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June 7, 2005

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First workout?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For a while (smiling). Yeah, it's good. It's hard to emulate match conditions in practice no matter how hard you try. So, you know, I knew it was gonna be a tough match going into it. Xavier played extremely well yesterday in the parts that I saw, and, you know, he's a lot better player when his mind's on the job than his ranking suggests. So, you know, it was pretty slow out there as well today, so it was hard to hit a lot of winners against him. But I was pretty happy to get a lot of rhythm out there today at least.

Q. Do you feel at all rusty?

LLEYTON HEWITT: At times. I actually felt like I -- you know, I only lost my serve once for the whole match. You know, and Xavier returns, you know, he's one of the better returners out there as well. He makes you play a lot of balls on your service game. So, yeah, it was just a couple of forehands here and there and, you know, 15-30 points in the first set where I just didn't quite take advantage of it. You know, especially early on in the first set I felt like I was the better player and I wasn't able to show it on the scoreboard. So it was a matter of just hanging in there and waiting for my opportunities. But there's no doubt it got better and better as the match went on.

Q. Is it hard to switch in your mind from what's an eventful time at home to getting back into that sort of playing mode?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, I've been looking forward to, you know, the grass court season, I think, for a while anyway, even when I was thinking that I was still going to Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Paris. I was still looking forward to Queen's and Wimbledon. It's one of my favorite times of the year. So, you know, as soon as I got here, I've been pretty focused on what I've had to do, trying to get my body in as good a shape as possible to be able to compete, you know, day in, day out, and hopefully get some matches this week.

Q. When you've been out of the game for a break, in terms of the surfaces to come back on, how tough is grass as a first tournament back, even though you've been so successful on it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a little bit tougher. You know, I only hit probably for a couple of days in Sydney before I actually came over to London. So if I'd hit a little bit more, I wouldn't have been that worried, I don't think, about coming on to it straightaway only because of, you know, more so the rhythm, I guess, of playing on grass, with shorter points. You know, if you haven't played for a while, you know, to go out there and you get a breakpoint on second serve, it's so vital on grass to be able to play the big points well, I think, because there's really only, as we saw today, a couple of points in matches against most guys on this surface. So in that terms, you know, today's a huge bonus, you know. I played for two and a half hours, played a lot of tight points out there in big situations, and came through and get another match.

Q. How good are you an injured player? I imagine you get pretty frustrated when you can't get out. How frustrating has it been over the last couple of months not being able to play?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's been frustrating. I think, you know, the French Open was probably, you know, the most frustrating only because, you know, recently my Grand Slam record has been pretty good. And, you know, even though I would have been going there, you know, underprepared a little bit because, you know, if the ribs did heal in time, which was highly unlikely anyway, you know, not having any matches on clay was going to be a tough ask anyway. So, you know, that, you know, was a little bit frustrating, I guess, to sit back. But then again, not a lot I can do about it. And, you know, that was sort of the mindset that I had when I was back home and, you know, started hitting on grass. I started really enjoying it, knowing that, you know, another Grand Slam's not too far away.

Q. Feeling like you got some catching up to do with people like maybe Nadal starting to speed away, make a name for himself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. We're on grass now, so, you know, the game changes a little bit. So, you know, he's obviously a hell of a player and, you know, his clay court record, you know, it's amazing; there's no doubt about that. But, you know, now on the grass court, he's going to be competitive, but he's definitely not one of the favorites.

Q. How much fitter can you get in the next two weeks?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if my fitness will be a worry.

Q. Will you rate your fitness now as pretty good then, compared to previous years going into Wimbledon?


Q. Yeah.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, my fitness is never something that's going to let me down. Getting matches under my belt, maybe, and, you know, getting that rhythm and playing in match conditions and stuff like that, but my fitness will never let me down.

Q. So you're pretty confident for going into Wimbledon as long as you can still get a few games in here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. You know, Wimbledon's different, you know, regardless of how well I go here. It will always be a bonus if I can get some matches under my belt. But if I bombed out today, I still, you know, would still think that I've got a pretty good chance of getting through to the second week of Wimbledon, and then anything can happen. You know, I think the key at Wimbledon is trying to survive the first week and put yourself in a position there, you know, late in the tournament.

Q. How content are you with life at the moment? Everything seems to be going pretty well in all respects.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's good. I'm very happy with everything off the court, so, you know, it makes it a lot easier for me to go out there and train and play well and, you know, enjoy my tennis in a lot of ways as well.

Q. When you had those two injuries, did you have to reduce practice time or type of practice to compensate?

LLEYTON HEWITT: With the injuries?

Q. Yeah.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, the first injury I couldn't do anything for... well, I couldn't get on the tennis court for about three weeks. I was on crutches for two weeks. And then the rib injury, I couldn't get on the tennis court for two weeks. So, yeah, obviously, then I couldn't hit a lot of balls in that time. But in the middle there I was actually training and training pretty hard on clay courts in Sydney. So that was a little bit frustrating, that I put so much time into practice and actually put my clay court shoes away for another nine months or so now.

End of FastScripts….

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