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January 30, 2005

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. How important was that foot fault call when you were leading 3-1, something like that, in the third set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think the actual foot fault was that important.

Q. That game.

LLEYTON HEWITT: That game was important, but the foot fault had nothing to do with it in the end because I ended up winning that point anyway. That game, though, you know, I was 30-Love up that game. So it was obviously a big difference, whether I was up 5-2, still a break. You know, that's the tougher end to play from as well. Always the breeze, and the court slopes a little bit that way. If I could have held that one and had an opportunity at 5-3 to try and serve out the third set then, you know, it was -- the momentum, you know, could have still been in my court. But to his credit, though, he definitely raised his game from that point on.

Q. Did you sense he was losing it a little bit mentally, throwing his racquet down the game before?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit, I think. But, you know, he's a good enough player. As I said a couple of days ago, he doesn't let it affect him too much. I think, you know, through the whole tournament, he loses it now and then but it doesn't really worry his actual play. He really stepped it up from that point onwards. I didn't lose the match; he had to win it.

Q. He said to you at the end that you are a great fighter. Has he knocked that fighting spirit out of you at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Probably a stupid question.

Q. What were you thinking in the first set? Did you think he was nervous or whatever? It was so totally your way.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel like I got out of the blocks and played well, but he hadn't hit his strides yet just either. He's a tough player to play. He can have service games where absolutely he hits three or four aces in a service game, and he comes out and lashes and puts you under pressure on a couple of your service games. He's an awesome player. You know, even when I was a set up, at no stage did I start thinking about, you know, this is just going to carry along, you know, the way it went at the start of the match. You know, and his game really picked up. Sort of got that momentum back the start of the third set. Once again, he stepped it again to another notch. As I said, I didn't feel like I played that badly out there, you know, he was just too good.

Q. Did you feel that you had him? You were running from here to Perth for some points and hitting winners, do you feel that threw him off for a long time at the end of the third set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: At the start of the third set I played a good game to break, to go up 2-Love. I ran down a lot of balls. You know, kept making him play, making him play those extra shots. You know, I definitely put myself in a position in the match there. But he stepped it up. Some of his hitting from the back of the court, you know, late in the third set and then the whole fourth set was, you know, pretty incredible. The amount of power he can generate from -- you know, whether it's a hard ball to him or a slower ball, you know, he's got amazing strength.

Q. There's an old adage in footy that when it comes to finals, you have to lose one to win one. Do you see tonight as a step forward to that ultimate goal or more just an opportunity lost?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if that's a good question to answer right at the moment. I'm sure in a couple of days I'll look back and think that, you know, it's been a great achievement. I'll have no regrets, and I've put absolutely everything into this tournament. You know, I'll be able to walk out with my head held high that I've given everything. But right at the moment, I'm human and I'm disappointed. You know, to come that close, train so hard to put yourself in a position, you know, it's hard to take at the moment. But, you know, my game's definitely better than where it was 18 months ago. You know what I mean? You know, making a US Open final, a Masters Cup final, and now an Australian Open final, I'm obviously doing something right. But would have been nice to get one of them.

Q. How is the pressure in your hometown final? We haven't had a winner since '76, first final since Cash. Did you feel the pressure more?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't feel the pressure any more, I don't think. The whole tournament there's obviously been high expectations and every match has been like a final, I guess. You know, I think I've handled it bloody well. You know, it hasn't worried me the whole time. I've gone out there, done my thing. You know, as I said, I think I can walk away with my head held high knowing that -- You know, it's an awesome feeling to have the whole country behind you. There's no doubt about that. Obviously I'd like a few more Australian players to be in the second week of the tournament to take a little bit of that load. But the feeling that I've had and the adrenaline buzz I've had out on the court, even on my days off and that, the public's been incredible. You know, it has felt like a Davis Cup the last two weeks.

Q. When you were out on the court you said to them if it hadn't been for the crowd you don't think your body would have held up. If this hadn't been the Australian Open, when would it have all ended, do you think? When would your body have given up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I can't pinpoint an exact time. But the crowd, obviously, and the adrenaline and playing in your home Grand Slam, in a tournament that is my favorite tournament of the year, that all combines to going out there and pushing yourself, I think, just that little bit further. You know, I was obviously maybe two points away from losing to Nalbandian, I think, at some stages. Against Nadal, a tiebreak away from losing in the fourth set there. There's a lot of tough matches. Against Roddick, second- and third-set tiebreaks, that's when the crowd got into it. The adrenaline was there and I played some of my best tennis. It's hard to actually pinpoint a time that I might have lost, but I think it just drew the best out of me the last two weeks.

Q. What are your immediate plans, apart from rest?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, rest. No, I'm not going to play till the Davis Cup. So that was always my plan and, you know, that's why I put in all the hard yards in, you know, December, knowing that I was -- had the last four weeks of tough competition - Adelaide, Sydney and then the Australian Open for two weeks. Just get my body through that and now I can have my sort of break for the next three or four weeks. I don't even know when I'll pick up a racquet.

Q. Did fatigue play any factor in tonight's match or was Safin just too good?

LLEYTON HEWITT: My legs were a little sore out there. But, you know, I've been playing through pain the last week or so. He's such a powerful guy out there. He can get you two, three meters behind the baseline and you're just scrambling to get stuff back as well. He doesn't make it easy for you when you're feeling a little bit tired as well out there. But, you know, he played an awesome match.

Q. Seemed a little bit quieter on court tonight. Any particular reason for that? I mean not as many clench-fisting c'mons.

LLEYTON HEWITT: There's not a whole heap you can do when you're down a break in the fourth set and a guy is hitting three aces every service game.

Q. Do you think maybe you have to reconsider playing two events before this?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it's got nothing to do with that.

Q. This is your eleventh time. Was this the best he's played against you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Against Marat?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't think it's the best he's played against me, no. I've played other matches against him where, you know, twice that I've lost to him in Paris indoors, probably a couple years ago in the finals, he was pretty awesome that day. And he always plays well, I think, indoors. Tonight, the first set, he didn't play his best tennis. In the end we started -- it was pretty good tennis out there, I think. He was probably more patchy tonight than, you know. When I played him in Paris he was awesome for three sets.

Q. Do you walk away thinking the surface beat you or Safin beat you? The controversy of the two weeks.

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, Marat obviously beat me. He was too good.

Q. Just on the fatigue, did he having an extra day help or hurt at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think it would have worried him either way, his body. He's extremely fit as well. You know, he didn't quite play as much, you know, as many hours as me leading into, you know, the final. But, you know, he's a good athlete. I've never seen him lose a match because of fitness anyway. Even though he had a tough match against Federer, I expected him to bounce back as well.

Q. You didn't feel sufficiently disadvantaged by playing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all.

Q. Can you talk about Marat as a person. You have connection over the years.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's a good guy. Yeah, I get along really well with him. He's very laid-back. He's a funny guy in the locker room. What you see is what you get, pretty much. What the public see, him on the court and, you know, even his speech and stuff like that, that's Marat in the locker room, you know. I think everyone gets along with him pretty well. But, yeah, he's a really nice guy.

Q. Have you done more damage to the hip by playing through, by playing on?

LLEYTON HEWITT: My hip's actually not too bad. It's a lot of other parts of my body that's hurting more now.

Q. Greg Norman was in your camp tonight. Did you speak to him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I spoke to Greg before. I saw him quickly after the match. I haven't really spoken to him fully. But it was obviously great to have him here and, you know, he flew down for it. So, yeah, it means a lot. He's a good guy.

End of FastScripts….

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