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August 28, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. He was really going for his shots. Hard opponent to get a rhythm against.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I knew he was a talented player. I actually watched him on the TV a little bit when he won Sydney earlier in the year. Yeah, he's a shot-maker. He plays very flashy. He's a great mover. He hits the ball very flat out there. Felt like actually the better I played, the better he played. I think, you know, the standard sort of showed. You know, the best game of the match was obviously the last game. I would have liked to have went out a little bit easier. But, you know, still happy to get through.

Q. Was that a step up from your first round?

LLEYTON HEWITT: The opponent was a lot tougher today. You know, he's had big wins. As I said, he beat Ferrero in Sydney, Roddick. He's beaten a lot of tough players. I didn't take him lightly at all. You know, I just didn't feel like I was probably as aggressive at the start, and that's probably where I changed the match around in the second set.

Q. Even though it's only the second round, it seems like it's a nice evolution to move from a fairly easy first-round match? Only four sets, but felt like it was five.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a tough match. Yeah, even in the first set, I was down a break twice and I had to fight back from it. You know, in the end, 5-All, he hit sort of a shank dropshot. Then he played a good game to break me at 6-5. Yeah, it was tough tennis. I felt like when I stepped it up, you know, took the initiative a little bit more, you know, I played some of my best tennis in the second and third sets. In the fourth, he started serving a lot better.

Q. How would you describe your form, the way you think you're playing in this hard court swing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I played some good matches. In LA, I played pretty well the whole tournament, I felt. Against Ferreira, I didn't play my best tennis, but still a point away from winning. Where did I go then? Montreal, played great against Bob Bryan the first round. Second round against Mirnyi, one of those matches where he served big, I lost five in the third. I lost five in the third to Ferreira the week before, five in the third to Mirnyi. Went to Cincinnati, didn't play a great match against Malisse.

Q. What was your sort of mental attitude coming in here? How did you feel?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, you walk into this place, it's not like walking into Cincinnati or Montreal. This is a Grand Slam. You know, this is what you play for. This is what tennis is all about. Yeah, not many people will remember what happened in Montreal or Cincinnati if you go out and win this tournament. I walked into the place, trained as hard as possible the last week and a half since I lost in Cincinnati. You know, I felt like I've given myself every opportunity of playing well here, whether it happens or not. I've started well enough, got to keep going.

Q. You practiced a bit with Federer.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I practiced one day with him.

Q. Is it good to practice with a guy that good?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, obviously I hit with Flip down in Florida for a few days down there, then came here. The guys I pretty much hit with, Federer, Flip. That's about it pretty much. You know, but they're two classy guys. Henman, as well. It wasn't like I was hitting against the best players. I felt like I was grinding, getting my game going coming in here anyway.

Q. Even when you were No. 1, I think you probably said many times you wanted your first serve to get better. Is that an area you'd like to improve in?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I didn't serve great today. I felt like my ball toss was all over the shop today. It's an area that, yeah, I want to work on. Then again, you're sort of between a rock and a hard place a little bit. You go for it. A guy my size, you either can kick it in, get the point started, get a high percentage in, or you can go for it and try to get a lot of cheap points. You're going to have a lower percentage. There's some matches I feel I served great in the past. When I won here two years ago, towards the end of the tournament, I probably served as well as I ever served, even at Wimbledon last year. I do have times where I feel like my motion is good. Right at the moment, I don't feel that comfortable with it. But I'm getting through matches. If that comes together, I feel like I'm playing pretty well.

Q. What is a happy medium, you play more difficult opponents, come against people like Agassi with a great return, what's a happy medium? Do you go for it more then, just get them in?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll do it depending on how I'm feeling, how the match probably starts a little bit. Yeah, Andre is probably one in a million, return of serve, as well. If you got to play him, it's going to be tough no matter how well you're serving - I think for anyone. At the time, you play with instinct once you get out there.

Q. You've done great without a huge serve. Have you thought about tinkering with technology, longer racquet, trying it out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I've picked it up before. It just doesn't feel right to me, picking it up. You know, I think for what I'd get out of maybe helping my serve, I'd probably lose in -- you know, I think it would probably take a while to change, if you were going to change to something like that. I don't know how easy -- when you sort of hold it, volleying with a longer racquet, it feels a bit weird. It feels like it gets in the way. It feels a lot more than an inch, inch and a half longer.

Q. Three match points, failed on, is there a danger of frustration creeping in at that point?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. For sure, I think for anyone. It's hot enough out there, you want to get back in the locker room as soon as possible. Especially when I played a good game to break, to finally break at 4-All, to come out. Yeah, I felt like I played a pretty good game, yet I wasn't in the locker room. He really stepped it up. As I said before, the better I played, the better he ended up playing. You know, he took it to me. I just had to hang tough there. Obviously, I came up with a huge backhand up the line on one of the breakpoints.

Q. With time you get experience, savvy about how to play. Is there something about the Lleyton Hewitt of 2001 that you would like to have back, something that you sort of miss a little bit?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really (smiling). You know, I still feel like I've got all the weapons and all the strengths that I had back then. You know, right at the moment, I just feel like I'm not quite peaking at the moment. I think one match can turn that all around.

