home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


September 6, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt

Flushing Meadows, New York

MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. Is it difficult for you not to get too excited now about how far you've come?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. You know, I've still got hopefully two matches, you know, to win the tournament. You know, I'm taking one match at a time at the moment. It's been my whole sort of mental plan throughout the tournament. You know, I haven't looked past the guy I'm playing against next. Either Sampras or Krajicek up next. Both of those guys are Grand Slam winners. You know, they've got a lot of class, both of them. I'm going to have to return very well with whoever I'm playing.

Q. Will you watch Pete tonight?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably watch a little bit, try to get a good night's sleep.

Q. Here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'll watch it on TV.

Q. If someone said to you 18 months or so ago you'd be in a Grand Slam semifinal at the age of 19, what would your reaction have been?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, would have been a little bit probably "You're joking." I feel like I've had a few chances, the longer sort of my career has been going and the rise I have had, making the semis of a couple of the Masters Series events this year. I felt it wasn't that far away. You know, definitely 18 months ago or two years ago, then I would have definitely thought you were joking.

Q. Is there a match this Open you've played better than the other ones?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've been getting a little bit better. The last two matches have probably been a lot more mental than actually technical out there on the court. Tactics has come into a lot to it, also sort of being mentally tough out there early in the first couple games, try and get that early break and get the first set under my belt. But I've definitely been hitting the ball a lot better with each match that I've played.

Q. Has your preparation made any difference coming into the US Open than it was, say, for Wimbledon or the French?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I probably would have said I was hitting the ball a lot better going into Wimbledon than I was going into the US Open. Obviously knocking off Sampras, you know, at Queen's gave me a lot of confidence going into Wimbledon. You know, I ran into a guy who was too good on the day. I think a lot of people would have lost to him at Wimbledon in the first round. It was disappointing, but not huge. You know, I struggled a couple -- had a couple of niggling injuries going into Toronto and Cincinnati. You know, I felt like I lifted my sort of standard in Indianapolis where I made the semis. You know, I served for the first set against Kuerten.

Q. Do you think your game can improve more from where it is now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For sure. You're never perfect. I'm learning a lot and I've definitely been getting better sort of as the hard court season has gone on because there was a bit longer grass court season for me with the Davis Cup. I had a week or so off, so I didn't hit a lot of balls on hard court going into those American hard court tournaments, the first couple tournaments.

Q. When you beat Pete at Queen's, was there any part of you that thought, "I beat him, but it's Queen's, a warm-up to Wimbledon, am I really getting the full scope of Pete Sampras here?"

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. Obviously he's a totally different player in Grand Slams, particularly probably at Wimbledon, as well, on grass. I felt like I played a pretty good match against him. I didn't make any unforced errors. I think I was hardly down breakpoints. I served a lot of aces. I returned unbelievable, probably the best I've ever returned. I think it was going to be very hard for him. He was sort of going to have to play his best if he was going to win on that day.

Q. To pick up his serve on grass that quickly, what do you see from the time he tosses the ball till he strikes it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Sometimes a little bit of guesswork. You know, it is very tough playing the big servers out there. You've got to wait for your opportunities. It's little key things that you pick up during a match obviously. It's very hard the first couple of games to pick up his serve because you start to get an idea of where a guy is serving as the match goes on, particularly looking at his second serve.

Q. Does he have any tendencies at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot, no. Maybe he's a little bit different on every day, I think. He's been a little bit every time he's played me.

Q. How does beating him the last time you met translate to the possibility of playing him again this time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd say very little. You know, it's a totally different tournament, on a totally different surface, and it's a Grand Slam.

Q. How about in your head?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, gives me a little bit more confidence, I suppose, that I am able to match it. You know, Pete's a great player and he can lift his game at any moment. You know, if I do happen to have to play Pete, you know, I'll probably have to go up another gear as well.

Q. Did you look at the draw and say, "I'm on the same side at Pete"? Was there any sense of anticipation?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. Took it one match at a time.

Q. Any thoughts on Super Saturday, the US Open, what that day means? Did you ever watch when you were a kid, whatever time it was in Australia?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I can't really remember a lot about it. Obviously a few years ago, Patrick Rafter, I probably took a lot more interest at that time, when he won his two titles, just because it was an Australian playing in it. You know, it's obviously a pretty tough to sort of make two back-to-back matches in five-set tennis. I'm going to have to be very fit. I'm prepared to be able to do that.

Q. How do you feel about having to wait now till Saturday?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't mind. I've got a doubles later today. Gives me a couple more days' rest.

Q. How about Krajicek?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've never played Richard. He's obviously a great player, as well. He's got a cannon first serve. I'm really going to have to be on my game with him, as well. You know, I feel like I'm returning well enough to, you know, get a few break chances, then I've got to come out and play very solid service games.

