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adidas International

January 17, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.

Q. Apart from your obvious concerns about Carlos, how did you feel about the way you played?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I thought it was a very high standard match early on. Hot conditions out there. Obviously, you know, it was playing a lot quicker out there today, I felt like. And, you know, he was playing as well as I've seen him play. I felt like my game had really gone up another notch today. Even though it was only seven games, I had to fight off a couple of breakpoints early. Did that well at the tougher end. Then knew that I could capitalize on his service game and have a small chance when I was up the better end, which is the further end out there. And I was able to do that. Obviously, when the injury happened, you know, I was Love-40 up, and, you know, had a winner coming, I guess, up the line anyway in the open court. But, you know, I felt like I really, really went up a notch today. You've got to against the kind of player that's the caliber of Carlos Moya, so...

Q. Do you think you're at the peak of your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm playing pretty well, I think, at the moment. Getting more and more confident with every win you get under your belt. As I said, today was, you know -- throughout the week, Carlos is obviously one of the best players out there at the moment - and, you know, probably most of the time as well. He's a former world No. 1, he's won Grand Slams, he's a big-match player. I knew I had to go up a level today, and I felt like I was able to do that. In the other matches, they probably hadn't been such big names, I guess, as playing guys like Moya.

Q. Is there any part of your game you need to improve on?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's hard to say right at the moment. I think just keeping that rhythm going. You still got to go out there and get the job done next week. Next week, even if you're not playing well, you've got to find a way to win. That's what it's all about.

Q. Moya played very impressively the first game.


Q. What were your thoughts? It was really great tennis. You played as well.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, obviously, he came out, and his weapon is his first serve and his forehand, obviously; everyone knows that. You know, the first game I couldn't really touch anything. He dictated. Then I played a good game and then I had Love-30 in the third game. He came up with a couple of big serves. But I sensed that that was my opportunity down that end to try and break if I was going to. So I knew if I could get out of that next game, which I was able to fight a couple of breakpoints off, then I'd have a real crack at him the next time I went down that other end. That's what I was able to do to get up Love-40 there and put some pressure on him.

Q. It's a pity. It looked like it was going to be a spectacular final.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, that's how it felt. It felt like a very -- just for those seven games, it felt very high standard. It's obviously disappointing for everyone - both players. Obviously, more so with Carlos. Not so much he's lost the final, but he's got to try and get himself right for next week. Obviously, the crowd, after a pretty rainy, ordinary day yesterday, now to get this.

Q. Yesterday you had a short match against Verkerk. Today was a short match. How do you feel about your preparation?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's fine, I think. I've played enough matches over the last, you know, two weeks now that -- you know, it could be perfect in one way that I've gone out there and I've had to prepare and warm up and do everything in match conditions, but I haven't actually had to use that full energy that you normally would against a guy like Moya or even Martin Verkerk yesterday. So, you know, could be a blessing, I guess. And the good thing is, though, I had to face breakpoints out there today. So, you know, I've come through a small pressure situation in a match condition, but I didn't have to waste that extra energy, I guess.

Q. Not getting a full match against a real top-notch player, whereas Roddick and Nalbandian and Federer and Agassi are going head-to-head in Melbourne, do you still feel this is a better choice?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's an XO, though.

Q. Do you feel you're at your best level as in the past?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm playing pretty well at the moment, I think. I've trained extremely hard, and I prepared myself as well as I could for the two Davis Cup - well, especially the final of the Davis Cup. But I felt like I was playing really well at US Open as well. That's when I started playing a lot better, I felt like. Roger and I did a lot of work. Against Ferrero that day, I thought that was a great match we were having until I hurt my leg. He was too good in the end. But he showed how good he was when he went out and beat Agassi up the next day. So since then, I've played some great Davis Cup matches, and trying to keep that confidence going now.

Q. The way you're playing now and the way Roger has things going, does that ridicule the stuff that was said early in the year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think Roger and I never listened to any of that rubbish anyway. Roger is a great guy. He's worked as hard as anyone I've ever worked with - you know, harder, I'd say. He puts 100 percent into everything he does with me, you know, whether it's scouting other guy's matches, finding out information that we need to do. He does a range of things. It's not only the stuff that we've done on the court, working on tactics and technically and stuff like that, it's also in the gym and sort of the whole package is really taken care of, which it's nice to have a good start to the year like we have so far this week.

Q. Is your preparation for Melbourne as good as it can be?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We'll find out next week. But, you know, at the moment I feel good. You know, you can -- you can always have, you know, some losses out of nowhere, I guess. We won't know that until next week. But at the moment, I'm executing as well as I hope, I guess, going into the first Grand Slam.

Q. Just a quick question on the court surface. Is it just coincidence it's another ankle injury on Rebound Ace?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Today's probably the heat, I'd say, more than anything. It's an extremely hot day out there today. The court, you know, I don't know how hot it is court-side, but on the court it would be, you know, up towards 60, I'd say. So it gets hot out there, it gets sticky. We've seen -- the ones I can remember when I was younger is like Sabatini, Woodforde, they sprained their ankles really bad at the Australian Open on hot days. It's awkward. It's partly probably because of the court as well; I'm not really sure. I know mine last week, it was indoors, so you can't really blame that. Alicia and Kim wasn't really a twisted ankle, so...

Q. On the subject of ankles, is Kim's improving?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's going all right. She had a light hit yesterday. We just take it day by day.

Q. A couple of days ago she said Sydney is a special place for her. Because you proposed to her here?


Q. Do you have the same feeling, do you also think Sydney is special for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess. It's a nice city and it's something that we'll always have in the memory bank. You know, it's one of the -- it's a great city. Obviously, you know, having the Harbour Bridge there, the Opera House. There's not too many places that you get those kind of views, I think. You know, I don't play too bad tennis here either, so... (laughter). It's all right.

Q. Australian Open is a much bigger tournament, but it's a similar situation. Do you have very many expectations? You always overcome them here, but the Australian Open, are you not satisfied with the results at the moment? You have a lot of pressure and expectations.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, the last couple of years has been tough, I think. Last year I played pretty well at the Aussie Open. I didn't play here in Sydney. I thought I handled the expectation and the pressure pretty well. Lost to a guy who just played too well on the day. You know, there really wasn't a lot I could do about it against El Aynaoui last year, and the year before I had chicken pox. The last couple of years it's been a little bit out of my control, I think. I think I've handled the situation of being No. 1 seed and have pressure on me pretty well, especially in Davis Cup ties and that. You don't get much more pressure and expectation than in those matches, so...

End of FastScripts….

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