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September 7, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. I suppose you can only play who's put in front of you. It's very -- are you happy with the fact that you just haven't really been pushed that much so far?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, the first set today the guy played pretty good tennis, I think. Didn't make a lot of mistakes out there. You know, I tried to step it up at 4-All, played a good game to break. After that he sort of went away a little bit. I put a lot of pressure on his service games. From the first game out there today. I had two breakpoints and wasn't able to take it. And, you know, I'm happy to get through in straight sets rather than going four or five.

Q. (Inaudible question regarding his form.)

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. You know, there are definitely matches where your form probably doesn't keep up sometimes at the start of the match. You know, especially this is probably the first time he's been in a Round of 16 in a Slam as well. He's obviously going to be a bit anxious out there. Came out of a five-set match against Davydenko. So, you know, all those put aside, he probably really wanted to get off to a good start today as well.

Q. How much did it help you for being in the area for about a week before the tournament starting playing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I would have been playing there or practicing here. You know, I got to get away I guess from Flushing Meadows for a little while and forget about that you got a Grand Slam and just work on little areas of my game and match conditions at Long Island, which is a huge positive, I think, for that tournament.

Q. I know you've spoken a little bit about the Olympics before. Have you noticed Mauresmo is the only one of the eight Olympic finalists who are still here? What does that say about having a big tournament right before a Slam?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. Maybe it speaks for itself a little bit. But, you know, it's always going to be tough, I think, coming off such a high for some of those, especially Gonzalez and Massu, you know, doing something -- you know, their country really never had gold medalists like that before. For them, being on Cloud 9, having to come out mentally. We all know how much tennis both guys played, especially Massu, to come back and win there, mentally it's got to be draining as well. It's not overly surprising, I don't think, for those guys to have struggled here in singles at least. For me to prepare for the US Open, as I've said all the time, is to try and get the same conditions that I've been playing in and not flying back and forth.

Q. Could you compare how you're playing at this stage to the way you were playing in 2001, Round 4, same round.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I'll answer it for the 15th time this week. There's times when I'm playing as well as then. Yeah, at the moment, I'm playing pretty solid tennis day in, day out. You know, back then, you know, in the semis or final when I played here, I played pretty faultless tennis both those matches. If I can keep doing that in the next three matches, then I'll be close.

Q. What areas of your game do you need to step up? You need to improve in the last week to another level. Are you not satisfied with any aspect?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. Obviously I'm playing big points and stuff like that. But a lot depends on the spur of the moment when you're out there as well against the best players in the world. At the moment I'm happy with where my game's at. I'm ready for the challenge to try and step it up a notch. More than anything, you just got to do it when you're out there, you know, playing against those better players.

Q. There's a lot of times today where it seemed like with him you just were keeping the ball in play and waiting for him to make a mistake, which he was doing a lot of. Is that something that maybe against a Haas or a Roddick or an Agassi or Federer, that might need to change.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, in some ways. You can only play against who you go play against, look at each match differently. If I got to play Tommy next, be the favorite going into the next match, but from what I hear about the young Czech guy, he's a hell of a prospect as well. But, you know, Tommy is a class player. I've played him a lot in the past. You know, I've got to do small things maybe a little bit different, you know, against Tommy than you do against guys ranked 50 or something in the world. He's a class player who's been in the Top 5 players in the world before.

Q. Have you seen played Berdych? Have you seen him play?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I actually haven't seen him play. Obviously, he beat Federer at the Olympics. He's young, I think, and, you know, got a big serve. You know, he'll probably give Tommy, you know, a little bit of trouble out there today. Whether he wins or not, I don't know. But he's got very little to lose out there. You know, he played a couple of tough five-setters to get to the Round of 16.

