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January 22, 2005

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. The right kind of a workout for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a good match. Tough match. Makes a lot of balls. On a slow court, as well, it's hard to dictate play against a guy like that. Yeah, he's a lanky kind of guy out there, but he moves a lot better than I think people give him credit for. He makes a lot of balls back. Yeah, it's not easy, you know, in heavy conditions out there to penetrate and hit a lot of winners against him. I went out there with the mindset tonight to try and stay aggressive and try and keep that going throughout the whole match.

Q. That seemed to upset him a little bit. Can you tell us about your little exchange there in the fourth set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it wasn't much. You know, I didn't have much to do in the exchange.

Q. What did he have to do? He looked pretty fired up.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I don't know. I didn't really notice too much.

Q. Really?


Q. He didn't spit on you, Lleyton?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He spat in my direction.

Q. You didn't get wet?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No (smiling).

Q. After that incident, you appeared to approach the chair umpire. What did you say then?


Q. Did you approach the umpire to comment on it?


Q. Did you see him after the match and have a word with him?


Q. Juan Ignacio Chela after the match.

LLEYTON HEWITT: He apologized at the net after the match, and I accepted his apology.

Q. As far as you're concerned, it's left on the court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, mate, you know, I don't think it's the right thing, no. But, yeah, it's unfortunate because we're having, you know, a good dogfight match out there. You know, we're both competitive blokes out there. We were going for it. Yeah, it's sad that something like that happens. But, you know, at the end of the day, you know, he apologized to me at the net when we shook hands. You know, I said, "Just forget about it, mate."

Q. So you won't be taking it any further than that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I won't be.

Q. You seem to have upped the ante on your aggression stakes in this tournament. Is that a deliberate thing to put some of your rivals off, or is that just you being you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I don't know if I've upped the ante. Maybe you weren't in Houston or the US Open and other tournaments.

Q. Your thoughts on your next match, Nadal?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, doesn't get any easier. Just another step up, I guess. Yeah, he was obviously a little bit fortunate a couple of days ago to get out of that match against Youzhny. But then tonight, from all accounts, you know, he's destroyed a guy that, you know, he probably should destroy, as well. It's going to be a tough match. He's a worthy opponent, playing Round of 16 in a Grand Slam, on any surface, I think. And he's hungry, he really is. You know, he loves going out there, playing big matches. That's something that I really respect in, you know, a young guy like him, you know, the way that he handles the situation. He played Roddick at the US Open in a night match, and I thought he handled himself really well in that situation. Davis Cup final in Spain, that's not an easy thing to do, to play in a final at such a young age. He handled it incredibly well. I don't think the situation is going to worry him too much. Plus, we also had a tough match here last year in the third round so...

Q. What is his potential? Is he going to be up there with you top guys pretty soon?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think so. He's been -- at least last year, I think the year before, he might have been injured for the French Open or a lot of the clay court season. He's a lot better player than whatever his ranking is, to not be seeded. He's good on all surfaces. As I said, he's hungry, he's intense, he's competitive, he's all of that, and he's good for the game. I'll be very surprised if he didn't win the French Open one day.

Q. How important is it for a country to identify and develop tennis talent at an early age?

LLEYTON HEWITT: How important is it?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's very important. But, you know, in Australia, it's tough I think because we've got so many -- we're such a great sporting nation, and we've got so many options for kids that are talented, I guess, at a young age: Cricket, Australian Rules Football, swimming, we've got so many world champions that they can look up and go follow in that path. I think a lot of the kids that turn in are great AFL footballers, they would have been great tennis players, as well, if they'd gone in that direction. It's a little bit awkward. That's why you need guys to look up to. You know, at the moment I know we don't have the greatest depth going at the moment in Australian tennis on the men's side. We've got to try and build that up so we get the Juniors wanting to play, you know, tennis as well.

Q. How has the Australian Institute of Sport helped in developing athletes in and out of tennis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I can only speak for myself. I haven't had much to do with the Australian Institute of Sport for a few years now. I was always only a non-residential scholarship holder anyway. So I always preferred to stay at home and get my coaching from my private coach, Peter Smith, back in Adelaide, and still live with my family and be based in Adelaide. For me, obviously that support and the funding was huge. It was fantastic for me to get that overseas experience and travel on that. On the coaching side of it, I really can't comment.

Q. When you were in Miami last year, did you see any of the Nadal/Federer match?


Q. Does it concern you at all that that night he sort of rose to the occasion, floodlight match? Will you be wary of that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I know Federer was sick that match, though. Yeah, it didn't surprise me that Nadal won that night purely because I knew Federer was sick going into it. Nadal, I've looked at a lot of Nadal's matches over the last couple years. The big matches don't worry him. He's that kind of kid. He's like me when I was 16, 17, playing Andre Agassi in front of your home crowd. That was awesome for me. Very similar to him. He didn't take a step back against Roddick at the US Open, maybe the second round they played. He took it to him. Obviously, Andy was too good and too powerful at the time. But, yeah, he doesn't step back for anyone.

Q. What about Roddick at the Davis Cup final? Did you see any of him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I only saw some highlights, a few points. Not enough. But to look at the result, you know, it speaks for itself. Andy's a tough player. I know clay is not his best surface. From what I saw, it was one of the slowest clay courts I've ever seen.

Q. A lot of Spaniards about, as well, 27,000 of them.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a good situation I think for him to play in. But still, to handle yourself in that way in a Davis Cup final is not easy. He's still very young.

Q. So how has his game changed since the first time you faced him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I faced him a year ago in the third round here. I don't know. I thought he played pretty well here a year ago against me. Even though I won in straight sets, we had an extremely tough match - and I'll expect no different in a couple days' time. He's obviously heavy from the baseline. He's got a great forehand. He moves extremely well for a big kid. Yeah, there's areas of his game, though, which I think I can exploit. You know, you've got to go out there and make it happen, though.

Q. Back to Chela. You say you don't want to take it any further. If the authorities want to take it further, do you think that would be the right thing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's not good for the game, no. So, you know, I don't know. I think Santoro, maybe something happened a year ago with Santoro here. You hear about it the next day, then it sort of blows over I guess anyway. Yeah, I got no idea whether I'd get involved or asked about it anyway.

End of FastScripts….

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