September 7, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Obviously pretty disappointing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he was too good on the day, though. You know, I felt like I had chances there, obviously up a break in -- up a break in the first set. Just struggled in the wind there for a few games and basically that probably cost me the first set. Then in the second set, serving for it 5-3, fought back, 15-40 down, back to deuce. Sort of let that one slip as well. So could have been easily up two sets to one, I guess, rather than two sets to one down there. I felt like I was starting to get on top in the fourth at 2-1, Love-30 I had in the fourth. Felt like I was starting to get another chance there. And, you know, to his credit, he came up with four big points then. I don't think I played too badly in those points. Then I went 30-Love up in the next game. It was huge. Those two games were a huge swing there.
Q. Do you feel your serve let you down at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I didn't serve great. I served, you know, in patches, I think. I wasn't able to -- against a guy like Andre, you got to make a high percentage of first serves. I wasn't able to do that. I was battling it out with, you know, second serve.
Q. How did the crowd affect you, Lleyton? Obviously they were very pro-Andre?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've played in a lot worse places (laughter). Didn't worry me at all.
Q. Although you won't be there tomorrow, the sense of I guess history, having Sampras and Agassi in that final?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's big for tennis. It's a great matchup. Don't ask me who's gonna win, 'cause I got no idea. It's one of those things, you know... Both -- their records speak for itself. But I'm not even going to go out -- and I've got no idea. I think it just depends on the day how both guys pull up. It's gonna be a great match.
Q. When you came into this US Open, there was still a lot of lingering stuff from last year. Do you feel in a way that at the end of it all, even though obviously you're not going to win the championship, do you feel in a way it's been a good experience for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's been all right. I feel like I came here and I played as well as I probably could have. I've made the semis. I can be proud of myself for coming back here in tough situations and, you know, trying to defend your title here. Gutsing some tough matches out. There's no, you know, shame for me in losing to Andre Agassi in a semi of a Slam. He's one of the greatest players ever to live. Sure, I'd love to be out there tomorrow, but, you know, I'm sure I'm going to get a lot more chances, too.
Q. To a lot of us it did look this week that you were considerably more subdued than you've been in the past in various places. Did you feel a little bit like the place was leaning in on you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really.
Q. Like you had to be different?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I felt like I got pumped up when I needed to. Just in today's match, if I needed to get fired up when I broke back or went up a break, then I did it. It's hard to get fired up against a guy like Andre when you get 30-love up, he'll come back, smack four winners and it's a waste of energy.
Q. A lot of the commentators this week have been saying this was the match that was likely to trouble you. Did you go into this match today feeling that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: There's a lot of guys that can trouble you - I guess, trouble me out there, but obviously Andre's one of the best players in the world. Be silly thinking that you're going to have a pushover out there. He was always going to be a big match. I think any semifinal in a Slam is a big match as well. I don't think just because I was playing Andre Agassi, it was any tougher than playing Tim Henman at Wimbledon. They're all tough matches, you know. The situation as well as the guy at the other end.
Q. Does the fact that you made the semifinals and dug deep take some out of the sting of not defending your title?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, I can be -- I laid everything I had out there on center court this week. I can't do anything else. I can look in the mirror tonight and, you know, know that I went out there and I gave everything I had trying to defend the title.
Q. Does it take some of the sting out of the hurt of not defending your title?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I'm not the kind of person that goes out and tanks matches anyway. For me, as long as I put it all on the line every time, then I can be proud of myself. It's the same in a lot of tournaments when, you know, very rarely do you win tournaments. A lot of my losses, I can still, you know, look at the way I played and, you know, knowing that I didn't, you know, go out there and tank any points. I played as well as I could and he was just too good on the day.
Q. The last three times that you've met you've beaten him. How different was it today to those three times?
LLEYTON HEWIT: It was funny, you know. He's actually started a lot better in the past than he did today. You know, just about every match that I've played him before, he's come out of the gates straightaway. You know, he was a bit slow out of the gates today. Then I started struggling with the wind a little bit, didn't quite -- wasn't quite aggressive enough when I went up that break early in the first set. That gave him the chance to -- Andre's the kind of guy you can't give a second chance to. And, you know, he started pounding on me then, and, you know, I wasn't making enough first serves. You know, it's, of course, different. We never played a best-of-five-set match either. So in that way it was a lot different.
Q. Is it irritating or downright strange to look up and see someone who coached you for so long in his box?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. We played twice before, and... It's not that strange.
Q. Do you think that it gave Andre an advantage having a coach that knew your game so well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Didn't work the two times before, so I don't know. You tell me.
Q. If it hadn't been at your expense today, would you think that an Andre-Pete final is a great story for tennis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: For sure. It's -- you know, as I said, you know, with me not being, you know -- if I'm not allowed to be in the final, then I'd love to see these two guys go for a final. I think everyone would. I think it's great for men's tennis. But sooner or later, you know, when they do retire, the only downside is people are going to keep wanting to see Agassi-Sampras finals and it's not going to be there five, ten years' time. But, you know, I think it's probably more so Sampras getting to the final more than Agassi. I think that, you know, it hasn't shocked me, but I think it shocked the media and the public more than anything.
