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August 25, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt



Q. Pretty convincing. How are you feeling?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a good one to get under my belt, I think. You know, obviously turned out to be a late night with all the ceremonies. That's why I wanted to try to get out there and get off to a good start, put up some pressure on him early. I was able to do that. Only lost my serve once for the night, sort of the second game where I was 30-Love up. I lost a little bit of concentration there. Apart from that, I played pretty well.

Q. Fitzy said you have been hitting the ball exceptionally well in practice. You agree with that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've been hitting the ball well. I've got to take that over into the match court, match situation. I felt like tonight was a start. Obviously, I'm going to have to play a lot tougher and better players than I did tonight. Hopefully as the two weeks goes on, you just got to sort of deal with whoever is put in front of you. This guy, to his credit, he would have been in qualifying a few months ago. He made third round in the French, and Wimbledon, beat some decent players in the French especially. For me to take care of him that easily, I was pretty pleased.

Q. Why is it not transferring always into match conditions? Has that affected your confidence a bit?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, not really actually. I feel like, you know, this is a different tournament to Cincinnati or Montreal or even LA. Obviously, this is a Grand Slam, this is what you play for. This is the big time. This is what gets you motivated. You want to go out there and save your best for these tournaments. Thankfully tennis, we have four Grand Slams, not like the Olympics, obviously for athletics and that, they've got to wait four years to get their big chance. We get a few every couple of months. For me, it's a good opportunity to forget some of those losses. I feel like I'm hitting the ball a lot better in practice. Week and a half after Cincinnati, I was sort of, you know, going into LA and that anyway.

Q. Where do you think you need to improve your game, lift the level to win a Grand Slam again?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I feel like I'm hitting the ball pretty well at the moment. You know, I think you need a little bit of luck with the draw probably opening up a bit and taking your chances when you get them. You know, I feel like even the matches I lost over the last couple weeks, I feel like I've played a set, set and a half of real good tennis. I just haven't taken my chances. Probably especially obviously losing to Mirnyi and the final. I had match points in LA. Apart from that, I played a pretty good tournament.

Q. Do you feel any different when you get in New York, the site of your first Grand Slam title, atmosphere?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a nice feeling, I guess, to know. But, you know, I look forward to, you know, all Grand Slams. I think it's a buzz walking into any one of the four Grand Slams. Yeah, I still have to say probably just the Aussie, because I grew up there. When I walk in there, it's probably even more special. But to come back to places that you've played well at, especially big tournaments, it's always -- probably gives you a little more confidence when you get out there and the memories come back.

Q. Fitzy said to us the other day that he thought you were trying from now on to play more aggressively on short balls, perhaps volley more when you can. Is that the case? When did you sort of come to that frame of mind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not something that I'm really working on. I'm trying to work on little areas of my game, you know, in the future. I think, you know, obviously when I'm playing well, I take advantage of short balls and am aggressive. You know, I think still obviously first serve percentage and stuff like that, getting cheaper points on my first serve, that's one of the main key aspects. Even when I was No. 1 and won two Slams and the Masters and everything else, that was still an area of my game I felt like I could work on. Still at the moment, that's an area. So it's just little things, trying to piece it all together, I guess, trying to get it together so everything's working for these two weeks - if not these two weeks, then hopefully Davis Cup or the Australian Open.

Q. Given the consistent success you've had the last two years, summer has been kind of up and down results-wise. Has it been frustrating for you? How do you deal with that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: With losses?

Q. Just with trying to deal with inconsistent results after being so consistent for two years.

LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, we're fortunate enough as tennis players, you lose one week, you've always got another tournament to sort of redeem yourself, I guess. You know, that's the good thing. As I said, we've got four majors. Obviously, my goals at the start of the year, the priority are the four majors and Davis Cup. I'm fortunate enough that after my Wimbledon loss, coming through the American stretch, I've got the US Open to look forward to, then obviously a semifinal in Davis Cup back home, the possibility of playing a final in Davis Cup. I think those things sort of try to put the losses to the back of your mind because it makes you go out there and work even harder to try to perform better in those bigger events.

