September 9, 2000
Flushing Meadows, New York
MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. The first set you were on fire. What's your assessment of what happened after that first set?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, sort of, it's tough to analyze a match so soon after a loss. But obviously to lose two of the three sets in breakers is very disappointing just because, you know, a tiebreak is sort of a 50/50, a little bit of a toss of a coin, particularly the first tiebreak where I actually had a set point on my serve. I still felt that I went for the right shot. The breeze was going a little bit that way. I didn't play the percentages really, didn't allow myself a big margin of error on that actual point. It's easy to look back on it now and say, "Maybe I should have, you know, gone to his backhand and come in instead of his forehand where the breeze would have brought it back in the court anyway." I felt like I played a pretty good match. Early in the second set, I played a bad service game, you know, from 30-Love up in that game. Apart from that, I led for a break for most of the third set, as well.
Q. You say it's so hard to analyze so soon after the match. What is the feeling in your heart and head right now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, anyone who has played any kind of sport, straight after you lose, you're always disappointed - doesn't matter how well you play. I felt like I gave a hundred percent out there today, and I didn't leave anything sort of, you know, in the locker room at all. I went out there and gave everything I had. That's something that I can be proud of and that's something that, you know, I think I've done for the whole two weeks, as well. There's no doubt that when I reflect on the last two weeks, there's a lot of positives that are going to come away from this. To win a Grand Slam title in doubles, to make a semifinal of the singles, as well, it's a bonus. But, you know, then there's going to be some down points, I suppose, where I had my chances today and didn't capitalize. I felt like Pete played a great match.
Q. You had set point in the first tiebreaker. You hit a forehand wide.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I just spoke about it for about five minutes.
Q. Was that a turning point for you? Did that frustrate you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. It frustrates you a little bit. You're not human if it doesn't. You have a set point on your own serve. You work so hard. I can't recall, maybe 7-All in the tiebreaker, something around that. You've worked so hard for that set. To have, you know, had the point set up and make an easy error, obviously you feel frustrated straightaway. Pete played a great point the next point, not a lot I could do about it, came up with the big serve next point. Had to forget about it pretty quickly.
Q. Who do you like to win in the final?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Hard to say. That's the best Pete's played against me ever. You know, I've only played him four times before this. That's easily the best he's ever hit the ball against me. You know, I think he's really up for it, as well. The pressure is sort of off him. You know, this sounds like stupid, but the pressure is off him in a Grand Slam final. The pressure is always on him a little bit, but going for that record-breaking Grand Slam final, I think it's off him now, he feels a little freer. Safin is a great player, beat him in Toronto a few weeks ago. I think it's going to be a very good final.
Q. How were your nerves today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Nerves weren't too bad actually. I felt pretty good on the court. I looked forward to the occasion. All the big matches that I have played in the past, I've really sort of enjoyed it as well. Some of those Davis Cup ties that I have played in the past probably helped me out a little bit today. But I wasn't really very nervous out there.
Q. Is he the best player of the big points?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Pete?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. He comes up with a lot of, particularly when he's serving, as well, a lot of big serves, big second serves. The 30-All, the 30-40 points, those kinds of stuff. When he starts getting in a little trouble, you think, "Maybe I have a sniff of a break here," that's when he really pounds you.
Q. Even those last three points, threw up a pretty good lob.
LLEYTON HEWITT: He hit two very good serves and I hit -- the 5-4 one, I thought I couldn't have hit a better return. I think Agassi would have struggled to hit a better return in the conditions out there at that stage of the match. I think it may have even been a half volley down the line which he came up with, which is ridiculous. That's one of the reasons why he's the best player of all time.
Q. The overhead he hit to get to match point, hit that thing to the baseline practically.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was an unbelievable shot. It was probably a little bit lucky that I got the ball that deep in the end anyway because it was such a great serve. I just sort of threw my racquet out. It turned out to be sort of a very good return - I thought anyway. He just jumped up there and put it away. That just shows he didn't let any lobs get over him all day. That just shows how good a shape he's in.
