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September 2, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt

Flushing Meadows, New York

MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. How are you?


Q. Feeling fresh?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty good, fresh as you can be.

Q. Staying in Manhattan or on the Island?


Q. Could be Enqvist, could be Rios. Last two times you played Marcelo Rios, he didn't want to finish the match. Something going on between you two?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Between me and Rios?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that I know of. The two times before that, we had very good matches. He came out on top in those matches. Doesn't matter. Going to have a nice grind later on today, because both those players are top players. Very hard to pick a winner between the two of them. Obviously you'd have to lean towards Enqvist just the way he's playing at the moment, just the way he's been playing on hard court, he's been pretty hot.

Q. You've had success with Enqvist. Do you match up with the flat hitters?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's a tough player. I think, obviously, in Indianapolis, playing him in the quarterfinals there, I think he was really struggling a little bit with fitness coming off the win in Cincinnati the week before. He had a tough match the way before against Carlos Moya. Probably got a little bit fortunate in that one. We played a tough three-set match in Adelaide this year in the final, which I felt like I got better as the match went on. You can't take any of these guys lightly. They rise to the big occasions like the Grand Slams. I've really got to step up to the plate now.

Q. Do you feel like you're getting better as the tournament progresses?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Today was the best match I've played, in the probably worst conditions, as well. Very humid and hot out there today. I think Novak was really struggling with the humidity out there today.

Q. You expected it to be tougher than it was?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I've got a lot of time for Jiri. I think he's a great player. He's one of those guys that occasionally has the odd bad loss. But he's the guy who stands up in Grand Slams. I think he did very well here last year. He also beat Sampras in the Davis Cup tie in Los Angeles. He's sort of a danger match today. I think it was important to get off to a good start, get the first set under my belt. Got a little easier as it went on.

Q. How do you think you're playing at the moment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Played pretty well today. Obviously I'm not a hundred percent. You don't want to be at this stage. I'm into the second week now. Forget about the first week. You've got through your first three matches. Into the Round of 16 now. I haven't passed that before. It's going to be a big stage come Monday.

Q. How do you think the way your draw has opened up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Hasn't really opened up a lot for me. I'm just taking one match at a time. Obviously, I've got one of the tougher matches, I'd say, for my Round of 16 match. I haven't looked past that. Obviously Agassi is out of the top there. Still very good players coming through.

Q. Who would you rather meet, Rios or Enqvist?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't really bother me at all. I'd like to see them have a long five-setter, though. I can tell you that.

Q. Just watching your game evolve, you're scheduling yourself smarter this year. On the court, how do you think your game as evolved?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, I think I'm a little bit more of an all-court player this year. I think it's shown on all surfaces this year. Obviously it was a big step up at the Queen's Club this year on grass for me. I did well in Rome, made the fourth round in the French Open on clay. I'm feeling very confident on all surfaces. I've still got a couple of areas of my game that I've got to work on, if I'm going to sort of cement my spot in the Top 10.

Q. Do you feel as though this year you have a better sense or better feel of when to be -- when to pick your spots to be aggressive and when to play the ball a little bit more safely?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. But I think that's still an area of my game that I've got to work on. You know, it's quite often that I do pick the wrong shots to come to the net on or to sort of go to the wrong ball to attack off. That's just the sort of thing that comes with being mature on the court and getting a lot of experience, as well.

Q. You've shown you can win tournaments on different surfaces. What do you think is the difference between players that can win tournaments and just the players who can do reasonably well and reach quarters or semis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, I think just confidence of being there. I think you look at Sampras and Agassi. They've been there before. You've just sort of got to get that breakthrough. If you look at the guys like Enqvist, he sort of just hasn't had that breakthrough. He made the final. Todd Martin is another example. I think he's made two Grand Slam finals, Cedric Pioline, but they haven't got that breakthrough yet. Tim Henman is probably another one. I think as soon as you get that first breakthrough, get a sniff of that, these are all great players that I'm naming. I think they're worthy of being Grand Slam champions.

Q. What about tournaments like Queen's Club, Scottsdale? You've shown you can take those titles.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I just think, you know, confidence going into the week. I think just about everyone on the tour has won at least one tournament. You've just got to be better than everyone else in that particular week. A lot depends probably on scheduling, as well, whether you're coming off the Davis Cup tie, Olympics.

Q. Some players' games flow out of their serve. Does your game flow out of the service return?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It definitely gives me a lot more confidence when I'm returning well. You know, I still feel like I can play well even if I'm not getting a lot of chances against a guy like Philippoussis, Enqvist, Sampras, the big servers. It gives me a lot more confidence when I am actually making them play a lot of balls. Those kind of guys, they don't normally get that many balls back. They get a lot more cheaper points. I feel like if I can make them play, the more I make them play, the more they're going to get frustrated.

