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September 5, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. When did you feel that he would lose his edge?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, the start of the third set, he played, you know, a pretty slack first game of the third set. I think I broke to Love that game. Up till then, you know, I had a few chances to break late yesterday afternoon. At 2-1, I had Love-40. He came out and played five great points there to get out of that game. I had a couple of set points today at 6-5, as well, which I felt like I had my chance. You know, I played a fantastic tiebreak. I got up 5-Love extremely quickly, was able to sort of move on from there.

Q. You're okay with the postponement overnight? Fairly unusual decision.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was. Well, you know, we both got told in the locker room before the match started, before we were going out, that we had the choice sort of either, you know, going out there and we may not finish due to, you know, the night session coming in, they had to switch crowds and whatever, or we could have maybe waited till after Guga and Costa on Armstrong, which would have made it extremely late, and both of us hadn't played on center court yet. The women's match before us went so quickly, so we took our chances of going out there. You know, in the end, maybe today favored me a little bit. But last night I still felt that I was starting to get on to his serve. Tommy is a guy who comes out and plays with a lot of confidence right from the first point. That's what happened yesterday when I got down an early break yesterday. But then I felt like I was starting to work my way into the match. That rain delay I didn't feel was going to help me that much. Today I could have lost my serve early. He was on fire at the start. I just tried to hang in there, hang with him. Knew my chance would come.

Q. Did you watch the Roddick match last night?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. I just tried to eat dinner. Went out and had dinner. I left out of here, you know, reasonably late. I saw a few games, that was about it.

Q. Any thoughts on how Andy is playing since you last faced him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's getting better and better. You know, he's obviously got a lot more confidence now, as well. He's in the Top 20 now. You know, I'm going to have to play as well as I can play. He's proven to everyone that he can handle the pressure of being the next great hope. You know, he's in the Top 20. He's here. You know, it's going to be an extremely tough match and I'm going to have to play a lot better than I've been playing if I'm going to get through.

Q. Do you think Andy Roddick will prove to be your foremost rival over the years, ten years from now when we're back here talking to you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's certainly going to be up there. He's not going away, that's for sure. He doesn't have the game, he doesn't have the attitude which is going to go away. You know, he's here to stay. He's going to be up there. But I think there's a lot of guys. We still have Federer, Safin, these guys who are up there, have been there as well. Maybe Federer doesn't have as much power as a Roddick does, but he's still got a great game. There's a lot of other guys. Who knows? Andy has been able to come on the tour so quickly, it's unbelievable. Since one year ago, playing the Juniors here, now he's in the quarterfinals. Who knows? There could be other guys coming up from Juniors who will be able to do the same thing. This quickly, I'm not sure.

Q. When you look at men's tennis in America today, aside from Roddick, do you see anybody else coming up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I really hadn't seen a lot. Gambill has had flashes here and there. He's been struggling a little bit on the clay. Roddick has been able to show this year that he can match it with the top guys on all surfaces. He's got that behind him now. I haven't seen a lot of the guys. There's Ginepri, Blake, a few guys, but they're not as dangerous as Roddick at the moment. They're good players, they're going to be around the mark. I think everyone is sort of pinning their hopes on Roddick being the next Andre or Pete.

Q. Many concerns about backing up again tomorrow?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I've had to do it in a lot of the Masters Series events, as well. Lucky I only had to play three sets out there today anyway. You know, I think I'll be fine. I'm young enough. You know, obviously it's a little bit of a disadvantage, but I'll go out there with the attitude that I'm fit enough, you know, I've got the miles and legs to be able to do it.

Q. What are your thoughts if it is a night match, seeing that he's played three night matches already?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it's probably odds on that it's going to be a night match with, you know, two young guys going at it, especially the young American guy now, and also that I'm the only guy who had to finish off a match today, as well. They probably want to give me a little bit extra rest, as well. It's a good chance it's going to be a night match. I've got to go out there and, you know, not worry about that. I've played here one night match last year when I played Enqvist. Obviously, I've got to try to get off to a quick start out there tomorrow night.

Q. Can you talk about your respect for Tommy's game? Ten years from now, hypothetical of course, would you say you see it growing into a great rivalry with yourself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Tommy's got a great game, no doubt about that. He came on the tour, you know, a few years earlier than me. But ever since I've seen him play, I thought, you know, he's definitely a big threat to win a Grand Slam. It just sort of hasn't really happened for him. I said a couple of days ago that he made the semis of the Australian Open, he beat me in the second round there. He just sort of hasn't quite got that breakthrough, you know, to get in the Top 10, Top 5 in the world yet. You know, it's strange. He's got all the shots. He's got everything. He can play on all surfaces, as well. You know, something's just not clicking for him at the moment. But it's just a matter of time, I think.

