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June 28, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.

Q. One would imagine that Darren earned his pay today. What did he say to you during the rain delay? How did that affect your mindset?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, he came out, as I think everyone saw, he was on fire. Probably played a little bit negative at the start. Darren told me to just hang in there, try to weather the storm. That was basically it. "Try and be a bit more aggressive out there, you know, just be yourself." You know, I tried to come out there. I got on a bit of a roll. 5-All in the second set, I was down breakpoint, got out of it, played a good game to break. You know, kept it going. Obviously, was disappointed that I ended up losing the fourth set. Got a bit tight at the end of the fourth. The way I bounced back, it's as good as I have ever done.

Q. How come you weren't wearing your hat at the beginning of the match, which was unusual?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't wear it much last week. It's easy now, I don't have hair in my eyes. It was all right. You know, just felt like I might whack it on there. Needed a change.

Q. A bit of a lucky omen for you? Are you going to keep it on now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. No promises. We'll see.

Q. For three years you've been hearing negative people saying, "Guy has a great game, but when he gets up against the big hitters, they're going to demolish him." Do you take special pleasure in a guy like this, hitting big serves, sent most of them back, win it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's definitely nice. Yeah, a lot of people start to think if you have a big serve, you're just about home. I draw confidence from guys like that, you know, especially Michael Chang a few years ago, now Andre Agassi. He's won, you know, Grand Slams on all surfaces now. You know, that's the kind of guy that I look to. He's beaten the best players on every surface, he's beaten the specialists on every surface. I draw strength from that. I go out there and I know that my rush return of serve is one of my main strengths out there. I look forward to playing those matches because it's sort of their strength against my strength. You know, it doesn't always come out my way, but on this occasion, the last few occasions, it has.

Q. Your thoughts on winning a match on Centre Court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's nice (smiling). It's nice to have won a singles instead of mixed doubles last year.

Q. What do you think would have happened had you not had that rain delay?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. You know, he had to go off a little bit. There's no way that he'd be ranked 143 or whatever he is in the world if he kept playing like that for three-out-of-five sets, three to five sets. You know, so he had to go off. You know, I raised my game, though, as well. Who knows? If I was still out there, when I was going to actually put the foot down was another question.

Q. What was it like to face some of those serves?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a big serve. Obviously you get frustrated. You get to 15-40s, get these opportunities, puts a 140 down the middle and you can't do a thing about it. You get frustrated. I've had to deal with that a lot of times in the past. It's something that you just have to try and shrug off, keep plugging away. I know I'm a good enough returner to get my opportunities.

Q. What was going on in your mind when he's throwing up the ball?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot (laughter). A bit of guesswork. I don't know. It's hard to say. Obviously, I'm starting to think about where he's gone in the past, trying to read his mind a little bit, as well. But, you know, I think I'm just fortunate enough to have pretty quick reflexes when it comes to a thing like that. I sort of react very quickly.

Q. Could you elaborate a bit on the Centre Court issue? Pat spoke before, it might be a bit of a phobia for you to have not won before. You spoke about being inhibited on that court before. How important was it for you to win today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't feel intimidated or anything out there. It's a court where you've got to go for your shots I think to pay off, and I haven't done that as well as I probably should have the last few years. I played a little bit negative when I've gone out there. It's a different kind of court. Court 1 is a lot higher bounce. It's better I think for a baseline player to play on Court 1 than Centre Court, that's for sure. You know, the ball stayed low. I think as we saw, Taylor Dent, I didn't know he could slice that well, but he has a very heavy slice. It's very hard, when they're coming in off that, very hard to pass. That's what Jan-Michael did, and that's what Boris Becker did two years ago when I played him. It's obviously a big relief, though, for me not to have to worry about it again.

Q. Monkey off the back a bit, is it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. I didn't go out there with that in mind. I went out there to try to get into the third round of Wimbledon.

Q. What about when you started to tighten up the fourth set? Was it creeping into your mind then?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. You know, all I was thinking about was trying to get a first serve in. Felt like I hadn't made a first serve for a couple of games. Probably only four or five points in a row when I didn't get one. That never came into my mind when I was out there.

Q. Fourth set, serving at 40-15, take us through the game, particularly the double-fault.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I was probably a bit lucky to get up 40-15, actually. He should have won the first point, if I recall rightly. Got to 40-15. You know, probably should have gone the percentage serve. I went for a serve out wide to his forehand. He slapped it back. I was on the defense then. Sort of got it back. He chip-charged. You know, I missed the pass, backhand pass. Then I missed another first serve on the next point. He hit a great chip-charge actually on that one for second serve. I hit the ball long up the line in a passing shot. Two double-faults. You sort of live and die by it. I go for my second serve under pressure. I went for it. Breakpoint down then. Didn't pay off. It's won me a helluva lot of matches.

