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September 9, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. How tough was it out there, the conditions?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was -- I would have said before the match they're the toughest probably conditions I ever played in were probably here when I made the semis against Enqvist at night. I don't know. I felt out there equally as bad as that night.

Q. What was that like?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was windy. It was like a hurricane had come up, I think, as well. Similar conditions. It's always -- the present's always going to feel worse, I guess, at the time. But it was tough conditions.

Q. He was expected to be your toughest opponent so far. Is it getting to a point now where you're just playing so well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. I think the wind today, obviously, you had to go out there with the right mindset, you had to be very patient, mentally tough out there and not let it affect you and realize that it was going to be the same situation for both players. I tried to stay as positive as I could out there. I reckon I did that extremely well today. I really didn't let it worry me at all. I took my time when I needed to and played percentage tennis.

Q. You had very few unforced errors.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was happy with the way I played. It's tough to go from playing one end compared to the other end with so different margins for error out there, going for your shots and choosing the right ones to go for. Knowing that Tommy is a real shot-maker out there, I was just trying to put pressure on him, make him come up with that extra shot all the time.

Q. When did you sense he was getting frustrated? Seemed like when you broke him at the end of the first set he seemed to lose quite a bit.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, when I broke him in the first set. I think it was to go up 3-1. Yeah, I could sense that he wasn't enjoying playing in the wind. He couldn't play his free flying game. And, you know, as I said, he's a real shot-maker out there. He started chip charging, coming in to serve-volleying, mixing up his game a lot more, which he doesn't feel comfortable doing all the time. It's not his A game. For me, that was a good sign that I was playing my game, getting on top of him. As the match turned around, he had patches where he tried to have little bursts here and there. I just really had to keep on top of those situations.

Q. It's been a while since you got into a semifinal?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always nice being, you know, in the last two or three days of a Grand Slam. And, you know, I've always played well here in New York. You know, I felt good coming in. It's not going to get any easier, I know that, and especially going back-to-back Saturday, Sunday, if I can go through. But I haven't put a foot wrong just yet.

Q. Where do you think you can improve your game? Let's say you face Roddick next. How would you improve?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. Today was -- you know, depending on the conditions, if you get a day like today again, it's going to be awkward. You've got to play percentage tennis. But if we get a calmer day, you can go for your shots a little bit more, obviously getting his serve back and trying to make him play as many balls as possible. He's playing extremely well and very confident at the moment, so he should be - defending champion here, going through the draw quite nicely. It's going to be a tough match and, you know, I just got to counterpunch extremely well and move extremely well.

Q. Do you think it will be an advantage for you that you've played mainly during the day, he's played all night matches. Does that work one way or another?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so. You know, I don't think it will make a huge difference. You know, I think he enjoys playing the night matches. Last year when it came to semifinals and finals, he had to play during the day and he handled it pretty well. I think he's played one day match this tournament and he came through that pretty comfortably.

Q. In addition to the wind you were battling out there, it seemed to be a stream of planes. Does that bother you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not really. This week there's been a lot more, I think, than there's been in the past straight over center court, but there's not a lot you can do about it. Just block it out. Just one of those things.

Q. How much more satisfying is that win for you when you consider the conditions that you had to keep so strong mentally, to be so difficult controlling those returns and serves and all that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's satisfying getting through, you know, with a score line like that against a class player that I've got a lot of respect for. You know, I knew it was going to be a tough match going in. Obviously, the conditions, only this morning did I know that it was going to be those conditions, and make it that little bit more mentally draining, I guess, or mentally tougher out there. Yeah, it's satisfying to come through, but, you know, in the past I think one huge positive I've always had is my mental toughness out there and again today it didn't let me down.

Q. Could you talk about the prospect of possibly playing Johansson. You're obviously close to him.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it would be strange playing him in a semifinals of a Slam. I've practiced with him a lot. He's got a lot of fire power, as much as Roddick. It's going to be an interesting match for him tonight purely because he's never been in this situation before. It was really just a matter of time. He can play. He plays well obviously on quicker courts. This suits his game well. I think he looks forward to big matches.

Q. Would you advantage yourself or him, the fact that you do practice together so often, or you have in the past over Christmas and stuff?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. We both know probably each other's games pretty well. I'm sure that me doing some training, Roger and I doing training with him over Christmas and stuff the last few years has helped his confidence, helped his ranking, I think, the last couple of years. That's good for him. His last six months have been pretty impressive.

Q. Is blood thicker than water? Who will your sister root for?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. We'll have to wait and see.

Q. You have an excellent record against Andy. Do you think he's a different player, say, from this time last year than when you were beating him fairly regularly?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, there's no doubt he's a better player now than he was then. Andy has a Slam under his belt. He's been No. 1 in the world. So, you know, he's got a lot more confidence and self-belief, I think, in himself from when he first came on the tour. He was probably a little bit more hit-and-miss. Whereas these days, week in and week out, he's reaching the semis and finals of most tournaments. So he's going to be tough in these conditions. He's going to be tougher than probably I've ever played him in the past.

Q. He used to get quite frustrated, especially against a guy like you who keeps getting it back. Have you noticed a maturity in him, he stays in the point longer than he used to?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't watched that many of his matches against guys that play similar to me. I've only played him once in the last couple of years and that was Queen's. Grass is a little bit different circumstances. I had my chances in that match. Was up an early break, served for the first set. Wasn't quite able to come through. And lost a first set tie-break. He's going to be a tough opponent purely because he's got a lot of fire power out there.

Q. Can you talk about the crowd. You've played Davis Cup ties away, you know what it's like. In a sense, do you actually like the crowd being so for the other guy? Does it fire you up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think it fires me up any more but I've had to play in those situations a lot through Davis Cup ties. Obviously, when you play Andy and Pete and Andre here at the US Open, in the years past, so it's something you really just have to block out and focus on your game and, yeah, it's good to have a lot of emotion out there anyway.

Q. Do you see the level of emotion approaching what it was three years ago when you guys faced here, when you were younger players, the intensity level?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, maybe I guess. He's improved a lot since then, I think. You know, at the moment I'm playing as well as I did, especially the semiand final, if not maybe a little bit better. It's building into a good match. But his results have really picked up the last couple years.

Q. Do you feel like you can still read his serve pretty well even though he continues to serve huge?


Q. You've had success against it in the past.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if I can read his serve, but, you know, Federer obviously handles it pretty well. There's not that many guys, especially over the last week and a half, that have handled it very well at all. He's obviously got a great serve and it's something I think he's improved as well in the last couple of years.

Q. Is this the freshest, I mean, I know at Wimbledon when you won, you lost a couple of sets in the quarters, but is this the freshest you've ever been going into the end of a Grand Slam?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It will be up there, I think. I haven't played too many draining matches. It's probably more mentally draining, I guess, than physically at the moment. My body feels good and you've got to feel good if you want to compete, you know, two days in a row, best-of-five sets against -- you know, look at the guys left in the field, they're some of the best guys playing, going around at the moment. If you're going to back it up two days in a row, you've got to be feeling very mentally and physically fresh.

Q. Do you spend any time with Joachim this week, family dinners?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot, no (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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