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August 6, 2002

Lleyton Hewitt



Q. Talk a bit about the match, it went by so quickly.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, he didn't play great obviously. He struggled a lot, but I just kept balls in play, what can I say. I practiced with him before and he hit the ball well. Then today just went out on the court, he looked very nervous right from the start. Apart from a few big serves here and there he really -- he struggled. I didn't have to do a lot, and was a bit surprised that I was able to keep any balls in considering all the crap that was going on before the match with the ATP trying to make me do another interview before I went out. Gonna fine me if I didn't do it. My head was actually spinning before I went out. I am surprised that I didn't do what he did and missed every ball out there.

Q. What were you asked to do?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Done all my commitments for the week. I'd never agreed to do another interview and then before the match, two hours before the match, I got told that I got to do an interview when I came in from practice. I said, that's ridiculous, before I play a match, I have never ever, ever done an interview the day before I play a match. So this crap is going on and in the end I wasn't going to walk out on the court, simple as that. They were going to fine me if I didn't walk out on the court. So ten minutes -- about an hour before I said, yeah, I will agree to do it. I said I will do five minutes before I go out. Nothing got solved. Then I am sitting in the locker room, my head is spinning, I didn't know what was going on; whether I was actually going to go out and play or not. It is a tough situation to be in, but when you got guys who can't make decisions within the ATP setup, it makes it pretty tough on everyone, I think, and I can really understand why the WTA, I think a lot of people see is going stronger than the ATP at the moment. I can't blame them.

Q. What did they actually want you to do, TV or radio?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I have done TV interviews during -- leading up to the tournament as it is anyway. I have done -- I got planned things to do as the week progresses that I have agreed to do. This pops up, I have never ever agreed to do this. It pops up and then they try to fine me before I have to play. At the end of the day ---

Q. When were you actually supposed to do the interview, before you went on the court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think they wanted in days leading up and I said, no, I am not doing it, I have done all my other stuff beforehand; I have got other stuff going on -- ongoing through the week and that's where the problem kicked up. I have got other interviews for US Open previews obviously as defending champion, and I have got all these other requests that I am doing. Then they throw another one at me and try to make out that I have got to do this otherwise I am going to get fined. That's when all hell broke loose then because if I am going to get fined for going out, what is the point of me going out and playing. I really don't understand that. It's tough for me to go out there and try and concentrate 100% on your game when you got 15,000 things going through your mind.

Q. How was it resolved?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not revolved.

Q. Did you do the interview?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't done anything. I have still got other stuff that's got to be done, obviously with trying to talk to the head of the ATP. No one can make decisions - obviously by their decisions last year with ISL, for any decisions like that, then I think everyone is in a lot of trouble.

Q. How close were you not to playing today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I wasn't going to walk on the court. I don't see any point in me walking on the court not giving 100% when I step on the court. We have seen guys in the past. I know everyone in this room has seen -- I am not going to mention names -- but there's so many guys who just show up and play for the money and then walk off. It doesn't matter. I wear my heart on my sleeve every time I step on the tennis court. If that's going to be ab issue when I go out there and play then I don't see a point in me going out there if my heart is not in it and I am competing for the right reasons.

Q. You mentioned something about obviously the women's Tour having a lot of exposure now and everything. Do you sense an urgency within yourself about where the men's game is or do you think it's just kind of everybody taking it to so seriously?


Q. In terms of like in relation to the women's game, do you think the men's game is behind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It didn't help with the whole ISL deal last year. That definitely hurt the men's game. It is a tough situation as it is anyway because we are in a transition kind of period with the whole young guys coming up and obviously Sampras, Agassi are so well known around the world, Rafter, everyone knows these guys, it's tough. Federer who lost yesterday, Kafelnikov, a whole list of big names that lost yesterday. It's tough for the tournament. Canas is a great player, but he came out and won a Masters series events last week, and that makes it tough I think for the Tour as it is. When you make decisions like that on top of it, then it's going to make it even tougher.

Q. Do you have any sympathy for the fact the Tour is trying desperately to get the Tour sold out there and pushing the sport and needs somebody like yourself as the No. 1 to help do it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I can understand, you know, but that's even more reason not to push me before I go out and play. That's the way I see it. Sure, I can help, I think everyone can help, but the position I am in, then sure I can help it even more. I think is -- myself, Safin, Ferrero, these young guys coming up, Roddick, guys who are already half out there who can try and make the game bigger and better, sure, I have done so many things already leading into the US Open, coming into the US Open, after winning Wimbledon, at the end of the day when I can (inaudible) when it happens an hour, an hour and a half before you have got to play first round Masters Series event, you sort of wonder who is making the right decisions here; where is it all going.

