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January 28, 2005

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. How important was the seventh game in the third set, do you think, when you finally started really nailing your returns, got into his head a little bit? Was that a crucial game for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was to, yeah, step it up. I felt like I had a lot of opportunities out there to break serve. He came up with some massive second serves, you know, 30-All, fif-30 points. You know, throughout the second set, I felt like I was the better player and had a lot more opportunities out there, and I just really couldn't get that breakthrough. You know, I played that second-set tiebreak especially well, extremely well. Got off to a good start and, you know, kept it going from there. I returned a lot better in that tiebreak. Yeah, but then the third-set tiebreak was pretty telling as well. He had a mini break there, and I was able to get that back. When we changed ends at 3-All, I was able to really turn it around from there.

Q. How is the hip?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the hip's good. Felt good out there tonight.

Q. Can you put into words the occasion here, hundredth year, your first final here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, this is -- it's awesome, it really is. You know, it's a little bit hard to believe right at the moment. But, you know, I know all the preparation that Rash and I have done for a long time to come into this tournament. I would have given anything to be in this position, to have an opportunity to play one match for the title here in Melbourne. Yeah, now part of that dream's come true. I get an opportunity Sunday night. You know, I know as well as anyone that I'm going to have to go out there and play one of my best matches to get up against Marat. But, you know, at least so far I haven't put too many feet wrong. I've put myself in a position to have a crack at it.

Q. Some players seem to buckle under the expectation. But you seem to be feeding off it.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't think expectation has ever worried me too much. You know, I got thrown into the spotlight at a pretty young age and I think I've been able to handle it pretty well. I've played enough big matches in, you know, Davis Cup ties for your country. I think probably the expectation doesn't come much bigger than that. You know, I think my Davis Cup record speaks for itself.

Q. You've made no bones about what you wanted to do, and you talked about this preparation. Does that date back to the moment you walked off court in the US Open final? Was it even before that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably even before that. Probably more so Wimbledon time, I think. Yeah, the US Open, you know, obviously I felt like I had a pretty good opportunity there. I was hitting the ball extremely well going into that tournament. I was on fire obviously with the results that I'd had in the North American swing. Yeah, but the Australian Open obviously meant, you know, a lot to me. I think everyone knows how much I love playing here in Melbourne. I think that's why, you know, Roger and I set our seeing on really trying to -- at The Masters Cup we didn't really focus much on the Masters Cup, it was more playing against those top guys and getting good preparation for a couple months' time down here in Melbourne. You know, so far so good.

Q. How do you go about preparing for a tournament that far out? Can you give us some idea of what format preparation has taken over six months? Continual training?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, it's training. The Masters Cup, I went there more to enjoy myself. You know, the other Masters Cups that I'd been to in Shanghai and Sydney, I was playing for that No. 1 position both times, whereas this year obviously Roger had it wrapped up. I was going there pretty much to enjoy the company of being there with the best players in the world and to enjoy that achievement that, you know, you put in for that whole year to make the Masters Cup. Didn't put a lot of pressure on myself going into it. And also, you know, just tried to focus on more getting my game right to a level that, you know, where you got to play your best tennis against the best players in the world day in, day out in Houston. And, you know, if you're going to win a Grand Slam a couple of months later, you've really got to focus on that, as well: beating the best players under pressure. I think that was good preparation and I played extremely well in Houston.

Q. You talked about the hard yards over Christmas. How unfestive was Christmas?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I only had a few days off after Houston really when I came back. You know, I'm taking a month off after this next match on Sunday. So I'm not playing until the Davis Cup in Sydney. I've known that the whole time. That's why I decided to do all my hard work leading into the Australian summer, and basically through December and through the hot period and get used to the conditions and everything, and get my body in as good a shape as possible, that I was going to give myself the best possible chance, knowing that I was going to have a rest straight afterwards. I tried to focus on getting through the four weeks of hard tournaments in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, and then get my break afterwards.

Q. Did you actually work on Christmas Day?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I went for a run, yeah.

Q. Having said that about Houston, how important psychologically do you think was the way you finished against Andy in that match, then subsequently today? Did it have any lasting effect or lingering effect, do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm sure it was in the back of both our minds going into the match. You know, it was only a couple of months ago. But, yeah, he started a lot better today than he did in Houston. In Houston I pretty much had the run of the match from the word "go." Today he was obviously the better player throughout the first set. Even though, you know, at the end of the first set, I was starting to get -- you know, had a couple of 15-40s his last two service games. Wasn't able to quite get that break through. Then the match, I felt, started swinging my way, you know, with the momentum a little bit, you know, throughout the second set. But, yeah, I think it was definitely in both our minds probably going out there.

Q. He said at the end of the third set when he went off to change his clothes, the referee was almost tying one shoe on for him to try to get him back out on the court. Have you ever sat there that long waiting for an opponent to come out after a break?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. That's one of the longest, yeah.

