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June 23, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Who is first?

Q. Did you know anything about this guy at all? Had you ever seen him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd never seen him play. I'd seen him walk around a bit before. You know, obviously tried to find out as much as possible. Yeah, knew he had a big serve, and that was obviously his weapon. Yeah, that's pretty much -- you know, I'd never seen him play a match before.

Q. How were you feeling with your game coming into this Wimbledon?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not too bad. I felt like I, you know, practiced really well over the last week and a half, felt like I was hitting the ball well. You know, felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well out on the court there today. You know, I was seeing the ball well. You know, could have easily been 6-1, 4-Love up. You know, I just didn't take my chances. I had 1-Love in the second set, 15-40, and then 2-1 in the second set, Love-40. You know, if I get on top of him, makes life a lot tougher for him to come out and, you know, keep serving. I gave him those chances, and to his credit he picked up and his whole game got a lot better.

Q. People talk about the historic significance of the defending champion going out first round. Has that hit you at all or are you just thinking about having lost a match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for me it's pretty much, you know, playing Wimbledon and losing first round. You know, sure, defending champion. But at the end of the day I'd be disappointed losing Wimbledon first round any time. You know, that's what you've got to deal with. You know, it's very hard at the moment to try and say you're going to try and learn something from it, but hopefully I can. You know, when I look back at it, probably have a bit clearer mind, see where things went wrong and where hopefully I can improve for the future. But, you know, at the moment, it's pretty disappointing.

Q. You had a problem against Norman, and this guy was tall. Do you have a problem with guys this height?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think anyone's going to have a problem trying to get back those serves all the time. Against Norman, I ended up finding a way to break him down, you know, play his weaknesses and get on top and win the match. Over five sets, it's a lot tougher, I think. But then again, I had a lot of chances today. You look at the stats, he broke (inaudible), I lost the match in four sets. I didn't quite take my chances when I had them. I had a breakpoint early in the third set and in the fourth set as well, he hit two aces. Wasn't a whole heap I could do out there at that stage.

Q. What surprised you most about his game and how far do you think he can go?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think the way that he was able to pick his serve up. He wasn't serving great, I didn't find, for probably the first set and a bit. And then when, you know, I missed those opportunities early in the second set, his whole game sort of came together. He didn't make as many easy mistakes. He picked up a lot better, on half volleys and low volleys than he did early in the match. He made a lot of mistakes on those points. You know, he pretty much cut out his double-faults, as well. He hardly served a double-fault from probably halfway through the second set.

Q. Does coming in as defending champion bring any extra pressure for you? Did you fell that out there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. You know, I went out there, I knew it was going to be a tough match. I knew that I had to play as well as I could to win. You know, early on it looked pretty good. I was feeling pretty good out there. I guess it's how things can change around pretty quickly out there. You know, I felt like I was the dominant player for a set and a bit. Even the second set, I had set point there at 5-4 on his serve, had a second serve. You know, if I took that chance, been up two sets to love, there's probably a good chance I wouldn't be out of the tournament. I don't feel like I had too much extra pressure coming in, winning it last year.

Q. What will you do for the rest of the tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, got no idea. Haven't even thought about it.

Q. Top players like to have a very controlled kind of environment around them so things are regular every time they go out to play, no changes in their routine. Right now there have been some changes in your life, change in coaches, a lawsuit. Do you think perhaps even subconsciously those things are taking you out of your comfort zone?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all.

Q. Did you do anything differently this year coming into Wimbledon? Did you come over later or was it the same preparation as previous years?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I came over, you know, obviously after Kim played her final at the French. Last year I probably came over a little bit earlier. The year before that, though, I came over the same time, Kim had made the final of the French. I don't think that's got a whole heap to do with it.

Q. What about the courts, do you find the courts are different from last year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. They're pretty similar. I guess, you know, they'll quicken up as the tournament goes on. But for the first day, I don't think it's any different to any other year.

Q. It looks like on some of the big shots, normally in tournaments when you're winning, you'd go for your shots, make them. Today and Roland Garros, looked like you were a bit hesitant, not sure of yourself on the big points. Do you find that help happening?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. There wasn't really too much I could do on the breakpoints I had. Probably one breakpoint at 5-4 in the second set, and I had set point second serve. I went for it up the line, just shanked it wide by a couple of centimeters. Apart from that, he hit a couple of aces, he hit big serves. I was lucky to get my racquet on them. On the big points, today's match-up, you don't get any rhythm out there. It's hard to say I didn't go for it enough on the big points.

Q. At 5-5 in the second set, there was an announcement by the public address while play was continuing. Didn't you ask for a let on that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I asked after the point, I just said, "What was the ruling on that? What's the rules?" He said, "We got to keep playing." That was it. I found it strange. I think we both did. We were sort of half hitting the ball up the middle of the court waiting for the umpire to play two or a let. I've never had anything like that happen before.

