August 28, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. Is it fair to say that's probably one of the best matches you've been involved in?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I thought I played pretty good actually. He's a tough competitor. That's as well as I've seen him play in a long time.
Q. Something you and Darren identify with this tournament, the importance of getting some early three-setters away, conserving energy for later in the tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You always want to do that. It's not that straightforward, though. You obviously will put an emphasis on when you get on top of someone, you don't want to lay off the pedal at all. You want to go full on, get through as quickly and as easily as possible without losing as much energy. But today I thought I fought off that third set very well. Who knows, if I can keep winning, that may pay off down the line.
Q. Were you trying to play a sort of less emotional match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. Just sort of normal.
Q. How are you feeling about your game at the moment, your leadup to here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not bad. You know, Cincinnati I played pretty well. You know, but the whole thing is building up for the US Open and then obviously the Davis Cup two weeks later. You know, here we are. I feel like I've had a good training week and a half since I lost in Indy. I feel like I'm hitting the ball a lot better than I was in the lead-up tournaments. You have to take it into the match, but it's good to be doing it on the practice court before a Grand Slam.
Q. Great run last year. Does any of that energy run into coming back? Talk about returning to this venue.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Always nice to come back to somewhere where you have good memories of. Obviously, not just making the semis, my best performance in a Slam in the singles, but winning the doubles, as well. It's fantastic. I have very good memories of New York. I've played very well here. Even the year before, I came back and made the third round, loosing a tight five-setter to Medvedev coming off an ankle injury. The last few years, I've got better and better here. Hopefully I can have a pretty good two weeks here this year.
Q. In your heart, how does this tournament compare to the others?
LLEYTON HEWITT: They're all different. Obviously, Australia, playing at home, it's a totally different atmosphere than playing in New York. All the Slams are very unique in their own way. Obviously, the tradition of Wimbledon, all that. There's a lot of hype, a lot of emotion. It's a big buzz coming to New York, such a big city, playing a Grand Slam here. You know, I have great feelings every time I come back here.
Q. You get a lot of support from your Aussie mates.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Lot of Aussies out there. Half like playing at home, I suppose (smiling).
Q. How does your game compare from last year to this year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. I think some areas I've been doing a little bit better. Other areas, not so well. You know, last year I think I got better and better as the tournament went on. I struggled my first round against Vinciguerra, got out of that match. I did it pretty straightforward, making the semifinals, didn't drop a set after that. Had a tight three-setter against Pete. You know, hopefully I can build up this year again and I can have some easy matches or easier matches like I did last year.
Q. A bit of extra buzz about seeing your name on the draw with No. 4 seeding?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, it's obviously nice to be ranked No. 4 in the world at the moment, that's for sure. But it just shows that I've had -- the last 12 months have been the best 12 months I've had so far on paper. You know, I feel like I've had a good year without being a fantastic, great year so far. I've been very solid in a lot of the Masters Series tournaments so far.
Q. Your success at Davis Cup, does that give you confidence coming into these best-of-five set tournaments? How different are they?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, that's probably the big difference. Obviously, you know, playing five sets is similar. You know, when you go out there, you have the same sort of things in mind, when to get yourself pumped up, when to stay a little bit more calmer out there when you're playing five sets. You know, in Davis Cup, you know that in most cases, in my Davis Cup, I've only had to play the two singles. In Brazil, I had to play the three five-set matches there. It was a new experience for me. In Grand Slams, you have to do that every second day for seven matches. In Brazil I played the No. 1 player in the world. The next day, the other day, a guy ranked 80 or 90. Still tough matches. But you could be playing the No. 2 seed and the No. 4 seed back-to-back. Slams are tough that way. Davis Cup, you're playing for your country. It's a lot tougher in that aspect.
Q. Having had the week off, no tournament play last week, do you feel more energetic? Do you feel any different?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. Some weeks, going into Slams, sometimes I like to play a lot of matches, get it under my belt, be match hardened going in. Other weeks, I like to hit the practice court, hit a lot of balls, get that confidence from doing a lot of drills, playing a lot of practice sets against some of the better guys out here. You know, I think last year it did well for me having a week off, putting the racquets down for a few days, then working hard five or six days leading into it. Hopefully, it does the same this year.
Q. How is your health at the moment?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Up and down. The same.
Q. Same as it's always been?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the same.
Q. How about today, were you feeling it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Didn't feel too bad out there. Have patches up and down. You know, sort of a mental thing. You have to try to block it out as much as possible, get the job done.
Q. On the ranking aspect, being seeded 4 means you're expected to get to the semifinals. You say it doesn't really matter, the No. 4 ranking. Does that put a bit of extra pressure on?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not for me. You know, I go out there. Doesn't matter if I was seeded 16. You know, I'm just taking it one match at a time. I'm not looking to I should make the semifinals. You know, doesn't really worry me in that way. You know, obviously getting the fourth seed, maybe you'll get a little bit of help with the draw, as well, with playing other seeds. You can't take anyone lightly, as we're seeing at the moment with Ferrero, tough five-setter at the moment as well. All 128 players are very tough on their day. You have to go out there and, you know, hopefully it matches up well. If you can get a little bit of luck with the draw, having a few easier matches, maybe it pays up the track a little bit.
