November 13, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton Hewitt, please.
Q. Lleyton, how does it feel to be back in the field for the year-end championship?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's good. It's obviously something you work towards for 12 months, coming here. It's a goal to get here. I've obviously performed extremely well in the Masters Cups in the past, and I look forward to hopefully a good week ahead of me this week.
Q. And how important was it to get that one tournament at least under your belt before coming in here after taking a bit of a break since Davis Cup?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a little bit important, I guess. You know, just to go out there. Even though I lost to obviously Marat in the quarterfinals, it was probably nearly the final, I think, at the end of the tournament. I had a good crack at it there and to expect to play my best tennis straight up there, you know, it was going to be a little bit unrealistic. So hopefully that's going to hold me in good stead this week. There's going to be no easy matches this week. You've got to go out there and hopefully get off to a good start.
Q. What about Moya first up?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Carlos is going to be -- you know, we've had plenty of tough matches in the past. It's not going to be easy again Monday night. He played here last year so he obviously knows the conditions and the situation out there, and, you know, hopefully it's going to be a good atmosphere. To go out there, I beat him at Wimbledon earlier this year in the Round of 16s there, and I'm going to have to play one of my best matches to get through. But, you know, it's like every match this week; you've got to go out there and play some of your best tennis.
Q. Sounding a bit nasally.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, little bit of a cold - obviously.
Q. I sat and watched your quarterfinal, or the Round of 16 with Moya at Wimbledon this year.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah.
Q. Then I also watched the final against Federer, with Federer playing Roddick. Just going into how you match up against Federer, what Roddick did early, and what you did really well against him was continually attack his backhand, starve the forehand. Is that something you think is a good tactic?
LLEYTON HEWITT: On days, I guess. A lot depends on how Roger is going out there and playing, I guess, on the day. Obviously, when I played him at the US Open, his forehand was pretty awesome the whole match. He had a period there, maybe four or five games, where it went off a little bit, dropped his level. But he's got a hell of a forehand. Obviously, the backhand is not quite as strong. But that's one reason why he's able to really stand out the last year and a half, is because his backhand has improved a lot as well. It's not a weakness out there. Maybe it's not as good as his forehand, but it's still very hard to get cheap points off of. It's not an easy thing to do, obviously Andy has a lot of firepower as well, to go in there and put pressure on his backhand.
Q. Typically, when you break a player down, the way that you normally do, you attack the backhand, the forehand tries to do a little bit more because it's trying to cover for the backhand so that breaks down. The serve says, "Hey, guys, you're not doing so well, I'll try to do more." Then the last thing is the mind. Typically, backhand, forehand, serve and mind, how do you attack Federer and in what order?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not really sure. A lot depends on I guess the surface you're playing on as well. He plays extremely well on all surfaces. I felt like at Wimbledon this year, every match that I've played against him -- well, apart from the Aussie Open this year, he's come out and been on fire right from the start. He really lights it up as soon as he gets out on the court. That's where you've got to try to take your opportunities when you get them, try to stay with him and weather the storm.
Q. Against Nalbandian he served four aces, got out of that. He said that was the turning point.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think that was earlier this year, wasn't it? He went on to win the tournament from there. He's obviously -- that's what makes him one of the best players to ever go around. It's not an easy thing to come out there and do it against him. He's been playing, the last year and a half, I think the big points better than anyone I've ever seen. That's one of the reasons why he's won so many big matches.
Q. You know as well as he does when those big points come, they're the deciding factor in the match. What about throwing something different at him? What about serve and volleying?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a lot depends on the situation of how it's going. At the end of the day, it's only him, myself out there on the court. You've got to go with your gut feeling at the time. It's not the easiest thing to do, mix it up, especially if you feel like you're starting to get on to something out there. You know, whether you give him the serve down the middle or the serve out wide, sometimes you've got to take chances like that and sometimes it doesn't pay off. At the US Open, I got a second serve and, I went for -- I played a winner off the second serve. Didn't quite pay off for him. If I was able to get that point, then you never, I guess, you know exactly out there what's the exact right time, you know, to go for those shots. But at the end of the day, sometimes you live and die on the edge of the sword against a guy as good as Roger.
Q. Pre-match, do you do anything differently now than earlier in your career? I know you used to watch "Rocky" movies to get pumped. Anything special this week to get you in the right frame of mind when you step on the court?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really this week. I feel like I'm pretty motivated the whole time, especially the last year and a half, I think. I've been pretty motivated to get back and play some of my best tennis. I feel like I've been able to do that. I've been as consistent, I think, this year, as I've ever been. This year I probably come into the Masters Cup, you know, not with that pressure and expectation of trying to finish the year No. 1 as well. Maybe I can go out there and enjoy myself a little bit more and work on areas of my game as well that's going to hold me up, you know, come January.
