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January 24, 2005

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.

Q. How is the injury?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, it's maintainable, I guess. You know, it's obviously something I did in Sydney last week, and I've just been, you know, getting treatment on it every day, working through it, just taking it one match at a time, just making sure that it's fine for that match and not looking too far ahead.

Q. Is it the same sort of injury or exactly the same injury you had at the US Open a couple years ago?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it's a little bit different, I think. It's similar. Similar spot, but a little bit different.

Q. What is it, Lleyton? Is it a strain to the hip flexor?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, somewhere around there. It's a strain. I think it's pretty deep, though.

Q. Do you feel it's any worse now than it was when you started your campaign? Do you kind of feel like it's maintaining some sort of status quo?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Sort of just it's come and gone. There's been times the last couple of matches it's been pretty sore. Just had to put up with it.

Q. In those terms, where does this victory rank among the many you've had?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's up there for having to forget everything about my body out there, you know, and just tough it out more than anything, you know, refuse to give in again. You know, it's amazing how many matches I've been able to win throughout my career by, you know, giving a hundred percent out there, that never-say-die attitude. Yet again today, it gets me through another big match.

Q. Do you prefer Coria or Nalbandian?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Whoever. You know, it doesn't really bother me. Nalbandian is probably a little bit heavier than Coria. But Coria, you know, doesn't make a lot of mistakes and works the ball around extremely well. Whichever one, it's going to be an extremely tough match.

Q. There wasn't any stage tonight when you felt as though it was an unequal struggle, that perhaps you would have to say, "I can't carry on"? There was never a stage tonight where you felt you might have to stop?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. No. I just -- even if my leg would have fell off, I would have kept playing. So, you know, I don't think I'd ever, you know, going to forfeit out there - with this injury anyway.

Q. Given your stamina, how long can you play at an effective level in a given match, in terms of hours? Have you ever figured out what that would be?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I wouldn't have a clue. But, you know, you don't play too many matches over four hours, I don't think. I've played very few, I think. Only one or two probably. Yeah, you have ups and downs during a four-hour match anyway. It's not like you're at your peak or playing your best tennis right through. You know, that's important, but you've got to have, you know, your down moments at the right times, I guess, throughout a long match.

Q. Quarterfinal for the first time. Is that any consolation for the way you're feeling physically?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's good. Feels like I made the quarters of the French Open this year, so it's good (smiling).

Q. Just to achieve that here, everyone keeps saying "fourth round." Here you are in the last eight. It's a nice sensation?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's good. I love the Australian Open. I love coming, playing here. You know, it's funny, I think this is like my ninth Australian Open now in a row. You know, when you first start, you know, qualified at 15 here in '97. Yeah, it's one of my favorite tournaments. To get through, you know, deep in the second week, it's a good feeling. But, you know, the job's not done yet. It's going to get harder and harder, you know, as the next few matches go on.

Q. When you say it's one of your favorite tournaments, which one is really your favorite tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably this one and Wimbledon, I think. They're my two favorites.

Q. When you're suffering a bit, and the crowd's going, "We're going to stay here for five sets in the sun till you get the job done," is that an inspiration?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it is a little bit. I heard the boys up in the crowd saying that. A lot of people probably would have been laughing at them after the third set, 6-1. Yeah, I knew they were always going to be prepared to hang out there for a little bit longer, you know, want to support me, try and get me over the line. You know, they're fantastic, they really are.

Q. Do you think your behavior is different overseas when you play? How do you behave in the court, the c'mons, these kind of things?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't think so. No.

Q. Rafael was very attacking. What do you think made the difference in the end? Experience? Determination? Or both?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Yeah, he's got an amazing game, I think, especially on this court surface, it's very hard to hit the ball through him. You know, he moves extremely well for a big kid, as well.

Q. Sent everything back.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, that just tells you about the court pace, doesn't it? You know, he moves extremely well. He's got a massive forehand - as big as anyone out there. Yeah, he can use his forehand from each side. His backhand's definitely not a weakness, but it's just not quite as strong as his forehand out there. But, you know, he's going to be a tough player to play on any surface, but especially on clay. You know, there's no doubt about that.

Q. When did you sense the match turned back in your favor?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, you know, obviously when I was able to pull out of the -- you know, get the fourth set under my belt. You're back two sets all. You know, hopefully I could try and carry a little bit of momentum into the fifth set. But, yeah, I was never -- I don't think in my favor starting the fifth set. It was still going to be a dogfight out there. You know, getting up that early break, it was the first time that he actually probably played a bit of a slack game on his service game. I just kept making him play, put a lot of balls in the court in that first game in the fifth set. That's when I really sensed that, you know, I had the opportunity then. Put my foot down.