Q. None sort of that reckless, fearless stuff of youth?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I don't think too many guys would have gone for the backhand up the line on breakpoint today.

Q. There are wins and wins in guy's careers. Hindsight, this might be an important one for you, do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's pretty important to get through any early rounds of Grand Slams. You know, I know that as well as anyone after Wimbledon. You know, for me to keep fighting, obviously you could have got down a little bit on yourself, after losing the first set and having chances. I had to put my head down and grind back. In the end, I'm happy to come through this one. I can't look too far forward, though.

Q. Yesterday Scott Draper was saying to him the only difference in 2000, 2001, under pressure you hit every line. He said maybe now you're missing it by just a little bit. That's enough to lose a point here and there. Is that sort of the way you see it? Is it that simple?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I think there are times like that, yeah. I feel like I'm hitting the ball as well as I've ever hit it in practice. I just got to try and take that over to the match court. Yeah, tennis is such a funny game. I felt like I've had a lot of breakpoints; even today I had a lot of breakpoints, didn't quite capitalize on them. I think probably in the couple years before that, I probably made a lot more of those chances. That's something that you can work on, to a certain extent, but there's still a little bit of luck involved, I guess, seeing whether the guy makes a big first serve on a breakpoint or not.

Q. Is it fair to say the one thing you probably miss this year is being right at the heart of a Grand Slam, right in there challenging?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I think if I get towards the quarters or the semis, that's probably when I'm at my most dangerous. You know, I know what you got to do to win slams. I think if -- I've always said, even with my game, I guess, is my personality to a certain extent, if I can get through the first couple of rounds, sometimes they're the toughest. If I can get through this one, obviously get myself into the second week, hit the ball, have that confidence going, I've been in that situation before.

Q. Talk about the long-term absence of Marat, what that's done for the game, the negative impact?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it hasn't done much positive. I think at the end of the day, you just got to look at how many tournaments he's had to play. Yeah, in my opinion, he's one of the best players around when he's on. He has the perfect physique for tennis; I think, he's got every shot in the game. It's disappointing that he's hardly been able to play since the Aussie Open basically. You know, the game needs a guy like that around. He's a great personality for the game of tennis. I think at the end of the day, you look at how many matches he had to play last year. You know, I lost to him in the Paris final, he played incredible tennis, had to fly straight off to Shanghai, he plays in the Masters Cup, has to fly back to Paris to play in the Davis Cup final on a totally different surface. That takes a lot out of you, both physically and mentally. For a guy like him, it's disappointing. I think there's got to be a way that the ATP or the ITF or everyone has to sit down and work it out and get the schedule. I think the reason I got the chickenpox at the end of 2001 was because I was run down from playing so many matches and a Davis Cup final.

Q. You having been No. 1, Kim being No. 1 now, what are your thoughts on her being No. 1?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's an incredible effort. What comes with being No. 1, for me it was just a dream to grow up and be No. 1 for a week. For her to hold No. 1, it's something no one can ever take away from you. I know both of us, when we were growing up, our dream, our goal, was to one day be No. 1. There's not too many couples that can say they've both been No. 1.

Q. With you inviting Fitzy onto some of your practices here in New York, what are you sort of looking for by way of feedback to you and Roger? Is he helping with any tactical things here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's more for a Davis Cup point of view, I think, as well. He's been out scouting a lot of -- obviously watching Roger play a fair bit. He's going to be the main guy in the Davis Cup tie coming up. You know, he wants to get a feel, I think, of little things that he can say on the court - positive reminders and stuff like that that he can say to both Flip and I that are going to trigger something when we're out there. I think it's great that Wally and Fitzy are both here. I know that both Flip and I are pleased to have them around. We enjoy their company. I think we both enjoy -- the more support we have from the Davis Cup guys, the better.

Q. You and Karlovic, when you pass him now, do you have a nodding acquaintance? Do you ever talk about what a goofy kind of match it was?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't really seen him actually. Haven't spoken to him. Haven't seen him. I haven't played in any tournaments until here where he's at.

Q. Your next opponent, Stepanek or Santoro?

LLEYTON HEWITT: They're both weird kind of players a little bit. Stepanek, he's had a great couple of years. I played him in the Aussie Open I think in the third round. He started really well, sort of lost his way halfway through the first set. I was able to get confident and play some of my best tennis in that match. He returns extremely well. He moves very well. He has an all-court game. He mixes a lot. Hasn't got the biggest serve, but it's a very effective serve. He likes coming in and playing with a bit of bluff, as well. Santoro, we all know he's a different kind of player. You got to go out there, though, and back yourself, you know, take your A game. If you're a little bit off, these guys can make you look silly out there. I've got to go out there and stay aggressive and play my game.

Q. What means more to you this year, Davis Cup or the individual tournaments?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, they're both -- obviously, Grand Slams and Davis Cup, it's very hard to separate them.

Q. Has this year been different in any way with your priorities?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd love to win the Davis Cup. It's probably sitting number one at the moment. Haven't won it for a few years, so...

Q. If you do well here and you do well in Davis Cup, in a sense would you feel like the rest of the year has been a success, forget about the rest of it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: If we win the Davis Cup, I'll be happy. You know, if I can do well here, it's a bonus, as well. Obviously, we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, though.

End of FastScripts….

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