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June 29, 2002

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Lleyton Hewitt. Who would like to start?

Q. Was it a perfect game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I didn't know a lot about him, again. You know, it's not normal that you come into a Slam and, you know, two matches in a row you've really hardly seen the guy play. I went out there. I tried to stay a bit more aggressive than I was in my last match when I didn't know my second-round opponent. Went out there and just tried to play my game. You know, felt pretty good right from the start.

Q. What about your next round, Youzhny?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's going to be tough. Played him last week for the first time in Rosmalen. Tough match. Didn't play my best tennis. I feel like I can improve on that. You know, the court is playing a fair bit different to Rosmalen. It's going to be a different style of match. He played well here last year. I saw him actually play Pat - I think it was the fourth round, third round, I'm not sure. If I'm right, I think he took the first set there that day, as well. You know, it's going to be tough. He obviously feels pretty accustomed to playing on grass now. He moves well. He's got a really nice backhand. You know, I'm going to have to play -- go up another level.

Q. Do you feel more comfortable on that Centre Court now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, feels great. You know, when you win a few matches out there, it gets a lot easier, as well. You know, especially the guys that you play in the first few rounds now, you know. I'm one of the highest seeds at the Slams now, it feels like, you know, I've got the experience on my side going out there on that Centre Court now. Whereas the guy today, you know, he's probably never been out there, probably never seen it, the atmosphere, the feeling out there. You know, I can obviously go back to some of my matches in the past, and I know the feeling -- you know, I had to play Becker out there my first time, as well. I know the experience. The little bit of in awe of the Centre Court you are your first few times out there.

Q. Yourself and Richard Krajicek who have Grand Slam titles are left in the draw. How important is that experience going to be in the second week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's probably big. You know, you know what it takes, I think, and you've got that belief that you're able to win seven best-of-five set matches, how to pace yourself over two weeks now. You can draw confidence. Obviously, Richard can draw a bit more confidence playing here and winning his Slam here. But I've got the US Open I can draw confidence from, the memories, how I controlled everything there. You know, from those good feelings and that, try to bring it into here. I don't think it's a huge difference playing the US Open to Wimbledon.

Q. Can you reflect a bit on how your fighting qualities fit in with you being from Australia and what that means to be an Australian in the tennis world.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's good when you walk out there today and see guys wearing Darren Jarman's No. 3 jersey, and holding up a banner too. Made me feel right at home.

Q. How about feeling an Australian overall, how it fits in as a fighter.

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, we've had great fighting spirit, I think, in sport for Australia. And we've had a long tradition of great champions - not only in tennis, but every sport. And I come from a great, great sporting country. You know, to try to carry that, you know, it's a great honor. As I said when I won the US Open, I look at so many great Australians who have held up that trophy. For my name to be on it with those guys, it is a great honor.

Q. Does it mean something - obviously Pat had massive support here from the Australians - but to see banners with, "Go Lleyton" on it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Great. Felt like I was playing the Australian Open out there today. All three of my matches so far have been fantastic. Obviously, I saw the craziness of last year's final when Pat was out there. But there were a lot of Croats out there, as well. It's a great atmosphere to play in. It's like playing a footy match.

Q. Do you want to talk about Pat's impact? Do you feel like you're following him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about following him. I've still got to make two finals in a row to do as well as he has. I feel like I've learned a lot from Pat over the years. I don't know about just coming into Wimbledon and, you know, trying to do as well as he has in the past. It's a tough ask. I've now equaled my best performance here, which is last year in the Round of 16s. You know, I still want to, you know, just gradually improve playing here at Wimbledon.

Q. Where did you watch last year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I was actually still here at the time. I just watched it on TV.

Q. Didn't come along?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I wasn't down there.

Q. Can you take us back to that experience, the first time you walked on to Centre Court, and how it actually feels now with a few games under your belt out there? Is there a different feeling about it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't think you can really describe what it feels like to walk out there. You know, it's hard to describe how you feel, and how it changes. It's more just knowing what to expect when you get out there, knowing the surroundings, knowing where the player box is situated, knowing the big score board is there. You know, you can picture it all on TV growing up and everything. You know, you can try and think how it's going to be when you actually walk out there, but it's always going to be a little bit different. It's just coming to terms. At least every time I go out there now, I know what to expect. I know sometimes I have to bow to the Royal Box, stuff like that.

Q. What were your thoughts of Wimbledon as a kid? Did you watch Pat Cash?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I was young, but I actually do remember the day that Pat won - where I was and everything. It was obviously a big deal in Australia when he was able to win it. Everyone knows what Wimbledon is. You know, I think if you say "Wimbledon" back in Australia, they'll say it's the biggest tennis tournament of the year. It's highly regarded back home. Growing up, I always wanted to play at Wimbledon.

Q. How difficult is it for you, if at all, to keep a lid on things, seeing how many seeds have gone out and the expectation that seems to be building?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've got to beat whoever's put in front of me. I can't do much else. You know, I'm not going to, you know, take a backwards step. I've got to go out there, play my game, stay positive, believe in myself, you know, not worry about how the draw's panning out. I have Youzhny next. I'm off my guard a little bit, he's ready to step up into a quarterfinal spot at Wimbledon. You know, it's a big thing to be playing for. You know, I'm just going out there and worrying about who I've got to play on each given day.