Q. Do you wonder how players like in the NBA and baseball they talk before games, whether it is the 7th game of the NBA Finals; whether it's the biggest game in the World Series, other athletes in other sports do talk before the game, do you wonder how they do it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's something if I was, I think, if you are growing up doing it, then you'd have a lot better understanding of it. I think -- what am I 21, I have never done it so far, this is my fifth year on Tour, and I have never done it. I know Pat Rafter has never done it in his whole career. It's different sports. If you had it and one day they decided that every time before every match you are going to do this, then I don't see a problem with it. The things is, you know, one time before your match when I am preparing to play, I am warmed up already, you know, I am in the locker room, I don't leave the locker room for that hour, and then comes at 50 minutes before I said, all right, I will do this interview, because I want to just -- that's how badly I wanted to get out there and play, not worry about getting fined, whether I was going to walk on the court, what my attitude was like, I wanted to get it all out of the way. I gave them 50 minutes to an hour, bring the camera crew, I said, bring the crew in the corner of the locker room, I will do the interview; then I will worry about my match. I am sitting there 'til five minutes to one, not knowing if -- what is going to happen. I ended up sending Jason, they said, no, we have don't have enough time. That's the thing that I think hurts in the end because are they looking after the players'best interest.

Q. Who asked you to do the interview?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A few guys in the ATP. But we have been having talks with the CEO, the last ongoing weeks let alone the last 24, 48 hours about the whole thing. He hasn't seemed to have enough guts to put himself on the line and make the big calls.

Q. Do you think it hurts -- I mean, not just yourself but a lot of agents control a lot of what the players do with media requests, things like that. Would you feel better if one universal authority said, here's your interview list for the week, this is what you need to do instead of an agent telling you one thing; ATP needing something else, then maybe individual media come up to you on your own?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, in some ways, but the other, you know, there's so many things that the player, I don't think, needs to deal with as well. There's requests after obviously you win a tournament, let alone you win Wimbledon or US Open, the requests are that long, that to try and for a player, I think, to say that you have got to do all these, I think that's ridiculous. That's too tough. I think the agents are there to try and pick out what is in the player's best interest obviously. I think it happens in all sports, I am getting -- I can't -- I know football back home, stuff like that, that happens. I can't speak for American sport, but in tennis it's always sort of been the way. That's the only way I have sort have known growing up, so I try and deal with that as much as possible. I try and give myself or give everybody as much notice as possible as well about doing the things because that way it makes it easier on everybody.

Q. Does it take a price to pay to be No. 1, though, to have those kind of requests around you --

LLEYTON HEWITT: There's definitely more things you have got to do. But I am willing to do that. That's part of being No. 1 in the world; that's part of being a professional athlete. I am still learning. I have got no problem with that. But there's things you have got to do and you have got to put yourself out there be in the spotlight. I have got no problem with that. But then again, I want to sort of have a schedule and sort of know what I have got to do ahead of time as well. I don't want anything sort of affecting the way that I play. At the end of the day, I have got to No. 1 because I train hard, I work extremely hard, and I don't want to get to No. 1 and then do all the media and everything can sort of get - not psyched out - but worrying about doing the media and whatever, rather than what you did to get to No. 1; how hard you had to work to get there.

Q. Do you ever enjoy doing interviews or are they always like a task?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I enjoy doing them. Everyone keeps saying about Australia media, but there's Australia media that I talk to all the time. But it's not always on an interview basis, it is on a friendship basis talking about the footie back home stuff like that. There's only been a few people in Australia who have sort of got on the wrong side with, I think both them against me and me against them. Apart from that, the Australian media has been fine, every time I go home I speak to, you know, all the networks when I arrive home, I have been speaking to reporters who -- Australians who work in London and also in Australia over the last few weeks as well. I think -- I enjoy it some interviews. Obviously if it always adds up, it becomes a bit of a chore. I did an interview a couple of weeks ago with the L.A. times and it was fun. I really enjoyed it. They are the kind of interviews I think that are better when -- I thought it was a 15 minute interview, we ended up talking for over an hour because just kept rolling, and I got no problem with that.

Q. Is your understanding that you are getting fined or you don't know?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I have good no idea, mate. I don't know what is going on. I am trying to play tennis.

Q. Ask you about New York since you refused to be interviews by the NEW YORK TIMES can I ask you about New York then. Was that moment last year when you won a blur or was it something that you really remembered in detail when you won last year?


Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I pretty much remember most of it, I think. Obviously I think as soon as you win you are sort of in awe of the whole situation. Winning the US Open, winning your first Grand Slam, I think more importantly, everything sort of hits you at once, I guess. I hadn't been in that much of a spotlight before even 16 year old winning a tournament always sort of did everything before everyone sort of thought you would, but when you win a Grand Slam and it's sort of your dream come true then I think it hits you a little bit quicker.

Q. Did your life change at that instant do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It changed a little bit, as you know you probably people are coming at you more, as a Grand Slam Champion as I am sure Costa and Johansson and these guys are starting to experience. After you win a Slam people obviously have a lot more respect for you as a tennis player but also they want to get a win over a guy who has just won a Slam as well. Everything sort of changed. For some reason I felt like I handled it really well. I felt like it was, you know, I always dreamt of winning a Grand Slam, always believed that I was able to, and when the time came, I still believed there was more to go on with and I think I showed that by going out at the Masters Cup and trying to win that as well.

