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April 21, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Losing the first set doesn't seem to impede your progress very much?

LLEYTON HEWITT: (Laughing) Only just, mate. You know, I thought he played extremely well the first set and a half. He made not a lot of mistakes at all. He was really working the ball. It was hard, I felt like I had a lot of opportunities out there to win games - 30-love, 30-15 up - and I just wasn't able to capitalize on them. I got to the stage where I just tried to go back to basics a little bit, and tried really working the ball from then on, trying to find some rhythm out there. There's no doubt that I got a little bit lucky out there with coming back from a double break down. But, you know, that's one positive I guess for hanging in there and keep fighting every point.

Q. You were trying to keep away from his backhand. What do you do when a player's got a really good shot like that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was tough. His forehand wasn't making too many mistakes out there either today, so... His backhand is obviously one of the best in the world, I think - one of the best single-hand backhands, that's for sure. I was just trying to -- I think once I started moving the ball around and not only playing to one side, to really open up the court, dictate play a little bit more, that's when I got aggressive and I started, you know, playing a little bit better out there and ended up winning a lot more points and make him work a lot harder to win points.

Q. Do you remember the moments when you saved matchpoints on clay against a player?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not on clay. I remember, I think -- I can only remember twice: At Indian Wells last year against El Aynaoui, and my first-ever tournament in Adelaide against Mark Woodforde. Those are the only two I can remember, but...

Q. It's good for you for the rest of the tournament, this game today against a good clay court player.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's good for my clay court preparation for the French Open, yeah. He's one of the best clay court players around. Last year he pushed Juan Carlos Ferrero here, you know, very tight three-set match. He plays extremely well on this surface. He moves so well on this surface, I think. That's one of the keys. It's a good win to have under my belt. Hopefully, it can give me a bit more confidence for the rest of the clay court season.

Q. Made a lot of forehand errors today. Is it the ball being difficult to control?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Little bit. There were stages when I was trying to dictate play a little bit too often. It's hard when a guy's standing that far behind the baseline and keeps getting the ball back. Then you feel like you got to go for a little bit extra every time. For a set and a half there, I was missing all those ones. Then I decided to go back and work the ball a little bit more, you know, play a little bit more margin for error, I think, a bit more percentage tennis. In the end, that sort of got my confidence going. Then I tried to start being more aggressive as the match went on.

Q. What are you planning to do with all these Masters Series on clay that there are now - Monte-Carlo, Rome, Hamburg? It all depends on the results that you do, tournament after tournament, or you are planning to do them all anyway?

LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment, I'm planning to do them all, and then I'll go Dusseldorf the week before the French, the World Team Cup. So, yeah, at the moment, that's what I'm planning on doing. I'm not going to say that's 100 percent certain, though, but that's what I'm planning on doing, and that's what I'd like to do.

Q. What was your reaction to the fact that the American guys decided to, you know, to not participate in this tournament at the last minute, and the draw is balanced because of that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's an awkward situation because, you know, if I had Davis Cup probably in Australia, you know, there would be a highly unlikely chance that I would be here as well, I'd say. I think with Davis Cup coming in, there's just so many weeks that you've got to be able to play. And, you know, I can't say that Andy Roddick or a guy like that, who's played so many matches and played a tournament in his home country last week and played Davis Cup the week before that and won Miami, you know, to come over here and spend that whole period right through on clay, you know, questions got to be asked whether that's worth it and whether that's the best preparation for the French Open for him. And I don't think you can knock that.

Q. But you think the rule should be changed? I mean, the draw should be remade or, I mean..?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it was an awkward situation this week. I don't know how many times that would happen but, you know, there was obviously three guys. Mainly the only guy was Roddick, was the main one. Fish and Blake, there's still a lot of other guys out there. Andy Roddick, one of the best players in the world, he's sort of the only one, when you put a lucky loser at the top. It's good for Wayne Arthurs, so I'm happy (smiling). He's playing like a No. 2 in the world (smiling).

Q. As you said yesterday, Ferrero seems not to have recovered from the chicken pox he had. How long did it take you to completely recover from your chicken pox? Can you understand that he's not completely fit at the moment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, everyone's different with the chicken pox. And, you know, when I spoke to doctors and everything, you know -- obviously, I got it in the Hopman Cup, then tried playing in the Australian Open. You know, I was pretty much useless. And then, you know, really had about four weeks off, you know, three weeks doing nothing, and then started training. By the time I actually got to - I think my first tournament was San Jose, you know - I was feeling good then. I was. But everyone's different with the chicken pox. I've been told there's been people months that have struggled. Obviously, the older that you are when you get it, then, you know, it could be worse. So I can understand totally that Juan Carlos could be still struggling. You know, it's not a nice thing to have.

Q. When you lost to Alberto Martin in Australian Open, you were coming off chicken pox, no?


Q. So how long had you been ill before that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: With chicken pox?

Q. Yeah.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Before that match?

Q. Yeah.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, mate, I'd only been diagnosed a week before that match, so I didn't hit a ball until two days before the tournament started. And then, you know, I wasn't allowed to hit in the sun, so I had to get up at 7 o'clock and hit. It's not, you know, it's not the greatest thing to have. It's always going to take you a while to bounce back from something like that.

End of FastScripts….

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