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July 7, 2002

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, the new Wimbledon Champion. Who is going to have the honor of the first question?

Q. Has it hit you yet, Lleyton?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not yet (smiling). Wow, it's unbelievable. I don't know what to say. You know, you're serving for the match there, sitting at the change of ends, trying to think if this is actually real, if I was playing the first round of Wimbledon or the final out there. You know, to get 40-Love up there, have another squeeze at the scoreboard to make sure I didn't celebrate too early.

Q. On the moment where the forehand went long, what was your emotion?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I couldn't believe it. I think when you get to 5-2 up, you're a double break up, I start thinking, "Well, this is a real chance now." So it's not that much of a shock, I don't think, if it was in a tiebreak or something like that, a bit closer towards the end.

Q. David at times seemed a bit overcome by the magnitude of the match. How did you manage to hold your nerve for so long, maybe up until the double-fault in the end?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was obviously a big moment for him. It was a big moment for both of us. But, you know, I've been in a Slam final, so I sort of understand a little bit, you know, how the pressure and nerves are going to be. Yeah, I thought he was going to be a little bit nervous at the start. I thought that was a big opportunity for me to, you know, try and get the initiative right from the start and put the foot forward. And I was able to do that. He gave a few double-faults in the first game, and I was able to get a double break, afterward that was basically the first set. In the second set, though, he raised his game. He didn't make those easy mistakes he was making, made me work a lot hard for my points. It was heavy conditions out there today. It was tough to hit a lot of winners from the back of the court. The balls are fluffing up, because we were having so many long rallies. It just felt like there was a bit of moisture in the air, as well, which was making it heavier.

Q. You know so very few non-serve and volleyers have won this tournament. Have you always thought, "Even though I don't play serve and volley tennis, can I win it"? Was there some moment as your career evolved from 17 or 18 till now that you became convinced that you could win it as a back-court player?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, when I first came on, even after I won Adelaide that first year, I started playing Queen's, just leading up to Wimbledon the first time, I was actually trying to mix it up. I think I was playing the wrong style of game, come to the net, chip-charge, this kind of stuff. It wasn't working. I went back. I said, the guys have got to play extremely well if they're going to beat me from the back of the court. I returned well, used my passing shot, my strengths as my edge, my quickness around the court. Basically from that year on, I've gone into Queen's, the grass court tournaments I've played, which really isn't that many, and just played my game. My serve has got me out of a lot of trouble the last few years in big tournaments. I think, you know, when you start winning Queen's a few years, you know, in a row like I have now - made the semis four years ago, as well, you know, beat Sampras, Henman, Rusedski, Flip, these kind of guys on grass - then you start realizing you're a real contender for the big one a couple weeks down the track, as well.

Q. To your recollection, did you serve and volley any points in this fortnight?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that I can remember (smiling). I think I tried to once, but I served a fault, so...

Q. You've had fabulous Davis Cup results, then of course the breakthrough at Flushing Meadows, becoming No. 1 in Sydney, now this. You're just off the court, but can you possibly compare these and how Wimbledon compares to these other great accomplishments?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't want to go out there and rate them, I don't think, in any order because every one is very unique - the US Open, getting No. 1 and winning Wimbledon. They've all got special things about them and things that make the tournament special. The things about Wimbledon is obvious, you know, I think it's the biggest tournament everyone knows in Australia. For me, growing up, you know, grass wasn't my favorite surface, but, you know, I still -- it was -- there was something about Wimbledon that drew you to come here. You know, the tradition. For an Australian, as well, we've had so many great players do well here in the past. So it's sort of a place you enjoy coming back to and you look forward to coming to play. For me, you know, four or five years ago, I'm not sure now, but when I first played here, eventually lost to Becker in the third round, just to be here and play at Wimbledon, you know, to be in the locker room with Boris Becker and guys like that, was just incredible. You know, I actually, you know, told Jason and a few guys that, you know, for some reason I was really looking forward to Wimbledon this year. And I said that about four or five months ago. So, you know, there's something about it, this whole four weeks leading into Wimbledon, the grass court season, that I enjoy.

Q. You sensed Wimbledon would be special about four or five months ago?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I just had a feeling. There's something about it. I couldn't have said that I was going to do this well. But, you know, I could have bombed out in the first round. There was something that was drawing me. You know, I couldn't wait till Wimbledon started basically. You know, that's a strange thing to have when you're a baseliner coming on grass.

Q. What would be your message to the kids in Australia who watched today you raising your trophy of Wimbledon? How could you be one dreaming boy to achieve your fate?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think for every, you know, kid playing in the local club in Australia, just for them to realize that it is possible. You know, you can, you know, dream. You've still got to put in a lot of hard work and try and get there, but it is possible. It's not out of reach. That's a huge thing to have I think in your mind when you go out there and you start coming on the tour. You know, you've got to take it one step at a time a little bit, as well. But, you know, for me, you know, I can remember being at my grandparents' house when I was six, not watching the whole Pat Cash match, because I was just starting to get into tennis then and enjoy it. I started getting privately coached. For me it was a huge thing to see an Australian win such a big tournament. And I think that, you know, rubs off a little bit.