Q. Last time you told us you expected him in the Top 10. Considering his mental weakness today, might that be the clue why he didn't make it here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's definitely he's got to be a bit mentally stronger out there, that's for sure. But if he came out and won that second-set tiebreak, then I was going to be in a lot of trouble, down two sets to Love. It was just fortunate that I got off to a good start in that tiebreak, otherwise I'm going to be under a hell of a lot of pressure out there, trying to come back against a guy, you know, he's one of the best guys when he's leading, when he's a front-runner. He plays on a lot of confidence.

Q. A lot of people overlook Roddick's second serve, which I think has a big kick on it, particularly on this court. You played him twice now - one and a half times at any rate. What is your key with a two-handed backhand to handling that kick into the ad court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's got a great serve. There's no doubt about that. He's got one of the best second serves on the tour. It's big, but he can also -- you know, he pops it, but he can get that kick, as well. You're not sure if he's going to go for the big slider down the middle or the kicker out wide. You've got to stand in and try and take it as early as possible. But it is extremely, extremely tough when it does get up, you know, high with a double-hand backhand. You know, I was able to do it pretty well in Miami when I played him there. You know, the French Open is totally different. It's sort of, you know, that sort of kick serve works a lot more on the French Open clay just because it's a lot slower. But also his serve is not coming through quite as quick.

Q. Try to take that ball early?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You have to try to take it as early as possible. The same with guys like Rafter and Sampras, as well.

Q. How many times did he cross you up? You won the match fairly easily at Key Biscayne. How many times did he cross you up where you were expecting the kick, he comes down the middle instead?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I can't recall off the top of my head. Definitely, you know, he goes for it a few times. That's one of the main reasons why he's gone so quickly up the rankings - because he's got no fear up there. He pulls the trigger when he believes he needs to. You know, that's one good thing about him, I think. You know, he's not worried about, you know, what the other guy's going to do. He goes out there and, you know, wins matches off his own racquet.

Q. Obviously any time Agassi and Sampras play at The Open, it's a big event, transcends tennis. Do you look at it as something you'll make time for or go out of your way to see, or is it at this point just a match on the other side of the draw?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a bit bigger than a match on the other side of the draw (smiling). Yeah, it's a great match, there's no doubt about that. You know, these are two guys that I idolized growing up. You know, love watching those guys play, you know, Grand Slam finals and stuff like that over so many years. For them to play in a quarterfinal, you know, it's obviously a bit different for them. It's a bit different for the crowd, as well. You know, they're going to be going at it hammers and tongs out there. It's hard to pick a winner.

Q. You will watch it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I'll definitely watch some of it. I don't know if I'll stay up and watch all of it.

Q. There were some comments Richard Williams made causing a bit of a dismay back home, about basically rejecting your explanation on the Blake match, going so far as to say your upbringing in Australia was the reason for those comments, that Australians, white Australians, have treated aboriginals like dogs. How do you feel about those sort of comments, even though you can't be held responsible for what he says?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't heard it. That's the first time I've heard of it anyway. It's something, especially with me, you know, I've got no problem with aboriginals at all. We've had them at school, we've grown up together. It's something that has happened so long ago, had nothing to do with me at all. I can't comment on that really at all.

Q. So talk about the keys to beating Roddick. Do you try to extend him in as many points as possible? Do you try to be aggressive yourself so he doesn't be the aggressive player and control?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've got to try to find a nice balance between the two. I've got to make him play a lot of balls. Also I've got to go after it. I can't let him try and dictate play too much. You know, so it is tough to try and find that sort of happy medium in there. But, you know, it's sort of getting out there and just getting a feel for it. Once you sort of get into the match, then just on the right balls, I've got to, you know, stay aggressive and stay positive in myself and believe in myself out there. But I don't want to pull the trigger too much. I want to hold back a little bit and sort of try to make him play that extra ball.

Q. What would you say impressed you most about your win today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: The way that I hung in there. You know, as I said, I felt like yesterday afternoon I was starting to, you know, maybe get on top of him a little bit. I had a few breakpoint chances there and I wasn't able to convert. Then today, you know, I was able -- put under a little bit of pressure early in my service games when I came back out. If I went down a set and a break, it was going to be pretty much all over there. The way I came back, dug down deep in the second-set tiebreak, was able to play one of my best tiebreaks I ever played.

