November 19, 2004
THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton.
Q. Not a bad point there...
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a good point. I'm not quite sure what happened, but I was a bit knackered at the end of it. Took me about six points to get my breath back (smiling). It was good.
Q. If you had to compare your game now and the game when you were No. 1 in the world, what would be the difference? What are you lacking maybe in your game to regain that spot?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think there's definitely been patches this year where I've played as well as I was when I was No. 1. I think the game just keeps improving. You know, whoever is No. 1 at the time tries to take it to a new level, and obviously that's what Roger has been doing for the last year and a half. That's what drives you, that's what motivates you to try and keep improving and be able to compete with the best players in the world. You know, Roger has obviously done it at the moment. Guys like Andy, myself, Marat have got to try to keep up with him and try to overtake him somehow. But I feel there's definitely been times this year when I played as well as I did in 2001, 2002.
Q. What do you need to improve if you want to keep up with Roger?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's hard to say. If you're just focusing on Roger, then it's just a matchup more thing, I guess. But, you know, you got to pretty much make the semi or final right at the moment if you're No. 1 and 3 in the world to actually have a crack at Roger. I feel personally for my own game, against no matter who it is, I try to be a bit more aggressive, come to the net a little bit more. I think I've done that really well this week. I think I've really stepped it up this week. And obviously at the US Open and right through the US summer I think I did that extremely well. You know, if I serve well, you know, that helps it out as well.
Q. Talk a bit about playing Andy and how that matchup compares to other ones at the top of the game for you, how you see that.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, obviously he's got a lot of firepower out there. He's got a massive serve and a huge forehand. He runs down a lot of balls for a big guy. He moves well for a big guy. He tries to come into the net a little bit more, I think. But, you know, you just got to try to make him play it one extra ball as well, I guess, and really make him move around as much as possible and obviously try and get as many of his big shots back as possible.
Q. You guys started a pretty good rivalry a couple years ago. You haven't played much really since then.
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, we only played once this year in Queen's where he got me. I felt like I was definitely the better player through the first set of that match. You know, served for the first set. Wasn't quite able to take it. Had set points in the breaker. You just got to take your chances. That's much like playing Roger the other night. You have your opportunities. And against the best players in the world, you're only going to get one or two chances, and you got to take them straightaway.
Q. You always seem to be incredibly pumped up when you're playing. How do you maintain that level of focus?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think I'm motivated at the moment, I think. Obviously, when you're motivated out there and you're driven, especially with my style of game and I like to play with a lot of emotion out there, so it's pretty easy, just sort of happens naturally right at the moment. There's obviously times when you have a little bit of a downer. But right at the moment, I feel up for this event and I feel pretty motivated out there right at the moment. Obviously, if you play points like you did in the second-to-last game there, it's pretty easy to get pumped up.
Q. Over the course of the week, you sort of indicated that possibly the Australian Open was out there on the horizon and this could just be a step to it. Have you changed your attitude a bit as you've won matches?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, I was obviously motivated. I knew that the first match against Moya was a huge match, you know, when I looked at the groups. I knew I had to go out there and compete as hard as possible and, you know, put it all on the line for that match, I felt. I was able to do that. And, you know, I'm still very motivated here. Obviously, for me, though, the Australian Open in a couple of months' time, that's the big picture.
Q. Does the fact that it's 370 US on the line, does that make any kind of a little more spice to it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really.
Q. Don't ever think about it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not for me. I'm not going out there and playing for the money. You know, it's obviously a great event. I'm fortunate enough to be playing for this kind of money. But it's not even in the back of your mind. You come here for the Masters Cup to play against the best players in the world, and to try to play for that trophy at the end of the week.
Q. Does the fact that it's the 100th Australian Championship have a nice bearing on it for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, if you're able to win it, I guess, in that year, it would be fantastic. But I'll take the Australian Open any year I can get it. It's obviously 100 years. There's going to be a lot of celebration about it, I think. For me, it's just another Australian Open and a matter of going out there and trying to get past the Round of 16.
Q. After winning this cat-and-mouse point, you couldn't resist to go to your coach and exchange High 5s.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was just trying to get a bit of extra time (laughing). I would have ran out to the bathroom if I could have.
Q. You have a good record on hard court - US Open, Masters Cup. But it's not the Australian Open. What's the difference? Do you have extra pressure on you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, there's obviously extra pressure and extra expectation out there. But, you know, I don't think that's why. I do too much in Davis Cup ties in the past when there's probably more pressure. I think the last few years, when I've been playing well, obviously, when I was No. 1 that stage there, I got the chicken pox and that pretty much put an end to my hopes. I lost to Federer last year in the Round of 16, who was a standout player. Apart from that, I felt like I maybe could have been in the semis and final. Again, Roger was obviously the best player. The year before that I lost to El Aynaoui, I didn't break serve for a whole match, you know, five sets. That doesn't happen too often for me. There's been a few weird matches, I think, over the years. But I feel like this year I'm going to have a good crack at it.
Q. You talked about earlier how you've had stretches where you played like the No. 1 player in the world. Is this one of those stretches for you right now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think definitely during the US hard court season there were matches there that I played as well as I've ever played. I haven't played a lot of tennis since then. I only played a Davis Cup tie against someone ranked five or 600 in the world, I think. Then played Tokyo, played a couple of matches in Paris. I haven't really played a lot of tennis, I think. But to come out here and know you have to play your best tennis straight-up against every opponent because you're playing the best guys in the world, I think I've handled that situation pretty well.
Q. That extraordinary point, golfers seem to remember every shot they ever hit. Tennis players, do you let that go into your memory book, that point?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I'll probably remember it, but, I don't know. I can't even remember a couple of shots I played in it right at the moment. I can obviously remember the last shot, that was about it.
Q. You and Roger and Roddick and Marat are in the top four at the end of the year. Is that the way you would have figured it when the year started? What does that do for the game, to have all the former No. 1s at the top like that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, there was probably always a chance, I think. I don't know right at the start of year. Obviously, guys like Andre and Ferrero and Moya, Coria, Nalbandian are probably the other guys I think who obviously had a chance, Henman. So, yeah, to actually say that, you know, you're going to be the four guys, I think it's great for tennis, though. Obviously, Marat had a fantastic start to the year and an unbelievable finish to the year. He's tough to beat on any surface as well. I think it's good going into 2005 to have us four guys at the top.
Q. Could you elaborate. Why is it great for tennis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think, you know, it's four guys from totally different countries. I think it's four guys that are obviously very young, who have won Grand Slams and have all been No. 1 in the world. I think that probably image-wise as well, we're all totally different characters.
Q. And how would you sort of define the way you guys all kind of interact and get along compared to other groups at the top in your time at the tour?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't been around that long.
Q. You've been around.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, but I've only seen sort of Agassi, Sampras. I think we all get along pretty well. We all, I think, more so respect each other, you know, both on and off the court.
Q. Every player is impressed by Federer on court at the moment. Are you also impressed by the way he behaves off of the court? Can he give you some ideas, too?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about giving me ideas, you know, we're all different people. But he's a great bloke. I get along really well with Roger. He's very down to Earth. I think that's probably the best quality he has. He's very easy to get along with. I always say G'day to him, have a chat. He's a really nice guy.
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