January 31, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Tell us how the preparation has been going with your team leading into the ATP Cup this year.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's been going as well as possible, I guess. Obviously three out of the four, except Alex, have been out. Obviously coming in from Australia, different parts of the country. There was a few stressful moments I guess trying to make sure everybody with the borders could get here and start training in Melbourne, get used to the conditions, not have to go into the actual international bubble.
Then Alex on the other hand was in there. But I think he was able to get on the courts, he's hit on the match courts for a couple of hours most days. Yeah, the boys have been thrilled the last two days to be out here at Melbourne Park, feel like the tennis is starting here in Australia, which is really nice.
Q. Lleyton, how much time have you spent together then?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, not so much as a team. But these guys, they've been traveling and doing it pretty tough the last nine months, 10 months on tour. Quite often they hang out together. They're always hitting together.
Obviously as our two singles players, Alex and John, they're going to have hit a hit later this afternoon on Rod Laver. We get to play twice on their in ATP Cup, both our matches.
John and Luke have been training doubles-wise for quite a while now, last couple of weeks, since John came from Perth in quarantine there.
The fortunate thing is as captain, these guys know what to do. It's about preparing, getting their bodies and minds switched on and ready to compete on Tuesday night.
Q. What does it mean to you personally to be involved in the ATP Cup?
LUKE SAVILLE: Yeah, this is a massive highlight for me. I've been working very hard for this moment to represent Australia. It's been 10 years since I played Junior Davis Cup, so... I'm thrilled to be here alongside these guys. To get the call up, I'll be ready when I get the call up to go out and play or even be on the bench.
A massive thrill for me to be here. Obviously going to really enjoy the next few days.
Q. How different does the setup feel this year given the COVID protocols?
ALEX de MINAUR: It's been a little bit different. I think one of the biggest things we've all learnt with the situation is it's all about adapting. Now, we've all had different kind of preparations for this tournament. I'm sure that come that first ball, we're all going to be rearing to go and ready to put on the green and gold and represent our country.
Q. John, what did you make of the ATP Cup from afar last year? What are you expecting out of the atmosphere?
JOHN MILLMAN: Yeah, last year I managed to play a couple of games. It was awesome. Any chance to play for your country, I love it. Love donning the green and gold. I'm all for team competitions.
For me, one of the proudest moments is representing my country at Davis Cup and the Olympics. But I thought the ATP Cup was a really good introduction last year. I'm glad we could continue the event.
Q. Alex, obviously you got off to a great start. How do you feel about your preparation going into the Open, ATP Cup? What do you make of your chances?
ALEX de MINAUR: Well, look, I started off the year really well. Now we've had a couple weeks during quarantine to kind of prepare and look at different aspects of my game to kind of tweak, get ready for the Australian summer of tennis.
Look, I'm very happy with the job we've put in as a team throughout the pre-season and now these last couple weeks. I feel like I'm ready. I'm really looking forward to going out there and stepping out on court and competing in Australia. It's been a long time coming so I'm very pumped, that's for sure.
Q. Do you feel there are special burdens on Australian tennis players these days given the restrictions? How do you see that working over the next year because the travel restrictions aren't going anywhere?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely. I think we're in a tough situation because Australia as a whole has been able to handle the pandemic, yeah, as well as anyone in the world. To be able to host events like this with crowds, it's unheard of right at the moment.
We're lucky we're an island. We're lucky we're away from a lot of countries. We can control our borders. But as tennis players, looking from afar, I'm not the one that has to travel with these guys all the time. But I think it's the most brutal sport there is with the position that the tour is in as an individual sport on a global stage where you're playing in different countries, to use your passport every single week to go into different places, get visas, the quarantine procedures in every single country are so different as well.
I think it makes it really hard for these guys. Obviously I spoke to Alex before deciding that he was going to come back into the international bubble here, because he's based in Spain. That made the decision a lot easier to do his pre-season there, come back into the bubble, get a couple hours on court.
You have to do what's best for you and where you're based and situated throughout the year. Johnny is based in Brisbane, but for him to go off and try to compete for the whole year, possibly waste two weeks sitting in a hotel when he comes back at any stage isn't easy.
There's a lot of outside-the-box thinking that has to go on to be an Australian tennis player right now. But these guys want to get out there and compete, as well. They're willing to do the hard yards and make sacrifices for that.
I think that's what make this kind of event and the Australian Open so special for these guys, as well, is the efforts everyone has put in to have it on. Not just Tennis Australia and the ATP, it's more so the Australian public, what they've been through all year.
Q. What are your thoughts for this week coming up, teaming up with Luke in the doubles?
JOHN PEERS: Yeah, no, it's always exciting to get back to Australia, start the year off with ATP Cup again. I mean, last year the atmosphere was fantastic. I know we played in very different circumstances for the back end of last year, actually didn't get to play in front of crowds for a lot of it. I think it's going to be really exciting for Australia, for the Australian tennis community and the community as a whole, to get in front and play sport, put it back in the forefront of people's minds.
Hopefully, yeah, no, it's going to be an exciting time. We get to play in front of crowds again, get a bit of atmosphere going, get ready and raring to go.
Q. Lleyton, you saw Nick on court yesterday, putting Tennis Australia hat on him. What do you see in his return to tennis? Even Bernie Tomic is trying to climb back up the rankings.
LLEYTON HEWITT: They're probably at different stages, Nick to Bernie.
Yeah, Nick, I think as a whole him having a bit of a break away from the sport where he's positioned, for his body and mind I think is a good thing. Because he hasn't played a match for so long, though, it's not going to be easy for him just to come out and switch it on either.
I think it's perfect for him to hopefully get through a few rounds in one of the ATP tournaments that he's playing this week. But from a whole, he looks to be hitting the ball well, clean, he relies on his serve and is serving big at the moment.
I think it's important for him to get some of those nerves out of the way this week, so come the Australian Open in a bit over a week's time he's ready to go. Trying to just switch it on for five-set tennis when you haven't played for nearly a year isn't going to be easy.
He's hitting the ball well enough to push deep in the Australian Open for sure. I think next week's a good challenge for him. Yeah, just to get out there and feel it again.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports