August 31, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. It seems that at a Grand Slam you always have one of these turnaround matches where it goes, you're able to kick on. How do you feel about your prospects now, the way you're playing after this match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel good. You know, hopefully the body is going to pull up pretty well in a couple of days' time. You know, I knew it was going to be an extremely tough match before I went out there. I was prepared to lay it all on the line. You know, in the end it's only a few points here and there in a five-set match like that. You've got to take your chances. In the end, I was able to. I feel like I've stepped my game up, you know, since the first couple of rounds, as well. You know, for me, it's all positive.
Q. Cold is getting better?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. It's not a huge factor.
Q. What did James say to you after the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He just said, "Congratulations. Sorry about some of the crowd," something.
Q. Did you hear what someone in the crowd said?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I didn't hear a lot of it. No, I didn't hear much. I was pretty focused out there today.
Q. You seemed very in control of your emotions all the way through, no shouts, screams. Did you feel that was an important element in the way you needed to play today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I went out there with the same attitude that I've taken into Davis Cup matches. I really felt that in my head I just got it in that I was playing for Australia out there. That was my whole mindset, you know, as soon as I walked on the court. When I felt like getting fired up, looking over to my bench, I tried to use all my positive energy when I needed to in that way. Apart from that, I just tried blocking everything else out. I worked a lot on going into that Spanish Davis Cup final a couple of years ago with Newk and Rochey. Newk and I sat down and had gone through a lot of things back then. I sort of drew strength from that, I guess, especially probably the match I played against Costa, winning in five, and also how I handled the situation down in Brazil against Guga.
Q. Talk about the fifth set. You had some shaky points there. Looks like you lost your rhythm.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I played well in the fifth. I got off to a good start. I knew I had to. I didn't want to go behind early and then, you know, him have the total momentum after swinging the fourth set around, getting on top early in the fifth. I was able to do that quite well. I was able to hold my serve quite well pretty easy in the first few games. I tried to step it up. He didn't give me too many chances to step it up too much on his service games. I felt like if I could have got a bit of a start in one of his service games, the opportunity was there, that's when I was going to try to nail it down and take it. Obviously that came when I got to Love-15, Love-30, then Love-40 eventually in that game. I was able to step it up, sort of raise the bar a little bit. From there on, it's still tough to serve it out, though.
Q. What would you say would be the two or three points in the match which turned it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, obviously when there's only one break in the fifth set, I guess that game obviously means a lot. You know, won it to Love. There wasn't one point. Getting off to a good start one of those first two points, I was able to get Love-15, Love-30, trying to take my chances from there. Apart from that, I can't remember that long ago. Obviously, the first set I lost, I felt like I was in control of the first set early, then I felt like he was probably having the better session towards the end of the first set. He had a few set points there, at least one. In the breaker, I felt like I was the better player early. Hit a double-fault at 5-All. That sort of changed things. He got the first set. The momentum was with him. To my credit, I was able to hang in there and try and get up an early break in the second.
Q. James said one of the things he was really proud of in the match was that any kid watching the game could watch it and enjoy it and say, "I want to be like either of those two players." Is that something that is in your mind, as well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, when I'm out there playing, I'm concentrating on other things, I guess. But, you know, obviously for sure, I think it's great for the game to have, you know, tough matches, especially two young guys I guess going out there and giving everything they've got out there. I don't know how long the match was, probably three and a half, around that area. It's tough conditions out there. You know, to see us not give an inch the whole match for three and a half hours to four hours, I think it's something we can both be proud of.
Q. I don't think anyone wants to go on and on about this whole race thing. In the fourth set when the woman called out, a bunch of us were even further away than you were, it was really crystal clear what she said. You stopped before serving in your motion.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't hear what she said. I stopped because James turned around. I was ready to serve. I've got no idea. I didn't hear a lot of what the crowd said all day.
Q. Would it disturb you to hear that she said, "Don't let him beat you, James, he's a racist"?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You're always going to get some nutters in the crowd. Can't do much about it.