Q. What has been your biggest improvement this year, in what area?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think in one way believing that I can match it with a lot of these top players. As soon as I got in the Top 10, I think I really started to believe, you know, that I should be there, you know. I want to cement my spot in the Top 10 amongst these guys. This is just another step in my career. I started making the semifinals of the Masters Series events, then my next goal was to start making the quarters, semis and finals of Grand Slams. So far so good in this tournament.

Q. With Patrick Rafter being injured, do you feel you are now taking on the flag and carrying on that burden as being the next great Australian player?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. Obviously I look up to Pat a hell of a lot. You know, he's been a great champion. He's done so much for Australian tennis. I still think he's got a few great years left in him. He's definitely going to win some more Grand Slams, in my opinion. Obviously, he's struggled this year. Philippoussis has been a little bit injured over the last, you know, 12 to 18 months, as well. That's probably one of the main reasons why I've sort of been ranked the No. 1 Australian at the moment. Now, Pat had an early exit here, which was a surprise to everyone. But, you know, he didn't play a lot of matches. Philippoussis is in a little bit of a slump at the moment. It's fantastic to sort of be up there now with those boys who made the final of this event in the past.

Q. Pete Sampras paid you a very high compliment when he said, "This is one of the most competitive players I've ever played. He works for everything." How serious did you take that compliment? How much of an effect did it have on you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It hasn't had an effect one way or the other, I don't think. It's definitely something just to keep in the back of your mind, I suppose. I think it sort of warns all the other players as well. I think everyone by now knows that I'm very intense on the court, I'm very competitive. Whether it's Love-40 in one game or 40-Love, I'm still going to be working every point to hopefully get that game. Until we're up shaking hands, I still believe that I've got a chance of winning the match.

Q. Whoever you play on Saturday, you and Krajicek or Sampras will be the marquis match-up, the second match. Does that seem like a long time to wait to play again?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It will be a long day. It will be a very nice feeling, looking forward to a semifinal of a Grand Slam, as well. Obviously I'm going to have a few nerves probably the morning of the match and that. I feel like, you know, I like sort of being the feature match, as well. I like sort of being out there trying to put on a show for everyone.

Q. How long do you typically hit for on the day of a match like that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll probably hit for 20, 25 minutes, just a warm-up.

Q. Safin said yesterday getting to the quarters, semis or finals here isn't good enough for him; he came here to win the tournament. Do you feel the same way?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't come here to win it. I really have been taking it one match at a time, not looking past the guy I've been playing. Probably a bit stupid for me to come out and say "I'm going to win the tournament" when I haven't made the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam going into this event. That's not really realistic coming here and saying I'm going to knock off Agassi, Sampras, Krajicek, whoever, win this tournament, all these sort of great champions who have been in that situation before. You know, I definitely gave myself a chance of making the second week, being seeded here, knowing that these courts do suit my game, the humidity and the conditions. But, you know, it really has been a bonus to make it through to the semifinals now.

Q. If you play your best on Saturday, are you still beatable?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. Depends how my opponent plays. If they play their best, probably depends on the match-up, who I'm playing against, you know, conditions, a lot of things. A lot of other factors come into the match.

Q. Do you like your chances?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Of course. I'm hitting the ball well at the moment. I think apart from losing the first set of the tournament, I think I've won 15 sets now on the trot. I think anyone through to the semifinals obviously feels like they're hitting the ball pretty well and giving themselves a chance.

Q. You've played baseliners up to now. Now you'll have a guy who is really all over you. Do you have to adjust your practice for that, too?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I won't really adjust my practice a hell of a lot. I don't really mind. In the past I've played some big serve-and-volleyers, particularly playing pretty well at Queen's this year where a lot of guys served and volleyed as well. You know, I'm ready for whatever comes. Obviously, these two guys are going to be pretty much serve-volleying the whole day. I'm going to have to watch out for that and I'm going to have to return very well.

Q. If it's Pete Sampras, you're obviously going to have the crowd against you. How do you think you'll go with that? Will it be like Nice?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think it will be as bad as Nice. That was probably the worst crowd I've ever seen. I'm looking forward to Spain this year. You know, it's just another thing that you learn to deal with. I think I'll be a better player because I went through that experience in Nice later last year. I did lose both my matches there. But, you know, I felt like I just got that big occasion where the crowd is totally against you.

Q. If you play Pete Sampras next, which Rocky movie will you watch before that match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not going to watch any. I haven't been watching any the last couple weeks.

Q. You've given it up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't given up. You know, I just don't feel I need it at the moment.

Q. Has Darren said anything to you about the fact that he got to the semis himself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. It comes up at some dinners or stuff like that very occasionally. You know, we haven't talked about me making the semifinals now at all. You know, he's just come in and said, "Well done," in the locker room. That's about it so far. Obviously there's a few things. I think he lost to Wilander pretty easily here when he made the semifinals. Probably a few things that hopefully he can pass through to me just about being in the semifinals here, sort of the pressures and the nerves that you're going to be feeling on that day.

