September 4, 1999
Flushing Meadows, New York City
USTA: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. What turned things around?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I just played a few too many double-faults on big points today. The wind was swirling a bit out there. Totally different than playing on Court 11. Even though it's a show stand, it's not that closed sort of atmosphere. The wind was swirling a little bit. I felt I couldn't thrust up well tonight on my serve, particularly on my second serve. Normally I get a lot of cheap points on my second serve when I do go for a second serve ace. Tonight I really had no confidence in it. Probably that and also the start of every set, as well. I really struggled, particularly in the sets I lost, the second, fourth and fifth. I gave him the break straightaway and he sort of got on top of things and could dictate the points.
Q. Was it a concentration thing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think a little bit, for sure. I think in a couple of those games I was 30-Love, 15-Love up. Sort of let it slip with a double-fault, as I said. He thought he had a chance in that game, sort of got the sniff, went after it a bit.
Q. You almost looked like a bit of a tired tennis player, mentally, emotionally.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I was getting a little bit tired towards the end. I think the main thing is because I haven't played matches for four weeks, if you haven't sort of hit a ball for four weeks, come in and try to play best-of-five sets, as well. You know, I had pretty comfortable victories the first two, so I really didn't sort of push it. This was sort of the first five-set-long match I've had, particularly playing a baseliner as well. It was totally different. A lot longer points than usual compared with my first two matches.
Q. Second time you were broken there in the fifth set, you seemed to be strangling the racquet a bit on the baseline. A bit of emotion there.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I was a little bit disappointed, I suppose, because I had that many chances. I felt I was the better player all night, yet I lose the match. I had so many chances to break him. He came up with an ace here and there. It was getting pretty frustrating towards the end there, particularly. As I said, I broke back and got sort of back in the match in the fifth set, 30-Love up, I throw in a soft double-fault. Little things like that tonight sort of built up on me. I suppose in the end it got the better of me.
Q. What are the lessons for you tonight and out of the tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think that I was hitting the ball as well as anyone in the tournament this whole time. I think tonight I went a little bit negative the longer the match went on. At the start, I came out aggressive. I went at him sort of the whole time. It sort of dropped off towards the end of the fourth set, towards the fifth set. I was winning games, but I wasn't sort of attacking him. I was waiting for him to make the errors. I think that's the main thing, if I go out there and stay positive, really attack, go after the guy, come into the net after some of my good groundstrokes, I think I'm hitting the ball as well as anyone.
Q. Got a bit to do with his style of play, too? He can send you to sleep.
LLEYTON HEWITT: The way he looks, walks around sort of moping around. That's the way he plays. Good on him.
Q. I know it's the US Open, but I'm doing a story on the Aussie Open. Would you mind talking about what you might think it would take for an Aussie man to win? Hasn't happened in almost 25 years.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think we've got a pretty good chance. Of course, Pat Rafter has to be the No. 1 chance to win the Australian Open. He was hitting the ball great here. Just unlucky he has the shoulder problem. Otherwise he could have done the hat trick. Mark Philippoussis can beat anyone on any given day if sort of everything is going well. I suppose I always play well at the Australian Open, but just try and string seven matches together in a row is going to be tough. That's the Grand Slam that we all sort of look forward to, as well. Playing in Melbourne, we get the crowds out there. It's such a good atmosphere out there on center court as well.
Q. What about the Aussie legacy? How is that for you when you're playing a Slam in Australia, you have the Lavers, the Newcombes?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's fantastic. All those guys sort of come out, all the Hall of Famers, so many top Australian players as you mentioned, Rod Laver, those guys. They all come out. Personally I love playing in Australia. It's my favorite tournament of the year.
Q. What are your plans between now and Davis Cup?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's three weeks, just under three weeks now until we play. It looks like I'll be playing at this stage. You know, I think I'll take -- I'll probably go home as soon as possible, I think, just put the feet up for a few days, just make sure the ankle is a hundred percent by the time I do have to get on the court there. I'm going to be up as early as possible, a week and a half, probably earlier, practicing on the grass. It's just totally different conditions up there in Brisbane, just trying to see how the grass court is playing.
Q. How is it for you to be part of this Aussie Davis Cup team?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's fantastic. It's always been a dream of mine to be representing my country in anything, whether it's the Olympics or the Davis Cup. Just sort of watching the tradition, as you said, all of the past champions we've had, sort of to be a part of it now, playing the matches, that has been great. The last two or three years, I've sort of been the orange boy, then the fifth player in Zimbabwe. Now I'm actually in the top four players. You know, it's sort of just a buzz to be around those guys, sort of practicing the whole week before, then going out there and trying to do the job.
Q. Does that carry over to the rest of your tennis, to the tournament world?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, for sure. We're a tight group, as well. I think it really helps. It's not that hard to sort of come together for just the Davis Cup ties because you're only playing normally four of them or less during a year. We're sort of seeing each other every day at these tournaments. We come together pretty much straightaway for the Davis Cup ties.
Q. Go back and look at the four Grand Slams you've been in this year, full year. If you could do a chart showing the progress, maybe some dips in it, what would it look like?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, the Aussie Open I suppose I played an unbelievable match, possibly the best match I ever played against Pioline the first round. Started about as good as you can sort of get. I suppose there was a little bit of a letdown two days later when I lost to Tommy Haas leading a set and a break. Tommy Haas ended up making the semifinal. The draw opened up there. Took a little dip there. French Open I lost to Rodriguez in five, played a pretty ordinary match in that. Probably dropped a bit more there. Wimbledon, I beat Filippini, and Alami played very well in both those matches. Lost to Becker, but learned a lot from that match. I started to get back in the match. Just being out there playing Boris Becker on center court definitely got pretty high then. Also, considering I came here just about not going to be playing the tournament to sort of come out, beat Rosset and Arthurs, and lose to Medvedev who is the runner-up in the French Open in five sets is not a bad effort.
Q. Would you say that your attitude at your age right now is it's a learning experience or, "I want it all right now"?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I think in the men's game, 19, you're very young. I have a lot of learning to do and a lot of years ahead of me. I look to say I had a pretty good year, particularly in the World Series events I've done very well. I really haven't lost to that many sort of players below me, as well, which is good. My ranking has been improving every week. I still have sort of a quarter of the indoor season, as well.
Q. Which Slam means the most to you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: The Australian.
Q. Tell me more about that.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Because it's my home Slam. As you said, an Australian hasn't won it for so long, as well. I just love playing there, walking underneath, the changing rooms, there's history there. I've gone and watched that Slam since I was five or six years old every year. To be a part of it now, one day to win that would sort of be the best thing.
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