Q. Is that just two matches for you that were held overnight because of rain?

LLEYTON HEWITT: In my career?

Q. The French Open and one here.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, the two biggest. You know, I've had a few others I think, littler tournaments, but not in Grand Slams.

Q. Did you have any objection to that being stopped last night when there was still a fair amount of time left that it could have been played?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We really had no choice. They came to us and they sort of gave us the option before the match started. You know, we were both happy with that, you know, to go out there and try and play the match. But we knew the conditions weren't promising going out there. The referee came in and told us that the rain is going to keep drizzling for another hour and a half. He told us pretty much there's no use and we don't want to get the day crowds and night crowds coming in and making it hard for them, as well. You know, it was probably a little bit harder on us, for sure. For everything else, TV, you know, the crowds, so forth, it was probably easier.

Q. Is it going to be possible for you to play another composed match in a night atmosphere out there against Roddick, creating such excitement?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I'm just going to have to try and block it out, go out there. I've been able to do it in big matches such as the Davis Cup in Brazil and stuff like that. I'm just going to have to try and think about that, draw a lot of strength from those kind of matches.

Q. Did you find Andy impatient in the previous two matches?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I think, you know, he's pretty patient from the baseline. There's not too many times that he goes for, you know, a ridiculous shot out there. You know, he picks the times. I think, you know, nine times out of ten, he probably picks the right time to go for it. He's got those weapons that he's able to, you know, most of the time pay off.

Q. Which part of your game do you think you need to improve in order to win a Grand Slam title?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I've definitely got to get more cheap points off my serve. You know, that's one of the main areas. You know, just keep coming to the net and trying to persevere with that. You know, sort of give myself another option. You know, I'm not saying I'm going to come out and serve-volley everything, but just to mix it up, you know, just to change it up. It just gives me another dimension to my game.

Q. Do you thrive on the Davis Cup-type atmosphere that you might be seeing tomorrow night? Would you rather play that type of a match where the crowd is into it, yelling?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it doesn't really worry me. You know, it's totally different to Davis Cup. I love playing Davis Cup. It's the biggest thing for me throughout the whole year. But it's going to be a totally different kind of thing going out there and playing a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Q. Does it get you more pumped up because the crowd is so into the match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I love playing in front of crowds. No doubt about that. I've played my best matches in front of, you know, big crowds. It definitely doesn't harm me, doesn't make me too nervous. That's for sure.

Q. How much of an edge will Andy have, having played on the Stadium Court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's going to have a little edge just because he knows what it's like at night. It's probably going to be a bit different pace, a little heavier, I would say, out there. But, you know, I'll work it out after a few games.

Q. Are you going to be able to hit out there before tomorrow night?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll see. I won't be waiting around tonight to practice under the lights.

Q. Should the No. 18 seed play that often on that court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: If it brings in the crowds, I've got no problem with it. You know, coming up in Australia, at the Australian Open, I played a few night matches when - I think one year when I got wildcards into it. So, yeah, I think it's good. If the crowds like it, it's going to pack the stadium, you know, it's good for tennis.

Q. Could you talk about your recent evolution as the standard bearer of Australian tennis now that Patrick is probably going to take an extended break, maybe permanent, Mark obviously on the sidelines. A few years ago we were talking about you as juice boy of Davis Cup. What does that mean to you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, it's a great honor to play Davis Cup matches and see all the great champions that, you know, have played before me, being top Australian players. For me to be in the Top 5 players in the world, to represent my country, you know, it's fantastic. But it's obviously going to be a lot tougher in some of the Davis Cup ties now due to, you know, Pat maybe retiring or taking a break. And Flip, who knows how his knee is going to come up. We don't really have a lot of young guys coming up at the moment. You know, maybe it will be a little bit of an added pressure going in there. But I'm still going in there with, you know, a job to do. I go out there and, you know, I give a hundred percent every time I step on the court and that's not going to change.

Q. One of the big debates we're having is whether Patrick will actually come back. Can you give us any indication?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Got no idea. As I said, we're playing the Davis Cup basically for Pat this year, that's for sure. We want him to win the Davis Cup just because he missed out two years ago through injury. I haven't even spoken to him, and I won't speak to him till after that's done.

End of FastScripts….

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