Q. Did you feed a bit off of him getting tired, as well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I did. That obviously made me feel a little bit better, too. You know, as sore as I was, I just, you know, tried to block it out. You know, had a look at him. His movement was nothing compared to the way he'd been moving for, you know, the first three sets or three and a half sets or so. So, you know, I tried to use that as much of a positive as I could out there.

Q. The crowd here doesn't like when they call you a foot-fault. What is your reaction inside?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I don't really like it either (smiling).

Q. Especially on match point?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, when you hit it in. If you hit a fault anyway, it doesn't really matter. But when you hit it in. You just got to try to block it out, though.

Q. You mentioned the court surface a couple times tonight. When you're out there playing, is it actually something that you're thinking about from time to time during a match in terms of the court not being as you think they should be here at this tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, at the end of the day, you know, I know a lot of people have written it up and whatever. But the Australian players aren't looking for an unfair advantage with the court surface at all. You know, we just don't feel like there should be a disadvantage to Australian players. At the moment, it is. It's as simple as that. It's not just me. You know, everyone keeps, you know, wanting to have a crack at me about it because I'm on the front foot. But I'm the one that's got to speak because I'm No. 3 in the world. Wayne Arthurs, Alicia Molik, Mark Philippoussis, Todd Woodbridge, Pat Rafter back years ago. Everyone, it doesn't suit Australian players. To make it slower - this is slower than it was last year. So, you know, for me it just doesn't make a lot of sense.

Q. Obviously, the court surface isn't going to change now.


Q. So what's the benefit for you keeping this issue in the forefront of your mind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not in my mind. Once I get out there, I'm professional enough to block everything out. You know, I think everyone knows how much -- yeah, how mentally tough I can be out on the court. You know, nothing off the court's ever going to affect me when I get out there. When I've got a job to do, I'm going to go out there and focus a hundred percent on that. You know, I'm not going to let it interfere me. But you've just got to look at my last two matches. If balls keep coming back from five meters behind the baseline, I think I've got a fair case.

Q. Still you were able to serve 15 or 16 aces. Sometimes if you hit the right corner, it's good. It's quick enough or not?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Nadal was guessing a lot tonight - a lot. I was actually quite amazed at how often he guesses on the return of serve. So, you know, I don't think he's a great return of server because, you know, if you look at a guy like Agassi, it's totally different to Nadal. Whereas Nadal quite often tonight, he was just guessing one way or the other.

Q. Are you physically in pain and spent at the moment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'm all right. I'll go for a 10K run tonight. So I'll be sweet.

Q. Injury aside, how are your sort of physical reserves feeling given the amount of work you have to do at the tournament still?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, you know, just try and -- basically every day I've just been trying to take one day at a time. You know, getting my body ready for that one match, then, you know, just trying to maintain it in the day off and do everything possible to keep my body ready for that next day. That's all I'm focusing on. I'm not looking towards a semi or a final at this point. You know, I've got a quarterfinal against a tough opponent, no matter who, it's Coria or Nalbandian. I'll just be trying to get my body in as good a shape as possible for that particular match. Hopefully I can get through that match. You know, hopefully I can build on something for the semi.

Q. You already talked a little bit about the similarities of Rafael and yourself at the age of 18. How were you actually approaching that kind of big matches when you were 18? How thrilling was it for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. It's obviously -- I think he handles it extremely well. I think while we're both able to succeed at a very young age, it's because, you know, we're hungry out there, we're competitive, we look forward to the big matches. I think, you know, he's very similar to the way I was when I was 15, 16, 17 years old. You know, he's not shy of going out there and putting his best foot forward every time he steps on the court. You know, he's got a great attitude, there's no doubt about that. Yeah, there's been a lot of matches over his time, whether he's on a big court or an outside court, where he shows his emotion, as well, and I think that's good for tennis. You know, what he's done at a very young age and the way he handled himself in the Davis Cup final, you know, it's a credit to himself.

Q. And the way he greeted you at the end there, as well, does that speak highly of him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's a good kid, he really is. You know, we don't talk that much obviously. I don't know how good his English is. But we say hi to each other. You know, he's a nice guy, he really is. Yeah, he's got a big future in the game.

End of FastScripts….

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