September 5, 2004
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.
Q. Pretty impressive stuff. Must be pretty happy with that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was good. You know, obviously, when you never played a guy before, I knew he was gonna be dangerous out there. Just had to try and weather the storm and get on his serve as quickly as possible. Yeah, I really felt like I was on it right from the start.
Q. He said just now that even when he felt he was playing his best, the ball kept coming back. Is that part of the plan, keep grinding away?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was going to make him play a lot of shots out there tonight. He's a dangerous player if you give him enough opportunities. He's obviously got a big left-handed serve if he gets his first serve in. He's got a big forehand there. I just had to try and move him around the court and not just play to his backhand, even though it was his weaker side, obviously. Not just play into that corner of the court. Really wanted to make him move and open up his backhand by going to his forehand.
Q. You probably hit it more to his forehand than he's used to seeing. He was even cheating over to his backhand, kept thinking you were going over there. Got some real easy points hitting to forehand because he was leaning the other way. You obviously thought that through?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I felt like I was hitting the ball well enough at the start not to worry about what his strengths were. I was just going to play my game. I knew he was going to be hanging over there, looking, I was going to be going to his backhand. I just felt like I was hitting the ball well enough, my forehand down the line, my backhand crosscourt, that I was going to take him on even if it was his strength. Early on I felt like I was winning a lot of points off his forehand as well.
Q. 12 straight points. I mean, 3-Love up. Pretty dream start.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a good start, especially against a guy like that who you've never played before. As I said, he's a dangerous opponent, if you give him a sniff. He's beaten a lot of good players. He beat Safin at Athens, I think, in the second round. He also, you know -- I know that he beat Flip in Madrid last year. So I was very, very wary of him going into the match.
Q. You looked like you were having some fun out there, a few smiles we saw. Is that the case?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was business as usual.
Q. You haven't dropped a set yet. This time last year you had a pretty poor first week in terms of scheduling and stuff. Is it fair to say you're in a much better place to make a real strong challenge in the second week this year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't -- the scheduling was the same for everyone last year. And, you know, playing back-to-back days, sure, it's not the ideal preparation, but physically I felt like it wasn't the biggest problem for me compared to a lot of other guys last year. So, you know, I felt like I was hitting the ball well last year. Obviously, you don't want to waste too much energy and I don't think I've had to so far - which is a good thing.
Q. Pretty much a perfect week.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's been good enough so far.
Q. Are you one of those blokes that worries about not having been challenged a lot, or are you just happy to get through in three and keep going?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm not too worried. I think, you know, I've come through, I guess, you know, Wimbledon. I got through most of my matches fairly convincingly. US Open, when I won there, I had to really, you know, dig deep a couple of times. Five-setters. So, yeah, I think at the end of the day, just want to find a way to get through those matches. And I think I've had enough tough matches over the last few months, anyway, not to really worry about getting through in four or five sets.
Q. Do you know much about Karol Beck?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I know a little bit. I've seen him play a little bit. He played well on the grass this year. He's a very compact player. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. You know, I've got to go out there, play aggressive and play my game.
Q. He seems to be a guy that gets a lot of balls back and runs around a lot, doesn't make too many mistakes, like you. Bit different from the guys that you've been playing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it will be a different match compared to today's match, that's for sure. And probably even, you know, the Wayne Ferreira match. Arazi sort of got a lot of balls back, really didn't go for that many winners out there. Will be a little bit more similar to that. He's steady off both sides.
Q. What about your serve? Just keeps getting better?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I served well tonight. You know, I served well when I had to. And, you know, I mostly got a high percentage in out there I felt like tonight. I moved it around well. I don't think I was too predictable on my serve at all.
Q. You say a lot of times you've been working on your serve hard with your coach. What exactly have you been doing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just, you know, ball toss, you know getting in the mind frame of using my legs a bit more out there, pushing up through the serve. Just, you know, small reminders more than anything. But, you know, just trying to focus on that and get in a routine, I guess, so when you go out there in the match it's second nature.
Q. How important is it for you to regain that No. 1 ranking? Sort of how far along do you think you are on that mission?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's not something I'm chasing. I'm not going to go out and play - as I've said the last year or so - I'm not going to go out and play every week just to try and get my ranking a little bit higher. I'm not that kind of guy. I think once I've been No. 1 in the world, doesn't interest me to go out and play every single tournament week in and week out to try to get my ranking there. If you win Slams, you're going to put yourself in a position to be in the Top 2 or 3 in the world regardless.
Q. This little streak of 13 straight now, I know I heard McEnroe ask you a similar sort of question, is this as good as you've played since maybe you were No. 1 or since 2001, 2002?
LLEYTON HEWITT: There's been patches over the last year and a half that I've played as well as I have. It's just at the moment I've been able to keep it together and play day in, day out like that. You know, as I said, the Davis Cup matches, I seem to be able to play some of my best tennis every time I step on the court. Yeah, there's been periods this year. Sydney, I played extremely well. Rotterdam I played exceptional tennis the whole week. You know, some matches on the clay and even on the grass where I've played extremely well. But, you know, the period on the American hard courts has just been -- I've been able to do it day in and day out, I think, which I've been able to keep that roll going somewhat.
Q. Is it just good vibes on the American hard courts? Is it the fact that you've always done well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I don't know. You know, I like playing in these tournaments. I enjoy it. I enjoy the US Open probably more than, you know, the leadup tournaments, obviously, the big major and that. But, you know, I don't think there's any real secrets about it.
Q. Obviously, in your quarter, there's no seeds left. But Tommy Haas came along today and looked really good. Could you talk a little bit about him and his comeback and if you've been paying attention to what he's been doing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, yeah, at the moment I'm just worrying about Karol Beck. But Tommy is obviously a Top 5, Top 10 player regardless of what his ranking is. It was obviously going to take him a little while to get back to where he was after shoulder surgery. The wins that he had, when he won LA, he beat Agassi; when he won Houston, he beat Roddick. He's a big match player and he's got a great all-court game. For me, it's not surprising to see him winning matches again at this level.
Q. How did you feel about the crowd tonight? Do you think they were against you or wanted to see more tennis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think they wanted to see more tennis, especially toward the end.
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