January 12, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.
Q. Solid start, Lleyton.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was good. Conditions were very different from Perth last week. So it took me a while. The ball was flying a lot more, obviously, outdoors. The wind was quite swirly out there as well, which I didn't have to deal with last week. So all in all, it's nice to have another win under my belt and get off in straight sets.
Q. Good memories of that court for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I've had some big wins there not only in this tournament in the past, but also in Davis Cup. Probably more so against Sweden that year where I beat Bjorkman and Johansson in two tough matches. So, yeah, it's a great court to play on, great arena.
Q. How different is it playing a tour match again? It's been quite a while since you played a tour match. Is it a different feeling?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that different, no.
Q. He's kind of a perfect opponent to play at this time, this stage of your preparation.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was expecting a tough match. I think he beat Philippoussis in the Aussie Open last year in the third round, and he's a very tough player on this kind of court, I think. You know, it bounces up. He hits the ball pretty flat out there. He's a great mover around the court. And I just felt like, you know, he's a guy that you can get very grooved with as well because he hits the ball very clean off the baseline. It was tough conditions for him as well. He's obviously flying in from wherever he played last week. To come out here in different conditions when the ball's flying a bit more - I found anyway - it was whoever could probably adjust to that quicker, I'd say, was a lot suited.
Q. Does this sort of feel like a bit of a fresh start for you? I mean, it is a new season, after all. Last season wasn't the best you've had. Does this feel like a new beginning for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Little bit. Not so much a new beginning, I don't think. I felt like from the US Open, every match that I played after that, even though it wasn't a lot, the Davis Cup matches and right through the US Open to the quarters there, I played some of my best tennis I've ever played. So, obviously, even though the Davis Cup matches were split out over a fair period of time, I was still able to handle that pressure and expectation of those two - obviously two huge matches against two of the best players in the world. So I think after those matches you sort of want to get back out on the court as soon as possible and keep performing week in and week out.
Q. How is the ankle?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, felt okay out there today, so...
Q. Your forehand is getting better?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, hitting my forehand better. I feel like I went for it out there today. As I said, the conditions, you really had to try and always get something on the ball. You had to try and hit with a little bit more topspin out there. Otherwise, the ball was just flying. Whereas in Perth last week it just felt very heavy, sort of dead conditions indoors. The balls seemed to be fluffing up a lot more than they are here this week. You know, you've got to be probably a little bit wary, whereas last week you felt like you could really hit through the court because the balls were a lot heavier. Whereas this week, it feels like you've just got to be careful, get a bit more extra topspin work on the ball; otherwise, it might fly long.
Q. Do you expect similar conditions in Melbourne next week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd say so, yeah. I'd say so.
Q. Based on your past experience there, how does it compare with this court?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Melbourne's changed. The last few years, it's probably been a little bit slower than it has. There was that one year it was pretty quick, in 2000 it was. Apart from that, the last few years it's actually probably been a little bit slower. Last time I played on this court in these tournaments, it was slower than Adelaide and Melbourne. It was probably the slowest because it was the newest arena put in. So, you know, I'm not really sure. I just have to work it out when I get there.
Q. Has that got something to do with the way they treat the court in Melbourne?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I know the guys who do it in Melbourne and Adelaide; I don't know if he does it in Sydney as well. I know the guy pretty well. He does it in Melbourne and Adelaide. They do those pretty much the same. I know he doesn't do Perth. I know someone else does that. But I'm not sure who does Sydney.
Q. Do you feel less pressure going into the Australian Open this year given your ranking and so forth, than you did the previous two years?
LLEYTON HEWITT: There's always pressure and expectation coming into the national title when, realistically, we've probably only got two main guys who are contenders, Flip and myself, I think. So we've really got to try and -- you're always in the spotlight. We try and put it in the back of our mind as much as possible. But it's great for tennis that I think that emotion is still there from the Davis Cup victories the last few times. Flip and I have had a couple of cliffhangers as well. So I think tennis is on a bit of a high in Australia at the moment, and I think they'd like to see an Australian winner. That probably puts that same pressure as being the No. 1 seed the last two years.
Q. Do you feel just as confident as you did the last two years when you had the No. 1 ranking?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel like I'm hitting the ball just as well - if not better. It's been just a totally different preparation, whereas the years before I've always come off the Masters Cup and playing a lot of matches. This year, I just focused on the Davis Cup final and did a lot of hard work and training that I'd last right through the Australian summer.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.