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September 2, 2002

Lleyton Hewitt



Q. Is three sets what you needed?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's good, especially it's 12:30 now. Obviously, you know, I was meant to be a night match anyway, just kept getting pushed down and down in the courts. So, you know, I was still planning on playing going on 8:30, I guess anyway. Wasn't a huge difference for our match rather than some of the other matches that had to hang around all day.

Q. Were you happy with the scheduling today? One stage we were told you were unlikely to play at all. You were put on the Grandstand court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I was in my hotel room the whole day basically, just basically preparing to play on Stadium tonight. Jason called me and said they're thinking about moving me to Armstrong. We didn't know what time. They were going to give me not before 8 or 9 o'clock. Next thing, I hear a rumor going around they were probably going to call off my whole half, which seemed to me pretty sensible at the time. They're not pushed for that many days at the moment. Then I found out that I'm going on Grandstand. So it was a bit of a shock. But I was prepared to play a night match anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.

Q. Do these schedule changes, court changes bother you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. It's tennis. You can't do much about it. You know, I would have liked to have played on Stadium, but it's no big deal to me. I knew -- I'd actually played Jiri two years ago in the third round here when I played the semis, I played him out in Grandstand. I wasn't that disappointed about going back out there.

Q. You can do something about it. They can put roofs on the courts.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, we could do that. Be like Australia. Be a good idea.

Q. They build a brand spanking-new stadium here three, four years ago. You would have thought sense would have prevailed.

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's why I think the Australian Open and the players and organizers, sponsors, I guess, and TV is perfect. It's so easy, especially now we've got two. It's a dream down there. You know, I'm lucky enough that most of my matches are going to be on those two courts. I'm going to know I'm going to play at least when I'm scheduled to play. Sometimes it's a bit of a disadvantage if you go indoors and other guys in your half don't get to play, stuff like that. At the end of the day, TV is a huge thing for tennis. No offense to all the old matches and stuff, when you got to watch it four or five times, it wears you out a bit (laughter).

Q. How would you rate your game today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was pretty good. You know, I was -- first few games I felt like I wasn't quite hitting the ball well enough. I was feeling him out, I felt like. I was getting in good rhythm. I was able to step it up. I felt like I started playing pretty well. In the third set he sort of raised his game a little bit. He was on a bit of a downer the whole second set pretty much. He was able to stand up. He's a very underrated player. His serve, when it's on, he's tough to break. He hasn't got a huge serve, but he hits the corners well and returns well. He's putting pressure on your service games every time. I felt like I served really well tonight, which was a huge thing against a guy like Novak.

Q. Not to keep bringing it up after each match you play, but it was a little bit more of an intimate setting today. A couple of heckles I heard from the crowd. Because it was a smaller venue, could you hear that? Do you tune it out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I block out most things out there. I just don't know what I'm thinking, my mindset, sort of out there -- I don't, you know, when I get fired up, obviously I like to feel the emotion of the crowd. Very rarely do I hear much of what anyone says - even if my parents or my coach or whoever, comments in the corner, people are saying "Come on" and stuff. I sort of hear it vaguely, but I can't really -- I'm in that much of a zone out there that it doesn't affect me too much.

Q. No different mindset than when you're playing a match that everyone wants to see and talk about and write about to going into one in the next round that is almost not --

LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't even care about it.

Q. Almost. Strange situation?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's different I guess because, you know, normally, you know, I guess the further you go in the tournament it's gonna get more and more hype. Obviously the third round against James was a pretty hyped up match, I guess, beforehand. And, you know, it was probably, you know, obviously playing on Grandstand and tonight at 12 o'clock was not the best atmosphere out there with a full house. So it's different, but, you know, you still know. That's when the great players, I think, pick up their level and try and block it out and just get the job done and get off and into the locker room and worry about the next round.

Q. Did you sense that after every first serve that had gotten in, he won the point up until you broke him in the first set? Did you get the sense that maybe after you won the first set he's thinking to himself, "It's going to be very hard for me to beat this guy three out of four when I've taken one set from him in three matches"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I felt pretty good going into the match. I played him three times before that, once I think when I was maybe 17 years old, 16 or 17. Then the next time I played him it was US Open, and this year I played him in Hamburg and played pretty well, I thought. Pretty convincingly beat him there on clay. So I was feeling reasonably confident going in. I felt like my game matched up pretty well to his as well. I felt like I could chase down enough of his balls to sort of make him go for sort of the wrong shot here and there.