Q. Do you let a loss like this stay with you or is it gone by tomorrow?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it will be longer than tomorrow (laughter). I'll be disappointed for a while. You know, every loss I guess is different. I've had some Davis Cup losses that probably stick around, you know, fairly long. I'm sure this one's not going to go away, you know, by the end of the week.

Q. When Sampras lost to Edberg at The Open early in his career, after he lost to him, he felt terrible, couldn't sleep. Does that kind of thing happen to you? Can you get rid of those losses? Do you lose sleep?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't know. I think every loss is different. You know, I think I can still sleep. But, you know, you wake up frustrated sometimes I guess in the morning. You know, you're not still in the tournament. But I think that's the same with anyone. While the big tournaments are still going on and you're not in them anymore, I think anyone's disappointed. Probably sinks in tomorrow or the next day, probably more so than even today. I'll be pretty disappointed I guess for a while.

Q. With hindsight, do you think you and your team did enough homework on your opponent?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I don't think I could have done much more. Didn't have, you know, any different secrets that I wasn't aware of.

Q. Can you size up your season thus far?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, you know, this has obviously been disappointing. The French for me, I didn't find that disappointing. I felt like the first two sets against Robredo in the third round I probably played the best tennis I've ever played on clay. He went out and knocked Kuerten out, should have beaten Costa in the quarterfinals, led two sets and a break. You know, obviously on the tournaments earlier in the year I played pretty well in Scottsdale, Indian Wells. My Grand Slams so far probably have been disappointing in some ways if you look at the results. You know, I don't think it was a terribly loss to El Aynaoui at the Australian. He had to play his best tennis to beat me. Robredo had to come back from two sets to love down. I wasn't able to, on my least favorite surface, keep that standard up against such a good clay court player for five sets. That's probably where I lost the French Open a bit. This has been probably the most disappointing out of the three Grand Slams so far.

Q. He's the biggest player in the world. Is there an imposing feeling when you go out and have to look up at the guy?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, obviously I played Dick Norman last week. It's no different to playing guys likes Safin. They're pretty imposing, as well. You know, there's weaknesses because of that height, as well, and you've got to try and open up their weaknesses more and try and close down their strengths. I wasn't able quite to do that today.

Q. Your opponent was obviously playing the best tennis of his life today. Did you ever think his standard was going to drop?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's probably hard to say. As the match got on, he got better and better as the match went on. That's where I come back to having my chances early in the second set and not consolidating them. If I was able to do that, you know, I might have been in a totally different position. If I could have, you know, kept on top of him, kept pounding him into the ground, I could have broken down his serve maybe a little bit more and got to look at a few more second serves. But he got more and more confident. It was getting tougher and tougher as the match went on. I think he found his rhythm on his serve and he started serving a whole heap better.

Q. Knowing yourself and your character, how do you think you'll react to this and push yourself forward for the remaining months of this year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope I can learn from it. I hope I can go out -- there's one major left, the US Open, a place I'm familiar with and had good results there the past four years. You know, last three years I haven't lost before a semifinal. Yeah, it's nice to go to places where you play well. And obviously going back on hard court, you know, I guess that's the big one for me for the rest of the year, the US Open, the last Grand Slam. You know, I've got to try and get this out of your mind as much as possible. Then, again, maybe it can make me more hungry for that last Grand Slam. I'll have to wait and see.

Q. When you experience this, do you ever think you feel you may have something to prove to yourself at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really to prove to myself, I don't think. You know, I don't feel like I have to prove to anyone, you know, really.

Q. What do you think about coming back here next year, strike threat permitting?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I get fired up to play Wimbledon any time. 12 months from now, I can't say how I'm going to be feeling coming in. Hopefully I'll be as eager as ever, I'll enjoy coming back here ,and hopefully I can go a round or two better.

Q. Can you believe the players would strike Wimbledon? They did it 30 years ago.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd find it very hard to believe.

Q. Can you compare the intensity level you carried into this match with the general intensity of last year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: The intensity level is very similar. Not a whole heap different.

Q. Will this alter your summer schedule at all? Do you know what you're playing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, haven't thought about it. Yeah, at the moment I'm playing LA, the two Masters series and the US Open. You know, I haven't even thought about it at the moment.

Q. First-round loser, you walk away with 8,000 pounds. Can you appreciate the other players -- the Grand Slam tournaments are accused the not spreading the wealth. Your check is a lot smaller than you're used to. Can you sympathize with the players on the tour that say the Grand Slam tournaments aren't generous enough?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't know what it is. Eight thousand pounds, whatever, for most guys playing in the challengers and satellites, it's a bit of a dream to get in the draw and get that much money, to be guaranteed that much money. You know, obviously for me it's a little bit different. I'm not going out there thinking about what I'm playing for today if I get through to the second round.

End of FastScripts….

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