Q. When you go back to New York this year somebody will think you of you as like the champion and that wonderful moment you had with Pete; some people will remember the James Blake incident. How do you think you will be received when you go back to New York this time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope well. I was able to forget about it during the tournament and go on with it. Everything has been fine pretty much since then. You know, I actually felt like the crowd was -- from that moment on I felt like the crowd was pretty good. Obviously against Roddick in the quarters and Pete in the final, the crowd was going to be going for them. If it comes to Australia, then the crowd goes for me. It's not much you can do about that. But when I played Kafelnikov in the semis, I felt like the crowd was great when you got two guys from different countries playing, I think they wanted to see a young guy have an opportunity at winning his first Grand Slam.

Q. Do you have any regrets about the Blake episode, even if it's just, you know, I wish that the whatever-perception, the misunderstanding had never occurred, something to that effect?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think you always, you know, when people, you know, sort of perceiving it in the wrong way, I think it always hurts a little bit. You are disappointed in some way or you'd love it not to happen. But it happened, and people saw it their way and everyone's got their opinion. I can't change that. I go out there and thank God I was able to be very mentally tough and block everything out and I knew I was playing good tennis and sort of move on from there, and get the job done.

Q. It will be a different experience for you first time you will be defending a Grand Slam title. How do you think you will approach that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Really don't know. I am going in with the same preparation as last year obviously playing the same tournaments now, taking a week off before the Open and I feel like before the US Open I think for me it's important to take a week off, and it's going to be really nice. I spoke to Pat a few times after he won the US Open, he said, just to go back there at a place that meant so much to you and, you know, won so many big matches and changed your life, you know, he nearly bowed out in the first round to Arazi the first year, but he was able to go on and win back-to-back and hopefully I can go in there and I am sure the first few rounds are maybe going to be the toughest.

Q. The match today, being that it was pretty easy and you have had -- you were sick, then last week didn't go so well. Does it make it a little hard for you to gauge where your game is at?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. But I am playing doubles this week, which is great. I had a win yesterday somehow, didn't play great but we got through. I think it's good for me now to get some -- try and get as many matches as possible. Sure, I'd love to win here in Cincinnati going to do everything in my power to win here and both in Indy next week. If I don't I still want to be gradually improving, improving for the big one at the US Open.

Q. Given the schedule, have you hit the right mix the last year maybe even sort of -- you talked about overscheduling yourself and not taxing yourself too much before a Slam, have you found the right mix?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, sort of, I think. I think for the US Open definitely. As long as -- I feel like I'd like to play a fair few matches before going into it. But then also the week off, I think is extremely important. Hard court in this -- if the heat is like it has been the last few days here it's going to take the toll. I don't think going out there and playing the week before is the best thing with my game. Australian Open, I really don't know what is best for me just yet. Obviously the chicken pox and everything sort of up in the air earlier this year, and for the French, Wimbledon, Wimbledon I pulled out of the tournament beforehand. But I had a lot of matches under my belt which I think helped. Because I think on grass, particularly you have to do well and get a feeling for the grass court because the grass court season is that short.

Q. From all appearances, at least from what Kim has said, you are good to her and you certainly have shown a different side in that you have somebody like that in your life. Is that a side that we just don't get to see too much of because you are all about the intensity on the court and maybe there is this flip-side of the personality that we don't get a chance to view too much?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think I am the first to admit I am very competitive. As soon as I step on the court I am intensity, I want to win. Like most of the players out here, I give 100% every time I step on the tennis court. I think a lot of people perceive that but then they will think that I don't know -- he's probably nasty off the court whatever, I am actually pretty shy. When I went to school back in Adelaide I was shy. I didn't argue with anyone, I had a lot of friends there. But it's sort of the same on the Tour. In the locker room I sort of keep to myself. I do my own thing. I have got a lot of friends at home that I keep in contact with. Obviously with Kim, that all helps as well. But she understands the pressures that I am going through and I understand what she's going through. So that side of it, I think is all sort of a bonus for both of us.

Q. As a shy guy growing up did you have the courage to ask a girl out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Actually didn't have that many girlfriends. When Kim and I started it was -- I don't know, actually, it was a little bit of both. But I didn't have a lot of guts when it comes to that.

Q. Did you just kind of chat her up a little bit or just ask her out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We were -- when was it -- 2000 Australian Open and I'd just won Adelaide and Sydney that year, and I arrived late and I was chatting with one of my mates who I played juniors with, Nathan, he was playing doubles at the Australian Open. He knew Kim through juniors. I was sitting together, I just sat down and that is how we got introduced. She asked me if I wanted to play mixed doubles. I think she knew we could get a wildcard. I couldn't because I committed to my sister about three months before that. That's how it started.

Q. She literally asked you out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, she asked me to go on the tennis court. I don't know if it was because of my looks or anything to do with that.

End of FastScripts….

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