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September 1, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. Really good win?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a good match. Yeah, it's awkward playing Wayne, knowing that it could be his last Grand Slam, and he's played so many of them. I've had tough matches with him in the past. You know, I was very wary of that. You know, sometimes that's a good thing to have your first match, a named player going in there in the first round. For me, I'm just happy to get through it.

Q. Did you say anything to him after the match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I just said, "Sorry, mate." That was about it.

Q. He said he noticed the difference between you in LA where he beat you in the final till now. He said your confidence seems so much higher. He also said your serve is really on.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I've been serving well the last few weeks, I think. There's no doubt that that's obviously helping me win more matches. You know, I ran down a lot of balls out there today when he probably thought he had, you know, good shots. I made him play those extra shots. But he's an awkward player to play against. Sometimes I felt like I got enough depth on the ball to his forehand, and he comes up with incredible forehands out there. Since LA, last year, I feel like a bit different player, as well.

Q. In what sense? Is it just the confidence?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think confidence. You know, obviously when you get on a bit of a roll of winning a lot more matches, as well, you know, you feel confident going out there. Yeah, I just felt like I moved the ball around a lot better today than I did probably against him in LA.

Q. Lots of matches coming in here. Does that count for you, count against you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, when you're winning them. It sort of comes back to the confidence sense, you know, you walk out there knowing that you've won that many matches going out there, you know, beating a lot of worthy opponents.

Q. Were you happy with the scheduling? Wednesday, two matches in the first week. Last year you got caught up in the rain delays. Do you need those two days off?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, no. I was ready for whatever. You know, I was prepared, obviously playing Sunday in Long Island, knowing that I was probably going to be Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. You know, it's obviously up to the referee. They have a unique system of playing the first round over three days here. It doesn't bother me. You know, obviously last year was unlucky for everyone. There's not much you can do about that.

Q. When did you last feel you were hitting the ball as consistently well as you are at the moment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. There's times -- obviously the Davis Cup matches at the end of the year I was obviously hitting the ball well. But I've been able to put it together day in and day out the last few weeks, the last couple of months really. You know, that probably goes back to a couple years ago when I was able to do it week in and week out and play that kind of tennis. Yeah, there's definitely been matches over the last few weeks that I feel like I've played as well as I've probably ever played.

Q. Do you think the serve is something in your arsenal that you've got now that maybe when you were No. 1 isn't quite as consistent as it is now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It definitely wasn't as good as I've been serving at the moment. There's no doubt about that. But I don't think I was -- I still had little areas in my game that I could work on at that stage, even when I was No. 1 and won here and Wimbledon. You know, that's the good thing about tennis: you never are a perfect player; there's always something you can work on. The serve was definitely trying to get a high percentage and win some cheaper points off that. I've been able to do that. Through the last year and a half, it's probably been a little bit patchy here and there, but the last couple of weeks it's come together nicely.

Q. Wayne strikes me as one of the good guys in your sport. He's tried to give something back to the younger players. How sad is it to see him retiring?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, it's disappointing. Wayne's had an awesome career. I get along really well with Wayne off the court, as well. He's a guy that I've practiced with a lot in the past. You know, he really -- I think he gets along extremely well with everyone, on and off the court. There's always going to come a time, though, when your body's just not quite the same and you've got to step away from the sport. He's the only person who knows when that time's right. But, you know, he's been a great ambassador for the sport of tennis for a number of years now.

Q. What are your thoughts on the US Open Series?

LLEYTON HEWITT: From what I've seen, you know, I think it was a good idea. My doubts at the start was, you know, whether it was going to hurt any tournaments in Europe, which I don't think would have been a good thing. From my understanding, I don't think it did. You know, the biggest positive I think, which we'll only know maybe this year or maybe in two or three years' time, that TV coverage to get more and more of those smaller tournaments, such as LA, Long Island, Washington, those kind of tournaments more air time on the big networks, you know, live. You know, if we can only not just get finals, but I think get quarters and semis. There's great players playing in it. Roddick is playing in Indianapolis. I was in Washington with Andre, guys like that. You know, I think if we can get more air time, it's just going to help in such a big country where sport is a big part of the life in the USA. I can't see why tennis can't get more and more air time.