Q. What memories do you have from here from a year ago, and the injury? Was that something that just happened at the time or were you carrying it for a bit?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it just happened at the time. I felt it a little bit in Los Angeles when I made the final there a few weeks beforehand. You know, I was just trying to -- at the time I was playing pretty good tennis, I felt. The match against Ferrero was one of my best matches last year, I think, ball-striking wise. He went on to beat Agassi in four sets the next day and ended up losing to Roddick in the final. It was a little bit disappointing that the injury came back, you know, halfway through the third set there when we were a set all. I kept fighting it out but he was too good in the end.

Q. How do you see tomorrow night, the Federer match with Agassi? Any feeling about it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it doesn't really worry me too much. One of them's gonna come through. Good on them. But it's obviously going to be a tough match. No doubt about that. Two guys, you know, Federer plays that more style that Sampras used to play, and Andre's played against that style a lot of times. But, you know, it's hard to say. I know Indian Wells this year, I think that's the only time they played, a tough three-set match. Federer won. But then again in the Masters Cup final last year, Federer dominated in straight sets. It's going to be interesting.

Q. Any advice for him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I think Roger is in pretty good hands right at the moment.

Q. One of the two guys you're going to play are both having a very good summer. You're having a very good summer. Do you feel a player who's not necessarily the best player in the world but who's hot is a tougher opponent than somebody like Roger, who didn't do that well in the Olympics, etc.? Would you rather play a hot player or a very good player?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It doesn't matter. Everyone, you know, is going to be good on their day, especially when it gets this late into a tournament. But, you know, I don't think Roger's struggling. You know, he won Toronto and he's on a hell of a streak. For him to keep it up, he won tournaments on all three surfaces, three different surfaces after Toronto. You know, there's no doubt that he's had a bit of a letdown. That's probably helped him at this tournament, yeah.

Q. I know you're obviously working really hard with Roger the last 12 or so months. Do you think you can get any fitter than you are now? If so, how much more?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think I can get fitter, yeah. I'm fit at the moment, but, you know, I feel like I can definitely, you know, still get fitter and stronger. That's something that at the end of the year, that's really your only time that you can sort of put your racquets down for a couple of weeks and, you know, work on your body and fitness a little bit more than you can and just try and maintain it throughout the year.

Q. Do you remember having had a Grand Slam cruising, this long into a tournament, having pretty much not much in the way of opposition this deep?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I didn't lose -- well, in Wimbledon I didn't lose a set until the quarters. I lost two sets there and they're the only two sets I lost for the whole two weeks. That's probably as close as I've been this week.

Q. As a guy who's won majors on two of the three major surfaces, also played well on clay, do you see there's a possibility a guy could come out there and win a calendar year Grand Slam? What's the big obstacle there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think it's possible, but, you know, it's very tough to do. You know, mentally, to play that many big matches over five sets and not have a letdown throughout the year, it's a tough thing to do. I think that's probably more the challenge, you know. There's no doubt Roger's got a game where he can do that. He lost to Kuerten in the third round of the French Open, but he won, you know, Hamburg two weeks before that. So he can obviously play on all surfaces. And, you know, mentally, to come out and do that match after match in big matches is probably a tough thing to do.

Q. How tough is that Wimbledon-French double? Is that the real big obstacle there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Yeah, it's tough because there's a lot of great clay court specialists nowadays as well. I think that's the toughest thing. Guys like Gaudio, Coria, Moya, these kind of guys, and they put all their emphasis on winning the French Open. You know, so to come out and try to win the French and Wimbledon is probably tougher than maybe a few years ago, I guess, when you didn't quite have those clay court specialists so much.

Q. This is the third, I guess, Grand Slam that Kim's been hurt. She's not playing in it. Is it easier for you at a Grand Slam when she's playing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it doesn't... You know, for me, personally, it doesn't affect my tennis I don't think one way or another.

Q. Do you think if you look back at last year, about this time last year, do you think you are more comfortable or at ease than you were last year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I don't think much changed. You know, I was pretty comfortable where I was last year, and what I was doing. I'm pretty happy both on and off the court. Yeah, I don't think a lot's changed.

End of FastScripts….

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