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March 20, 2005

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, Lleyton Hewitt. Open it for questions.

Q. Bad luck. At least you won the point of the match. Can you talk about that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I actually can't remember.

Q. Do you remember the rally?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I remember how it finished.

Q. Third game, second set. You were rolling on the carpet.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I remember, you know, we both should have won it a few times, I think. It kept sort of -- the lobs just didn't quite go over his head far enough. He kept always getting a swing on his forehand. Yeah, at least I won something.

Q. When was the last time you received a minute-long-standing ovation? Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe after you win a Davis Cup, Davis Cup final or something, in five sets. That's about it. Not normally after a point. Especially when neither of you are from America either.

Q. When you see him play the way he did today, do you walk off the court and just say too good?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he played well. That's sort of the standard that he's put himself week in and week out now. It's not like he's doing something freaky out of the blue. He really is playing like that pretty much every week now. So that's why you've got to try and keep working on things to take your game to the next level to be able to compete against him. Because if you want to be the best player in the world, you've got to look at where the benchmark is. And he's set it pretty high right at the moment.

Q. At least you've overtaken Marat in the race.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Have I? I don't know (smiling).

Q. Some consolation.


Q. So what do you do? You look at the kind of game he has, what does a Lleyton Hewitt do when he goes back to the drawing board?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I think there's a few areas I see. I didn't move great today, but I actually felt -- ball-striking, I felt like I hit the ball pretty well. Yeah, Roger's a tough guy. I felt like I went -- you know, probably went for a little bit more than you probably need to, as well. But against a guy like Roger, as I spoke about last night, his moving is superior. I don't think people give him enough credit for his moving around the court. He makes you go for that little bit extra every time because he really does cut off the angles extremely well, as well. You know, it's a tough decision to make, how much to go for it and how much to pull back sometimes out there.

Q. Did you hurt your foot?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I hurt my toes last night.

Q. Playing Andy?

LLEYTON HEWITT: (Nodding head.)

Q. You said you weren't moving well today. Was that a result of last night?


Q. How much do you think it was a factor?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a factor to me. I probably wouldn't have won anyway, but, you know, it was definite -- I wasn't moving a hundred percent.

Q. Did you treat it last night with ice?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah, I did.

Q. How did it feel this morning when you woke up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty ordinary (smiling).

Q. We're talking about one of the top events in the world here. You had to play a long semifinal, then back to back a best-of-five set final. Do you think that's right, that a Masters Series should have a situation like that, where you have to play a semi, come back in less than 24 hours, play a best-of-five final?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a hard thing to do. I can understand, when you only have -- they had the women's doubles final afterwards, not a women's final as well on the same day, then I can understand, you know, the positive of having a five-set men's final purely because it gives the crowd more value and TV time and stuff. I think we have to try and make a decision. I don't know what changed this year compared to the last years at this particular event. I know Miami's always had a five-set final there. But there's no doubt that if you play the last match of the day, the day before, you have a long match, you're definitely going to be a little bit more disadvantaged. But then again, it would be better if we had one thing for the whole way through all the Masters Series events, I think, and we stuck to one particular rule.

Q. Do you think with 24 hours extra, you might have been 100% fit?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about with this, but yeah.

Q. More chance of being --

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, there's no doubt. The more time, you're always going to be better. But, then again, you can't just have a whole day off of Sunday, nothing on Sunday.

Q. Men's semifinal on Friday, men's final on a Sunday.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, maybe you can do that. Yeah. If they're going to decide to play the women's final the day before the men's final, then maybe that's an idea.

Q. Because this is an important issue, can you quantify what you would say percentage-wise, how close you were to being a hundred percent because of the fact you had to bounce back?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For tomorrow, if I was playing tomorrow?

Q. In light of the fact that you had to bounce back so quickly, what percentage of your hundred percent game were you at today?


Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Actually, physically I felt fine. It was just my toe was struggling today. Apart from that, my body bounced back. That was the frustrating thing.

