September 6, 2000
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No.
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
Q. How are you going to relax away from the practice courts the next few days? See the
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.
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