't think it's a good look. I've spoken to Nick about it. He understands that. Whether he learns from it, that's another thing.

Q. Although the comments came from Bernie, will you investigate about playing doubles, whether there's any issue within the team that you do continue to put yourself in the doubles?

Q. For Davis Cup.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not planning to play doubles at the next tie. The only reason I played in Austria is because we had a lot of guys unavailable. There was a lot of guys that made themselves unavailable right before the tie. In the end, Jordan Thompson was most likely going to play, but Tomo played on day one, John Millman injured himself, and Tomo most likely was going to have to play the fifth rubber.

Q. Would you welcome any sort of investigation into Bernard's allegations of preferential treatment?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I treat everyone absolutely the same. So, yeah, anyone can look into anything.

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