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January 14, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Magnus was just saying that he thinks a match like that is better for you than if you go through two, two and two, because it sets you up.

LLEYTON HEWITT: For me personally?

Q. Yeah. What do you think about that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it's always a tough one, I guess. I'm happy to be through to the second round. A win's a win for me. Yeah, I think sometimes it is good. You know, it's a little bit of a wakeup call in some ways I guess. I didn't feel like I played my best tennis, but then again the three sets that I won was 3, 1 and 2. So wasn't like I just got totally killed in the other two sets that I lost. And I had early chances early in the fourth set and wasn't able to take them. I thought he played incredibly well for a guy that only played a few tournaments last year. I think he was definitely one of the toughest qualifiers, just for the fact that, you know, playing No. 1 seed, the crowd against you on center court, he's not scared of that. I think, what, the other 15 qualifiers would have been a little bit more scared than Magnus was.

Q. The two sets that you did drop, what went wrong there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was one service game in the second set. I don't know if you saw, but 30 -- I was up 30-15, playing all right. Magnus half put a tank volley, spun it back over the net. That could have gone anywhere. So it was a little bit -- you know, the next two points I served one out wide, he cracked a winner off my serve, big forehand. The next point, I attacked a little bit too much and made an error. Apart from that, I didn't play the set that badly. I felt like I had chances early on his serve and wasn't able to take them. But it's tough, you know, he doesn't give you a lot of rhythm out there. If he gets any kind of short ball on that forehand, no matter where he is, he tries to put it away straight away. Obviously when he's serving well, he's very tough to break.

Q. Is that one of your strengths now, to think that when someone just plays a better second, you just accept it and get on it and think, "What can I do," knowing that you can win the match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, there's always ways I guess to try and get out of tough situations. You know, I've been in enough tight situations now that over -- I've got confidence when I get in that situation. I don't press the panic button I guess as much as I probably would have a couple years ago. That just comes with experience and being out there and sort of gaining that experience of playing the big matches and playing the big points. Yeah, it's something that I think I've handled very well the last few five-setters that I've played. Obviously the one against Ferrero in the final of the Masters Cup, I don't know if I played any other five-setters before that, the Sjeng Schalken at Wimbledon was a great one to get out of that one, also the James Blake five-setter in the third round of the US Open this year. So my five-set record's pretty good at the moment. I figure at two-sets-all, I got to try and step it up a gear. I was able to do that today.

Q. The Sjeng match was probably that time, could you see a period -- was it transitional?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. The Schalken match gave me a hell of a lot of confidence after I came back. I had matchpoints to win in straight sets. Nothing went right there in the third and fourth set. In the fifth set, I was down a break twice on grass against a guy who's confident and got nothing to lose. That was a tough situation, gave me a lot of confidence. I guess it was a big step to go on to win Wimbledon, getting past that. It's always nice to come out, have a tough match somewhere along the line of a Grand Slam. Not too many guys who don't have a scare - they're the ones that go on to win.

Q. Can you say something about Todd Larkham?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if I ever played him in sat's, a long time ago. I was trying to think about it today. We may have played, he might have chopped me. He was one of the best satellite players around when I was playing. I'm not sure if I played him or not.

Q. 1996.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I did play him. Lost right?

Q. Love and 2. I think you lost.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm pretty sure I'll get more than two games, there you go. No, but, yeah, he's obviously had a great week. I'm sure he was disappointed didn't get a wildcard. He felt like he's got something to prove. Cecil Mamiit, I hit with him a few days before the tournament started, and I thought he was hitting the ball really well. They both play very similar games I'd say. I didn't see any of the match today. You know, good on him. That's a good win.

Q. How much did you have to change your prep when a qualifier came up in the draw and all of a sudden it was Magnus, not your regular qualifier?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I didn't change my preparation too much. It's always tough playing a qualifier, especially in Grand Slams, because they've been out there, played matches, they're match tough, they've got nothing to lose. A lot of them, it's huge money to get into the Grand Slams for a lot of them. I know Magnus is very well off anyway. But it's always a tough draw I find playing qualifiers. When Magnus came out, as I said before, I think he was probably the toughest, maybe Vinciguerra was up there as well, couple of the toughest guys who you probably didn't want to draw, just because they've been in the Top 50, obviously Magnus Top 10 in the world. As I said, on court, I really looked up to Magnus a few years ago when I was younger. He was in the Top 10. I remember sitting up and watching him win the Grand Slam Cup. So, you know, I had total respect for him out there on court. I didn't take it easy at all.

