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January 17, 2006

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. 5-6 down in the fourth, did you think you were just about out by then?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Funny enough, not really. Definitely helped being up the other end. I always knew that that end was always playing a lot easier to break serve from, and also hold your own serve. So the game at 5-All I felt like if I was able to hold that game, I was in a hell of a position to be able to break that next one. I wasn't able to hold, but then played probably the best game I played all match to break in that next game.

Q. What's the difference in the ends? Is it the sun position? Wind? You're feeling more confident at one end than the other?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the court slopes a little bit further on that end. Also the wind, 90% of the time, comes from that end as well straight down the court. It's always been the case ever since I've played on Rod Laver Arena.

Q. Does that play on your mind at all when you're down the other end?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. Sometimes it makes you -- yeah, you grit your teeth. If you can hold serve from the other end, sometimes it's a bit of a bonus. It depends a lot on who you're playing, though, as well. Vik, he can come up with some good serves here and there, but he's not the biggest server. Nine times out of ten you're going to get in a rally with him. That's when it sometimes helps being up that other end.

Q. Won a lot of five-setters here in your career. Did you feel you just about had him after taking that fourth set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, pretty much. I felt pretty good. But then again, he could have easily gone away when we had that extremely long game to go 3-1. He kept fighting. Played a great game, as I said, from the better end of play to get back to 3-All. Yeah, I really had to try and concentrate hard on that next game to try and cut his momentum back then.

Q. You obviously wanted some match practice. Is that something you needed, a three and a half hour epic?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, nearly four hours. Yeah, that's match practice. Can't get much more time on Rod Laver Arena (smiling).

Q. How much has it taken out of the tank?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I actually feel not too bad. During the match I, you know, had an energy burst out there come and go a little bit. I didn't feel like I had a lot of energy throughout a lot of the match out there. I was really struggling to get myself up. You know, it was more a mental battle in the end to try and keep telling myself, you know, to hang in there and bide your time and wait for the opportunity. You know, I think in two days' time hopefully every match is going to get better, another step in the right direction hopefully.

Q. Do you have any of the effects of that virus from last week? Are you a hundred percent?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. Today felt a little bit -- my energy didn't quite feel a hundred percent out there. That's no doubt about that. But, yeah, that's why it was definitely a more mental battle to try and find a way to win.

Q. When you get sort of midway through that kind of a match, do you get frustrated at yourself for getting into this kind of a big ding-dong battle at this point in a tournament or is it you're playing as well as you can and the other guy is really playing some good tennis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm not thinking about at all that this is the first round and this shouldn't be happening, not at all. Whatever the situation out there, you got to still find a way to win and get through the match. Yeah, he was playing some good tennis out there. He's a tough player. He was taking it to me the whole time out there. It was a matter of just hanging in there and waiting for the opportunities. Yeah, I wasn't really thinking about, you know, my next match or who I was going to be playing or whatever. It was just focusing on trying to get this one under the belt.

Q. The things you were talking about before with the wind, the slope. Vik was in before and talked about the shadows on the court. You add all those things together, how much advantage do you get from that wealth of experience of having played out here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. The shadows, yeah, they are a little bit -- yeah, they're hard. Last day match, nine times out of 10 you're going to get it, got to be prepared for it. When the schedule was done, I knew I was going to be third day match, I could pretty much guarantee I was going to be getting some shadows at some stage during the match. Yeah, experience a little bit with the court. I know that he's practiced on it throughout the week. You know, once you get out there, the lines are still the same size as well.

Q. He attacked you relentlessly, moving you from side to side. He seemed to have a rhythm about his game. How did you feel about your own rhythm throughout the match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A bit patchy. I didn't feel like I was striking the ball quite the way I would have liked. You know, that's when you got to grit your teeth and hang in there, try and find a way to win when you're not playing well, when you're not playing your best tennis. That's what I can be proud of what I was able to do. Yeah, something I'll definitely take into the next match.

Q. Nadal match last year, thought you weren't quite there, you pulled that off. Seemed to be a similar sort of match today.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know if the standard was quite the same. The score line was very similar.

Q. A lot of hype surrounding your next match. What are you expecting from Chela?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it looks like he had a pretty convincing win against Murray. I thought Murray might give him a little bit of -- a few problems out there. He seems like he's handled it pretty well. Last couple weeks, he's had a couple of first-round losses. He obviously hasn't had the most matches under his belt either. For me, it's another match. It's a match -- I've played him quite a few times now. Got to go out there and try and dictate play more than anything. I know what he's going to come out with, that's for sure.

Q. Have you made up since last year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I wouldn't call him my mate.

Q. Seemed to have a firm and frank exchange with Vik's coach at one stage. Something getting under your skin?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Vik's coach?

Q. Yes.


Q. Turned and let him know what you were thinking at that time.

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't even know who Vik's coach is.

Q. Was there someone that you were having a go at then that was sitting in the stands?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. Actually, I don't know what you're talking about.

Q. How do you feel your play is this year compared to last year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Last year I had a bit more momentum coming in, that's for sure, winning Sydney, making the quarters of Adelaide.

Q. Right now after the first round.

LLEYTON HEWITT: First round of any Grand Slam, you just want to get through more than anything. It's never an easy one. Especially probably playing in your home country, as well. Last year, I had a tough opponent in Clement on paper and was able to get through in straight sets. Definitely played a bit better in that first round than today. But still survived and through to the second round.

Q. Did you feel a bit under-done?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I didn't feel like I was striking the ball as well as I would have liked. I haven't played a lot of matches. Probably partly to do with it.

Q. How do you rectify that? Just by practice in the next day or two?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. Work on small areas that I feel like I need to. But hopefully, you know, in two days' time, come out, got a lot of the cobwebs out of the system as well today. Last year in the second round against James Blake, I didn't hit the ball great. For two, two and a half sets, really wasn't moving and striking the ball quite as I'd like. You know, that was sort of my one small dodgey match out there. From there, I was able to build up. Hopefully I can do the same.

Q. Do you feel like this was a dodgey match or Vik was the guy who came to play and maybe surprised you a little bit?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't feel like I striked the ball as well as I would have liked. But, you know, he brought his A game. He played extremely well. He kept coming at me the whole time. Even when I served for the third set to go up two sets to one, he still stuck to it. Speaks a lot of him.

Q. Peter Luczak toughed out a good one today. Nathan Healey through. Happy for those boys?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, especially good for Looch. I practiced with him a bit in December. He's a good lad. He works extremely hard. He's from Melbourne, as well. It will be nice -- a couple of years ago, he made the third round. Not sure who he plays next. I think he's moving up in the right direction, that's for sure.

End of FastScripts….

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