Q. How do you like music during the changeovers?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Music? It's different. I'm not going to get up and dance, but it's all right (smiling). It is different. It's weird. I make myself not look at the score boards. I've got no idea what they're showing up there, whether it's - I don't know - video clips or what the hell it is. I hear the music. Yeah, it's good for the game I think because it gets the crowd, you know, involved in change of ends, whereas a lot of sports don't have like a little bit of a time-out, I guess. In that way, I think it's good for the game.
Q. You weren't watching when they replayed the ball that was called out?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't look at the screen once for my three matches or two matches that I played, and I didn't look at it last year.
Q. It's not distracting to have the action replay?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not for me. For other players, maybe. I think somebody, maybe Agassi, got it turned off last year, the screen, at one stage during his match. For me, it hasn't been a problem. I don't even -- the whole time when I'm sitting down or playing my game, I don't look up there. I look to a couple of score boards now and then, that sort of situation, on the side of the court.
Q. Would you say that's the least emotional you've been in a big match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really, no. I think last year I wasn't that emotional probably in some of my matches, you know, towards the end of the tournament. I felt like I got fired up today when I needed to. I felt like I got fired up in some of those matches. Even away Davis Cup matches, as well. I don't know why.
Q. Early in your career, insiders have noted that you have kind of an affection for Patrick, especially in your early years.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Patrick Rafter?
Q. Yes. In recent years, you usually are a pretty tough customer on court. You were saying "nice shot" a couple times, applauding. Do you have a little bit of respect or even affection for James, even though he's a tough opponent?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He's a nice guy, no doubt about that. I think everyone knows that. Yeah, I say a lot of "good shots" to a lot of opponents. It's not just because I'm playing James out there. Maybe he hits more good shots than some other guys I play, I don't know. Yeah, he's a nice guy. We get along fine off court.
Q. Is there any significance coming into this event as the Wimbledon Champion? Do you feel any different at all than perhaps this time last year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, a lot's happened since sitting here, what am I, into the Round of 16. If you take it a year ago when I was in the Round of 16 there, I was a bit of a pidge really. I hadn't done anything. I was sort of in the Top 4 or 5 in the world. I hadn't made a breakthrough really in the Grand Slams yet. Made one semi here. A lot of things have changed since then. I've been able to, you know, obviously go -- I won here last year, then just sort of extended that, went after No. 1. I'm sort of just riding the wave basically. Obviously, start of the year wasn't as I hoped. I can't blame myself because of that, though. The clay court season was tough. But then obviously as soon as I got on the grass, I felt fantastic. I think the confidence I had on the grass, especially at Wimbledon, you can take it into a little bit of account, helps you with confidence. I was able to put together another, you know, seven tough matches there. Obviously, one was especially tough in the quarters against Schalken.
Q. Adelaide will play Brisbane at Brisbane. Do you think they can win?
LLEYTON HEWITT: We can win, mate. We've probably got the best record. You know, we've got the double chance anyway.
Q. Would you be willing to give us non-Australians a seminar on Aussie Rules football?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Take too long. How about you just say best game in the world, leave it at that.
Q. What is it about you when you get into a fifth set that makes you so confident?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I don't know about confident. I play each game sort of on its merits, I guess. I know it's sudden death. I think I'm obviously in pretty good shape. Mentally I'm as tough as anyone, I guess, on the tour. I think those two are probably the biggest factors. My five-set record isn't the greatest, I don't think. I've won a few close ones, though, in the last couple of years in Slams. Obviously, I screwed it up against Escude in the Davis Cup final last year. But apart from that, you know, it's not bad.
Q. For the years you were with the Davis Cup team, watching Patrick, who went through a period there where he was just phenomenal in five-setters, did you get anything from that, inspiration from that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, obviously -- I don't know how good Patrick was before. I can't remember. I don't know if he was unbelievable.
Q. Really good.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I'll take your word for it. It doesn't surprise me. Obviously, you know, the one that made me want to play Davis Cup for Australia was obviously that first match I saw, two sets to love down, against Pioline on grass, White City. That's my first ever Davis Cup that I've seen live. You know, that basically said to me, "I want to be out there as soon as possible." That was it. In that way, that five-setter of Pat's, maybe it helped Australian tennis a little bit.
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