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September 3, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Lleyton, he's a dangerous opponent. How important was it to pull out that first set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was. It's always nice to get it, especially against a guy like him who's very flashy and capable of coming up with great shots. So it's a little bit awkward sometimes when you get in a tiebreak against a guy like that. But I just had to hang in there. I'd only played him once before and lost to him about three years ago in Montreal. Didn't play a great match. He's got a crafty kind of game. You know, you really got to try and dictate play out there. He doesn't give you too many cheap points out there. With the left-handed serve, it's always going to be a little bit more difficult.

Q. Nervous start or tentative?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was holding serve quite well then I just lost my serve. One service game there, I just didn't play a great service game. Up one end was tougher today again than the other. But it was the opposite ends to what it was a couple of days ago when I played. So it was just getting used to conditions and that. I just didn't quite -- you know, wasn't as aggressive right at the start today as I was two days ago. But I felt like I really stepped it up early in the second set.

Q. You continue to sort of fly under the radar here. Is that okay by you and is it actually helpful?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know, mate. As long as you keep going, doesn't matter. Doesn't really bother me too much. Yeah, just see what happens.

Q. Well, would you prefer to be playing where not so much attention is paid to you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, mate, doesn't bother me one way or another. I've been in both situations, and, you know, I think I've handled it pretty well in the past.

Q. You won the TD Waterhouse Cup last week. Can you talk about the situation. A lot of pros, name players, seem to lose in the first round there. Seems like they want to treat it as an exhibition, seems they don't want to go too far, don't want to tire themselves out before the US Open. Are you worried about exerting too much energy there, risking injury, before coming to this one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, probably goes through your mind a little bit but purely because I'd won a tournament the week before, made a final just before that. But then again, I don't feel like I wasted too much energy in Washington. Just felt like I really wanted to keep my game going and clicking along. For me, the most matches I can win, the better off I'm going to be, I think. For me, it was just try to continue that confidence and self-belief coming into a Slam.

Q. Are you a better player now than when you won the championship?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I have some days when I'm maybe better. Other days, you know, it's pretty hard to be probably the way that I played in the semis and final here that year in 2001. There's definitely been matches throughout this year and the end of last year in Davis Cup where I played equally as well as when I won here a few years ago.

Q. Can you talk about your decision not to play the Olympics and given that a Chilean won it, is there any regret at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not for me. You know, for me, it was all about, you know, trying to prepare for the US Open and give myself as best possible chance of, you know, trying to win here again. You know, I've always had good results at the US Open and I didn't want anything to jeopardize that. You know, in the past I've had some viruses and, you know, few health issues and whatever after long flights and that. I really didn't want -- there just wasn't enough break to fly back after Cincinnati to Greece and then come back here right before the US Open for me personally. So my choice was to stay and, you know, acclimatize to the same conditions that I was going to be playing here in New York and so far it's paying off.

Q. Just to follow up on that, was there any pressure from the Australian media, the people, to play in the Olympics? Here in America, we only had Mardy Fish as the hope.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you had Andy Roddick there, so (smiling)...

Q. Even then, there wasn't an outcry.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I think everyone knows how much I like playing for my country. You know, I think after I took eight weeks off last year to prepare for the Davis Cup match, one match, my ranking dropped ten spots, I don't think anyone questions my patriotism towards my country.

Q. Aside from the tennis, what do you like about being here in New York? How have you been spending your time off court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Stuck in traffic (smiling). No, you know, it's great. It's a big city. It's a great place to visit. But I really haven't done a lot of sight-seeing that much. Last week I was going out to Long Island every day to play out there. And, you know, this week I've just been -- you come here on your off-day anyway. By the time you get out here, practice, stretch, watch a match or two, have some lunch, it's time to go back, have a massage, and get ready to play the next day. Yeah, so I've done very little sight-seeing.

Q. You haven't played Lopez. What are you expecting from him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I've only practiced with him once, I think, in the past. He's a big left-hander again. I seem to be playing a lot of left-handers lately. He's got a big serve, big forehand. He chips his backhand a lot. He's a dangerous player again because he's going to be flashy on my service games and on his he's just going to try to hold his serve. I've just got to return well, move well, and make him play those extra shots.

Q. Do you find it more difficult playing left-handers?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not necessarily. I haven't really had too much of a problem. I've been fortunate. If you play one sort of out of the blue when you haven't played them for a while, it can be difficult with the serve and adjusting to that. It might take you a set or two. But I played a lot of them. I played three in a row at Wimbledon, first three rounds. Now I've played a lot here over the hard court summer as well.

Q. What about the German guy? Know much about him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know anything about him. I'll be trying to find out something if he gets through.

Q. What do you think the main stumbling block has been for you in recent Slams?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just a point here and there, I think. You know, at least at the Australian Open and Wimbledon against Federer in both matches, you know, I was up a break late in the fourth set against Federer. If I could have pushed it to five sets, you know, you never know, having the momentum. You know, it's just a few points here and there. In the Australian Open I was a point away from being up a set and a break. French Open, Gaudio was just too good.

Q. You almost seem a little wistful when you talk about how well you played here two years ago. Are you concerned you might not be able to get back to that level in a big event?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, no, I did it at Wimbledon. Not to worry.

Q. Can you talk about why you think the top men's players don't play doubles anymore.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't play doubles?

Q. Yeah.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's just too demanding on your body, I think, especially in Slams. There's different reasons for every Slam. Wimbledon is best-of-five sets most of the time from the first round. You know, French Open, on clay, such a demanding surface. The US Open here, also with weather and stuff, if you get backed up and that, it just gets too tough.

Q. You mentioned the traffic to New York before. Did you get caught up in the Republican convention hoopla? Are you intrigued by our political system being in New York this week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I've been in some traffic. I don't know if it's always like that or not.

Q. Can you please describe the best vacation or travel experience you've had, and say why it was the best for you.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, anywhere in Australia (smiling).

Q. Well, Kim told me last year that the best one for her was Great Barrier Reef with you.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was great. You know, I'd never been there before. Great Barrier Reef and, you know, it's one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It's a pretty amazing place.

Q. When did you go?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Nearly two years ago now.

Q. And when will you go again, do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. When I get some free time.

Q. Racquet technology keeps evolving. No one's put a stop to it. Is that an issue, or do you players just adjust?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess we just adjust more than anything. Not a lot we can do about it. It's changed a lot since the old wooden racquets, when McEnroe and Newk and all those guys were playing. So it's always going to adjust slightly. I don't think there's been any huge adjustments over probably the last five years or so.

End of FastScripts….

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