Q. They list you as 5'11" in the Players Guide.

LLEYTON HEWITT: 5'10" and a half.

Q. Most of the guys you are playing today have you by a few inches. How do you handle that on the court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just play to my strengths. I think I've shown that I can play on all surfaces this year. I take a lot of confidence from watching guys like Andre Agassi and Michael Chang do it in the previous years before me, as well. They're around my height, very quick around the court, they use their other strengths to sort of counter-punch or knock down the other guy's big serves. I get a lot of confidence from watching Agassi win on all four surfaces.

Q. Are you aware of the fact playing Novak, he's 6'4", are you going to make him bend and reach for balls?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Comes into your tactics a little bit. Obviously I felt like I move a lot better than Novak around the courts. I had to try to use that to my advantage, which I felt like I've been doing that pretty well against those bigger guys.

Q. Do you use a stretch racquet?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I use normal.

Q. Would reaching the fourth round, going five tough sets against either Rios and Enqvist, and losing, be a satisfying result for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably not. Obviously it depends on the whole match. I'm not looking at losing at all. I'm going out there. I believe I can win. I'm in the second week of a Slam, I believe anything can happen - even though I haven't made it through to a quarterfinal in the past. Obviously I'm going to have my work cut out with either of those guys. A lot is going to satisfy me on how well I play. I think this is just another learning experience sort of in my career to hopefully be holding up a Grand Slam title in the years to come.

Q. Can you talk about what role Cahill plays as a coach?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's been a big impact in the sudden rise up the rankings. Technically we don't work that much at all. On the practice court, we do a lot of fitness work. He's sort of organizing a lot of that for me. A little bit of strength work, stuff like that. Tactically, he does a lot for me as well because he was playing against most of these guys just a few years ago on the tour, as well. He's seen them play, done commentary on a lot of their matches as well. He knows most of these guys' games inside out, which helps me a lot. Also he's been through most of the pressures that I'm going through playing all these tournaments.

Q. He played the opposite, a very different style than yours.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes. I think that can help me a little bit, as well, to work on some of the strengths he had just to build into my game as well. Sort of my solid base is my groundstrokes, passing shots, return of serve.

Q. Are you going to take any different mental approach tomorrow than you did at Roland Garros when you got to the fourth round?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. I'm taking the same mental approach that I've been taking all week, just taking one match at a time. I'll be taking the same as I did in Indianapolis if I have to play Enqvist or the same when I have had to play Rios in Hamburg, wherever, Scottsdale.

Q. With your scaled-down schedule this year, a few weeks of rest, you hit 50 wins today. Does that seem like an amazing effort to you at this point?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't really thought about it. Obviously I got off to a fantastic start which sort of set the scene a little bit. Obviously, I think I'm up there in the most wins of the year at the moment. I think it's showing probably with the way that my ranking has gone up so quickly this year, as well. To be up there competing against all those guys now, competing for a position in that Champions Race, top eight at the end of the year, it's very satisfying to me that I'm in that contention at the moment at the US Open.

Q. Because you were probably small growing up, most Australians don't have a two-handed backhand. Were you taught that way because of your small stature?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think a lot of kids, when they first start out, just because they struggle to hold a racquet up. If you start at four or five years old, that was probably the main reason. Then it just sort of stuck with me. It's always probably been my most consistent shot.

Q. Nobody ever said, "Let's change this"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Nobody ever told me to change. Never went through my mind.

Q. What role, if any, does Patrick still play in your life?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Patrick Rafter?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously he's a little bit like an older brother, I suppose. It's fantastic to have him alongside me at the Davis Cup ties, just because he knows the pressures that you're going through, as well. You just get a lot of confidence. Even when he wasn't playing last year, he came to the tie in Brisbane, just to have him there with myself and Wayne Arthurs, Wayne was sort of a rookie going into that tie, just to have his experience on the sidelines, just giving you helping hands, and suggestions through Newc and Rochey, what to do on and off the court.

Q. Is he still around?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Pat, no, he's back in Australia.

Q. Do you compare yourself to any of the other guys who are part of the "New Balls" campaign? Safin, Federer, Ferrero, do you compare yourself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't compare myself against them at all. Obviously we have our own goals, strategies. We all play a little bit different, I suppose. It's fantastic to be in that elite group, to get named in that, just to be alongside guys, probably the head guy being Gustavo Kuerten, just because he's won two Grand Slam titles.

End of FastScripts....

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