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January 20, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton.

Q. When he hit the umpire's chair, do you think it was as serious as that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I wasn't sure. He sort of starting jogging back, then dropped on the middle of the court. He looked like he was in a bit of pain. You know, you're just really not sure how bad it was. You know, hard to sort of keep focus there. It's obviously a fairly long break in between, you know, longer than -- I don't know, would have been close to probably 10 minutes by the time the trainers came out and started evaluating it. Then he eventually came out to play again.

Q. What are you doing to your opponents? That's three in a row now.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I've been winning in every match, though (smiling).

Q. Have you ever seen anyone do that before, fall into the umpire's chair?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not me personally, I haven't seen it.

Q. Or heard of it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't heard of it. You guys would probably know better than me. I've seen people come pretty close at times, you know, to the seats that we sit in at the change of ends or the umpire's chairs, lines-people, stuff like that.

Q. Do you feel sorry for the bloke?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's never a way you want to win a match. But I've got to go out there and try and focus on what I've got to do. You know, I felt like everything was going pretty well for my game at that stage.

Q. It's not necessarily the way you wanted to win, but 37 degrees out there, you saved a little bit of time.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I felt like I was getting on top of him. He just started, you know, serving a lot better, made a higher percentage of first serves there, in his service games in the second set. When I really had to try to step it up at 4-All in the second set, I was able to do that. Break him to love. That's a nice match to get through. Your first match in your home Grand Slam is always tough, I think. To come through, not waste too much energy and be through to the next round, that's nice.

Q. Are tennis players superstitious? Do you think they will start getting out of the food cue, giving players a wide berth?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. There are some players that are very superstitious. I don't know if they'll take it that far.

Q. Did he say anything to you about exactly what it was?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I just said to him, "How bad is it?" He just said, "Just felt it when I ran into the umpire's chair." You know, it's hard to say. If you get a knock, obviously it's going to be pretty painful for the next five or ten minutes, unless he's got a fracture or a break in it, which no one knows at that particular time. It's really only his pain that he can know whether he can play on or not.

Q. Given the tragic events of the last 48 hours, do you think sports people are more at danger when they go out in public?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, at times, I guess. You know, it's obviously shocking news what happened a day or so ago. But you got to be pretty careful, I think, when you go out, for sure. You know, it can happen to any one of us, I guess.

Q. Have you experienced any troubles?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I haven't experienced any real, real troubles when I thought I was in danger at all. But, you know, I know there's been times when, you know, you get people heckling or whatever at times. I've seen it with other people, as well, other sports people and whatever, that I've been out with. You know, I heard some stories and stuff like that. You know, it's something that I think people in the spotlight, not only sports people, but high personalities I guess who are always in the spotlight.

Q. Have bouncers ever been an issue?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not with me, I've never had a problem.

Q. How well did you know him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't know him that well, to tell you the truth. Done a few interviews. He's emcee'd a couple of things that I've actually been on. I haven't seen him since Adelaide Crows' breakfast before a grand final a couple years ago that he emcee'd. That was the last time I had spoken to him.

Q. Had your old man and him crossed paths at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I don't know how much.

Q. General South Australian feeling of loss?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I think for anyone, an Australian more than anything. Someone that plays the elite level of a huge sport in Australia. Not only for South Australia, but also for Australia. You know, I think everyone can tell by how much media and news has been about it the last, you know, 24, 48 hours.

Q. You came off court. Were you feeling like you got what you wanted out of today's game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. He's a different kind of an opponent. Yeah, he doesn't come out and cream winners at all. He doesn't try and put that much pressure on you. You're sort of dictating play most of the time out there. Sometimes it's an awkward match-up. Sometimes when you're actually hitting the ball better, he actually counterpunches a lot better, as well. There wasn't too often he actually came inside the baseline there. It felt like he was standing about 10 meters behind the baseline just trying to run everything down today. You don't experience too many matchups that way, but against him I felt like I was always in control on most points, I felt out there, which is a good thing.