Q. With all the guys here, you used to be more animated, I think, on the court. Sometimes it comes and goes. I think that really, at times, pisses guys off. It's a great way to get inside their head. I mean, it's perfect. You keep thinking about that as well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really.
Q. Not really?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll let you guys do it. I just worry about going out there and being myself out on the court. You know, at the end of the day, you know, if I feel like it's a time to get pumped up or show some emotion out there, that's when I play my best tennis. I'm not afraid to do that. It's got very little to do with my opponent's thinking or feeling at the time. It's totally got to do with how I'm feeling out there on the court. It happens. It's not something you plan to do; it just happens.
Q. So when is the last time you gave somebody the fist?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not for a long time. Not for a while now.
Q. Where did you pick that up from?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Mats Wilander.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah.
Q. Do you know who actually created it? We just had a talk with Mats two weeks ago, reminiscing about the first time he did it. It was the semis of the Australian Open.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. No, I went to the Aussie Open every year. I used to sit up near all the Swedish group out there. I loved it.
Q. Is there still that many Swedes around the tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A fair bit. Not as many as there was, you know, with Mats in it, Stefan, and everyone were at their best. But there's still quite a few. You know, if Jonas or Johansson now gets a go, then they'll come out of the woodwork. So that's good. Yeah, it was nice. It's an amazing following.
Q. It was.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It really is.
Q. Could you please wrap up for us the season so far for you.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's been probably as consistent a year as I've ever had, I think. I lost to the four winners of all four Grand Slams. Obviously, Roger won three of them and Gaudio the other one. So I felt like I've had a very consistent year out there. I've been hitting the ball well on all surfaces, which is a good thing. Obviously, making the US Open final again and putting yourself in a position to try and take out a Grand Slam title, that was obviously a huge bonus this year. It's always nice to finish in the Masters Cup and realize, you know, how many guys try and actually finish the year and only eight guys can, to be a part of that, you know, very special group I guess at the end of the year.
Q. Some people think that you don't show it, that you're pumped up as much. What do you think yourself?
LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment or...?
Q. Just in general on court.
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I feel pumped up at times. A lot depends on the situation, I guess. But I would say I was pretty pumped up at the US Open, going through and not dropping a set, obviously, until the final. I was on a 16-, or 17-match winning streak going into the final. So I was feeling pretty fired up right through that stretch. Yeah, that's up to a lot of people to talk about, I guess. But at the end of the day I feel very motivated this last year and a half, and I feel like I've played some of my best tennis again.
Q. I think you're one of the last guys that can win against Roger. They showed your head-to-head. Can you describe him, what he achieved this year so far?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's had an incredible year. To win three Grand Slams in one calendar year is pretty amazing. He's the kind of guy that can play on all surfaces. I think he's won 10 titles on all different surfaces. He's always going to be a contender going into every Grand Slam for the next few years. There's not many people at the moment that have been able to work out how to actually beat him when he's been at his best, and that's something everyone else is going to try and motivate and keep working towards. Obviously, coming into here at the Masters he's got to be very confident as the favorite coming in here. Then again, there's no certainties. I look forward to obviously maybe having a crack at him here, obviously, in the Round Robin but hopefully in the semi and the final.
Q. You have the weapons to beat him.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not this year. He's obviously got the better of me this year. But we've had some great matches in the past. Obviously one of the highlights for me was the Davis Cup semifinal last year against Roger coming back from two sets and a breakdown. You can't do that every week of the year. So, yeah, he's a great player. I just felt like in the past maybe I've just been able to put pressure on him and, you know, hang in there, wait for my opportunities in the past. But he's really taken that up another notch this year, and, you know, everyone's got to try to keep improving to try to stay with him.
Q. How do you see the match against Moya?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's going to be a tough match. Carlos and I have had a lot of tough matches in the past. I got over him in a tight four-set match in Wimbledon in the Round of 16 this year. I look forward to the challenge. Every match this week is going to be extremely tough, though. Hopefully, I can go out there and get off to a good start. That's what you need in this Round Robin situation, to try and get through to the semifinals. So I look forward to the opportunity.
Q. Gaudio, do you think his experience maybe can come into play a little bit?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, maybe a little bit. This is obviously a huge week for him, Gaston. Coming here, not being in this situation before, first time in the Top 10 for him, and to be here in the Masters Cup is probably just a dream in itself for him. So, yeah, he's going out there, though, with absolutely nothing to lose. We all know this isn't his favorite surface; obviously, clay is. But he's going to be a tough competitor. He's got nothing to lose out there. You got to go out there and just worry about your game and try and get the wins on the board.
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