Q. You talked about Safin's deadly backhand. Obviously, he prevailed in Australian Open. What is the weakest point that you might see in Federer's game, if there is any?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, his backhand's definitely weaker than his forehand. There's no doubt about that. It's a lot better backhand than most guys around, though. When you have to look at the whole picture of his whole game, his backhand is definitely weaker than his forehand. He's got a great slice backhand, as well. If there's one shot that's going to go off, nine times out of ten, it's going to be the backhand instead of the forehand.

Q. When you were No. 1 for two years, you played at a high level. Now Roger is playing at that high level. Can you talk how tough it is to maintain that level? How long do you see Roger being able to maintain this level?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's tough to play week in and week out. He's done it as well as anyone I've seen in the past. He's purely just playing on confidence I think a lot at the moment, as well. He goes out there and he believes on the big points and the big shots are going to come off for him. The last year and a half, they have. He knows when to pull the trigger. He's sort of playing on autopilot a lot out there, I think. He just has a lot of self-belief in himself under the big situations right at the moment.

Q. How long do you think he can maintain this?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Who knows. But right at the moment, he's handling it all pretty well.

Q. Do you think he has a chance to maintain it as long as Pete did for six years?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He could. A lot of things change, as well. Whether it's niggling injuries, there could be a lot of variables pop into the situation. Some young guy might pop out. You don't know. Right at the moment, he's doing as well as he can.

Q. Given the fact that Roger has come on to play so strongly, how do you feel you're playing compared to the best you ever played?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm playing pretty good at the moment, I think. The Australian summer, I think I played pretty well in most of the big matches, even the Masters Cup at the end of the year and US Open. I'm probably playing as well as I've ever played, even when I was No. 1. But the game keeps getting better and better. It just jumps. And Roger's taken it to another level. Even though I'm No. 2 in the world, not No. 1, doesn't mean I'm playing worse than when I was No. 1. But you've got to keep working on areas of your game and try and become a better player. That's where you look at a guy like Agassi, to see that he's been in the Top 5, Top 10 for so many years, when the game keeps getting better and better. He just seems to drag something extra out of his body every time, which is pretty amazing to do it for that long.

Q. Despite the loss, what positives do you take away today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Today, not a whole heap. The week's been good, though. I always like coming here and playing in this event. Yeah, it's been a good week. Obviously getting to another final, beating Andy in the semis, after only just overtaking him in the last, I don't know, two or three months for the No. 2 position. Consolidating that spot, you know, it's something I can take away this week.

Q. Not a bad payday either?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's not bad. A bit stronger than the Aussie dollar (smiling).

Q. Will you have time to get the toes right before Miami?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. Got to have a look at it probably this afternoon. We'll see what happens.

Q. At what point in the match did you hurt it yesterday?

LLEYTON HEWITT: About halfway through the third set.

Q. Does that mean there's a chance you will not play in Miami?

LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment, there's a chance.

Q. What have you actually done to it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not exactly sure at the moment.

Q. Battered and bruised?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's all inflamed. Nail is going left, right and center. It's happened a fair few times in the past, but this is probably as bad as it's been. Did a lot of running last night against Andy. A couple of times I just pulled up and it was pretty sore last night. Didn't get any better overnight.

Q. Which toe?

LLEYTON HEWITT: They're both a little sore. Right at the moment the right one is a bit worse than the left.

Q. Are you wearing the same sort of tennis shoes as Andre?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Andre? I don't know. I think so. We're both Nike. But I don't know if it's the exact -- I can't actually think what he's wearing.


LLEYTON HEWITT: There you go. I'm wearing the same as Federer, and he doesn't have a problem.

Q. You looked pretty relaxed. You're very tense on the court. Is that sign of maturing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Always when I'm on the court, you know, I'm intense out there. I think you have to be, especially I have to be I think to play my best tennis. Off the court, though, I feel relaxed at the moment. I felt relaxed for a while now. I'm enjoying my tennis. I'm enjoying training. I'm enjoying life off the court as well, which is a good thing.

Q. Can you talk about Roger's incredible record in finals at 17.

LLEYTON HEWITT: 17 in a row, yeah, that is incredible. To think that you don't have one slip-up. I think Ljubicic pushed him in at least one final earlier in the year. But to think every time in close matches and that, he's obviously doing something right on the big points, which gets back to self-belief and confidence within yourself, going out there. That's why he's No. 1.

End of FastScripts….

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