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May 6, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. This must have been a very, very frustrating few days for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah. There's not a lot you can do about it. But, obviously, it was probably one of the worst situations, I guess, out of the whole draw. My first round got held over as well, you know, and the guy that I had to play in the second round was right through already on Monday afternoon. So scheduling-wise, one of the worst scheduling things I've ever seen.

Q. When you say it's the worst scheduling, is that just the luck, or is that just you feel that you had particularly bad scheduling?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think there was probably a lot of bad scheduling, I think. But I think, you know, purely, I can only talk about what I had to go through, I guess. And, you know, I requested, obviously, once I saw the draw and knew that I was going to have -- well, once I saw the schedule for Monday and saw that my second-round opponents would be playing on Monday and I wasn't, obviously, the first thing, you go and request - knowing in a Masters Series you got to play every day if you start Tuesday - to try and get hopefully first-on Tuesday, you know; if not, you know, during the day at least so I could at least get through and have as much -- make it a little bit fairer for the second round. Yeah, so, for me, that was the most disappointing thing.

Q. Were you given any reason why you got the rough end of it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, obviously, my coach went and requested it to the ATP officials, and they said there was a very good chance - they gave me a 99 percent chance - that it was going to happen. And then apparently, you know, the tournament director said no, and that's where it fell. And, you know, my coach went and confronted the tournament director. And, you know, he basically didn't want to know about my coach at all and said he'll run it how he wants to run it. And he didn't even know that my opponents in the second round were playing -- had played Monday. You know, for me, that just doesn't show a lot of, you know, interest, I guess, in what's actually happening for the player's part.

Q. Do you think that sort of attitude might have a bearing on what you decide to do this time next year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably (smiling).

Q. Could you elaborate.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, mate... You know, a year's a long time away. But, you know, there were no favors done, that's for sure.

Q. Have you or Roger got any history with the tournament or tournament director here? Is there any reason why you'd be singled out or given such a rough deal?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not that I'm aware of. You know, I spoke to him Monday about -- Sunday, actually, when I first arrived, just when he walked past and whatever, about, you know, obviously the fire and the problems they were having with hotels and finding players. Seemed fine. His attitude towards my coach, you know, was pretty disgraceful, really. He didn't want to, you know, have a chat. And my coach offered to, you know, to go and have a chat, you know, inside his office as well so it wasn't out in the public. He really just walked away from my coach and didn't want to have a bar of it. So in that way, I don't think it's a great player, you know, tournament official relationship. It's not the best way to sort it out.

Q. I know you're not alibiing, so where is your game now? Everyone's asked me what's gone wrong with you; I said I don't know. I'm asking...

LLEYTON HEWITT: (Smiling). You know, I feel like I'm actually -- I'm hitting the ball not too bad at the moment. I feel like I'm still -- in Monte-Carlo and here, I feel like I'm adjusting to the clay more than anything. You know, the start of the year, I felt like I was playing as well as I've probably played. I know it's there. Obviously, the clay court season is probably one of the toughest for me, and it's something that, you know -- for me, the big picture is the French Open and wanting to play my best tennis at the French Open. Hopefully, Hamburg and the World Team Cup is going to give me some good preparation, get some match practice over the next couple of weeks, and hopefully go in there confident. If I feel confident, then I feel like I can compete with the best players even on a clay court. So, you know, I don't think I'm that far away from it. And, you know, the way that I played, obviously, at the start of the year, I felt I played great. In Rotterdam I probably played as well as I've ever played for that whole week. So, you know, it's not like this year I played poorly, I don't think.

Q. I missed the very start, Lleyton. But a bit like back to basics today, right out in the boondocks. Can you remember the last time you played in sort of such isolation out there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, about under-12s... (Smiling). No, would have been about then, I think.

Q. It's been a long time in a major tournament.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Played away like that, but with linespeople calling from the other end, I haven't played since qualifying, I don't think, at tournaments. You know...

Q. Does that make concentration a little tricky?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. Well, not so much concentration. I think more, you know, there's probably some worse calls out there purely because of that. For anybody, it's hard to -- it's not their fault they're calling the other line. There's going to be overrules, especially on clay; you can tell that. So there's a few points where you're always going to have to play to them and whatever. It's the same for both players. You just got to be prepared to do it.

Q. You're a guy who will stand up for yourself when it comes to the organizers in tennis. Do you think sometimes that means that that gets held against you in situations like this where you actually have, you know, a general cause for complaint?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so, not in this situation. I really don't know whether, you know -- I think scheduling, obviously, because of the fire or whatever and then, you know -- it was always going to be a hassle for probably someone. You know, I think you could always play, you know , that late-night match, obviously, with someone who's -- you know, pair them off with the next round who's playing that day. That was my biggest complaint. So I don't think, you know -- I just don't think they even looked at it. He pretty much told Roger that he didn't have a clue that Pavel and Lapentti had played Monday. So, you know, whether that's dumb or not, you know, I don't know. If I was a tournament director, I would -- I think the first thing you'd look at is where the matches are going to lead to.

Q. Can you remember either you or any member of your team being treated so dismissively by a Masters Series tournament director before?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Uhm... I haven't had too many run-ins with tournament directors over the years. It doesn't happen, you know, that often, I don't think. I didn't have a run-in, but obviously my coach couldn't even speak to him, which is probably a disappointing thing. You know, my coach is the one who's, you know, got to go in there to bat for me and put our case forward. You know, I don't know if anything would have changed whether I went in there and said something, you know, but that's really not my job.

Q. In terms of your game and where it's at, is it more important on clay for you to get a run of matches and a little bit of confidence just because it's maybe not your favorite surface?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I think on clay purely because, you know, a lot of guys, after the French Open, will play other tournaments or, you know, before Indian Wells and that they'll play down in South America on clay. For me, this is pretty much my only time of the year that I'm going to play on clay, for these six weeks or so. So thinking that, obviously, my mind, you know, you want to play your best at the French Open. For me, personally, I need probably as many matches and get that confidence going before going into the French Open. You know, you'd like to play as many matches as possible, and I think that's where the World Team Cup is good for me - because I'm guaranteed three matches there no matter what happens next week. So in that way, I don't always like to play the week before a Slam, but I think for me personally, that's probably a good choice.

End of FastScripts….

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