Q. What do you think is the most important thing you've learned today that you will take into your next match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say right at the moment, until I sort of cool down and analyze the match. Just the whole occasion I think of being part of a semifinal of a Grand Slam. Until you actually get there and you know the feeling, you're walking out alongside, you know, Pete Sampras in that situation, where he's done it so many more times. I think that feeling, next time I get to a Grand Slam semifinal, I'm not going to be sort of anxious, "What's it really like out there?" You know, the nerves that you feel out there at the start of the match. I think just to have made it so far, you know, these last couple of weeks, I think that's going to be a big bonus in the next few Grand Slams that I play.
Q. Did you think of that at all walking out on the court, this huge figure in front of you, were you thinking about that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's an impressive person who you have walking in front of you, playing in a packed stadium, the President of the United States watching you. It was a big occasion out there today. I felt like I handled it pretty good for a 19-year-old in my first semifinal of a Grand Slam.
Q. Did he say anything to you after the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I just said, "Well done, good luck tomorrow." He said, "Thanks." That's it.
Q. What about Darren?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've only just spoken to him quickly. He's got to go do commentary again. "Bad luck, it's been a good two weeks."
Q. Was the occasion what you expected?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. A little bit. Still it's unknown until you actually get out there, you know, feel the atmosphere, you know, feel the presence of such a great player up the other end on such a big occasion. You know, it's what I pictured a little bit for sure.
Q. What do you think Marat has to do to beat Pete?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Take advantage of his break points. I think Marat matches up not too bad. He does return very well for such a big guy and does move very well. We all know the power that Marat generates from the baseline as well. He has a big serve, as well. I think if you look at it, it's going to be two or three maybe tiebreakers in there. I think it's going to be hard for both players to break serve. I think the key is going to come down to, you know, if Marat feels the pressure at all. Pete has been in that situation so many times, I think it's a big question mark over Marat. Sure, he's won the Masters Series this year, done very well on all surfaces. Till you're actually out there in a Grand Slam final, it's hard to say.
Q. Is it going to be difficult to get yourself up for the Olympics?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all. No, not at all. You know, if you can't get up for those -- it's a little bit I suppose like the Davis Cup coming back to Brisbane after Wimbledon. It was a long flight. We only had a couple days to prepare. You know, that's what you play for, those big tournaments. You know, I'll be sort of a hundred percent ready to go when the Olympics start.
Q. Any aspect of your game that you walked off the court today, "I must improve this"?
LLEYTON HEWITT: My serve definitely went off as the match went on. From the start, I served unbelievable, the best I've ever served I think, for most of the first set. Then I lost it a little bit toward the end, got it back, then sort of for the second and third set really struggled, didn't make a lot of first serves. If you have a look at how many cheap points Pete gets off his serve, probably the big turning point, I suppose.
Q. What is your program between now and the Olympics?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, nothing much. Just head there when I'm ready, you know, practice for a few days, get into it.
Q. I know you're trying to get ready for what Pete is going to do on an overhead, do you ever just watch him and see how high he jumps? Does that amaze you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He definitely gets up there for such a big guy. You know, I don't actually watch and think, "Gee, he gets up pretty high." Yeah, he's obviously a great athlete. He's naturally gifted, I think, as well. But, you know, those jump smashes have sort of become his over the last few years.
Q. Did you get any expressions of support from back home from the semifinal?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, I've spoken to obviously Newcombe here, I've spoken to Rochey, Rafter, the boys, a fair bit of publicity. I think it's good for me because this is my first semifinal in a Slam. It's very hard, obviously the crowd was on Pete's side today - one, because he's possibly the greatest player to ever live; two, we're playing in America. It was probably twice as hard for me. To know you had that hundred percent support back home in Australia is a big bonus.
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