Q. El Aynaoui next round. What are your thoughts?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Haven't really thought about it. You know, probably sit down and talk to a few people. I've never played him. Haven't really seen him play a lot. Obviously, you know, I think he won in straight sets today, so he's playing pretty good. It's going to be, you know, something I've got to go out there and just play my game. I think against a guy like him, he's not a grass court specialist. I have to go out there and attack right from the start.

Q. Do you think you can win the tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a long way from winning. I've only equaled my best ever effort here. You know, another week and a half to go.

Q. Do you train your reflexes? Do you play video games? Do you do something for that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really (laughter). I've always been, you know, the smaller kid, I suppose, growing up, had to face the bigger servers, guys who were two or three years older. I never played my age group in Juniors. I always have had to -- you know, it's just come over time. I was a very good returner in Juniors, as well. It was one of my main strengths. I think that's got to do with practising with better players, bigger guys when I was younger.

Q. Do you have a certain pleasure in going against the grain? Pete and Guga are largely one-surface players to a certain degree. You play on all surfaces. You play Davis Cup and regular circuit. You play against bigger players. Does that give you a certain pride?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I enjoy it. There's no way I'm going to miss a Grand Slam. I love competing. I love playing the Grand Slams. That's the majors. When you sit down at the start of the year, you write down what you want to do for the year, the Grand Slams are penciled in, the Masters Series, and then the Davis Cup is there all the time for me. It's a little bit different issues I think for other guys. They have problems with Davis Cup because of the scheduling, because of coaches, because of all this other stuff, whereas I love getting out there, competing, playing for my country. For the tournaments, I think I'm fortunate enough that I've been able to adjust my game to be able to play on all surfaces. It's been a lot of hard work. It hasn't come like that (snapping fingers). I didn't know how to play on grass, I didn't know how to play on clay three years ago. It's something that Darren has really helped me with. Just being patient, thinking, you know, hoping that it's going to come with time. You know, I'm still learning a lot about clay and grass courts at the moment.

Q. Some say that grass already is your best surface. Would you agree with that at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, probably not. You know, I grew up on hard courts. I know how to play on hard courts a lot better than grass still. Hard courts, I know what to do under pressure a lot more than on grass. I'm still learning a lot. You know, Davis Cup ties have helped me in that situation, playing pressure matches on grass. The last couple years, it's probably been my worst surface really. I've had to learn to play on it.

Q. When you say hard courts, you're talking about dirt or cement courts?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Hard court, US Open, Australian Open, Rebound Ace.

Q. Emotion clearly plays a big part in your game. Were you aware early in the second set you came pretty close with drilling the ball towards Taylor? Was that an attempt to try and intimidate him? Were you aware how close the ball came to him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: When was that?

Q. Just after the rain break in the second set.

LLEYTON HEWITT: That was in a point, though?

Q. Right.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Mate, I thought he was going the other way. It's as simple as that. I didn't think he'd stay in the same spot.

Q. How important is it to you to try to get yourself psyched up, get the emotion going?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, obviously for me to get the crowd involved, that's when I play my best tennis. It's shown in the past, shown in big matches in Davis Cup in Grand Slams before. You know, it showed today.

Q. You talked about learning still on grass courts. Could you put in words what you learned today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard. I haven't hard time to reflect just yet. I'll learn a lot from it. There's still areas of my game I have to work than on, I think. When I didn't serve well and get a high percentage in, it made life very difficult out there. That's one area of my game. I've got to come into the net a bit more. That's going to come with time. That's not going to happen overnight. I'm not expecting it to change in my next round against El Aynaoui. That's going to come in the next two or three years.

Q. Can you take us through one more key game, the break in the fifth set, particularly the last three points.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was hard. Just lost the set after being -- lost the momentum really. Got out of a good game, the first game of the fifth. Even the first point, you know, I hustled up a storm to get that point. I threw up a deep lob, which got him back on the baseline, ended up winning that point. The other ones, I just hit great returns on. You know, that's going to happen. I knew from there I was going to have to just hold my nerve and try and serve it out.

Q. A lot of people expected after this unusually long period in Wimbledon rain to speed up the surface. Did it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't notice a huge difference. Then again, as I said, Centre Court plays a little bit different to Court 1 which I played on the other day when it was very hot and dry. You know, it's hard to say. Definitely, Centre Court is a little bit more greasy and stays a bit lower than Court 1.

End of FastScripts….

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