August 29, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. Very satisfactory.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always tough when you don't know the guy you're going to play. You know, the first set was pretty much feeling him out. He was, you know, a pretty good player. Slapped a few balls around, didn't have too many weaknesses. He just got a little bit tight, I think, when he had a few opportunities to close out the first set. That's where I was able to get out of the first set and sort of take my game to another level from there on.
Q. How is your overall confidence at the moment? Sky high? Getting there?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Getting there, I think. I still feel like there's a lot of room for improvement. It's a great thing, I'll tell you, to be into the third round, not having wasted too much energy so far. You know, I'm still here battling along. It's a good feeling.
Q. Do you feel any pressure? People are expecting you to win. You are a defending champion.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, there's definitely a little bit more pressure. I don't really feel like it affects me too much. I feel like I'm able to block it out pretty well. You know, I've had to deal with it, I guess, from a certain extent as I've been going up. I've done everything at a young age, I guess, had expectations sort of put on me. I've been able to sort of jump every hurdle. Now I don't really know where to go now. I've just got to sort of try to stay there. Obviously, everyone's after you. I feel like I can go out there, though, and put myself on the line every time, which is a good thing.
Q. You said prior to Wimbledon that you then knew because of last year here what it took to win a Grand Slam. Presumably now, after winning Wimbledon, that's reinforcing those beliefs.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if it can work twice (smiling). You know, obviously I guess after the first one, that's the key. You really start believing that you're capable of winning seven best-of-five set matches over two weeks. And, two, you overcome that hurdle. I still think, you know, in guys that haven't won it, there's still a little bit of doubt in their mind, in the back of their head somewhere, "Maybe I'm not capable of putting seven tough matches back to back together there." You know, sure, now I've won two, fantastic. But I'm no more confident, I guess. I still believe that I can go out there and I know what it takes. But I think that more so happened after the first one here last year.
Q. For your opponents, do you think that makes a difference at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: At a Slam?
Q. When you get into the fact that you know how to win The Open, to go through seven matches to do it.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I guess maybe more towards the end of a Grand Slam, I guess it may help you if you've been there. Guys have to win their first at some stage. Obviously Marat and I were able to do it here back-to-back years. I'm sure Pete sort of felt he had a little bit of the wood over us because he had that experience of Grand Slams. Sooner or later, guys like myself or Marat are going to break through and win our first. You know, there's always a time I guess that people are going to, you know, win their first one. You know, I think sometimes you get into the closer matches towards the end of Slams. Some people who haven't been to finals or held up that trophy start to get the yips a little bit, start doubting themselves.
Q. Next round is you and James Blake. We get a match that everybody is waiting to see. Both better players than you were a year ago. You have a couple of Slams now. He's a much better player than he was a year ago. How does a stadium full of 22,000 people affect the two players on the floor?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't think it will affect us both in a huge way because, obviously, I've played a lot of matches in that situation, and he's starting to play more and more. Obviously, Davis Cup ties that he's played, you know, winning his title in Washington, I don't think it's going to -- I don't think nerves are going to play much of a part in it. It's going to be a tough match, there's no doubt about it.
Q. This is New York, where people are going to be screaming, vocal.
LLEYTON HEWITT: For me, you know, I had all that I guess last year here. I know how to handle it. I played a young American, Roddick, in the quarters here last year. I had to play Pete, the older guy, who obviously everyone wanted to see him back winning another Slam, in the final. I've had to deal with it in matches. I feel pretty comfortable that I can block out all the outside distractions, get on with the job. Quite often I rise to big matches.
Q. What are your thoughts, in the match against Blake last year, an episode with the lines judge was much talked about here. A year later, what thoughts do you have about that incident? Do you think about it now? Do you think about it differently? Do you wish you handled it differently?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think about it at all.
Q. Not at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all. James and I are fine about it. You know, we spoke straight after the situation. That was pretty much the end of it. I've played James twice since then. We're not the best of mates I guess off the court just because we're from different countries. I think we're as close as you can be. I guess I've been in a lot of tournaments the same. We played straight after the US Open in Tokyo last year and also Miami this year.
