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June 26, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Lleyton Hewitt.

Q. How long can you sustain this run? Do you feel at all sort of weary by the events of the past few weeks?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not really a run, I don't think. This is a Grand Slam. This isn't a normal ATP event. It all started for me yesterday. You know, I forgot about the past. I'm on a streak of one win now. I got off to a good start this year. I've done a little bit better and defended all my points from last year, at least.

Q. Did you expect it to be that comfortable today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably not. He's been playing pretty good. He made the third round I think here last year. He's a tough competitor. He never gives in. I just felt like, you know, I've been hitting the ball well. I tried to take that confidence in, but you never know. On a grass court surface, he's got a pretty big first serve. Fortunately he missed a lot of first serves, gave me too many chances to get in the point today. That's when I really sort of capitalised on that. I felt I had a lot of breakpoints when I didn't convert out there, even though I won pretty convincingly in straight sets.

Q. What do you know about Taylor Dent?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I played Taylor. The only time I played him, the US Open Juniors in second round, beat him in straight sets, but a tight match there. He's a lot better player since then, that's for sure. But so am I. He's a big hitter. He's come through quallies. You know, he's obviously seeing the ball well at the moment. His confidence is high. He's got nothing to lose. I'm going to go out there, though, I'm not going to take the match lightly at all. You know, he's dangerous. I've got to step up there and be ready to go right from the first point.

Q. Seems a lot more people are writing about you as a strong chance to win the whole thing this year. Do you feel any extra pressure from that? Do you have any ways of avoiding the pressure?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't been past the third round here, so I'm not considering myself in the first few of the favourites, that's for sure. I give myself an outside chance. That's what I said the whole time. I believe I can play on grass. I'm not afraid to step out there against anyone on grass now. You know, that's a good confidence and self-belief to have in yourself when you step out there on a surface a couple years ago I hadn't played too many tour matches on. But there's a lot of other guys who have been to the latter stages of Wimbledon, you know, know it a lot better than I.

Q. Can you remember the first match you played on grass, how that felt compared with how it felt today, for example?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure what the first -- would have probably been Queen's a few years ago I think in qualifying. But it was a little bit of an unknown thing. I didn't really know what to do, serve-volley, stay back, when to come in. You've got to put so much emphasis on holding serve on grass. I know that I can break most guys on grass. Even though I'm going to get the opportunities to break, because the return of serve is one of my main areas of my game, so I know that I'm going to get my chances. I've got to take my chances on grass, as well. In my game, I put a lot more emphasis on my service games and trying to hold those because I know I'll get the opportunities later down the set.

Q. You had a very warm reception at the end there, especially considering it was a straight-sets victory. Have you any theory as to why the crowd has taken to you so well in England?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. You know, I've done well in Queen's the last two years now, as well - last three years really. I think that's definitely helped. You know, there were a lot of Australians in the crowd, as well, today. They probably got the English going as well a bit back behind me. But I think they like to see, you know, a young guy coming here, not playing a normal grass court style of game, you know, matching it up with the best players in the world. That's probably one of the main reasons.

Q. How have the reactions been to your new haircut?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not bad (smiling).

Q. Some good, some bad?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, everyone's been pretty good so far.

Q. How does it feel, given that you've always had so much hair?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel quicker (smiling).

Q. With your different schedules, how much quality time do you really get to spend with Kim?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, not a lot. She's obviously got goals going her way. They're paying off at the moment. I'm going my way. So, you know, especially at tournaments, the big tournaments like this, it's very hard.

Q. There's a lot of talk at the moment of the changing of the guard in men's tennis with the so-called older guys nearing the end of their careers, guys like you on the way through. Is that the way you see it? Do you feel you guys are starting to put pressure on them now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, in some ways I think a little bit. Obviously, you know, Kuerten, I think he's probably about 24 years old, so he's still young, winning Grand Slams like he has. Safin is another one who is 21, already beat Sampras in a final of a Grand Slam. You know, I think it's starting to come through. But those guys still, as Agassi has proven at the start of this year, he's in the best form of his career. He's capable of beating anyone on any surface. Sampras on hard courts and grass at the moment can beat anyone on those two surfaces, as well. You know, I don't know how many years they're going to keep playing for. I can't see Pete losing too many matches on grass for as long as he wants to play really.

Q. Sampras, is he, in your opinion, the favourite? Is he the guy to beat here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's got to be. Anyone with a record like his, he owns that centre court out there. One guy has been able to beat him in the last eight years. That speaks for itself.

Q. What about Pat? Did you have a chance to practise with him, see how his game is looking up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't. I've only seen him in the locker room. He's obviously concentrating on his match this afternoon. You know, what I've seen over the last year since he made the final here, his Davis Cup matches on grass, he's going to be very hard to beat, as well. I put Sampras probably the favourite, then Rafter, Agassi, Henman the next bunch. I really do put Pat up there. I think he's got a great opportunity this year. You know, I'd love to see him win it - if I'm out of it - considering it's going to be his last year.

Q. Would you put yourself below them?

LLEYTON HEWITT: There's probably a handful of guys below that. I'm probably in that group. I'm definitely not in that category with those guys yet who have been there. They've all been to the semifinals or better here at Wimbledon.

Q. What was the best thing about your game today? Was it your agility on court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel like I'm moving well. I've been moving well throughout my career. That's one of my main areas of my game. You know, I hit my forehand well I felt out there today. I returned serve well, even though he didn't put me under that much pressure with his first serve today. But overall, I was happy with everything. I think I've got to work on my serve a little bit. That's probably the main thing.

Q. Could we get the record straight on your allergy to grass, your physical allergy.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't know. It's never affected me on the tennis court, that's for sure.

End of FastScripts....

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