Q. Were you always planning to climb up into the box and see your parents ala Pat Cash?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I had no idea what I was going to do if I won. You know, I sort of went back to my chair. Then I thought, "Stuff it, I'll go and do it." It's been 15 years since an Aussie won. So, yeah, I spoke to Pat before and after the match. You know, obviously he was one of my favorite players when I was growing up, the headband and everything, you know, the way that he showed fire out there on the court, as well. You know, I thought, "Stuff it, I'll copy him out there."

Q. What is Patrick Rafter going to think after you made it look so easy?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Hopefully he comes back. But, you know, obviously Pat, you know, he played extremely well the last, you know, two years, here. To make two finals is an unbelievable effort. Look at the matches that he lost. I think he was a point away from probably beating Sampras. I think he had set points in the second set tiebreak to go two sets to Love up. Then Goran, I think he was two points away from breaking Goran to win the championship. So he's come so close. You know, for me to come here, you know, and win this tournament, it means a lot. You know, he called me again this morning to wish me all the best, "Go out there and do it for Australia." You know, it's a great thing to have, you know, that positive -- a guy who I've looked up to for so many years, you know, been in awe of, for him to, you know, go out of his way to give me a call the last couple of days.

Q. Where do you think this final will rate in terms of quality of finals in Wimbledon history?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's going to rate as a different one. Two baseliners. You know, I don't know how many years you have to go back to find two baseline players playing at the Wimbledon final. But it's a unique final I think more than anything. It wasn't the best tennis. But, you know, the conditions were pretty (inaudible) out there, as well. It was so windy, it was swirling, you know, it was not that warm out there. Obviously the rain delays. You're up and down like a yo-yo out there. You know, it's tough to try and control your emotions when you're not sure, you know, how long you're actually going to be out there; you know, if you're going to finish the match this time or if you're going have to have to come out. So it's a different final.

Q. Would you agree the worst tennis you played in this fortnight was in this final?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Some of it. But, you know, the conditions and everything, I play to win. You know, you don't always have to play your best tennis.

Q. Is that a yes?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not necessarily, no.

Q. What did Pat Cash say to you when you chatted with him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I just saw him in the locker room afterwards. Yeah, he said, "Well done, great effort." You know, he said that I'll probably have to talk about him in the press conference actually because -- you know, he said I'll probably get sick and tired of talking about him because he was the last Australian to win it.

Q. There's a sense at least in America that people don't really know you, in part because you haven't told your story to the major publications. Any reason for that? Do you think that will change now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I speak to people. I do interviews. You know, I choose what's right for me, as well. You know, you have that many requests, I'm not going to go out and do every one. That's not right for my tennis. It's not in my best interest. So I've got to think about what it took to get me to No. 1 in the world. And I'm not going to go, you know, trying to change everything just because I'm No. 1, lose that ranking, you know, lose the reasons why I got to No. 1 and what I'm playing this game for. Off the court, you know, I'm shy. I'd prefer to sort of, you know, be in the background. You know, probably more private than a lot of people.

Q. Does men's tennis need a champion that's kind of charismatic and out there or not?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always nice to have personalities. I think that's why, you know, so many people bagged John McEnroe when he was playing, but everyone says how they miss him and they would love to see him play again. I think that shows when he plays on the senior tour now, how many people go and watch him. You know, guys like that, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, they always had that rivalry going. You know, rivalries and stuff like that, I think personalities are good for the game, yeah.

Q. Where do you play next?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I play in LA and then, yeah, four tournaments, then a week off, then The Open.

Q. Did Pat give you a call before the finals from his home?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Patrick Rafter?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I spoke to him this morning.

Q. Who was waiting for you in the locker room, all the Aussie greats with beers?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, Frank Segman, Ken Rosewall, Neale Fraser has been talking to me the last two weeks, he's been with me. That's been great. Neale Fraser welcomed me into the club. That felt pretty good. Wally and Fitzy were obviously there. All my support crew. You know, it was a great feeling to go back into.

Q. You're still so young. Do you have a feeling that there's many more Grand Slams in you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I hope so. But, you know, I haven't really thought about it at the moment. If I can play this well for other Grand Slams, then I can't see why not. But, you know, at the moment, I really don't care.

Q. You've been in a major final before. What was the night before this one like for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a little bit different because, you know, going into the US Open final, in some ways I probably wasn't as nervous because I didn't really know what to expect. You know, I had nothing to lose. I'd never been in a Grand Slam final before. It was a different feeling I think going into this one with a guy who's only play, you know, one grass court -- this is his first senior grass court tournament, to play him in the Wimbledon final. So I was probably more nervous I think going into this one than the US Open because in some ways I was nervous because I was playing Pete Sampras, you know, in the US Open final. But, you know, the name more than anything I think. But I didn't know what to expect, so I don't think I was as nervous as coming into here. I sort of knew what it was like to play in a Grand Slam final, and the pressures, you know, what can happen, you know, going into it - the outcome, as well.

