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November 21, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. Almost the same question as Bud on the court today, what is most difficult when you play against him? What makes him so difficult to play?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, he just doesn't give you that many cheap points. You know, I think he served extremely well tonight. You know, he just mixes his serve up so well. He doesn't have as big a serve as a Roddick or, you know, those guys, Safin out there. But he's just got such good variety on his serve and he's able to work it around. He hits a lot of lines out there and he makes a high percentage of first serves. But he sets the point up so well on his serve, so you don't get that many opportunities -- I didn't have that many opportunities to get into his service games. But, you know, he's such an aggressive player that he's always going to get his opportunities on his opponent's service game. So, you know, that's when he really steps up there and plays his best tennis.

Q. Roger is playing at such a high level now. He hasn't lost to a Top 10 player all year. I mean, you were saying at the end there that you're going to be working extremely hard to get ready for the Australian Open, which is obviously the title that you probably want to win more than any other now. What do you think now you need to do in order to maybe come back with a game plan to beat Roger Federer?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I don't know. I think, first of all, you know, Grand Slam, you've got to win seven matches. Going into the Australian Open, I won't be thinking about Roger that much. At the moment, you know, I'll either have to play him in a semi or a final, if I can get that far. But there's a hell of a lot of good players to get through to get to that stage. So tennis is a tough sport, it's not like boxing or something, where you know your opponent, who you're going to be challenging, and their strengths and weaknesses and you can work on that. You've got to work on your game. For a long time now, my game's matched up pretty well. Obviously, even this week, it's been good enough to beat nearly everyone but one guy. You know, the last two big tournaments, the US Open and here, the only guy I've run into who's been better has been Roger Federer. It's an awkward situation because you can't just go and work on your game, something to beat Roger, but then you'll screw up against someone in the first or second round. That's the great thing about tennis, though.

Q. You were talking about his serve and the qualities of it. How difficult is it actually to pick when you're out there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's very tough. He's got great rhythm. He doesn't put a lot of effort into his serve. He's got a very easy motion out there. He can hit all the serves as well - you know, he hits a great kick serve, he hits a great slice serve out there, a good body serve. He can generate pace on his serve when he wants to. It's never going to be in the same range as Roddick, but, you know, he doesn't need to. Yeah, it's not the easiest serve to return out there.

Q. So what's the plan now? I mean, just sort of even tonight or the next couple days, what do you do?


Q. What are your plans? Do you relax, go out and see Houston? What do you do the next few days?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know what I'll be doing.

Q. Museums?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Museums? I'm not really into museums right at the moment (smiling). Yeah, I don't know. I'm going back to Australia and I'll put the feet up for a bit and then start training pretty hard.

Q. Towards the end of the first set, in one game you attacked your return and came in behind the return. Is that something you can work on to beat him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You'll get a few points like that, but not all the time. You know, it's maybe another opportunity, like another dimension that you may need, you know, to pull that trigger on a big point maybe. I think Roddick tried that a bit at Wimbledon, especially had a bit of success early in the match, I think. But, yeah, Roger came up -- a couple of times I came in on him. One opportunity where I pushed, 40-30 game, and I pushed the ball up his line after a dropshot. You know, I thought it was a pretty good shot. He hit a half-volley backhand winner across court. Every other player in the world wouldn't make that shot, especially under the circumstances. So, you know, I think sometimes you can maybe put a little bit of pressure on him coming in, but I think a lot of times I came in tonight, he was still good enough to handle it.

Q. You set yourself up nicely for the Australian Open, the form that you've shown this season. You must be feeling confident in yourself, confident in your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel good at the moment. I feel really good. You know, I think I can take a lot of positives away not only from the whole year, but especially the last two big tournaments that I played - obviously, the US Open and here at the Masters Cup against the best players in the world. I feel like in all my matches, even the Moya match I dropped the first set, but I felt like I was the better player for the whole match. Right through the US Open, I felt I was the better player, didn't drop a set right through. It's only really been Roger that I've ended up losing to in the two finals. I could have had a lot better results, I think, in the other Slams if I didn't bump into Roger in the Round of 16s.

Q. Andre Agassi has said "Federer is a cut above the rest of us." Would you agree?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For sure at the moment. There's no doubt about that, you know, the last year and a half he's taken it to another level. You know, that's what drives especially I'm sure a guy like Andre, you know, and I know myself, and I'm sure Safin and Roddick and these guys as well. Because you want to keep -- we've been at the top for a period of time; Andre has obviously been there for an extremely long time. He still believes that he's good enough to stay up there and compete with the best guys in the world, and I think we all do. That's what drives you, the motivation to keep getting on the practice court and working on areas of your game.

Q. I've got to ask you about yesterday. You had a bit of an altercation with Andy. He said something to you, he was complaining about you saying, "C'mon" or something, and you said, "Have a crack at it, mate." What was going on there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Did I? I can't remember that.

Q. Apparently, it was picked up by the television.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, yeah? Can't remember.

Q. Did Roger play any different tonight than he did in the US Open final?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I think he probably played better at the US Open final. You know, it was pretty hard to fault the way he played in the US Open, especially at the start of the match. I don't think I've ever seen a guy play that well in my life. So tonight he definitely had patches. But, yeah, as I've said, if you're holding your serve that convincingly all the time, you're always going to be able to go out there and play a few loose shots on your opponent's serve, but also step it up when you need to. He's that good a player that he can do that.

Q. Having played the likes of Agassis, Rafters, Samprases and company, where would you place Federer as far as your opponents are considered? Is he the best player that you've faced?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think there's been Agassi on his day and Sampras on their day are pretty awesome players. I think Roger is definitely up there. It's hard to say because, you know, Andre plays -- Pete and Roger play a lot more similar than Andre to any of those two guys. Andre plays a totally different style of game where you can probably get a little more rhythm off him, whereas Pete and Roger play a different style of tennis, I guess. You know, they're able to hold serve a lot easier and then can really take advantage of their opponent's serves. But he's definitely up there with, you know, the two of those guys.

Q. When you found out it would be best-of-three instead of best-of-five, did you have any thoughts that that would favor you or him, or was it just irrelevant?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, we just got told probably 45 minutes before we went on, I think, half an hour, 45 minutes before we went on. At the end of the day we just said -- both of us said what was best for the tournament was what we're prepared to do. Obviously, the forecast for tomorrow, they told us that there might be a two-and-a-half-hour to three-hour break that they could see on the radars. They said tomorrow and Tuesday were meant to be pretty ordinary as well. So I don't think we had a great deal of choice.

End of FastScripts….

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