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January 18, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. Vicenzo Martucci. When do you think about the first set, when you was down 5-love, then went up. What do you think what happened with his mind, his style?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, for sure I think we're both saying probably thinking about the second set. I'm sure in his mind he thought with the opportunity of serving twice for the set that, you know, the set was his especially the way that he was playing. You know, he probably relaxed a little bit as well and I felt like after I broke him that first time, if I could, you know, I held off a couple of break points at 5-2, if I got out of that game I could have a crack at him. After you drop your serve once serving for the set you're nervous the second time. I think that's what happened. Then I started getting on a bit of a roll. He played another very order game at 5-all, his serve, give me that opportunity to serve for the set.

Q. John Parsons, The Daily Telegraph. Also do you think the fact that he got off, he did get off to a wonderful start, was playing great tennis, but did you have to build yourself mentally after that long match the other night? You needed time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. I didn't come out with all guns firing I think. You have to take your hat off to him. He came out, hardly missed a first serve his first two or three service games. He was blasting me off the court at the start. Wasn't a lot I could do. I couldn't get any rhythm on my ground strokes out there. I didn't come out serve as well as I should have also. I gave him a lot of opportunities to get on top of my second serve early. Once I started getting confidence and moving the ball around more, I felt my forehand came in very handy today.

Q. How is your hamstring? Any problems physically today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was pretty good actually. Better than I thought it was going to be.

Q. You said you weren't quite 100 percent still but you sort of feel like you're getting closer?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think with, you know, every day that goes by I'm going to be a lot better for it. You know, I was very happy, you know, just to get through the last couple of matches with it.

Q. Does it feel like one of the hardest straight sets victories you've ever had?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. I just about felt like I was going to lose it. I was playing catchup tennis the whole day. To my credit, I just hanging in there, kept fighting, got the breaks when I needed to and played the big points well. Again, the third set I think he was starting to hurt a little bit out there. It was quite a long match for three sets. I think it was well over three hours. So I -- physically, it was probably a little bit more draining than a normal three-set match.

Q. Why is it that these circumstances bring out the best in you so often do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. You know, I just -- I just get a buzz from walking around this place. You know, I've been coming to this tournament ever since the first time I played here at Melbourne Park I was playing here, I was just a young kid out in the crowd getting everyone's autographs. As soon as I, you know, got the opportunity to play Juniors here and, you know, it was just a dream come true to be playing here. And, you know, I remember watching Rochey and Lendl sort of warm-up at 9 o'clock out there on the courts, I used to be watching them. Now to be in that position out there playing, and, you know, me growing up on rebound ace as well, I feel so much at home out there at the moment.

Q. Ubaldo Scanagatta, La Nazione, Italy. Do you think that Haas has some problems when he has to finalize a match? I mean, he hit some lapse of concentration apparently.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I haven't noticed it in the past. If you're just going to take it from today's match, sure, maybe he had a couple of concentration lapse when he got the break in each set. But, you know, in the past I haven't noticed that he's had a big problem in that area. I wouldn't say -- I think it's just one match that happened to him today. Obviously he's going to be very disappointed when he looks back on the match and sees that he had an opportunity in each set to really win each set out there today. But I don't think he's got a problem, you know, through his career with that.

Q. How do you feel about playing Carlos Moya next?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, obviously the draw doesn't get any easier, that's for sure. I'm going to have my work cut out again. I'm going to go out there, play the way that I've been playing. I can draw a lot of confidence that, you know, I've beaten two class players in the first two rounds. You know, I know he's beaten two very good players as well. Hopefully it's going to be a very good match but I'm expecting a very tough, long, sort of slugging out there. It's going to be a baseline match pretty much.

Q. How much has seven hours of tennis taken out of you in three days?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I actually feel, you know, pretty good. I feel a lot better than I did in Spain on the clay. It's probably because clay is a much more, you know, sort of physical, physical surface rather than rebound ace. To play out there, it was pretty hot out there on center court today on the rebound ace. I'm feeling pretty good at the moment. I was surprised how well I felt apart from the hamstring after my match against Bjorkman.

Q. How much did the crowd help you out there, being in Australia? How much of a spur was that when you were love-5 down in that first set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I knew that if I could get things going, the crowd was going to hop on as soon as I got it going. That's the big, you know, that's a huge advantage for the Australian players. We saw Andrew Ilie yesterday, Pat Rafter every time he comes out to play, Wayne Arthurs. It's a huge lift for the Australians, as soon as we get that edge or we get that opportunity to break serve and get up a break, the crowd's really on us. It's very good to, you know, it's very easy for us out there as well to work with the crowd and get positive vibes from the crowd as well. That's something that, you know, I've learned to do I think pretty well over the last couple of years.

Q. Do you feel you can get through two weeks of the tennis you've been playing so far, play the mix doubles as well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say at the moment. Obviously the singles is the priority. You know, I've just been taking it one match at a time. Obviously the first two matches have been very hard-fought matches. Hopefully they get a little bit easier somewhere along the line. I've got to be prepared to play seven matches in singles, you know, five sets if you're going to win the tournament. So, you know, that's something that I knew coming into the tournament and that's something that I sort of planned my -- to be peaking sort of for this time of the year.