Q. Are you fairly happy with the draw?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm taking it one match at a time at the moment. Hyung-Taik Lee, he's a tough player. He's played well on these courts before at this tournament a couple years ago.

Q. Not being the defending champion this year, does it feel better, less pressure?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I guess people are probably talking more about the guys who are in better form going into it. It doesn't bother me really, you know, either way. I felt like last year, even as the defending champion, I put up a great effort. I felt like I had a bloody tough draw last year. When you look at playing Blake in the third round, to play Novak, El Aynaoui in the quarter, then Agassi. In the end, I probably ran out of a bit of steam against Andre. I gave everything I had. Hopefully this year I can just go out there and give everything I got again. Hopefully might be good enough.

Q. Could you give a comment about Pete Sampras' retirement?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a great ceremony. I was watching it in the locker room, in the gym. For us I think every tennis fan, to actually witness that tonight, I think is incredible. As they all said, everyone who went out there kept saying the kind of guy like Pete Sampras only comes around once probably in our lifetime. I'm fortunate enough, I can boast that I was the last person to beat him here. I'm pretty happy. You know, yeah, if you could write a fairytale ending, I think this is pretty much it. Beating his long-time rival in the US Open final, doesn't get much better.

Q. A guy like Hanescu, was it good to get a guy like him, a little awkward, get into a rhythm? As the match went on, you get better and better.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I got better, but he's an awkward player because he doesn't give you a lot of rhythm either. Yeah, he had a great backhand up the line. I felt like I was setting up a lot of points. Out of the blue, he'd come up with a huge backhand winner as good as anyone. It was just sort of awkward. He had service games where he was kicking most of his serves in, then games where he had bigger serves. It was an awkward game, but I felt like I was in control. I hadn't seen him play. I watched a few practice sessions. For me to go out there the way I did and start, I was happy.

Q. You came to the net 23 times, you won 18 of those points. Pretty impressive stat.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, obviously he doesn't have -- when you rush him, as you said, he's not the most fluent guy moving around, so it was always going to be tough. I tried to put a lot of pressure on his second serve, as well.

Q. Are you sort of one that gets rattled or loses a bit of self-belief if things aren't going particularly well at work or in your career, or are you able to say, "I'm still the bloke who won two Grand Slams and was No. 1"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think when I've had little hiccups, I think I've bounced back from them pretty well. I'd like to think that I'm pretty mentally tough, probably one of the more mentally tough players out there, I'd say. I think with my style of game, you know, that's one advantage or one edge that I probably have over a lot of guys. That's one of the reasons why I've been able to get and do everything and achieve everything that I've had to so far. You know, you still need goals, I guess things to motivate, dreams to follow, as well.

Q. You said you were working on little things in your game. Some people say if you have some small problems in your game, you have less margin for error than other guys in the Top 10.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Less margin for error?

Q. If a few things are off in your game, some will say you have less margin for error than some of the other guys in the Top 10. Is that fair?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think everyone has strengths and weaknesses. That's the great thing. You look at a guy like Marat Safin. He's built possibly the perfect tennis player. He's got every shot in the book. Sometimes little things let him down. You know, there's always those things I guess which aren't quite working. That's the great thing about tennis. It's on a daily basis. If my strengths aren't working, I've got to go back to my more percentage game, I guess, try to make them play a lot more and keep running and use, I guess, my basic strengths.

Q. You just mentioned dreams to follow. Is it as straightforward as winning more Grand Slams or something beyond that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, pretty much. Obviously, you know, I'm not looking too far ahead, looking at winning this one. I'm taking it one match at a time. That keeps driving you to try to get better in Grand Slams, keep winning matches in Grand Slams. Obviously the Davis Cup coming up is very high on the list.

End of FastScripts….

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