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adidas International

January 14, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.

Q. What happened at the beginning of the match there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I had chances in probably all four of the first four games that I lost. I was probably trying to attack a little bit too much, especially for the conditions that it was out there. And, yeah, after that I just decided to go back to playing consistently, trying to get some rhythm early, and then try and build it up again. Yeah, I was able to do that. Obviously, in the second set, once the momentum had really changed, I was able really to get on top of him and start playing some good, aggressive tennis in those tough conditions.

Q. When you're 4-nil down, obviously just said you try to find some more consistency. What do you try to do mentally in that position? Do you have to be more aggressive mentally even though that doesn't mean you'll be more aggressive with your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about aggressive. You can't get too down on yourself, I think. You got to try and realize that it's a tough match and, you know, you still got another two sets even if you go down in that set to bounce back. I wasn't giving up that first set no matter what, but I was gonna hang in there. But if I did end up losing the first set, then I wanted to try and find that rhythm by the end of the first set that I'd be ready to go right from the start in the second set. Fortunate enough that I was able to get back out of it and win in straight sets.

Q. Is that a difficult thing, balancing that sort of defense with the attack?

LLEYTON HEWITT: In those conditions today it was. I'm trying to play a little bit more aggressive in my whole style of game, and the conditions are just totally different to what I really warmed up in this morning. It was real overcast out there. Obviously, it was a lot heavier conditions than when I first played my first match. The ball was flying a lot more. The wind, I just really couldn't get a hold of it early. Karol is a kind of player that no luck can go wrong with his game, you know, wind or no wind. He doesn't go for too many heroic shots. He runs a lot of balls down. He makes you play that extra ball. He's a great mover out there. So I think that sort of all combined with, you know, getting off to a slow start.

Q. Are you pretty close to your own game now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's good. I keep winning. I think going into, you know, big tournaments and having that winning feeling and being match-hardened is definitely a good thing.

Q. You looked pretty pumped up there in the second set. Are you enjoying your tennis at the moment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you enjoy it when you get out of jail like I did in the first set. Then, you know, the momentum really swung there. Obviously, if you're 4-love up and at a point to go 5-love up and then end up losing the first set 6-4, I just felt like I really had to keep the pressure on him early in the second set. I was able to do that. The whole body language had changed on Karol's side of the net as well.

Q. Do you feel like you're peaking at the right time for the Aussie Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel like I'm playing well. You still got to go out and do the job next week. You know, I don't know if form will play a huge part in next week's game, in next week's tournament. Still, Juan Carlos Ferrero lost first round here, and I still think of him as one of the favorites next week so...

Q. What's a good result for you this week, is it to win the tournament or just go into next week feeling like you're in good form?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think that's more so. Obviously, if you get to the semis or finals here, then everyone wants to win titles. At the moment, it's trying to get matches under your belt. Try and work on little areas of your game, get that rhythm going. So far, so good. Got another match tomorrow against Clement to try and work on that again.

Q. How have you changed, do you think, from two years ago and the year before and three years ago when you played Adelaide and played Sydney and won and were on a winning streak? What's different now about you as a person?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think I set, you know, different goals now. Yeah, back then, I think every tournament, week in and week out, is like a Grand Slam. Nowadays, the priorities are Grand Slams and Davis Cup for me. Obviously, the bigger picture. And when you're able to win Grand Slams, you know, the thing that drives you to keep going and get better is to win more of them. Obviously, you know, it's nice coming and playing smaller tournaments, but you still miss preparation for the big ones.

Q. Is it just too draining to have that intensity all the year round?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think a little bit. But I think, you know, for me, obviously when I first came up, it was more about ranking, getting your ranking high, playing a lot of events, I guess, to do that and get your ranking when you're 16, 17 years old. Obviously, winning titles like Adelaide and Sydney is a huge bonus for anyone that age. But, you know, after you win a Grand Slam, then your priorities, I think, are to try and win more of them. You have to prepare as well as possible, I think, for the Grand Slams.

Q. Do you get a feeling that other players might think now that you're not as intense as you were a couple of years ago?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I don't really care what they think.

