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November 16, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Lleyton, apart from one little lapse in the first set, you were serving very, very well. You must have been very pleased.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't feel like there was too many lapses. Well, I don't know. I felt like I was a way better player during the whole first set. Things just didn't go my way. Obviously, had a set point there at 5-4, he came up with some big forehands. Yeah, he's a tough player to play. He's got a very underrated first serve. He's got a great first serve out there. He hits a lot of lines, a lot of big first serves under pressure. Just kept trying to hang in there. I played great at the start of the second set to try and get myself back in the match and get it one-set-all. Then the third set I felt like I was having all the chances out there again, but I was always that game behind. I just had to take my chances. I came up with a couple of huge, huge passes when I needed to in that game to break. You know, I'm pretty happy with the way my game is today.

Q. That running forehand, that was a fantastic shot.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was. Well, couldn't do much else with it, really (smiling). I remember Roche always told me, "You got to curl those ones." That one just curled enough.

Q. How did it feel hitting that point, the one that brought up the breakpoint in the final set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it felt good because he had a game point earlier in that game. You know, I always keep fighting no matter what the score line is in the game. Even though it was on his serve there, I just kept hanging in there, waiting for my opportunities. To get a little point like that to set up breakpoint, it's a huge mental swing, I think, in the match as well for both players. He obviously thought he had the point won there at one stage. Next minute, I come back and, you know, we're 3-All and he's facing a breakpoint. So, yeah, it was definitely a turning point in the third set.

Q. (Question regarding Carlos not playing for a few weeks.)

LLEYTON HEWITT: He didn't look like a bloke that hasn't played for a few weeks. You know, he's a hell of a player, he really is. He's good on all surfaces. It was heavy out there, conditions. Late last night, also today, obviously very overcast. That probably helps him out a little bit as well. He can run around and dominate with that forehand. As I've said, he's got a great serve as well, so that helps him on a hard court.

Q. What do you think about playing this event outdoors this year? Is it an intelligent decision?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's a tough decision, I guess. This is the first time I was here, obviously. You know, I think they had a little bit of rain last year, but this is probably forecast for worse this year than last year. Yeah, it's awkward, I guess, with obviously TV and such a huge event, trying to schedule the match. That's the positive about playing it indoors. I don't necessarily disagree with it being outdoors. Playing indoors all the time, you know, that suits certain players probably more than others. So I don't disagree with it being played outdoors, just to throw a couple extra variables in there, I guess, with the wind, the weather and the pace of the court. But then again, obviously, I can see the other side of the coin. It's difficult to schedule that you're exactly going to be on. I don't know whether it was live TV around the world or not last night. To lose that TV time for three and a half hours, that's obviously disappointing for everyone.

Q. (Question regarding the Masters Cup being played indoors in Sydney.)

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was. I think at the time, they probably weren't quite -- you know, you'd only just started the Masters Cup from where it had always been in Hannover, in Germany for a lot of years. I think they just thought at that time that they had to keep playing it indoors. It was just seen as an indoor event at the end of the year. Obviously, Houston has made different in roads with that last year, breaking through. I don't think it's a bad thing. There's obviously not a lot you can do about the weather, though.

Q. How hard is it for you to play 20 minutes, stop, play again, wait until the next day?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, that's tough. It's tough for everyone. It's tough for Carlos and myself, and obviously tough for the crowd. But that's just like playing Wimbledon (laughter). No, you know, you got to -- yeah, it's not easy for anyone. Going to bed late last night, then waking up and having to come to play today and know you have to back it up again tomorrow, it's not easy, but, you know, there's no point complaining about it. You can't do anything about it. You've got to go out there and, you know, just focus on trying to get through that match and now look forward to tomorrow.

Q. Wimbledon, as soon as it rains, they cover the courts.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, that's different. Yeah, and also Wimbledon we don't have to play night matches, so at least you get called off a little bit earlier. But, yeah, there's obviously -- the court gets pretty slippery out there last night, we both noticed, as soon as there's a few drops out there. So this kind of event you can't go risking.

Q. The race is on for you and Andy Roddick to finish the year No. 2. Is this a big deal for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes and no, I guess. When you've been No. 1 and finish No. 1 twice at the end of the year, you know, there's not a huge difference between 2 and 3. You know, it's just going to be a seeding at the Aussie Open. That's about the only difference. Obviously, to finish 2 behind a guy like Roger Federer with the year that he's had, there's no shame in that. But I don't think it's a huge deal for me to finish 2 or 3.

