September 4, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. The first set, if there's such a sort of thing as perfect, you were pretty perfect.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I came out and, you know, tried to attack from the start, and I knew that for some reason that he was pretty slow out of the blocks, I felt as well. He didn't quite serve as well; I was sort of on his serve right from the start. He wasn't quite hitting the corners. Then he got better and better as the match went on, which I expected him to do. But I was happy definitely to get off to a good start and get that first set under my belt.
Q. The wind seemed to be causing havoc with your serve?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, was tough out there. Tough conditions. Sometimes I felt like it was going directly down the court, straight down. Then it was other times where I felt it was swirling around and I didn't know where it was coming from. Tough conditions to play in. But I've played actually a lot of matches here on that center court probably in worse conditions than today. So it's tough for both players. You can't do much about it.
Q. Did you feel that, you obviously knew he finished at 2:30 in the morning the other day. He went to bed at 7 or something.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Did he?
Q. Yeah. He worked out and had some food.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Worked out?
Q. Went to bed at 7 o'clock. Did you know there was a likelihood that, you know, the longer it went on, the more tired he'd get?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, actually I didn't think he'd get tired. I've seen him before and I've seen him play a lot of tough five-setters, especially on clay, which is probably a more demanding surface. You know, his fitness is pretty good, I thought, in the past. I wasn't expecting him to get tired. Then again I thought maybe half way through the fourth set he was starting to struggle a little bit out there, which obviously had probably a lot to do with the other night - just throwing his whole routine out the window, I guess. You know, so that was a little bit surprising to me, that, you know, a lot of those Moroccan guys are extremely fit guys.
Q. There's a good chance you'll play Agassi. Have you given that any thought, given he's the player that's the most likely to trouble you here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's gonna be a tough match. If I have to play Andre, I've got to play as well as I can if I'm going to win. But then again he's got to play as well as he can. So, you know, we've had some pretty good matches in the past. We've never played at a Slam. That part will be interesting. But, you know, I got to go out there with the same attitude that I have to play my game and hopefully it matches up well on the day.
Q. Are you going to watch the match tonight to scout the players? Do you feel like you already know them pretty well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I know them pretty well. I might watch a little bit on TV, but not a lot. You know, got a funny feeling that if Andre gets through, I won't be playing much like Max anyway. You can throw that strategy out of the window.
Q. Five sets, surely that must help you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Some ways yes, some ways no. He's in great shape. I don't care what age he is. You know, he looks as fit as ever to me. He looks stronger than he's been probably in the past as well, and, you know, I can't recall too many matches that Andre's lost because of his fitness. So I throw his age right out the window. You know, I think he works as hard as, you know, anyone off the court and, you know, you got to put him probably in the top four or five guys I guess on tour, as the fittest guys around.
Q. When you guys both made your comebacks in San Jose, you played in the final. Coming into this, let's say you do play Andre, how much does that match give you confidence?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot. It was probably, as you said, it was our first matches back. It's a bit different scenario now, if we play in the semis of the US Open rather than the final of San Jose - best-of-five, best-of-three set match, totally different situation. You know, I beat him a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati, but I reckon, we both can throw all those past results out the window.
Q. What's your schedule?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a weird situation. Couple of days off then you play back-to-back matches if you get through. So I probably just will hit once tomorrow and once Friday or whatever it is, probably for, you know, half an hour, 45 minutes most.
Q. Back to Younes for a minute, how come you're playing him, he runs around that backhand the way he does, but you have such precise shots. Why is it so hard to get the ball past him when he's on the baseline? He's out of position.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, sometimes, but his forehand is pretty big out there as well. When he gets around there and he can sort of whack it, it's not like you can just stand there and sort of bump it up the line. Most of the times he's attacking so you've got to actually, you know, you're running sort of to place the ball back. A lot of the times you're just happy to get it back over the net and deep to make him play another shot. Then you have to be very weary of if you push it down the line, don't quite get all of it clean, sitting there, ripe for his forehand just to whack away.
Q. Then you had to hit a drop volley.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, was a big point obviously for the break. I just had a bit of a hunch, I guess, was anticipation more than anything. He hit a lot of sort of drop volleys. I made him play low volleys. I started running probably before he hit it. It was pretty quick.
Q. On the TV John McEnroe said he thought you were probably -- looked like you were saving yourself for the big ones. Is that something you do consciously?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, you know, don't win all tough five setters and just scrape through. But I think I look forward to the bigger matches, no doubt about it. I know when to rise for the occasion, I guess. And, you know, it's not hard to get up for, you know, big matches. But I think I came out of the blocks well today and I sort of put it to him straight away that I'm defending champion here and it's gonna take a hell of a match from him to beat me out there today. In the end -- second set was huge, for me to get out of that one. Then, you know, it's nice to get through not, you know, not in tight five-setters, I guess.
Q. Still got something in the tank?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel pretty good at the moment. We have to wait and see. Couple of days off shouldn't hurt.
Q. In that match today, especially in that second set when it was tight, there were a couple of line calls that were a bit iffy. You seemed to bite your tongue and didn't get into it. There were a couple balls that looked out. One in particular you looked at it again. But you didn't sort of get too emotional out there.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I can't actually remember. I don't know. But, yeah...