Q. How much difference do you think it makes 32 seeds as opposed to 16?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably the biggest difference is for the public. You know, they're not going to get the matches where, you know, for example Roddick ranked 18 at the moment, he could have been playing Kuerten, Rafter, myself, anyone first round. It takes those matches out of the game now really until the third round. You know, it's probably protecting those guys a little bit more, I think, the seeded players. You know you're only going to meet someone ranked 35 to 150 in your first two matches. But, as I said, I don't take anyone lightly when I get out there, no matter what their ranking is. I think for the spectators they may see those better match-ups because of that system.
Q. The injury to Philippoussis, the retirement of Stolty have shown how top-heavy Australian men's tennis is. From a Davis Cup perspective, how do you sort of feel about the prospect of even more responsibility down the track when Pat is no longer here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's going to be tough. I don't know what the solution is really. You know, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to give everything I've got in my Davis Cup matches just like I have in the past. It's not going to change the way I look at going out there and playing for my country. Obviously, when I go out there and I have a guy like Pat, who is so good under pressure, has played so many big matches, played well for Australia, that gives me a lot of confidence that we're two guys going out there in the Top 10. That's a tough situation for the opponents to look at. When that does come, if Pat does retire at the end of the year or takes time off, whatever, you know, for the next couple of years at least guys like Wayne Arthurs, Andrew Ilie have to step up to the plate and hopefully Flip comes back as well. These guys have to step up at the plate and have a go. Obviously Wayne, especially on grass, but I think he also showed at Roland Garros this year on clay that if we get a quick clay court, he's going to be dangerous, as well. For the kids, you know, I haven't had a look. I know Newk and Rochey are putting a lot of hours in. Fitzy and Wally have gone to a few of the younger guys.
Q. Any guys 16 to 19 who you personally think are good?
LLEYTON HEWITT: There's none that I know of. I know Pat has spoken -- I think he's from Sydney, not sure. Pat has hit with him a few times. Ralph someone. I'm not really sure what his name is. We've given him a few opportunities at Davis Cup ties. I know Pat has taken him aside when he's hit sometimes with him. He thinks he's got a bit of potential. I know Rochey thinks that as well. Hopefully a few years down the track he might burst on the circuit.
Q. I don't know that much about Aussie rules football, but your father played. Was he pretty famous at it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not one of the greats.
Q. Do people recognize him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: In Adelaide.
Q. Only in Adelaide?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes.
Q. Has he given you any advice? Kim was talking today about how her father was able to give her some advice becoming a celebrity. Has your father been able to do that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think so. You know, when you're playing a top level sport, you know how to prepare for matches, the pressures that you are under when you're out there. Obviously he's been able to pass that on. He's been a big help just because I came on the tour at such a young age, as well. Sort of a little bit of a shock when you first come out here. Obviously I've had to learn for myself as well.
Q. Did he help you with how to handle the fans and media, as well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. I think it's sort of, you know, you've got to learn by experience, as well. You make mistakes. You learn from them. Everyone deals with it. Everyone's different. Sort of he's helped me in some areas and then he's let me go in other areas. You sort of have a go by yourself and learn from it.
Q. Is there any particular reason for there being no players coming through in the Top 100 from that age group?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. Obviously, you know, we've got a lot more guys playing doubles than we have playing singles. I'm not sure what the rankings are. 150 or 100 in doubles through to 400 in doubles, we have a lot more guys playing doubles than going out playing singles. Sooner or later I think the doubles is cutting back each year. If those guys keep their ranking in that situation, they have to have a go at singles. Whether it's easier to play doubles, only have to cover half the court or whatever, I'm not sure what they're dealing with. I think guys like Fitzy and Wally have to speak to those guys. I know they've been sort of trying the last half year they've been out there with the Davis Cup job now, looking at them and seeing if they have the potential to take it from the doubles to the singles, as well. Who knows, we could get someone breaking through. Pat was a little bit of a later bloomer, as well. Maybe some of those guys can come through and burst on the tour.
Q. Would you say you're a bit concerned over the immediate future of men's tennis in Australia? Only four of you guys here this week.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It would obviously be a lot nicer to have a few more. You know, for Davis Cup ties and that, I think we've still got those few guys who I think are capable of winning a lot of big matches for us. You know, a few years down the track, Wayne is 30, 31 now, as well, he's getting up there. But he has a body on him like a 28-year-old, 27-year-old anyway. I think he has some good years. Once he starts going, hopefully Flip is going to be able to play for a few years as well. We still need some younger guys coming up.
Q. Do you get a bit of a thrill seeing your face plastered on the billboards in New York City?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't seen it.
Q. You haven't?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I've seen a billboard, that's about it.
Q. Do you like the word they chose for you, "dynamite"?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not too bad, I suppose.
Q. Any other suggestion?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I didn't have any.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.