Q. When did you think you had it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: When I got matchpoint.

Q. It was really that tough?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's -- I was very relieved I guess when I got that early break in the fifth set because then I could just sort of try and go up a gear and keep holding my serve and I knew I was home then. But, you know, you just never know. He's the kind of player that could come out and just smack four winners off his forehand and break you back straight like that. I felt like I served pretty well today. I didn't lose my serve for the last couple of three sets, I only dropped it once I think in that service game that I said that he hit the tank volley that turned out all right.

Q. Was it overwhelming emotion, relief at the end?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's a lot of relief after last year I guess more than anything. Losing in the first round last year, obviously feeling shocked and the whole situation, I felt like I was, you know, playing pretty well coming into the tournament, then, you know, nothing went my way. I think sort of the sour taste left in my mouth after last year, I could come out here and sort of get rid of it. I'm just going to get better and better from now on.

Q. Magnus compared you with Mats Wilander, who I think was a hero of yours.


Q. Is that a fair comparison?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well... Yeah, I don't know if I'm that good. Yeah, Mats is -- you know, I love Mats. You know, he's probably one of my, you know, maybe the favorite player. I just love the way he played. He was so cool on the court, got fired up when he wanted to, brought the crowd into it. Yeah, ever since -- he was fortunate enough to get some great results here at the Australian Open when I came and watched him as a youngster. I really enjoyed the way he played. He never won Wimbledon but he was always a contender, semifinals, quarterfinals at Wimbledon as well.

Q. Leaving aside last year, obviously different circumstances, do you feel much fresher than when you played Adelaide, Sydney usually as your leadup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Pressure or...

Q. No, fresher.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Fresher, sorry. Yeah, I guess maybe a little bit. I think there's positives and negatives and that is the reason I went back to the Hopman Cup is I didn't get a good enough test last year for preparation for the Australian Open. With the chicken pox, I felt like I was playing really well coming in. Definitely wasn't the Hopman Cup's fault I lost in the first round last year. So I felt like, you know, sometimes playing maybe Adelaide or Sydney, you just get, you know, that competitive spirit. I think everyone knows once I get out on the court, I'm not going to take it lightly at all and I'm going to go out there and try and compete, run every point down, maybe wear myself into the ground a little bit. That's why I saw the Hopman Cup as an advantage this year. Hopefully, come second week of this Slam, it will pay dividends.

Q. The other Aussies have done well, especially compared with last year. Is that pleasing for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's great. Well, we're going to get Crabby or Ilie through. Jaymon played, I watched him last week on TV play against Ferrero, and I thought he hit the ball really well. He was very stiff not to win that and Ferrero went on to make the final there. So that was a great effort for Crabby, he works extremely hard. I know him pretty well, I've trained with him. Who else? Luczak, that's another hit-up partner who's been in the Davis Cup. I think he's got a real good draw for him, sort of opening up for him. He plays Renzo next. Good to see guys stepping up to play. Wayne and Flip, they're the known guys. I think the one I'd love to see is Scott Draper do well. He's a very close friend of mine. I think everyone, you know, knows how much trouble he's had. I think he's really hitting the ball well. You know, tomorrow I think's going to be a big test for him playing Albert Costa, but I believe he's good enough.

Q. At the start of the fifth set, the trainer -- end of the fourth -- the trainer came out briefly. You spoke to him. Can I ask what that was about? Was there a physical problem?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I actually sort of burnt my finger on the Rebound Ace. When I went to change my shoes there, my shoe lace snapped, I said to the trainer if you could maybe just warn him I may need something after the next change of ends. I played the next game and a half since then, and when the trainer came out, I said, "Don't worry about it. It feels fine. I'll just play with it." Sort of just precautionary. It was hurting a little bit at time, just a burn, went away straightaway.

Q. Wayne said today after his five-setter that he was inspired by the thought of having watched some of your matches and watching you dig yourself out from tough situations. Coming from a 31-year-old, how does that go down?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's great, I think, if, you know, one of the main reasons why I'm No. 1 in the world is because I train extremely hard and my never-say-die attitude. I think if the younger Australians can sort of get that into them, if I can help in that way, being a role model in that way, that makes me feel extremely good, you know. If Wayne actually was thinking about that at two sets to love down yesterday and got out of it, well, that means a lot. I've seen Wayne come back from awkward situations. He's got that kind of serve that's always going to keep him in the match anyway on most surfaces. I think it's nice to get that kind of feedback I guess from a guy that, you know, I've played a lot of Davis Cup pressure ties with.

Q. Have you had a chance to follow the Crows much?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was good, mate. They're both trying to fight for a position in the back line to win the flag next year.

Q. So it was Smart and ...


Q. Bassett, yeah. Sort of thing you like to see?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's great, isn't it, in the preseason. Be aggro. May pay off next September when we win the flag.

Q. You wish?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We got the King, mate.

End of FastScripts….

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