Q. Have you heard from Patrick at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Patrick Rafter?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I spoke to Rochey a couple times.

Q. You have just reached the semifinals the first time in a Grand Slam. You look very composed, quiet. When you are back at home, are you more expressive? Do you change your personality or you are exactly the same?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really.

Q. "I want it"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really (laughter). Not unless I was at a football game maybe. Apart from that, you know, pretty quiet, I suppose.

Q. How was that at the embassy last night? Something you were honored for>.

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I just went and met John Howard again, you know, which is very good. Fantastic to just know that his support is fully behind you, that you've got the nation sort of in your corner, as well.

Q. The planes overhead seemed to be a little more prominent today. A lot more peripheral noise. How much of a distraction is that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a little bit, but you've got to block it out as much as possible. I did notice out there there was a lot more than the previous matches I have played out there on Center Court. If you're just about to serve, you've got to step away and take your time, regather your thoughts, just get your focus back. There's not a lot you can do about it.

Q. Your father played Australian rules football. Did he pass any competitive lessons on to you? Did you beat him in tennis at an early age?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, once mom and dad gave up their respective sports, they both started playing social tennis. That's how I got into it, just from them playing socially. I just started picking up a racquet at my local tennis club. Once I started hitting a few balls, I started getting coached when I was six years old. I can't remember the first time I actually beat him. You know, very competitive matches. I remember playing him in the final of our club championship one year. I beat him pretty easily.

Q. How old were you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I can't remember, pretty young. He sort of says that, you know, he went out there and didn't try (laughter).

Q. Were you screaming, "Come on"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. It was too easy to do that.

Q. What does Mats Wilander say to you? What does the name Mats Wilander say to you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: What do you mean? Remind me of?

Q. You have a similar style.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously he's a great player. He was one of the guys that I looked up to sort of growing up, probably based my game a little bit around his, as well. He has a very good return, kept very good depth off the baseline. You know, how many Grand Slams titles he won, great effort.

Q. Your mother was an athlete?

LLEYTON HEWITT: She played net ball.

Q. What is that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's a similar game to basketball, but you don't dribble. No back boards and you can't dribble.

Q. Are you more competitive than your parents were?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. They were pretty competitive, I think. Watching dad play on a few of the videos we have at home, I think he was pretty competitive in his heyday.

Q. How does the Hewitt family relax?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. We catch up with family, friends. That's basically it. I go and play a round of golf now and then with mom and dad.

Q. Did you get a chance to see your sister play here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I saw half of the first set. That was it. I had to go and practice.

Q. The Aussies have done really well here the last four years, Rafter, yourself, Philippoussis. Do you think this surface suits you guys better than Rebound Ace does?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so for me, not at all. It's hard to say. I think Flip can play on any surface. I think maybe Pat probably a little bit better on this surface than Rebound Ace. For me, I'd say apart from this result, Rebound Ace has definitely been my stand-out favorite surface.

Q. Who were the Australians in the crowd, have the flags, you were pointing to them?

LLEYTON HEWITT: One of the blokes is Wozz. He's the leader of our Fanatic group who follow us around the world with Davis Cup ties, a couple of his mates there. They've been at the French Open, they've been everywhere with them.

Q. Did he have a name?

LLEYTON HEWITT: The Fanatics is their name. Wozz is the leader of it.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at the statue?

LLEYTON HEWITT: What statue?

Q. The one that's of Arthur Ashe, the naked person.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Haven't seen it.

Q. You heard about it?


Q. In other words, you're involved in the tennis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope so. That's the reason I'm here.

Q. You rode the No. 7 train with relative anonymity. If you keep this up, you'll not going to be able to do that much longer. Do people recognize you more?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, definitely a little bit more. Probably making the semis of Miami and winning Scottsdale, doing well at the start of the year in America, as well, definitely sort of put my name in America a little bit more than it had been in the past. You definitely notice a lot more people coming up and asking for photographs, autographs, wishing you luck, just walking around the streets, in sports stores. I think it's a good thing to have a lot more people around the world sort of recognizing you, wishing you a lot.

Q. How are you going to relax away from the practice courts the next few days? See the odd movie?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, that's probably about it. Jut relax, watch a bit of TV, I don't know, probably get on the Internet, chat to a few of the mates back home. There's not a lot you can really do. I'll be out here probably each day just practicing as well, just keeping my game intact and depending on the doubles, as well. That's another big thing.

Q. Have you been using the fist clench throughout your career?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty much.

Q. When did you start doing that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Probably since I was six. I'm not sure. I can't remember. I've done it in all my junior tennis and everything.

End of FastScripts….

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297