Q. He had a lot of unforced errors.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's that kind of player, though. I don't -- as I said, I don't think he matches up great against me.

Q. 19 aces. Can you recall the last time you have done that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm not sure. But, you know, I think I served pretty well here last year, especially in, you know, the latter stages, the quarters, semis, and final. I don't know number-wise, but it was definitely up there. I felt like I had, for most of the match, pretty good rhythm.

Q. How do you think the day off now will advantage you when the other half's out playing tomorrow?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's probably going to be a small advantage, I guess. But then again there's only one guy from my half's gonna get through to use that maybe to your advantage. So, you know, at the moment I'm just worried about Ferreira or El Aynaoui. I'm not concentrating on the other half at all.

Q. Ferreira's been a bit of a dark horse here but he's been playing very well.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I've practiced with him a bit the last few weeks. He's a bloody tough player. He's good at everything. Surprising that the last couple years he has sort of one good result here and there, winning Stuttgart. He beat me two years ago in the final there. Apart from that, he's had a lot of average losses for him I guess. It's no real surprise, I don't think to the players, to see him come out and have an opportunity of making the quarters.

Q. How would your game be different against Younes? He just lost the second set. Well, let's move over. Have you played him very much?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've played him three times. I think I lead 2-1. Beat him on grass and clay and lost to him on hard court.

Q. How does he match up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's a tough player, very flashy, huge forehand. Little bit like Novak. He has a big first serve but he hits the corners very well. You wouldn't say he has a Roddick or Sampras kind of serve but it's tough to return. You know, both got big forehands, that's their strengths. Obviously got to open up their backhand as much as possible with both guys.

Q. Watching any of Andre?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't seen any of him. He hasn't spent too long on the court for me to watch it.

Q. He hasn't dropped a set. Is that sort of surprising this deep into a Grand Slam?

LLEYTON HEWITT: In some ways, but I guess Andre's done that a lot of times though. He's probably the best guy at rolling over guys very quickly, I guess. Once he gets his nose in front, he's extremely tough to get back in the match with. You know, I probably would have thought that Gambill would have given him more of a match though. Apart from that, his first three matches, I couldn't see those guys doing too much against him. But Gambill, even though his record wasn't great against him, I thought Jan-Michael was going pretty good.

Q. I know you take one match at a time. You know you got to meet him in the semis.

LLEYTON HEWITT: We'll see when I get there. If we both get there, then it will be a good match.

Q. The third set today you were serving for the set, that was the only time you lost your serve. Do you have any thoughts on that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I probably played a little bit negative for the first couple points. Then, you know, the last couple of points he just slapped winners off my serve. The last one I hit a pretty good first serve out wide. He picked it up, slapped it up the line. Wasn't a lot I could do about it. He sort of went out with the "all or nothing attitude," I guess, in that last game. You know, it was good, though, that I was able to try and block it out and still break the next game and hold easily.

Q. When you held serve to win, the first serve, the second serve that you hit on the first point, seemed to be quite close to him.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was strange.

Q. Let it go by.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I wasn't sure if he didn't expect me, because I went for a slice out wide, I think he was just expecting a kicker to his backhand to start the point. I don't know. Was a bit strange.

Q. You trying to build your way into a Grand Slam tournament. For instance, you're probably playing better now than you were twelve months ago corresponding time. Are you where you want to be? You still want to be playing better? Where are you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel pretty good. I've got through my matches pretty quickly apart from the Blake match. Sometimes it's nice in the first few rounds, I guess, to have one of those tough matches and get through it. It realizes, you know, how hard in some matches you got to work to get through those tough ones. Sometimes those surprise packets in the first few rounds help you, it's a little bit of a wakeup call when you go into it. Obviously I knew it was going to be an extremely tough match though, in the third round. I'm pretty happy. It's nice in these conditions and waiting, you know, seeing a round of play tonight, getting done, you know, nice to have a straight sets victory.

Q. Do you know when you are playing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. Wednesday, I guess. That's what I'm thinking. But if I get through one of the times, it's gonna have to be a two-day break there. I don't know what they're thinking.

Q. Seem to be well over the cold?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, pretty good. Yeah. I feel pretty strong at the moment, so...

Q. When was the last time you addressed such an empty room?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I'm sure maybe a satellite. I don't know.

Q. Must have been a long time, though?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Didn't happen at Wimbledon. Yeah, I don't know.

End of FastScripts….

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