Q. What was racing through your mind when you knew you'd won it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I really don't know. Disbelief a little bit. You know, I was talking to Pat Cash before actually in the locker room. You know, I was saying, it was a weird feeling, it was like a dream. I sort of had to pinch myself to see if it was real or not out there. You know, growing up as a kid, you sort of dream these match, you know, playing in a Wimbledon final, you know, stuff like that. You know, I don't know. You could probably tell me it's a dream now (laughter). I'm still, you know, a little bit at a loss for words and don't really understand the whole grip of it just yet. But, you know, obviously I sort of hit the deck. Turning into a bit of my fall now when I win a Grand Slam, fall on my back. I didn't know what to do.

Q. A lot has been made of this Rocky motivation that you use. When you're out there on a big point, any big point in the match, do you think about that stuff beforehand, do you think of a scene from the movie, necessity other kind of images that come into your mind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. No, not on a big point. I'm more focusing on the match and stuff like that. There's occasions during the match, you know, not these two weeks, but more like the French Open when I was a set and 5-Love down or something in the second round against Stoliarov, more sort of trying to guts it out, sort of like in the movies then. Then that sort of comes out. But, no, not today, not so much on a breakpoint. I'm more thinking about where he's going to serve or, you know, what's going to happen out there. But, you know, sometimes in my career I have thought about, you know, trying to guts it out or stuff like that, yeah, for motivation.

Q. Is there any scene in the movie that you think of?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. Depends, you know. If he's getting slugged by the big Russian, he comes back and wins. I was getting slugged by a Russian, but he was about two feet tall. It was a little different (smiling).

Q. Who, if anybody, can take from you the first world ranking?


Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, Marat Safin is obviously one of the main ones, I guess. There's a handful of guys. Marat, he can play on all surfaces. He didn't have his best tournament here. Look at the final of the Aussie and then semis of the French. He's good on all surfaces. He's going to be a big threat over the years. Andre Agassi for the next few years, for sure. You know, he's fit enough to do well, and he showed that he can win big matches on all surfaces, as well. Then you've got the younger guys coming up, I guess. You know, Kuerten still has a chance when he gets back to a hundred percent obviously. You know, the younger guys coming up, Federer I know struggled the last couple weeks, but if he played like he did in Hamburg, then he's going to be a threat. Ferrero, obviously more suited to clay. You know, Roddick, these kind of guys. Tommy Haas is another one who didn't get to play here but has a real chance.

Q. What about David?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's got a chance, for sure. Well, I don't know what he'll go to. Somewhere I guess between 11 and 20 somewhere. He can play on all surfaces. You know, if this is -- he's only going to get better and better on grass now. He's going to learn from this. The good thing about this is he's not going to be like some of the other clay court specialist and say bugger it. He's going to enjoy playing on grass and want to come back and win this thing someday. He has a chance. He actually did really well at the US Open last year. He beat Escude and lost to Kafelnikov in four or five sets. He's got a real chance to do well. Whether it's this year or next year, I'm not sure.

Q. Second set of this match, he started to hurt you a little bit, finally went down the line with his backhand. What was your adjustment there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's got a nice backhand up the line. I knew that from when I played him in Barcelona on clay. He disguises it really well. You can't really tell if he's going -- he sort of likes going that short cross-court angle with his backhand, whether he gets a bit of whip on it, or if he's going up the line, I couldn't tell. The only way I could get him not to go for it too much is with a bit more depth on my shots. If he's going to pull the trigger and go for that down the line - low-percentage shots, if the ball is deeper. The other thing I did well was coming in on his backhand a bit. He didn't have the best retrieving slice of all times. Quite often I got a high volley or didn't have to play a volley. I think that sort of turned the match during the second and third set.

Q. Aside from match point and the awards ceremony, is there one moment that you'll think years from now you'll recall from the fortnight?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, obviously, you know, getting to the final before I had to play today, it was getting out of the Schalken match, I guess, the way that I played against Tim Henman. You know, I was up for that match and I played some of my best tennis against Tim. If he got through, he would have had a great chance today probably. But we'll never know. You know, those two matches probably in the quarters and semis when I knew I had to step it up against two guys who I've had tough matches in the past, and I was able to do that.

Q. How do you plan to celebrate?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Got no idea.

Q. You said it was a real ripper. What was the trophy like when you got your hands on it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a great piece of gold (smiling). I was just, you know, looking at all the names. You walk through onto Centre Court there, you see there's an honor board there, you see all the great names who have won this tournament. When I got a hold of that trophy, I really wanted to have a look at all the names on there. Nice to have my name underneath that.

Q. What did you tell David after the match at the net?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I just said, "Unbelievable tournament." You know, I said to him after, I just asked him if that was his first Senior Tournament. I said it's not bad for him. He says, yeah, he's going back to play on clay tomorrow or the next day. Beauty.

End of FastScripts….

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