Q. You were happy with your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Against that guy, it's always tough coming in and playing the first round of a Grand Slam anyway. I think everyone's just happy to get through sometimes, especially when you don't waste too much time and energy.

Q. What is it like for you to play against a guy where you're in the unusual position of being the physically imposing player, the bigger player?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it doesn't happen that much, I guess. But, you know, I'm trying to be more aggressive. It's a good chance for me -- you know, I felt comfortable against him out there, that I knew I was in control of the match nearly every point. So it felt like, you know, unless he got off to, you know -- put a good serve in and he could dictate play from then, it felt like I was able to dominate. It's something that I've been working on in my game, to try and get more aggressive in that. Yeah, against a guy like him, you have to do it as well. It's actually good that you can take what you've been working on in the practice court into a match situation.

Q. You've seen a lot of Karol recently.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Three weeks in a row now. It's going to be a tough match. Obviously, last week was a bit of a weird match from 4-Love down, then winning 6-4, 6-1. He's a tough player. Smart player out there. He moves the ball around well. He moves extremely well. Yeah, he's got a pretty good serve on him, as well. He uses the angles of the court well and goes for the lines a lot. But I've got to go out there and play my game. We had a tough match in Perth, as well, where I got through in three sets. You know, it's no easy match.

Q. You mentioned in the post-game interview that the balls were a bit heavier than in Sydney. Do you think this is something that might affect your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not really sure the reason of it, to tell you the truth. I don't know why -- I don't think it will affect my game too much. But it's probably more similar to Perth, I'd say, than Sydney. The balls are actually fluffing up a little bit more, whereas in Sydney they were getting smaller like pellets out there. Even in the heat today, it was still unusual. Whether it's the roughness of the courts that's chopping them up a bit and making them more furry, I don't know.

Q. How exactly have you been trying to get more aggressive? What kind of drills have you been working on in training?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I guess going for your shots a bit more, shot selection, and taking advantage of the short ball a little bit more, not being afraid to come into the net at the right opportunities.

Q. Anything else specifically you worked on over the winter?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not specific, no. Just, you know, in the whole trying to be more aggressive and take your opportunities, I guess.

Q. I know about your involvement in the Special Olympics. How exactly did you become global ambassador?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I got asked a couple of years ago. You know, I felt like it was a good way to put back into sport, as well. You know, for me, the first time I got involved with it, it was at the US Open. Just the year after I won the US Open, I did the camp before I went in to defend my title. You know, I just really enjoyed that first time. I try to make it before all the Masters Cups and as many tournaments as possible. Obviously, I went to the Special Olympics games in Dublin, in Ireland, last year after I lost in Wimbledon. It was a little bit of a wake-up call I guess in a lot of ways. After you lose first round of a Grand Slam, you know, I got to get away from Wimbledon for a day or so and sort of, you know, think about other things, realize that, you know, it was just a tennis match that I lost.

Q. In that way it helps your tennis, as well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think in a lot of ways it does. You know, you see how fortunate you are I guess in a lot of ways. You know, they don't really care who goes out there and hits tennis balls with them. They just want to get out there and hit tennis balls and enjoy the sport for what it is, not for the money or the fame.

Q. Do you prepare differently now for this season? In what way?

LLEYTON HEWITT: What do you mean?

Q. For this new tennis season.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I haven't done that much differently. I've taken a few weeks off towards the end of last year. That was more preparing for the Davis Cup final more than anything, you know, tried to get my fitness level at a stage where I felt like I could last, you know, the 2004 season.

Q. Is Kim involved in this Special Olympics at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. She's involved in her own stuff in Belgium more.

Q. How did he get the nickname "Mamool"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was the horse that ran in the Melbourne Cup. Mamool is actually a Lebanese desert. He's Lebanese. He told us that. He had a few bucks on it, it came last. There you go (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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