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August 9, 2002

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. What was the difference today? I mean, you had some really good rallies - deep and everything - but yet you were able to just edge them out.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I was able to play the big points well, I think, towards the end of the first set. The first set was huge. You know, it's just about around an hour, I think, long. It was a long first set, and it was a grinding one. He had the advantage at the start, then I was able to peg back the momentum. I played a good game to break at 4-all. Then, you know, just didn't quite execute right at the 5-4 game, serving for it. Put in a couple of early errors. He was able to step it up. Got to 40-15. Huge three or four points there to turn it around, get the momentum back quickly. I went on and held to love the second time serving for the first set. Second set he came out and served great the first few times. From there on, it felt like I was in each one of his service games. It was very important just for me to hang in my service games. I felt I was going to get an opportunity sooner or later to try and break his.

Q. Do you think you played better ahead?


Q. Yeah.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I played pretty well getting back in the match. I was 3-love down, 15-30 in the first set. Two points there and you can pretty much kiss the first set good-bye at 4-love against Andre. So I felt like I gutsed it out. I hung in there. I didn't give him any cheap points at that stage. That was important. I was able to break straight back. The whole momentum of the match had changed where he was in charge right from the start, yet I had breakpoints the first game and I had game points in the second game. So I could have been 2-love up. Instead, I found myself an early break down.

Q. 5-all, 40-15, there had been a lot of coming and going. It seemed Andre was right with you, level at that stage. Suddenly it changed. Do you know why?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was strange. I just hung in that game. I said to myself, "I'm gonna hang in there and I'm going to try to take the initiative away from him a little bit," and I cracked two winners at 40-15. Sort of changed the whole momentum a little bit. I felt like I was starting to get on top, as I said before, at 4-all. Broke him. Served for the first set. Didn't execute the point properly. Played a bad start to that game. At 40-15, I was just able to hit two clean winners - backhand up the line and an inside-out forehand. Changed straightaway. We changed ends. The whole momentum swung again. I was able to hold to love the next game. In the second set, he came early, he came at me again strong. You know he's going to, he's such a great player and a great competitor out there. He didn't give me anything early. He was serving a lot better, I felt, at the start of the second set, a lot more cheap points. I was able to hang in my service games. And, you know, I felt sooner or later he's going to have to start missing some first serves. That's when I had to try and pounce on him.

Q. With Pete at 31, we see some signs of his slowing down, changes to his game or breakdowns. Do we see that at all with Andre at 32?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all. He's an incredible athlete. You know, there's not many people who would be able to do -- I don't know if I'll be out there running around the way he is . And still the motivation and everything, you know - he's ready to go right from the first point every time. You've got to be on your game every time you step out on the court against him; otherwise, he's going to whack you. You know, I was able to, you know, the last couple times we played. We played some great matches. It's hard to beat the San Jose final at the start of the year. And, you know, I don't see any signs of him, you know, fatiguing towards the end of matches at all at the moment.

Q. When you were yelling, were you mad at yourself, were you trying to pump yourself up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was just trying to pump myself up. You know, sometimes it works as a positive, sometimes as a negative. I felt like I was able , when I got down on myself a couple times, I'm able to -- I have a - I don't know how to say it - but some guys, it turns the whole match around and they get very negative on themselves and can't sort of get out of it. I'm able - for some unknown reason, I don't know why - to focus straightaway on the next point. It sometimes makes me concentrate on the next point and try andd improve on what I did wrong Yeah. So for me, I'm not going to say 100% of the time that I get down on myself it works for me, but, you know, I think a lot of other guys, if they get down on themselves at all, sometimes they're history.

Q. After the match, on TV you talked about the level of respect you had for Agassi and still do.


Q. Is it special for him to have that now for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess. It's something I really don't think about, what Andre thinks of me or how I play the game or me as a person or whatever really. I've got along great with Andre, you know. It's something, you know, even in the locker room now you still look up to him and have so much respect for him. I've still got a poster in my garage of Andre Agassi on the wall at home. Growing up, he was -- he's that kind of -- he's got that kind of personality that you sort of, you know, it sort of fitted right into my attitude, I guess, and my style of play. He's very sort of out there, he gives 100% every time he's on the court. And he's, you know, he's a baseliner as well. A lot of people spoke about how I was the next person since Andre to win from the back of the court at Wimbledon. I draw a lot of confidence from a guy like Andre being able to win all four majors.

Q. It was Agassi you had posters of, none of the other great players?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, no, I liked a lot of players. I liked Mats Wilander a lot. I like watching Pete. He obviously -- I was never going to be a serve-and-volley player, I just didn't have that style of game. But I got a lot of respect for Pete, just how good he really is, you know, how good he's been over so many years. I think I realize that more now that I'm sitting at the top of the game. It's so hard to go out there and after you win a major or two, you sort of -- your goals change. It's hard to get up week in and week out for smaller tournaments. You got to take your hat off to a guy like Pete and Andre who have been able to do it for so many years.

Q. Did his poster used to have a better spot in the garage?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Andre? No, everyone got it confused. I told them when I did my press conference after I beat him in Adelaide the first time it was in my garage. Everyone kept saying it was in my bedroom. No, it was always in my garage; it hasn't changed. Just, you know, I've got a little gym set in there and a speed ball and stuff. It's sort of where I worked out a little bit when I was younger. That's why it's up there. It's when he had long hair and had the bike shorts underneath his denim shorts and that. That sort of suited my character, I think, a little bit.

Q. You have probably the best two hardcourt players playing each other in the quarterfinals. Was this the best rivalry of the tournament? If so, do you feel like you're over a hump now in the tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, there's still two tough matches to go, you know, whoever I play. Obviously, the next match, Roddick or Gonzalez, you'd have to guess that Roddick's probably going to get through that one. But, you know, Andy and I have had a lot of tough matches. It's gonna be extremely tough. He's seeing the ball well. This is basically my first sort of string of matches that I've put together on the hardcourt so far this season. He's had a lot of matches. Even though he's lost a couple, he's made the semi of LA then the final of Toronto. And if he gets to play me, again, it's another semi for him. So his winning form is good form. Then after that, you know, if I can get through that one, then I meet one of the Spaniards. By the way they're going, they're playing pretty well.

Q. You talked about Andy. Can you talk about Gonzalez?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've never played Fernando. Actually, I've played him in Juniors. I played him when I was about 15 and he was 16. I never played him in seniors, though. And all I remember of him, he was the No. 1 junior in the 14s and a guy I probably looked up to when I was 12 or 13. Then he went walkabout for a few years. Next thing you know, he comes out, qualifies, wins the Orlando tournament, now he's here beating Henman and Krajicek yesterday. He's got a massive game, a really big game.

Q. Andre broke you early in the first set. Did you still believe you could recover after that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was 3-0, but I wasn't gonna get down on myself because I had chances in the first two games. You know, I had 15-40, then another breakpoint. So I had three breakpoints in the first game. Then in the second -- next game, I had a game point, pulled the trigger and went for a big second serve and double-faulted. I felt like, you know, it could have very easily been 2-love to me rather than 2- or 3-love down. I just hung in there and kept fighting.

Q. The public was today on his side. Does it bother you, or not at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, he's Andre Agassi. He's in America. I guess, you know, he's just that kind of person as well. The crowds love to come out and see him play. You know, if I wasn't a tennis player, I'd love to come -- I'd pay to come and watch Andre play as well. We're playing in America as well, but Andre has a great following throughout the world.

Q. Are you right where you want to be, heading in to the semis tomorrow night?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd like to be in bed soon, but... Apart from that, I'm pretty happy (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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