Q. Obviously the momentum is on your side. You have to start the fourth in the best way you possibly can.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's awkward. Obviously, I was serving first, as well. I don't even know how long I was sitting down. It must have been close to 10 minutes. Yeah, it's a long time just to be sitting down. You're not sure whether to stretch, get up. After you've had that excitement and the adrenaline buzz of playing a tiebreak third set, you go up two sets to one, then to switch it off for a 10-minute break, try and get your breath back and your thoughts back, you know, gather yourself again, it's not the easiest thing to do. You know, that's why I was happy to get that first game out of the way in the fourth set. Obviously, he was able to break straightaway.

Q. You observed Marat's journey throughout the tournament. Do you sense, as everybody else has here, there's a greater maturity, that his temperament is no longer as fragile as perhaps it might have been in previous years, he's actually maturing and he's going to be harder mentally to overcome?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, there's no doubt. I think he had an awesome end to last year, you know, the way that he played in Madrid and Paris. Even in the Masters Cup, he was close to beating Roger in the semi there, as well. Yeah, he's playing extremely well. Yeah, he loses it a bit out there now and then, screams at himself. But he's a guy, like myself, we can switch it on and off very quickly. You can get your mind back on the job and I don't think he loses concentration because of that. You know, that's part of Marat. That's why people like, you know, enjoy watching him play, as well.

Q. Did you watch the match last night?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I only watched part of it.

Q. How much did you watch? Just a set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I think it finished too late for me to see it all. It was only about a few games here and there, I saw.

Q. The fact that Roger is not waiting for you in the final, how does that change your outlook coming into a match like today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It didn't change anything, today's match. You know, at the end of the day, I just had to try to put myself in a position to be there, you know, in the final. You know, I wasn't even looking to who I had to play if I got through. Today I was just worrying about Andy and working out ways of, you know, trying to get on top of him today. Obviously, now, you know, I'll start thinking about Marat.

Q. Can you just talk about your first memories of coming to Melbourne Park when you were a kid. How old were you, what you saw, the feeling it instilled in you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know, I must have been seven or eight, I reckon. Yeah, I remember watching, you know, some memories of, you know, going out to Court 1 out there and watching Lendl and Rochey train early mornings out there. You know, I used to go to a lot of Pat Cash's matches, Mats Wilander, they were my favorite players. I went out to a lot of their matches. Yeah, saw a lot of tennis here.

Q. Did you walk away really wanting to win the Australian Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I love this place. You know, every time I walked in here, you know, I wanted to come back in and watch more.

Q. Do you and Eddo ever talk?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot, no. I haven't spoken to him a lot.

Q. Doesn't offer you good luck or say "About time"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, nothing like that, no.

Q. Do you have recollections of Cash's final, second final here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: The final here, against Wilander. I've watched it a bit since, as well. I've seen highlights since. Obviously, I remember that a bit better.

Q. Do you remember watching it as a kid?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I watched that one on TV. I was back at home then, yeah.

Q. Is it good news for you and all the players to know that Federer is beatable now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, I guess in some ways. You know, he's obviously had a tremendous run there, you know, not losing, not losing big matches either, to Top 10 players. But still it's taken a hell of a player to play a hell of a match to beat him. You know, I don't think he should be ashamed of that. Marat's a top player, and he's got a lot of firepower and a lot of weapons out there. You know, Federer still could have easily won the match in four sets and we all would have been saying, you know, that he'd done it pretty routine, and once again he's one of the great players. In the end, a couple of points here and there, the match is turned.

Q. Do you regret being the guy who could not beat Federer here in Australia?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, doesn't bother me.

Q. What's the most dangerous thing about Marat?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, he's got all the shots. You know, he's got a massive serve, he's got a big forehand, backhand, he moves well for a big guy. Yeah, he's very talented. He's got everything. I just got to keep making him play out there.

Q. Footballers always talk about when they were kids, they used to dream about kicking the goal after the siren to win the Grand Final. When you were a kid, how did you win the Australian Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I don't know. I don't know. I probably won it a few thousand times. Probably a lot of ways. I'd like just a nice little straight-sets win, but I don't know if I'll get that.

Q. The way Andy handled the match, the end of it in Houston, tonight how you got to him pretty fast, do you feel like he has maybe some more maturing to do in the way he handles his play?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. You know, in Houston I felt like I played a pretty faultless match the whole way around. He was just frustrated I think in Houston. To lose the last 20 points or whatever it was, with his kind of game, you know, it's pretty amazing. But here it's a little bit different situation. I felt like I just wore him down tonight more than anything. You know, he got off to a good start and I just had to weather the storm and hang with him and wait for my opportunities.

Q. How long did you run for on Christmas Day?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I don't know. I'm not sure. Went for a while.

Q. What will you do tomorrow? What will your plans be?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably a 10K run, gym session. It's what footballers do, isn't it (smiling)?

Q. How will you relax?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I won't be watching the women's final, that's for sure.

Q. Why?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not into women's tennis any more (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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