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January 12, 2006

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.

Q. What was your summary of that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I just played too defensive when I got up, you know. He played a lot better on my service games than his service games, but, you know, I just didn't attack enough and didn't put enough pressure on him early in my service games when I had opportunities. You know, still had two matchpoints, though, and one of them he came up with a great chip backhand when I came into the net. But, you know, it really should have been finished off in straight sets. It shouldn't have even been put in that situation in the third set.

Q. Is it a matter of form or confidence?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Probably just matches, I think. You know, finishing off sets and taking that advantage and, you know, staying positive in that situation, I think. So it's definitely something against the best players you've got to do.

Q. How are you physically? Did that have any bearing on the results?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think I was 100% but, you know, I'm not taking anything away from his win. But, you know, I don't think I was probably 100% out there, but you're never going to be a couple of days after probably it was hopefully the worst of the virus earlier in the week. But, you know, still knocks you around a bit. Hopefully, I'm going to be better for it next Monday or Tuesday.

Q. You mentioned matches before. Will you try and do anything between now and the Open, or just full-on practice?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I won't play matches. No, it's just a matter of, you know, practicing and, you know, just working on little areas and timing and, you know, going out there and being confident within yourself, I think.

Q. Does this leave you short on preparation for the Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about that. You know, I've had different form in the majors when I've done well in the past. You know, there's been times when, you know, I've struggled, haven't won a lot of matches going in, then gone and made a final or won a Grand Slam. Other times when I've had a lot of matches, a lot of wins under my belt. So I think the most important thing is to be mentally ready, ready to go when the Grand Slam starts. And, you know, the last seven or eight Grand Slams I've been able to do that.

Q. You lose a perfect record in this tournament.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Well at this site, yeah.

Q. How do you feel about that? Is that something that was on your mind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. That's not something I hold -- it's obviously been fantastic to win four titles here in Sydney, but I lost a couple of times when it was played at White City and it was still the same tournament then.

Q. Overall, going into Melbourne now, how do you assess where you're at?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, as I said, I think, you know, you just got to sharpen up a few areas there. You know, I felt like today I was able to step it up occasionally when I needed to but then, you know, just wasn't quite able to finish it off. You know, best-of-five-set match, I should have won today's match in all three sets. That's what you've got to be able to do against the best players at the business end of a Grand Slam. Hopefully I can learn from today's match and, you know, turn things around next week.

Q. Just on an entirely different subject, there was an announcement overnight of a Bulgarian player being banned for doping. Is doping a problem in tennis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. There's obviously been a few more cases more recently in the last, you know, five or six years, I guess, than we've heard of in the past. But obviously there's so much more testing these days as well on all athletes, not just tennis players. So, you know, odds are in every sport there's probably been a few people get caught here and there.

Q. Bookmakers think there's only about four or five realistic contenders for the Open. How many would you say have possible chances? Throw a few names out.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, obviously Roger and, you know, Roddick, myself, Nalbandian. Trying to think who else there is. You know, I think we're probably the high favorites, I think, going into it. But then again there's -- you know, as I said the other day, there's so many tough early matches that you never know. Coria is capable of an upset here or there. Ljubicic is playing well. Davydenko. These are the guys probably just the tier below that can cause trouble during a tournament, I'd say.

Q. After last week and this week, do you feel as though you still have the same mental intensity that you've always had?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, yeah, nothing's changed that. It's a little bit harder this week, though, when I wasn't feeling great to go out there. And I probably had to rely on being mentally tough this week more than ever purely because, you know, when you're not feeling great, it's sometimes more of a mental battle than a physical one out there. So, you know, this week I don't think I've lost any of that.

Q. What's your hunger like for the Open? It's been years since an Australian won. How do you feel going into the Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Hear that every year, so...

Q. One more year. How do you feel about it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I tried my best last year, so... It doesn't bother me too much.

Q. Are you as hungry as ever?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, yeah. Australian Open. It means a hell of a lot to anyone, especially an Australian and especially coming so close last year.

Q. Obviously tomorrow's draw is going to have a bearing on where you're placed in the draw. It's going to be either you or Nalbandian on Roger's side. How much of an impact is that going to have?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot, no.

Q. Given the big changes in your personal circumstances last year, was there any apprehension coming into the new season about whether you'd still have the killer instinct?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. You know, once -- you know, I've been training as hard as I've ever trained, you know, throughout November and December and, yeah, when I get on the court and, you know, the practice court or in the gym or wherever, it's the same as usual. You know, every time I go out there, you know, I focus on what I need to do.

Q. And just what about your bug? You're obviously better than you were yesterday, which was better than the day before. Is it progressing like that? Are you feeling much better?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's getting better, you know. Hopefully can take another couple of steps forward in the right direction.

Q. You're still not completely free of it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not 100% just yet.

End of FastScripts….

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