Q. Are you happy that Escude, who beat you twice, is out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't worry me. I was actually looking forward to having a shot at him.

Q. One of the toughest things about playing you, when you're a set up, when you win a point, it's still fists in the air. That's intimidating for them. Are you aware of the kind of impact that your approach to the game has on the opposition?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. I've just got that attitude out there, that never-say-die attitude. I'm 40-Love down in a game, I'm going to keep fighting. I was down a couple times. I don't know if I actually got the game, but I definitely got to 40-30, give me a bit of jitters there. Got back to deuce a couple times. Makes them keep thinking, "He's not going to give me anything out there." That's been my attitude ever since I picked up a racquet in Juniors. Nothing will change. I'll keep fighting till I have to go shake hands at the end of the match.

Q. John McEnroe said champions have to be a bit selfish to survive on the tour and be successful. Would you agree with that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Depends what you call "selfish," I suppose. I think you've got to look after your best interests as a tennis player. Especially I think I realize it more when you get to the top of the game, as well. You have so many other demands, but you've got to go out there and still remember what got you to No. 1 in the world. I think whether that's selfish or not, I don't know if it's selfish or just, you know, priorities. You know, for me, tennis comes first. You know, I put it on the line, I've got to work hard. I don't want to let all the other distractions that come with being a top player override why I got here, you know, getting to the top spot.

Q. So you're able to put that aside, the on-court selfishness, once you go off court, when you're with your family and friends?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. During tournaments and that, I obviously try and do what's best for me during the tournament. But apart from that, you know, I'm still the same person that my family grew up with when I was 10, 11, 12.

Q. Can you peak too soon in a Grand Slam, do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You probably could. I don't know, if you're hitting the ball well, you know, you can try and keep it up for seven matches over two weeks. I think that's possible, as well. But, sure, you know, if you can get through matches not playing your best tennis, you know, knowing that you've got little areas to work on but you're still getting through, that's a nice feeling, I think, as well.

Q. Do you feel at this stage of Wimbledon you have the same feeling or shall we say the eye of the tiger that you had at the US Open when you went on to win that one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel pretty good at the moment. You know, I got better and better with every match that I played at the US Open. I got to the Round of 16, and the end of that match against Tommy Haas, the second half of that match, from then on, I couldn't put a foot wrong. I played my best tennis I've ever played. I stood up to the plate and I put it all on the line every time. You know, for me, I hope that I can do it again. I feel great. I feel, you know, as good as I felt, you know, going into the Round of 16 of the US Open last year. Whether I can put together another four matches like I did there, that's another question.

Q. Australia has three players into the last 16. Beyond you, there's not really much depth. Is that something that needs to be addressed? How can that be done?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's obviously Wayne, Flip and myself, you know, doing well at the moment in this tournament. Wayne is obviously a bit older. Flip, we all know he's a Top 10, Top 20 player, no matter what his ranking is at the moment. You know, Flip, I'm not sure how old he is, 25, 26? He's still young enough, as long as his body holds up. You know, there's obviously Ilie dropped away. Scott Draper is borderline at the moment. Peter is just outside, around 200-ish in the world. I think Tennis Australia are trying to look at the younger guys, Todd Reid, you look at Todd Reid, had a good result in Nottingham. Played quallies, qualified, drew Rusedski in his first round. Set and a break up on Rusedski on his favorite surface. So he's obviously got some talent. For those guys to come through.... I hit with a 16-year-old kid yesterday from Australia, Guccione, a left-hander from Melbourne, who plays exactly the same as Wayne Arthurs. I think we've got good youngsters coming through. Why some of these others haven't been able to take the next step into seniors, I'm not sure of. These guys, I think they've got some good coaches behind them now. They're making them work hard. I think they've got to be hungry to take their next steps into the seniors, not worry about the junior results.

Q. What would it mean to you to join the other great Aussies who have won this event?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it would be fantastic to get your name on this trophy, on the board and everything here at Wimbledon. You know, we've had so many great players, Australian players, do so well here over so many years, it would be a great honor if I was able to do that. You know, still a long way away.

Q. You haven't really had any tight, close games so far. Do you prefer to kind of play more competitive games before you play the big guns such as Tim Henman?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't worry me really. You know, as long as you get there sort of, you keep winning. You know, I felt like my match against Bjorkman, that was a big match. You know, I knew that was going to be extremely tough. Was probably one of the toughest first rounds you could have got for a seeded player. You know, I went out there. You know, I took -- I kept in mind, "This is a wary match. This is like a semifinal of a Grand Slam." You know, it was really competitive and tight for the first two sets, the same as two days ago playing Carraz. The first two sets were extremely tight. I feel like I've had tight sets and I've been able to get on the right side of them. If I can get to those tough situations, I still know I'd be able to go up a gear and play better tennis when I had to.

Q. Can you serve much better, Lleyton?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I served great. I had really good rhythm. I don't know where it came from, but felt great. Pray that it's there in two days' time.

End of FastScripts….

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