June 29, 2005
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Do you feel you went up a few notches today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I did. I felt like I played pretty well all around today. My whole game came together well. You know, I needed it to. He's a dangerous opponent, especially on this surface with a big lefty serve. Yeah, I had to try to dictate play as much as possible and I was able to do that.
Q. John McEnroe is full of praise for your performance, said it was the best he's ever seen you play. Would you agree with that? How would you react to that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I didn't put too many feet wrong today. I went out there with a game plan and I stuck to it the whole time. The guy's got a great serve. There's going to be games when you're not going to get a racquet on the ball. Yeah, you've just got to accept that and move on. I felt like when I got broken, early in the first set I played a couple loose points early, but from then on I played a good game and he got a net cord to break me. I didn't let that affect me. I felt like I still kept hanging in there and waiting for my opportunities. Yeah, in the end I started seeing the ball really well and I was on his serve pretty much every game.
Q. How much did your greater experience help you today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm sure it helped a little bit. Yeah, he came out and didn't look nervous from the way he played and the way he started. Maybe end of sets, he didn't get enough first serves in on the key points. But, you know, I thought he handled the situation pretty well. You know, at the start he was aggressive. He was serving big right from the word "go."
Q. What is the key to beating Roger Federer? What has turned the series around against him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure what the key is. I haven't won the last few. Have to try and find something in the next couple of days. Yeah, he's obviously the best player in the world for a reason. Yeah, he's really taken his game to another level in the last couple of years. Obviously I've lost to him the last couple of years, last six or seven times, but it's all been in the last two years or so when he's really dominated pretty much everyone. You know, obviously he's got to be very confident against anyone, and especially in Centre Court here where the last two years he's pretty much made his own.
Q. To what degree is there the feeling that he needs to be off his regular game or his best game for somebody to have a chance to beat him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I don't know. I think when he plays -- you know, he's played some of his best tennis, he's nearly been unbeatable in certain matches. You still got to go out there and try and make him not play his best tennis. You know, you've got to look for it. He doesn't have a lot of big weaknesses out there, but you've got to try and pin something down. Even then, he can still find ways to win when he's not hitting the ball great either. It's an (indiscernible). You got to go out there, clean your service games up, wait for your opportunities. You're not going to get a whole heap. That's where he's really gone up the last couple years, I think he's playing the big points really well.
Q. The last time you beat him was in the Davis Cup match. Have you noticed since then he's been more confident or intense against you? Anything that changed after that match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I think he in general as a player is a lot more confident than he was. He just won Wimbledon before we played that tie for the first time. Yeah, next time we played was in the Australian Open Round of 16. I won the first set and had an opportunity to go up a set and a break in that match. Since then, he's been pretty dominant against everyone. Yeah, he has been the supreme player, especially on this surface.
Q. When you stand across the net from somebody like that, somebody who is nearly unbeatable, where do you get your confidence from?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, from the way I'm hitting the ball. You know, little areas that I think I might have a slight advantage. And you've got to believe in yourself. And I think, you know, I believe I'm capable of winning the match. It's not going to be easy, and I've got to play one of my best matches that I've got. But, you know, I believe that I can do it.
Q. Where do you feel like you have those advantages?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I won't be telling you.
Q. You believe in yourself. You pump yourself up. Are there times during a match against Roger those doubts come into your mind?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, if he's serving for the match and stuff sometimes, when he's winning pretty comfortably. Apart from that, I've had small opportunities in my match here 12 months ago. I had a lot of small chances and wasn't just quite able to take them. Even late in the fourth set, I was up a break to take it into a fifth set, and I just didn't quite play the big points as well as he did on the day. That's the reason he's won here the last two years, though.
Q. If you play your best tennis, in your own mind you can beat him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Mate, it all depends on the match-up out there. You can't go out there -- you only can play as well as your opponent lets you, as well. There's a lot of different scenarios out there, tactics and stuff that come into play. You can't say him at his best, him at his best. There's different weaknesses and different areas of the game that you're going to try to exploit.
Q. What are the challenges to playing him on grass?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, he can just mix it up so well. You know, he's got a great slice, great forehand, a great serve, and he moves extremely well, which is a key on this surface. But he's got a lot of variety to his game, as well: he can serve-volley, he can stay back. I think that's why he's had such a good record on grass.
Q. Are you any more angry about the seeding at these championships?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. It's a bit strange playing in a semifinal, the No. 1 and 2 player in the world.
Q. Of all the people you've ever faced, when it comes to the biggest points in a match, how would you compare Roger with all those other players?
LLEYTON HEWITT: When I've played him in big matches, he's been as good as anyone. Andre Agassi's been great at that, as well, playing the big points well. And obviously Pete Sampras at his peak was, you know, unbelievable at doing that. He's definitely up there in that category, though.
Q. Roger, now he's basically a baseliner. Which way would you rather play him, coming in or staying back?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't worry me either way. I think his serve, he doesn't have such a big serve as a Sampras or an Ivanisevic, these kind of guys. He uses his serve extremely well for his game, though. He gets a high percentage in. He works the angles and makes you hit back where he wants that first hit to go. Then he feels more comfortable a lot of the time coming in on his terms after the first hit rather than coming in, serve-volleying. It just all depends on I guess where he's confident and what he's doing. He's a great serve and volleyer if he did that the whole times a well. It's hard to say which is better for it.
Q. As a rule, would you rather play a baseliner or a serve and volleyer?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't bother me. Everyone's different.
Q. Do you think this is what most tennis fans would want to be the final?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I would definitely like it to have been the final, obviously. But, you know, for me it would be like playing a final, going out there. If you knock the best player off out there, then you've obviously got to be pretty confident going into the final Sunday. But, you know, it's a strange situation. I don't know how many times it would have happened that the top two ranked players would be playing in a semifinal in a Slam.
Q. Would have been worthy of a final?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, yeah, I've been playing pretty well at the moment. Obviously, coming off a layoff, there were a few question marks. I didn't have too many doubts in my mind.
Q. When you come here, do you relish a shot at Roger? Do you look forward to meeting him, whether it's in the semis, finals, and a chance at knocking him off?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not something that I've thought about up till now. Obviously now it's a huge opportunity, though. I do like playing the big matches when there's a lot of emotion out there, a great atmosphere. Come Friday, it's going to be no different.
Q. L√É¬≥pez was saying he was surprised at how well you served. If you go on to win, how important has your improved serve been to you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I served extremely well today. It's been a little bit patchy. I didn't serve that great against Dent I didn't feel for the whole match. It was probably one of my worst serving days. I knew it was something I had to pick up today against L√É¬≥pez, and I was able to do that. But, you know, it's something that over the last 18 months or so I've really served pretty well in general. You know, just makes the game that much easier if you're getting some cheap points off your first serve.
Q. How do you improve your serve over the last 18 months? If you're the No. 1 player in the world, how do you make a stroke like that better?
LLEYTON HEWITT: For me it was more Rash and I sat down looking at percentages, trying to get cheap points off my first serve. Obviously, when we get in a rally, I'm feeling pretty confident against most players, regardless. Over five sets, it makes it a lot easier to go out there. You're getting a high percentage of first serves in and also going out there and getting some cheaper points. It just makes it that much easier to sustain that through seven best-of-five set matches.
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