Q. What do you think of your possibility for semifinal?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, mate, I'm just trying to get through my Round Robin matches at the moment. If I get to Saturday, we'll see. At this stage you can't even think about semifinals and who opponents have played. It's only in the first match of the other group at the moment. It's a bit hard to start thinking about semifinals just yet.

Q. Three years ago you got a title in the Masters Cup in Shanghai. What do you think about the Masters Cup coming back?


Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Hopefully, I'm there (smiling). You know, it was an awesome event, it really was. It obviously helps when you win it. I have a lot of good memories of it. I think they put on a wonderful event there. I look forward to hopefully going back there. And, yeah, I'm sure, you know, they're probably going to learn things from last year in Shanghai and also I think a few people are coming here to Houston to have a look as well this week. So I'm sure it will be a great event next year as well.

Q. (Question regarding the mental aspect of playing Roger Federer.)

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really mentally. You know, it's probably a little bit how he's played. There hasn't been -- you know, the US Open he played pretty incredible, especially the first set. There really wasn't a whole heap -- I had game points in there to try to get on the board. I just wasn't quite able to weather the storm against him. A lot of this year he's been able to get out of the blocks extremely well against everybody and play some of his best tennis straight up when he gets straight out there. That's what you've got to be very wary of.

Q. How close do you feel you are from your best level of play?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel like I'm playing well at the moment. Obviously, through the US summer I feel like I played extremely well that whole way through and, obviously, ran into a red-hot Federer in the final of the US. Since then I haven't played a whole heap of tennis, but I actually felt like today's match was - and even last night - I felt like I was hitting the ball extremely well. I think there's a lot of positives I can take away from that match and not only build on for this week, but build on for the Australian summer.

Q. How much more aggressive do you think you can be on the court, and do you need to be more aggressive the next few rounds?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think I can definitely, you know, be more aggressive out there and take charge of, you know, the court a little bit better. I feel I did that well, though, against Carlos today. You know, that's probably one reason why I ended up winning the match, I think, because I really tried to dictate play a lot more. Obviously, against Roger, you're going to have do that; and against Gaudio, you know, he's going to stand a lot further back than Roger is, so he's going to give you more opportunities to do that. But it's definitely a part of my game that I feel like I can try and improve on to take my game to the next level.

Q. You served very well today. Did you change anything technically in your serve?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Actually, I had a bit of a sore shoulder in Paris, so I didn't serve for about five or six days. Maybe that helped (laughing).

Q. You served many aces, many service winners, except the last game when you had a double-fault. How much was your serve a factor in this match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was -- I didn't face a breakpoint all match, so, you know, I felt like I served extremely well - not only my first serve, obviously, I served a lot of aces, and a lot of unreturnables. I felt my second serve held up well against a guy that likes running around and cracking big forehands. It obviously played a huge part in the match, I think.

Q. Can you talk about the United States playing Spain in the Davis Cup final.

LLEYTON HEWITT: They can have fun over there. They'll enjoy it (smiling). No, you know, obviously, Roddick's the key, you know, I think. I think Fish is going to find it extremely hard playing against those guys on clay over there. You know, I don't think he's got the experience on clay to do it. I don't think there's probably anyone else, though, that does, apart from Agassi, obviously, that the Americans could put in. Roddick holds the key. Obviously, the doubles I think is a must-win for America - absolute must. Still hard to see -- you know, they've just got so much depth. Moya, the way he's playing at the moment, Andy is going to have his hands full on a slow clay court against him. Whether Ferrero is playing his best tennis or not, he plays awesome in Davis Cup. If he's not up to it, they've got Nadal and Robredo to rely on, so a couple of good backup players.

Q. How did you find playing there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It didn't bother me. I won my match.

Q. Tough crowd?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about that. Yeah, it was probably the toughest place I've ever played tennis in. I think there's no doubt you've got to be very mentally tough out there and be prepared for that, you know, because you're going to have absolutely nobody going for you and you're going to cop a lot of shit out there. I think Andy is the kind of guy, though, that he'll handle the situation pretty well. You know, he might even try them a little bit like I did.

End of FastScripts….

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