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July 4, 2002

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Who is first?

Q. Lleyton, you took the first two sets, things were looking really good. In the end, it turned out to be a really tough match. Can you go through what really happened?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was on fire. You know, he didn't play his best tennis, but I was playing pretty well I felt two sets. I must have had about 500 breakpoints in the third set, and wasn't able to take one. Could have easily been 6-2, 6-2, 5-Love, I felt. There was only one game in the third set that I didn't think I had a breakpoint. There were a couple Love-40 games in that set, as well. 6-5 up, I had 15-40 still, a couple of match points there. You know, but to his credit, I really didn't have many chances on those breakpoints. Then the match sort of turned. He got confident. He was not making any mistakes that he made in the first, you know, two and a half sets. He started stepping it up. It turned into a dogfight.

Q. How much are you thinking, "I could have done without that," and how much are you thinking, "At least I came through it, and mentally it's a good thing"?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, I'm 21. You know, I'm not too worried about the body. You know, I'll actually take confidence from what happened at the US Open. I went through an absolutely grueling match against Roddick in the quarterfinals and then bounced back and played Saturday, Sunday, back to back, the best tennis I've ever played against a couple of the most experienced guys in Grand Slams. So, you know, I can draw confidence from that. I think I'm fit enough to bounce back and be ready as soon as the bell goes to come out firing.

Q. John Newcombe gave an opinion a year ago. John is not the absolute authority on everything, but he's a past winner. He felt one of the keys to your game would be could you endure the length of a two-week tournament, winning back-to-back big matches physically, that maybe this was a question in your coming up towards the top end of the game. How do you feel about that physical element?

LLEYTON HEWITT: As I just said, you know, the US Open, you know, I had some extremely tough matches in there. I had a five-setter against Blake. I had obviously the five-set marathon against Roddick. I'd have to say the Roddick match on hard court took more out of me than the match out there today on a grass court where the points are a little bit shorter. You know, there was probably a lot more emotion I think in the Roddick match rather than the match today, as well. You know, I felt like I was able to bounce back from that, you know, pretty well. You know, who really knows? I'm hoping it's going to be the same come tomorrow.

Q. How much do you think you'll be able to temperamentally shut off the Brit side of the match and concentrate on the tennis as opposed to the personal issues of the semi?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I can draw strength from, you know, matches that I've played in clutch situations in Davis Cup ties that I've played where I haven't had the crowd on my side and I've been able to block it out pretty well. I've played -- you know, not too many better matches I can remember than beating Gustavo Kuerten in Florianopolis.

Q. Sjeng told us what he thought was so tough about Lleyton Hewitt. What do you think makes you such a tough opponent?

LLEYTON HEWITT: What did he say (smiling)?

Q. I'll tell you later.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I'm sure, you know, the never-say-die attitude, you know, keep fighting every point. You know, he had a lot of chances there in the fifth set and he wasn't able to take full advantage of them. I think that's one aspect, I'm being very mentally tough out there, as well. They're probably the two big keys.

Q. Which side of the family tree does your fighting spirit come from?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. My mum and dad are pretty competitive, I think, both of them. They both played professional sport. My dad's side of the family's probably more sporting than -- you know, my uncle, grandfather, all played professional football. But my mum was a professional net ball player.

Q. When you double-faulted in the 11th game of the fifth at deuce.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Can't remember.

Q. I was going to say, did you feel you might at that moment be on the brink of defeat?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I faced a lot of breakpoints there. Must have been at least two or three - 4-All, the 5-All games in the fifth. You know, I knew I still had an opportunity. I went for a couple of serves out wide and caught the tape. You know, you live and die by it sometimes. You know, it was nice that I still hung in there and, you know, didn't throw away the next point. You know, it was probably better in hindsight that I double-faulted at deuce rather than his ad. But I hung in there and wasn't prepared to give it away that easily.

Q. When you're digging deep and shouting, who is that aimed at? Who do you focus on?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. It's not really focused on anyone. You know, it's obviously probably to my camp, I guess. But, you know, I pick out a lot of people in the crowd that I know. You know, everyone gets a little bit of a pump now and then.

Q. Everyone is saying that the pressure is not on Tim, he's got nothing to lose against you. Presumably with such a big crowd on his side, you've got nothing to lose really.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think for sure. I think Tim -- how many times has he made the semifinals here? This is my first time. I'm 21. I'm sure I'm going to have, you know, other chances to do well at Wimbledon. Obviously, he's probably got, you know, maybe less chances than I'm going to have in the future. So, you know, in that way, I think there's a lot of pressure on him to do well. He's made the semis so many times, and everyone expects so much of him, you know, here at Wimbledon. Everyone's been asking the question, "When is he going to finally get through to the final and give himself a chance to win?" Maybe tomorrow is his opportunity, but I feel like we've both been able to handle the pressure pretty well over the last week and a half anyway so far.

