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January 9, 2006

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. What was the problem out there for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just the last couple of days my stomach's been playing up. Today it was the worst that it had been. It was more just my energy levels due to my stomach not feeling right out there. So, you know, I've obviously got some kind of bug, and it's just a matter of, you know -- at 5-2, I actually thought it was getting a bit dangerous out there to try and keep playing on. I was probably only a couple of points away from having to walk off the court. So, yeah, to my credit, I hung in there and tried to get through knowing that I had a day off tomorrow. I think that was a huge factor in the back of my mind.

Q. The feeling, how bad was it at that stage? Were you thinking, "I don't know if I can go on"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was one of the worst I felt on a tennis court. Probably when I played one match in the Hopman Cup when I had chicken pox before they diagnosed it, that was probably a little bit worse. But today was up there. There were stages where I was tossing up, is it really worth it, with Melbourne obviously next week. Having that day off, knowing that I was going to have a day off tomorrow I think definitely helped me out.

Q. Is it one of those 24-hour things?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. Sort of just wait and see. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. But, you know, last two days or so. Hopefully it's at its worst today. That's what I'm hoping. If it keeps getting better, then, you know, I can put up with it.

Q. How important is it for your preparation for Melbourne to get through today and have some more matches under your belt?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, right at the moment I feel that my health is more important for Melbourne than getting matches under my belt. I feel if I'm healthy and feeling 100%, then my game will come together nicely. Whereas you go out there and you keep battling like today, you know, you don't get a lot of confidence from going out there and playing a match like today.

Q. How is your training compared to last year? Last year you sort of trained and got really, really fit. Have you done the same thing this year, or did you strike some sort of balance?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I trained extremely hard, you know. Ever since I got over -- I had a bit of a groin injury in Bangkok, then had a small toe surgery done at the same time. Ever since those both recovered, I've been training extremely hard with Roger, and put in a lot of time off the court early on, and then worked it in with on-court drills and focusing on stuff on the court as well. But, you know, it was definitely as hard if not harder than what I trained before last summer. So, you know, that's probably just the only thing right at the moment - I'm not feeling 100% out on the court when I know I've done all the hard work.

Q. Is that a worry? Maybe you turn around and say you don't want to risk Melbourne, that you might lose a bit of that hard work you've done, that top-level fitness?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. But I think when anyone's sick, the first and foremost thing is to be feeling 100% again. You're not worried about the stuff that I've done before. Obviously, there's not much I can do about that now. I've put my best foot forward and put everything into my preparation before Adelaide, and hopefully that can still hold me in good stead if this is just a 24-, 48-hour thing. Hopefully, I can get over it and turn around pretty quick.

Q. If you had lost today, given what happened in Adelaide as well, would that have left you seriously unprepared for Melbourne?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I would have liked a few more matches, but I don't think -- you know, once it gets to Melbourne, I don't think -- in an ideal world I would have liked to have had a couple more. But I don't think it would have been a big deal. If I would have gone down today, I would have been focusing all my energy on feeling right next Monday or Tuesday, when I have to play, and I wouldn't have been dwelling on how many matches I played coming in.

Q. Will you play on Wednesday if you wake up feeling like you woke up this morning?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'll wait and see. Hopefully, it feels better. We'll just have to wait and see.

Q. What exactly have the doctors said to you about it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, basically what I said. Some kind of bug. But that's what, you know, the symptoms seem like. So, you know, it's more the energy feeling that, you know, that's weird and hard to deal with. A bit of an upset stomach I can put up with.

Q. It's only very early days, but has being a father changed playing tennis at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not at the moment. Still focused when I get on the practice court or whatever, it's still business as usual and focusing on what I got to do out there right at the moment. Especially such a busy time for me on the tennis court as well.

Q. Are you getting plenty of sleep at home now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I'm getting enough (smiling).

Q. How much was today due to the way you were feeling, and how much was due to Vince?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's probably 90% because of the way I was feeling. Yeah, I just wasn't quite dealing with how I was feeling, you know, well out there today. It just made it hard. In the end I just had to, you know -- after I lost the first set, I was just trying to focus on holding my serve every service game. I saved some big breakpoints throughout the second and third set. Vince is the kind of guy, he'll play some great tennis but then he'll give you a couple of loose points like he did at that 4-3 game in the third set. So I just kept telling myself to try and hold serve and hang in there, you know, you never know, you could get a couple of loose points, he hits a double-fault and you get a break.

Q. Nadal and Agassi are already out of the Australian Open. Obviously, Roger is still in the way, but do you feel this is your best chance ever at winning the Australian Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I feel like if I get deep in the second week anyway, when you potentially have got to play the name players, you know, I'm playing some of my best tennis anyway. Early on sometimes is the toughest in Grand Slams for me I find, and you've got to find a way. You just can't go out there and lose early in those tournaments. If I put myself in a position late in the second week, I feel like I've got a pretty good chance. Obviously, Roger is the dominant player going around at the moment; everyone knows that. But you've got to keep putting yourself in those kind of positions like I have in my last, you know, seven or eight Grand Slams now and, you know, hopefully the tide will turn.

Q. Have you tweaked anything at all? You've been so close the last couple years. Is there any minor adjustments you've made to your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a whole lot. You try and add little things here and there. You know, the game's always changing as well. So you're trying to keep up with those best players, and obviously Roger's taken the game to another level the last two or three years now. It's a matter of trying to consolidate your position in the top 3, 4, 5 in the world. Hopefully, you can go out there -- you don't want to worry about Roger Federer too much, though, because you either got to win five or six matches in a Grand Slam to get a crack at him anyway.

Q. Do you see anything in Nalbandian's victory in the Tennis Masters Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, but I think Roger was well below par for that whole tournament. I don't think -- Coria took a set off him in the Round Robin match. I think Roger was playing probably 80% right and he still should have won in straight sets probably. He was still up two sets to Love. So I wouldn't read a lot into that match.

End of FastScripts….

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