Q. Does it annoy you that your interaction with the crowd in your case actually draws a lot of adverse comment both from fans and from the media?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, I haven't heard too many bad reports from the fans. That's for sure. You know, the last three weeks has been, you know, a dream walking out on the court, as I said, you know, after just about all my matches, there's only, you know, just over a month ago we were in Barcelona I was getting booed by 14,000 people. As I said, I can't say how, you know, words can't describe how much of an advantage it is to have 15,000 people, you know, screaming for you, behind you. And I've been fortunate enough the last three weeks that everyone's been behind me. It was fantastic in Adelaide. Sydney was great as well, very big stadium there. The last two matches here, I think we've seen how the crowd's responded to me out there and, you know, they're one of the main reasons why I got through that match against Bjorkman, that's for sure.

Q. Doesn't worry you when you're criticized in the media?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I think the fans know what's going on and, you know, I know what's going on and that's all that matters.

Q. This same fact that the crowd is behind you doesn't create a lot of pressure, and you know they are expecting you to win a Grand Slam?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if they're expecting me to win. I've never made iit to a final of a Grand Slam. You know, but I think, you know, I don't feel any added pressure when I go out there because the crowd's behind me. You know obviously they want to see the Australians do well and it's something that Pat's probably had to deal with the last few years as well. He hasn't always performed well in Australia. Obviously the last few years with Davis Cup ties and that he's doing better and better. I was lucky enough, this is -- it feels like, you know, just coming home really and playing because this is where it all started for me, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Started my career and it really does feel like sort of I'm out playing in my backyard out there. So I don't put any added pressure on myself, you know, what the spectators think I should be, winning or losing.

Q. Talking about Barcelona. What did the King of Spain said to you when you finished the match against Ferrero?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He just said, "Great match and good fighting," you know, it was fantastic to watch.

Q. He was quite nice?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He was very nice.

Q. In your personal rankings, this match you are playing, they are very, very tough. How do you think is this matchup today? Which level? Second, third?


Q. The tougher matches you've played?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Tough matches, Tommy's a very tough player to play against. I can't see any reason why he's not going to be in the Top 10 for the next, you know, five to ten years. I think he's a fantastic player. He's got every shot in the game. When he's on, he's very hard to beat as I found out in Adelaide. So I rate him as an opponent very tough. So, you know, definitely up there with one of my toughest matches.

Q. Yes, but was tougher with Bjorkman or today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say because they play totally different. Bjorkman tried to rush me a lot more than Tommy did out there today. Tommy's a more free flying baseliner, he serves a lot bigger. Both matches were equally as tough. I could have lost three sets to love out there against Tommy, whereas Jonas I was pretty much in the match even though I was down two sets to one.

Q. Could I just ask you if you happen to be drawing up a betting market on -- if you were to be a betting man, I don't know, how many players would be in front of you? Would it be four? Two? Six? What?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Definitely be all the Grand Slam winners. You know, I think when it comes down to experience, those guys who have won the Grand Slams before, whether it's Rafter, Agassi, Sampras, Kafelnikov, Safin, Kuerten, I don't know if I've missed anyone, I think they should all be above me just because I haven't been in a Grand Slam final before. You know obviously there's going to be a time when hopefully I get that opportunity to walk out there on the, you know, on the Sunday, the last Sunday of a Grand Slam. But at the moment, I think they've got to be, you know, the favorites ahead of me.

Q. How do you feel about tennis people that have regards about you punching the air? Does that criticism from tennis people have more impact? Does it affect you at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't heard too many tennis people, you know, -- I think it's more, you know, I don't think really anyone sort of in the tennis people have bagged me before.

Q. Someone said you went like this. (Inaudible) He said he was a bit upset by it. Does that have any impact?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I think the only time I got pumped when he did a double-fault was 4-2 in the fifth. I think everyone understands when you've been out there four hours, get a break in the fifth set, you're allowed to look over to your sidelines and give a fist pump.

Q. I think it was Tommy towards the end of the second set when he lunged for a volley and you won the point. He was down on the ground several seconds. How does it feel to see your opponent literally face down on the ground not moving? Must have been an invigorating sight?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Geez, that's hard to say. It's not like he was about to die out there, I can tell you that. I didn't actually -- I thought he was getting up pretty quickly. As soon as I turned my back, he was already up and he was ready to play on. Obviously if he goes for a dive volley he's going to end up on the ground. Otherwise, keep on your feet.

Q. When you were a kid, were there talks about your fist pumping? You're in the spotlight. Obviously that's what people are focusing on. Did anybody ever --?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I didn't, you know, I only do it at the times that I feel it's necessary. Whether that is getting a break in the fifth set or getting a break in the first set, when I feel like I needed to get myself pumped up on the court and give me a -- sort of a lift out there, that's what I do it for. And, you know, no one's really had a go at me coming up the junior ranks at all.

Q. (Inaudible).

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, never happened. Never happened on the satellites or anything, challengers or anything.

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