Q. In effect, that might give you an advantage on some decisive points?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It doesn't worry me. I think I put up -- you know, if there is added pressure on me, I block it out pretty well anyway. But I'll be going out there, you know, I'll be free out there. I don't feel like there's any -- that much added pressure on me going out there. As I said, this is, what, only my fourth time at Wimbledon, my first semifinal, first time I've been deep into the tournament. You know, sure, I want to get through to the final, just like anyone would. But, you know, it is my first time. You know, I haven't been out there in a semifinal just yet.

Q. What do you feel, in broad issues,the match could turn on, what aspects?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't know. We'll have to wait and see tomorrow.

Q. Is there a psychological boost because of your record against Tim or can you -- will you both ignore that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think we'll both ignore it pretty much. Obviously, I would rather be -- would rather have won 5-nil rather than being down 0-5. But coming out there tomorrow, it's Wimbledon. This is where he's performed so well over so many years. It's an incredible record that he's got here. You know, no one can take that away from him. As I said before, this is my first time here. You know, you can sort of throw, you know, the record of us playing I think -- the head-to-heads out the window a little bit tomorrow.

Q. Australia is a great sporting nation. Do you think anyone in Australia doesn't know what Wimbledon is?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't. No. Someone out in the Outback may not, but that's about it.

Q. Andre did it 10 years ago from the back. The way the courts are set up at the moment, do you feel of all the years, this is a pretty good one to be a guy who likes to play it from the back?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Doesn't really worry me. Queen's, I found especially on Saturday and Sunday the last few years, it's been lightning quick. Really good bounce out there. It hasn't really worried me, the pace, so much. I think the court's holding up pretty well. Sure it's getting a bit dirty at the back of the court, baseline areas, four or five guys in the quarterfinals playing mostly from the back of the court. But I think it's holding up well enough. You know, I actually think Court 1 has probably taken a bit more of a hammering than Centre Court. I haven't seen it today, but I thought Court 1 was, you know, struggling a little bit out there today. I think it's actually playing slower, Court 1 than Centre Court.

Q. Have you had any word from Pat at all, any advice?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't worried about speaking to him. I'm sure he doesn't want to. Here I'm in the semifinals at Wimbledon, and he could have been No. 2 seed down at the bottom there playing Lapentti or Nalbandian.

Q. You mentioned your camp there. Who will be there tomorrow for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Same guys, family, Kim, my mate Hayden from Australia, physio, trainer, (inaudible) Fanatics, one of my mates from Australia. Got a few guys here.

Q. 15-All in what turned out to be the final game, you pushed into the net and drove him into a backhand error. Was that a gamble or just the way that point was being played?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit of a gamble, I think. He wasn't missing anything from the back of the court. I felt like I was dragging him wide all the time on both wings. He didn't miss a ball. You know, the court was a little bit slower out there, as well, so it gave him a bit more time to get back. He just had such good rhythm. On that one I just felt like, you know, maybe it was the right time just to push in and make him go for a passing shot. He half shanked it. But still, you know, 30-All point. I came up with a big, you know, curler up-the-line passing shot which is a bigger point, I think.

Q. Does the fact that it's a Brit on Centre Court Wimbledon going to give you an extra buzz, add extra spice to the match tomorrow?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, doesn't worry me who I'm playing. You know, it's a semifinal of Wimbledon. If you can't get up for it, might as well put your racquets away, not bother turning up. I'll be up no matter who I'm playing. Sure, it's going to be, you know, great atmosphere out there. That's for sure.

Q. Does the fact that perhaps the American game might be in a bit of transition, may not have someone of your age who is of comparable status in the rankings, mean that you can dominate for many years? Perhaps if Tim does win tomorrow and get through, you'll be back, he'll still have to face you again and again as a top seed?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel like one of the advantages I have is I can play on all surfaces I feel now. That's a huge edge to have going into every Grand Slam. Not this year, but there are so many clay-courters who just roll up here, roll the arm over, see you later on day one. I feel like I go to all four Slams and I have a realistic chance of winning them. That's a great thing to have for me. Obviously, the Americans have Roddick coming up. He's their next big hope, I think. But I feel confident that I can -- obviously, hard court is probably my preferred surface, but now grass and clay are getting up there, as well.

Q. As well as Sjeng served today, have you ever lost as many breakpoints in a row?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't think so. It was strange. There wasn't really that much I could do on the breakpoints, I felt. Every time I got to Love-40, he came out and served three bombs. If I got a racquet on them, I only just got them over the net, he was able to come in and put an easy winner away. Otherwise he served aces or unreturnables on most of them. Yeah, it was starting to get a little bit frustrating. It was like he was half giving me to go Love-40 up, then saying, "I'm not going to give you the game, though." Obviously, the telling part was he got a little bit shaky when he was up a break twice in the fifth set.

End of FastScripts….

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