Q. You won three matches in Hopman Cup.


Q. This is five to win here.


Q. Another seven to win the Australian Open. That's 15 straight you have to win. Is that too much?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've won that many before, so...

Q. You're not worried?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not at the moment. I didn't play that many matches at the end of last year. It's a totally different situation to when I've come probably and played here in the past. I'd played a lot of matches towards the end of the year. The last few months, I only played three Davis Cup matches. They're highly pressure matches, but I still feel like I can bounce back and not be too flattened, I guess, by playing so many tour matches.

Q. How long can that freshness last? How far can you carry that break?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I guess depends on how well you do and how many matches you play during the next few weeks. At the moment I feel good so...

Q. There's a really good team environment you have in Davis Cup. What do you get as individuals when you're in a Grand Slam from the Davis Cup experience?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Davis Cup's always helped me. You know. The team atmosphere. I always found after I was at ties, even when I was the orangeboy not playing, I just felt like I'd hit a lot of balls, been around a good environment. I'd really gone out there with a positive attitude, I think, to improve. I think that's definitely what Todd Reid and Chris Guccione are feeling at the moment. They were at the Davis Cup final. Todd's been in a few of the last ties towards the end of last year. I think they're both making huge in-roads because of that experience, and I think because of Fitzy's and Wally's presence and helping them out at Davis Cup ties. I think all the team really embrace them not only as the orangeboy, but really the next players in Davis Cup for Australia.

Q. Does it spill over into the other tournaments?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hit with Todd Reid here, as soon as I arrived here in Sydney. You know, I think, you know, it spills over. We talk and hang around in the locker room and whatever, in between matches and stuff for sure. I think it's a pretty good situation. Obviously, Frommy is working with Todd and Chris as well. So that's a guy that I played Davis Cup ties with and Todd Woodbridge did. So it's a pretty good group of guys.

Q. Just along that line, what do you have to do mentally, just you're advancing through a tournament, suddenly you're in the semifinals and you have to play Mark. What do you have to do then mentally?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, you just got to go out there and worry about your game more than anything. You got to forget who you're playing. Obviously, Mark and I, we had to play in the Scottsdale final at the start of last year. We lost a doubles final. We were in the doubles final straight after that final, the singles. It was an awkward situation for both of us, but it was a good result for Australian tennis that we're both playing well at that stage. When you go out there, we just got to forget about it. The matches can go either way. We both know exactly how each other plays. We've practiced a lot together. We've played doubles. We both know how each other thinks. We've helped each other in Davis Cup. You just got to try to forget about it. It's awkward for anyone.

Q. When you come off the court, say, as you did in Scottsdale, is it straight back into the relationship that you had previously, or is there sort of like a period of..?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's probably about two minutes and then... Obviously, if you win a title and the other guy's lost a title, then it's obviously -- you don't want to go up and start talking about the match too much. But, yeah, especially in that situation, because we had to go out and focus on the doubles final straight after, so... Yeah, it's an awkward situation, but it's something that you got to try and deal with.

Q. How excited are you by Todd Reid and Chris Guccione performing well this week? And having been through the same process at that age, successful yourself, what are the things they need to know for the next few weeks?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's not only the next few weeks; it's the next few months and trying to really, you know, ride the wave and keep it going, you know, not just think you're home and you're on the Senior Tour now week in and week out. They've had great results this week, and they've shown what they can do and the potential they've got. But that's got to make you want to work harder to get even higher and to realize that -- they've both got a real chance of, you know - I don't know how far they could get - but of doing really well and being on the Senior Tour week in and week out. So, in my mind, yeah, this success, who knows, you know... Todd's out there playing at the moment in a tough match with Mantilla. If they win a few more matches, if they lose today, they've both had big wins and now they've got to be more and more hungry to go out there and get better.

Q. Doing this well, is there a chance you are going to change your priorities at all? Are you still going to just play what you want to play, or will there be a temptation to go back to No. 1?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know until if it happens. You know, I really can't comment. I don't know. Maybe I'll retire (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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