Q. As a whole, you didn't seem super emotional. You just sort of stayed steady. Is that something you're trying to do?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I didn't even think about it. You know, couple line calls, I can't remember. You know, I know there were some, but I felt like there were some in the first set that was probably more critical. There was one particular point where I think I won it, had to win it three times to win the point. But apart from that, I can't remember that many obvious errors.
Q. Did you see him kick the net on that breakpoint?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't see him, but I knew it was awfully close. Just at balls come over, the umpire said, "Touched," or something. I didn't know what was going on. Yeah, as soon as the umpire said it, then I realized.
Q. Do you sort of look at it in terms of, "Okay, I've won this many and this bloke won that many?"
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all. I don't even -- doesn't enter my mind. I'm not even going to go close to putting myself in the same category as Laver, Sampras, Agassi, whoever. I've won two Slams and, you know, at the age of 21, been No. 1, which is fantastic. It's past my wildest dreams, I guess, just to have done that. But I'm not, you know, putting anything in myself to go out there and win the most Slams or whatever. If it comes, it comes.
Q. Do you have more respect for a guy who's a prodigy and always marked as a great, great player and becomes a great player? Or a guy like Younes who was never thought to have a chance and goes on to become a Top 20 player?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not too much. I guess, it's totally different situation, I guess. Obviously, for the guy who gets nothing, I guess, and works so hard his whole career just to get into the Top 20, you got to take your hat off to that guy. But you got to take your hat off to a guy who's hailed as the next great thing and has so much pressure and expectation on their back. To come out and actually do it, that's another thing. You can't sort of weigh up the two things. Obviously, the pressure's huge, I guess, for young guys coming up who, you know, get tagged as, "The next big thing," from their country or whatever. But if you're able to go and do that, then that's well done.
Q. What is the most dangerous part of Andre's game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. He does everything pretty well. You know, I think just it's hard to say, to just pick one area out. But, you know, he obviously hits the ball extremely clean and extremely well from the back of the court. Dictating play from the back of the court, like he often does, with a lot of guys. It's tough to get too many cheap points off him.
Q. Is his serve underrated?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, very underrated. He's worked on his serve a lot over the last few years. He gets a lot of cheap points off of it. I think he uses his serve well for his game. A lot of guys, with different games, wouldn't be a great serve. He hits it in position where he's going to get that next short ball and pound his groundies, which he does so well.
Q. Can you imagine yourself playing a Grand Slam semifinal in ten years?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't know. It's a long way. Got no idea.
Q. You've got two days. You said you're probably going to hit a couple times. What are you going to do the rest of the time?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Got no idea, mate. Pretty boring, not gonna go sight-seeing.
Q. Sit in your room?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, sit in my room most of the time. I'll be here at the courts, hanging out, doing not a lot for a couple hours. But I don't want to hang around the courts all day. Just lucky it takes half an hour, 45 minutes to go to the hotel.
Q. Like to go out to dinner?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Depends on the timing. No big deal to me. I've been doing both this week or the last couple of weeks.
Q. Couple of years ago when Patrick was playing the semi against Pete, he went to see Pearl Jam.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I probably won't be doing that. Probably not.
Q. You just mentioned you think it might be difficult for people who are hailed as the next big thing. Is that how you see yourself, pressure on you is enormous?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's probably, you know, I guess a lot of pressure since I came on at such a young age. I've done everything at a pretty young age. Qualifying for the Australian Open at 15, winning my first title at 16, sort of breaking into the Top 10, winning a Davis Cup, now the Slams, No. 1. You know, I think I've done everything before everyone expected me to do it and even myself. But yeah, I don't sort of worry about what other people think or what they, you know, put a tag on you or how much pressure's on your shoulders. I go out there and, you know, I give 100 percent every time I step on the court, and so far it's been good enough the last few years.
Q. So there's never been a time when you played and you're just out there and things aren't going right and you thought, "This is not gonna happen today?"
LLEYTON HEWITT: What do you mean "not gonna happen?"
Q. Just, "This guy's too good for me?"
LLEYTON HEWITT: Back in the under-12s it probably was. I go out there and I try every point until I can't, you know -- obviously I've got to go and shake hands at the end of the match. You know, there's not one situation where I feel like I'm beaten, no.
Q. We talked about Andre. Just in case there's a bit of an upset...
LLEYTON HEWITT: We're forgetting he's got to play.
Q. Yeah. What is he like?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Max plays a totally different game than both Andre and myself. He's a great competitor. He doesn't -- he shows very little emotion. He works extremely hard. He's got a big serve, big volleys. You know, he's got a big presence out in the court, I guess, but he doesn't give you much rhythm. That's probably the only thing that could put Andre or myself in any situations, if he comes out and gives you absolutely no rhythm and he's just serving up a storm, I guess, tonight against Andre. But, you know, I'd still feel at the moment that Andre matches up pretty well against Max.
Q. Did you say you are one for sight-seeing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not during the tournament, no.
Q. So you haven't been down and had a look at Ground Zero?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I went at one stage, yeah.
Q. Did you go?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah.
Q. What did you think of that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, it was... It was interesting, but it was, you know, a weird -- such a weird... I had never seen it. I had never been in the World Trade Center before, so I didn't really know what it looked like. But it was... Just a huge space left empty. Sort of leaves you with an empty feeling when you walk away from the place.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.