Q. Where you're coming from, it's a dead issue?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I'm pretty sure where James is coming from, as well.
Q. You still sound nasally. Is the cold still there?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not much has changed. Two days ago. I think I sound worse than I feel, let's put it that way.
Q. Are you seeing somebody about it, taking anything?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. There's not a lot I can take. Just try to guts it out.
Q. Is there the danger it could spiral into worse as opposed to better?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I guess there's probably maybe a chance of that. I don't know. You know, I took a little bit of medication last week. As soon as the tournament starts, I'm off everything. I'm just concentrating, trying to drink plenty of fluid, this stuff here, keep myself hydrated as much as possible. You know, there's always a chance I guess that you could get a second re-infection or stuff like that. You can't sort of worry about that too much. To me, I feel like I'm over the worst part.
Q. Do you relish a match like Saturday's, James Blake, as opposed to today's?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think over the years, I've definitely played better in the bigger matches. I've definitely played my best tennis in tough pressure situations with a lot of crowd, big crowd. You've just got to look at my Davis Cup matches I guess to sort of see. Brazil and Barcelona, doesn't get much -- more hostile crowds than those two places. I was able to handle the situation pretty well, I felt. I played some of my best tennis I've ever played.
Q. You look forward to it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You never look forward I guess to your opponent getting all the support and you getting nothing. But it doesn't worry me. I'm able to block it out. As I said, it was sort of the same case last year when everyone wanted to see a Roddick-Sampras final. I pretty much screwed that up for them.
Q. You look at the elements of James' game, forehand, athletic, but not up at the net. Is that the sort of player that's likely to give you more problems than a guy like the Israeli today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think there's one style of play that I prefer to play more or find easier to play. A lot depends on how guys play on the day, I think. I've lost to, you know, some of the best serve and volley players around, I've lost to some of the best baseline players, I've lost to guys who mix it up like James does. Then again, I've beaten a lot of different kind of players as well. I think a lot depends just on the day, how the situation is, how both players are feeling in the match. I don't think you can sort of write up too much what type of player I prefer to play or not.
Q. You will have heard by now that Mark Philippoussis won't be available for the Davis Cup. Do you have any thoughts on that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's obviously bad news, not only just for the Davis Cup tie, but for his career, I guess. Coming back from three knee surgeries I think it's been. If you can draw a positive out of anything, I don't think he has to have an operation, which is a good thing. At least I'm guessing he's going to have to start again at the start of next year in the Australian circuit. The poor guy has had so many injuries, you can't feel -- you feel so sorry for him. If he got a bit of a break, I'm sure I think everyone knows what he's capable of doing.
Q. Do you think we'll be all right without him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Davis Cup?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope so. You're never a certainty. I feel pretty confident within myself. I feel confident that Wayne, Scotty and Todd, we can all do the right thing, get us back in the World Group.
Q. Today against Noam in the first set, you seemed to be a bit more tentative than you usually are. Was that more him or more you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's more feeling a guy out, you know, when you haven't played against him a lot. I'd never seen him play before, never seen him hit a ball. You try and feel him out. I didn't know how hard he hits the ball. I didn't know whether he was going to serve-volley or stay back. I was just trying to get a sense of how he's going to play for most of the match. If I lost the first set, at least I would have been better prepared to try him in the next three.
Q. What do you think about Mark Miles saying the fine they gave you was outrageous, they're going to reduce it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm not going to get into it anymore. I'm here to play a Grand Slam. Mark's obviously made his comments. My management company have a statement on my behalf, as well. If you want to get that, you can find it somewhere.
Q. What's the assessment of your first serve today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty ordinary.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Hopefully they're going to go in two days' time.
Q. Do you wish you would have been able to talk to Mark before the tournament started, because obviously outside distractions aren't a good thing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Mark Miles?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He had plenty of opportunities at different times to talk to me. Nothing really happened. You know, I'm just sort of leaving it at that for now.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.