Q. Do you feel that when you come over here, the sport doesn't get enough attention?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it definitely can get more. Obviously, the US Open, but that's one of the four majors. I think the other tournaments such as, you know, Toronto, Cincinnati, Indian Wells, Miami, they're big tournaments. They're nearly as tough to win as Slams these days with the fields you've got, 64 draw, cutoff at 60 in the world before qualifying, stuff like that. It's very tough to win those tournaments, six matches in seven days. I think they can definitely get a little more coverage, you know, to not only help those tournaments individually but help tennis in general.

Q. Have you ever felt so prepared for a tournament coming in, having a red carpet? Is it the way you want to begin a Grand Slam tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's good, as long as you don't overdo it. It's been good for me. I don't feel physically down at all at the moment. I think probably when I won Wimbledon a couple years ago I had a pretty good streak going through there, as well, winning Queen's beforehand and feeling pretty confident going into Wimbledon that year. Yeah, it's hard to say. There's going to be tough matches every time you go out there. If you're not a hundred percent mentally ready for that, then you can slip up. That's the tough thing about tennis, you've got to keep coming back for seven days and keep being at the very top of your game.

Q. Can you talk about Arazi or Carlsen.

LLEYTON HEWITT: They're both lefties. Arazi plays with a little more finesse, a bit of flair out there, moves the ball around the court extremely well, got a lot of great touch, feel around the court. Carlsen's a bit more hit-and-miss. He's got a big forehand, big serve. Yeah, they're both the lefty swinging serve, stuff like that. Obviously, got to prepare to play one lefty anyway.

Q. When you talk about the improvement in your serve, you see the game changing more, the need for a bigger serve?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, there's definitely times. But then you look at guys, Santoro and these guys, who don't have big serves out there, can match it with the best guys in the world week in and week out on any surface. There's no doubt that it helps. If you got a Roddick or Sampras serve, no one's going to say no to that. But then again, if you've got Andre's returns... There's a lot of aspects of the game of tennis that sort of bring you together as a complete player.

Q. Everyone talks about the depth in the game, how it's improving. Half the qualifiers won their matches here. Is that underlying what people are talking about?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I didn't know that. There's no easy matches at all, in Slams, in Masters Series, in pretty much every tournament these days. Yeah, it's good for tennis, but it's tough for the top players to keep playing at their best week in and week out. You know, it doesn't really surprise me that qualifiers come through. They're match-hardened. For them to go on and make the quarterfinals, semifinals, that's a tough thing playing many matches. But to get through a few early rounds at slams, they're prepared, they've played in those conditions for three days.

Q. There's a lot of debate about the way you scheduled the end of last year. Do you think the fact you did what you did, you are now reaping the rewards in this particular run through the year, the fact you took that time off, recharged, was good for you and your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's probably worked as a positive. At the time I wasn't really -- I just was thinking about the Davis Cup final more than anything. I wasn't thinking that it might help me later on in 2004. For me it was all about putting my eggs in one basket and preparing as well as possible for that Davis Cup final. Obviously, it paid off for that. You know, in hindsight, it probably helped me this year. I feel strong now, towards the last third of the year, and put myself in a position to make the Masters hopefully at the end of the year. You know, see where I end up finishing.

Q. Seems like your ability to move into the ball, you're hitting it probably as good as I've seen anybody. Is that something that you've developed, comes naturally or something you've been working on?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I guess it just comes naturally more than anything. Yeah, you obviously work on areas of your game when you're younger and that. I think I always played out of my age group in Juniors as well. I had to compete against a lot bigger, stronger guys in Juniors, growing up. Yeah, there's no doubt that that really helped me, you know, reflexes, my return of serve, stuff like that, because I had to work out a way of getting those serves back.

End of FastScripts….

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