September 2, 2005
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Tough matches in the last couple years here, Lleyton?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, in patches, I guess he's a tough competitor out there. He's got a lot of flashy shots and a lot of weapons out there. I'd never hit a ball against him, so it took me a while to get in and read his game a little bit. You know, he served extremely well, especially the first set and a half. Then he started, you know, missing quite a few first serves, giving me a bit of a look in. But I thought he'd make a lot more errors than he did.
Q. Are you pleased with your game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was good. I still feel like I can improve on today's match, but they're the kind of matches you just got to find a way and get through them and put yourself in a position to have another crack at someone in two days' time.
Q. Obviously, that's Taylor Dent. You've played him enough to know what to expect?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I know what I'm going to get. It's just a matter of executing, going out there with a game plan, you know, and executing what I need to do out there on Sunday. You know, it's never easy playing against Taylor, but, you know, he's going to give me a target and I've got to take my chances, you know, when I get them.
Q. Does that make these early rounds actually more nerve-wracking, when you can't come up with a game plan because there's an opponent you've only played once, maybe not only that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's not quite, you know -- not harder than taking on Federer (smiling).
Q. But you get the point.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's tough in its own way purely because they may not be in the same, you know, in the caliber of Federer or Roddick or Nadal or Agassi, but you just haven't seen them play. So sometimes, yeah, it does take you a set, set and a half, to get into the match and find out what their weaknesses are and try and exploit them as much as possible. So in some ways, you know, it is tougher.
Q. Is it also a case where the unknown opponent, because they're playing a named star such as yourself, is really playing their A game at all times? Does that also weigh on your mind, your opponent who you might not have heard of, he knows who you are, you don't know about him, he's all psyched? Is it tougher mentally to take some someone you haven't heard of?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's the same situation week in and week out now, for me it's been for the last four or five years. All the top guys, Agassi I've been playing for a number of years now. That's what you got to deal with, and the pressures and expectations of being in the top, you know, three or four in the world. So it's just a matter of handling that and, you know, going out there, not taking any opponent lightly and, you know, even if you're one of the top guys in the world you've got to expect that you're going to get a pretty tough challenge every time you step out there.
Q. Your Wimbledon match against Taylor Dent, it was four sets, but was it a typical four-setter? What sort of lessons do you take out of that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was probably one of the more comfortable four-setters I've played against Taylor, I would say. That whole match I felt pretty comfortable. I think I lost the third set in a tiebreak, if I recall correct. It was a tight, tight third set. I bounced back and played well in the fourth again. Yeah, it was a tough match, but I was on his serve early. You know, in the past it's maybe taken me, you know, a little bit of time sometimes to get on his serve. You know, Taylor's got a great serve and volley game. It's a matter of me going out there and making him play tough low volleys and half-volleys and, you know, making him play as many balls as possible.
Q. Will you practice with a serve-volley player the next couple days?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so. It's more -- tomorrow it will just be another light hit and just try and keep the rhythm going more than anything. You know, I've played enough guys, you know, to know. Obviously grew up playing with Rafter, and a number of serve-volley guys anyway. So I don't think that's going to take me by surprise.
Q. Do you think the ATP screwed up with the doubles changes they're proposing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Uhm, I don't know enough about it, to tell you the truth. Obviously, the doubles guys are pretty disappointed. It's a hard situation because tournament directors still have to look at what's the right thing for their tournaments that they're putting so much money into. I can't speak on behalf of them. Me, as a player, I don't play a whole heap of doubles because the singles tour is hard enough as it is. I just pick and choose my weeks to play. You know, there are obviously -- the tournament directors, whoever, the ATP, are obviously in the structure of trying to make it less and less doubles specialists kind of guys; whether that's right or wrong I'm not sure.
Q. These changes, would that change your attitude about playing doubles or not?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so. For me, personally, I pick and choose the weeks that I feel like I need another match or two, and whether it's practicing for Davis Cup doubles or, you know, little things like that. I don't think in a whole heap that would personally change my thinking a whole lot.
Q. Can you tell me whether you're doing anything like donating or raising money for the hurricane victims?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think a lot of the players have actually been asked to donate racquets, shoes, shirts and whatever. So the ATP is trying to -- or the US Open is trying to do as much as possible, so I'll be a part of that.
Q. Taylor stressed you had every right to get in your opponent's faces and stuff, that's the way you pump yourself up. In the nicest possible way, he put you in a group of players that sometimes cross the line on on-court etiquette? Have you heard that so many times it doesn't faze you at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It doesn't faze me a whole heap. It's still a matter of me going out there Sunday and playing my game and not worrying about who's at the other end too much. So it's sort of water off a duck's back.
Q. Can you talk about the line call in the second set. You were very sort of matter-of-fact, you handled it, you asked for the referee. Similar to how you handled the Roddick match in Cincinnati. Are you trying to be sort of more maybe...
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I just wasn't sure what was going on. Obviously, Jose, my opponent, had no idea what was going on either. It was more a matter of trying to clear up what the actual ruling was for that particular line call. It didn't help either of us, both our cases weren't held up. So that's when they decided to play (two/too?).
Q. You've obviously done extremely well here over the last few years and spoken about it at length. Can you just tell us again why you seem to perform so well here. Five losses and 31 victories?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I enjoy the conditions here. I think obviously the heat suits me. I pride myself on being one of the fittest guys out there, so I think that's always helped me a lot here. Yeah, it's a great atmosphere. Obviously, the court surface and the conditions, I think, are probably the main key there. You know, it's a hard court that I feel like I grew up, you know, in Adelaide growing up. Tennis lessons at local clubs are on hard courts similar to this. So I think it's sort of where you grew up and played a lot of your junior tennis on.
Q. On the point of fitness and saying you're one of the fittest guys on the tour, do you think you can get any fitter than you are? If so, in what areas?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think I can. I think it's more maybe strength fitness more than anything. My stamina is pretty good. Hasn't let me down on too many occasions. I think there's always room for improvement. Maybe it's only marginal, but it could be something that you need in a big match.
Q. Are you changing anything, the way you play at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I haven't noticed myself slowing down yet, so I'm okay.
Q. How much more suitable for you is this speed of this surface compared to, say, Melbourne Park, the way it's been?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, Melbourne Park had that year, I think, it was 2000 when it was pretty quick. It had gone from one extreme to the other. Since then it's been a lot slower, higher bounce. You know, there's no doubt that it's a fair bit slower than playing here, I think. Whether the balls have had something to do with that in the past or not, you know, who knows? But conditions here in the past have been pretty quick and, you know, the ball seems to fly off your racquet quite a bit.
Q. So it's not quite as quick as in the past here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think the balls might not quite be feeling as quick as in the past this year. Yeah, the court surface, I'd struggle to see there's too much different year by year.
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