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January 22, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. Bit of a slow start today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I got off to a slow start. Karol played extremely well there. You know, I didn't feel like I played that badly at the start. I had a few chances in the second and third game, and just -- even in the fourth game, and didn't quite take my opportunities on the big points. He played a pretty faultless first set, though.

Q. How important was the national anthem at 5-Love?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's always important to hear your national anthem. But, yeah, they were great out there today. They gave me a lot of support, even when I was down. You know, I think, you know, especially those guys have seen enough Davis Cup matches to know that I was probably going to get on the board sooner or later. But, yeah, he was playing extremely well at that stage. I just knew that I had to keep plugging away. Got off to a rough start against him last week in Sydney, as well. I was able to turn that first set around, which took me a little bit longer today, but I still got through it.

Q. The Fanatics energized the crowd. Did you feel that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, no, it's great. They're a big help out there. You know, I enjoy that support. I think everyone knows that. You know, it seems like I guess why Flip and I have played so well in Davis Cup ties in the past. The Fanatics have had a lot to do with that.

Q. Do you want them there in future matches?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. It would be great. It's a great atmosphere out there. Even for the opposition, I think. It brings a bit more of a buzz into Centre Court there. You know, I guess the situation that we had in the semi and final of Davis Cup, you're not going to emulate that every time at a normal tournament, but it was a pretty awesome feeling. The closer you can get back to that feeling, all the better.

Q. Nadal, your next opponent, what do you know about him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Very talented young player. Yeah, what I've heard, what I've see - little bits I've seen - he's a hell of a prospect coming up. It's going to be a tough match. I've got to go up to another level, I think. I look forward to the challenge, though.

Q. There's a bit of talk about him. Is there talk amongst the players about him coming up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. Probably more so -- you know, I probably heard a little more from the media, whatever, maybe last year sometime when he had some pretty good wins over Moya and I think Costa maybe on clay, as well. So clay's his number one surface at the moment. But he had a pretty good run at Wimbledon. I watched a couple of his matches there on TV. He played pretty well on grass, for his first time on grass. He seems like he's got a really good head on him, as well. He's handled the expectation and the pressures very well. You know, he's just one of the next Spaniards coming up. There's a lot of them.

Q. Is it hard to keep your rhythm when you're playing someone like Kucera, seems to drift in and out of matches?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's very tough. He returns extremely well. Yeah, he can have service games like the last one he had where he hit four double-faults, I guess. But, you know, that's not that normal. But he plays some loose service games, but then he'll be able to come out and break you back straightaway. I broke him first game of the fourth set there, then he came out and played a great game to break me straight back the next game. It's awkward because he does float in and out of matches. Like in the first set, he hardly made a mistake and was attacking everything. In the start of the second and third, he was a bit more erratic.

Q. How hard is it to keep your concentration?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's tough. You can't get too down on yourself, keep plugging away, wait for your opportunities. I played him the last two weeks. I knew a little bit what I was getting, but he played even better the first set than what he did the last two weeks, as well.

Q. It's safe to say last year didn't go exactly the way you would have preferred. Any pressure on yourself this year, taking it as it comes?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, just taking it as it comes. I'd be happy to win another Davis Cup.

Q. No pressure to try to win another Grand Slam?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll see what happens. My goal is obviously to perform as well as possible, and I'm going to do everything in my control to prepare myself, you know, as well as I can for all four of the majors. You know, I'm not putting a huge expectation to go out there and have to win one. I think if I'm playing well enough, you know, I'll have opportunities at it, though.

Q. Did he play better than he played in Sydney?

LLEYTON HEWITT: In patches, yes. You know, I think he's -- as we spoke before, he's a little bit hot and cold sometimes. The first set, obviously, he played great today. There were patches in the third set where he played well. The start of the fourth set when he broke back, he played well. In Sydney he played the first four games great. In Perth, he played the second set great. He's been very in and out in all my matches that I played against him. But at least I knew what I was getting a little bit.

Q. Could you comment for us on Todd Reid's great victory today, what it means for Australian tennis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was great. It's great for Australian tennis to have another guy, not just knocking on the door now, but, you know, contender on the tour. He's still got to get his ranking up there to be on the tour week in and week out. But this has been a great start for him this summer. Obviously, Adelaide, Sydney, now Melbourne. Pretty gutsy effort out there today because he was obviously hurting. I don't think he would have played a five-set match before. To come through those conditions, it's only going to help him, experience.

Q. He talked about the experience of hitting with you, Davis Cup, training. Is it something that you noticed when you were practicing with him, that he was being lifted a bit by being out there with you and Mark?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he first came to Sweden, and then after that tie I really felt like the next time -- I invited him to the World Team Cup to play a bit of doubles with us there. I noticed a huge difference just in those six or seven weeks after Sweden. I think he took huge steps forward after that first Davis Cup tie being sort of the orange boy there, and getting to know everyone, seeing what we do to prepare for matches. He was hitting the ball a lot heavier when he came back in World Team Cup. Then he came for obviously the Switzerland tie, then the final, as well. He's been great around the team. You know, he's not so much the orange boy anymore, I guess. He's really a part of the team. Won't be that long before he's actually playing for Australia, which is a good thing,

Q. If, God forbid, you or Mark were unable to play singles, do you think he'd be next in line?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, there's obviously him, Scott Draper, Wayne Arthurs. It's hard to drop Scott Draper and Wayne Arthurs because they've got that experience, as well. But it's definitely between the three of them. Todd really put his hand up. The thing about Davis Cup, you just don't know how that person reacts to playing Davis Cup until they're thrown in it. And that's something that Fitzy and Wally, you know, they're going to have to give him a shot sooner or later at some stage, if Flip or I get injured. You're just not going to know until that situation comes. But the way he's handled the pressure of playing in Australia the last three weeks with wildcards, it's been pretty good.

Q. Have you ever brought your lunch up on court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't. Wasn't a lot of lunch, I don't think. Looked like a lot of water.

Q. A lot of young guys in your position would be taking advantage of it, maybe be a party-type person, playing the field. You seem very committed and kind of mature. Can you talk about what having a committed relationship with Kim does for your career, keeps you settled?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's been, yeah, I guess very settled the last four years. You know, obviously being 22, it's just been great for both of us. Because she obviously saw what I was going through, the pressures of being a top player maybe a year or so before she got into the Top 5, Top 2 in the world. We've both just been really able to help each other out when we need to throughout the year.

Q. It's good that you have a similar career?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think so. We don't talk about tennis most of the time. But if we do need anything, I think we both know when to talk about tennis and when not to, as well.

Q. What kind of stuff will you talk to about to get away from tennis? Movies?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Anything, yeah.

Q. Crows?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Crows, yeah. Andrew McLeod and his family.

Q. She's talking about a wedding all the time.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know any of that stuff, mate.

Q. You'll just show up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll just rock up. She can organize it.

Q. And your bucks, you got to organize that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Someone will have to organize that. It won't be me.

End of FastScripts….

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