Q. When you see the sort of hype surrounding that match and how people are talking about that match, you're the No. 1 player. Do you think you need somebody -- do you long to have somebody with whom you can build that kind of relationship and that kind of intensity over the rest of your potential careers?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it would be nice to have a rivalry going like Agassi, Sampras have had for so many years, to be in as many Grand Slam finals as those two have as well. But who knows? I got no idea whether that will happen or not. You know, I've only made, you know, two Grand Slam finals. These guys have made so many. I've got to keep trying to give myself as good a possibility or good a chance every time going into Slams to get to the final. And then, you know, maybe I'll have, you know, Roddick or Federer or Safin or someone up the other end most times; I don't know.
Q. Would you like to? You'd like to have that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think it's good for tennis. Connors, McEnroe, Borg, all these guys, personalties out there. Going for Grand Slams and big tournaments, you know. This year, we've had obviously Costa and Johansson winning Slams. We haven't had the big names like Agassi, Sampras in the spotlight.
Q. Who's your pick for tomorrow?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Didn't you hear me before or not...? I said I'm not gonna make a call.
Q. Along that same line, are you surprised that nobody's stepped up? I mean, it takes a guy from sort of, you know, who's got a long resume already to stop you rather than one of, you know, your contemporaries going head-to-head with you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't know. I think we all saw how Sampras disposed of Roddick a couple of nights ago. You know, he's just not quite ready for it. There's Safin. Obviously, he's there some weeks and not there others. You know, I feel like I'm putting myself in a good position to be in most Slams now. Obviously, the last two Slams have been great - the French, made the Round of 16; the Australian Open didn't go to plan. So I feel like I'm putting myself there in a position. Whether other guys are going to step up, I don't know. I got no idea.
Q. What's your focus now? Is it year-end No. 1? To build for the Australian Open?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Trying to qualify for the Davis Cup. You know, that comes first I guess next, you know, what is it? A week and a half, two weeks' time. We'll try and get through that match. And, yeah, then after that, you know, I'm playing Tokyo, Madrid and Paris. I give myself a good chance of getting No. 1. You know, if I get it, great. If I don't, then it's not the biggest deal.
Q. In the tiebreak in the third set, did you feel that was going to propel you into the fourth and change the momentum?
LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said before, I felt like, you know, I had 2-1, Love-30 in the fourth set, I felt that was a slight opportunity for me. He closed the door on me pretty quick in that game. I didn't feel like I played that bad a game. I made him play, made him come up with winners on those four points and he was able to do it. The next game I had 30-Love, I was playing from the better end those two games. That was a big turning point in the fourth set.
Q. Do you think the people here have a more accurate idea of who you are than they did last year, who you are as a person?
LLEYTON HEWITT: In some ways I guess. They saw how I, you know, how I handled everything I guess when I had to play American players; and, you know, how I was able to block out, you know, all the attention and everything going into the Blake match; and how I was able to put my head down and work extremely hard and dig out an extremely tough match against a talented player. For that, I guess that's another thing I can be proud of myself.
Q. Is there any quality of yours that you think the tennis public misunderstands?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I have to think about it.
Q. Would you be pleased when you turn 32 to be playing at the level that Andre's playing at now? What would that mean to you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I would be happy to still be playing.
Q. With Davis Cup qualifying looming, are you heading straight back to Australia, or will you take some time out in New York?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure what I'm doing yet. We have to wait and see.
Q. Have you actually been home since Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't been home since San Jose, after the chicken pox.
Q. Are you looking forward to getting home?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's gonna be great.
Q. Do you know whether there's anything planned for you on your return?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'm not sure.
Q. Would you like there to be?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't worry me. I'm not thinking about it right at the moment.
Q. What are the first three things you're looking forward to doing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably going, talking to the Crows, firing them up for next week.
Q. They need a talking to.
LLEYTON HEWITT: They struggled. Next week, we have Collingwood in the prelim. Pretty good.
Q. Did you check the result on the Internet, or do you phone home?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I saw it on the Internet this morning.
Q. What did you do? What did you think?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, they've got their one bad one out of the way now.
Q. If you started this year and someone had said to you, "At the end of the Grand Slams, you'd be the Wimbledon Champion, reach the semifinals of the US Open," what would you have said?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I would have taken it, for sure. You know, to win Wimbledon was... You know, back home, Wimbledon means an awful lot. There's no doubt in Australian tennis it's the biggest tournament of the year. For an Australian, we've done so well there in the past. I've seen how close Pat's come the last few years. You know, it meant an awful lot for me to, you know, hold up that trophy this year. So if I lost first round of every other tournament and you gave me Wimbledon this year, I would have taken it.
Q. Would it have been actually nice to have been in Australia to know what the reaction was to that? Is that perhaps one thing you've missed, not knowing what it was like to be back home to enjoy it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: In some ways I would have liked to have gone back and, you know, celebrated with friends back home, you know, with some people who have helped my career out so much in the past, I guess. Then again I had so much support coming from Australia, it was -- Wimbledon is the biggest tournament in Australia. I got no doubt about it. After I've been in -- you know, done well at the US Open, done well at Wimbledon, the faxes, the support that I've got was incredible going into the second week of Wimbledon.
Q. Lleyton, you played Andre a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati. You beat him there. What was different today? Did he play much better? Did he surprise you with anything?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I sort of -- I probably took my chances a little bit better I think in the match two or three weeks ago. I was down an early break in that one and I fought back. Then as soon as I was able to get that first set, that sort of put things in a whole different perspective than today. Fighting, it always felt like I was fighting the whole time from behind. It's tough to do against a guy like Agassi. He's probably the best front-runner around. When you give him that advantage, it's very tough to come back.
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