January 11, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How do you like the court?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's nice. Yeah, I haven't played on this court for, you know, on the Rebound Ace, obviously. Last match was on a clay court out there in the Davis Cup. So, yeah, I like playing out here at Homebush. I've had pretty good success here, so...
Q. Is it a question of trying to find the right balance in the lead-up to the Australian Open?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess. I'm not really sure what's the right balance, I guess. Until you hold up the trophy, you know, you'll never know what's the best for you. I guess it depends on how many matches you play towards the end of the year before as well. So, obviously, I played three matches in the Hopman Cup last week. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting as many matches as possible this week under my belt.
Q. Do you feel not playing as much at the end of last year gives you a better chance this year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think for the situation that I've come in not playing probably as many tournaments at the end of last year, you know, who knows? If you go out there and lose first round, then you've got to reassess it. But, you know, I feel like at the moment I played pretty well last week in Perth. And, you know, go out there and just take it one match at a time this week and see what happens.
Q. Can you talk about playing in Melbourne.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, I love playing in Melbourne. I love that arena. That's one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I really enjoy going out there. It's a big buzz just leading into the tournament. Yeah, you just got to go out there and take it one match at a time, though. Davis Cup ties, you can just focus on that one or two matches that you got to play; whereas in a Grand Slam like the Australian Open, you've got to worry, you know, obviously if you're gonna win it, you've got to win seven best-of-five set matches. But you don't want to get too far ahead of yourself at all. There's a lot of good players in those 128 that are in the draw.
Q. Do you have a favorite to win?
LLEYTON HEWITT: There's a lot of tough players, mate. There's probably a group of 10 to 15.
Q. Can you just talk about how it feels to be under the kind of pressure that you're under when you play there.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, sure, there's probably more expectation and pressure, or the spotlight's on you more, I guess, on both Mark and myself, coming into Melbourne. But, you know, we've had to deal with that in so many Davis Cup ties, and big Davis Cup ties in our home country. You're playing in your home tournament and you're playing under the Australian banner, but you're still "Game, Hewitt" instead of "Game, Australia" in Davis Cup ties. There's that probably extra pressure and expectation in Davis Cup ties that you got the whole nation behind you, willing you on. It's a totally different situation, I guess, in a lot of ways. But, you know, I think I've been able to handle that situation so well that coming into Melbourne, I don't get that much more nervous or put any more expectation on myself to go out there and win the tournament. You try and not lose focus. It's always that old saying, but you've got to take one match at a time. You just don't know who your next opponent is going to be, and draws can open up, and you've got to take your chances.
Q. You obviously get a lot from the crowd as well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, obviously the crowds are great there. And, you know, you got to relax and stay positive and, you know, realize that, sure, you're gonna be in the spotlight, but you got to try to block it out as much as possible and just think about what's ahead of you, and going out there and trying to perform and doing all the preparation, the right things; that you're going to go out there and perform as well as possible and, I guess, have no regrets at the end of the day.
Q. Can you talk about Roger.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, Roger's been great. We've spent a lot of time together. You know, he probably hasn't got the credit that he's deserved for working so hard leading into those Davis Cup ties where he gets very little reward out of Davis Cup ties. He spent a lot of time with me when I went to Kooyong for a week or so earlier than everyone else. We spent a lot of time in the gym building up leading into that, not only for that Davis Cup final, but also preparing for the whole Australian summer and try and get a good base for 2004. So, you know, at the moment I feel good, and it's all about going out there, though, and the little areas you work on on the practice court, producing that in a match situation.
Q. Did you wait until you were feeling more mature until you went into the gym?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I've always done a little bit. I've probably just done probably a fair bit more, though, the last year or so under Roger, I think, more than anyone else. It was just an area of my game that I felt like, you know, I could maybe capitalize on and to take me to another level - not only on hard court, but on all surfaces. It will probably pay benefits physically getting a little bit stronger on clay more than any other surface, I'd say.
Q. How do you feel about Greg's situation?
LLEYTON HEWITT: What's that?
Q. Greg Rusedski.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I thought you were talking about Greg Norman, sorry. Mate, I don't know anything about it.
Q. Has it surprised you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I've heard rumors about you know, obviously, all those other players, that something had happened. I didn't play those last few tournaments of the year, so I really wasn't paying too much attention to the tour at all. So I didn't know much about that at all. You know, you can't find a guy guilty until he's actually proven guilty. So at the moment, I think Greg is fine. Greg's playing here and in Melbourne, so...
Q. How do you deal with that sort of thing? I guess you can't really speculate. He's saying 46 other people had it in their system. How do you deal with that sort of thing in terms of supplements? Are you wary after the past year or two?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I think you're wary the whole time you come in, what goes into your body. It's a tough situation because there's been problems, and we've seen there's been problems in the whole listing of it with the Bohdan Ulihrach case. I think that's a classic example. But I don't know all the little ingredients that puts the whole case together, and it's very hard for myself to comment.
Q. So in terms of your own advisors and stuff like that, in terms of the things that you will take...
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, anything you take, you got to get it checked by your doctors and tournament officials and everything just to make sure.
Q. Does it frighten you, the fact that Rusedski is suggesting it may have been ATP trainers who gave him the supplements?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, there's already been one situation where, I think, a few came out that that happened in electrolyte tablets or something at one tournament. And, yeah, I guess it does worry everybody. Because if you do get singled out with something and a lot of other people have had that same thing in their body or whatever, and they've been given off because there's a group of them, you just don't know the background. But I don't know the whole testing procedure with those other, what Greg says, 47 people or whatever happened. So, you know, it's very hard to comment on Greg's individual situation.
Q. Do you take tablets from the trainers on court, or do you have a system where you try to teach yourself what to take?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I don't take any tablets extra at all, apart from if you're playing out on the court and you're cramping or whatever and you have your ATP trainers come out to the court and tell you, "You got to take these tablets; otherwise, you got no chance of finishing the match," or electrolytes, you're not feeling well out there, that's what the ATP trainers are out there for. They're the ones who have done all the research. They know what's best for fitness-wise and for your body. You know, the ATP has employed them so the players can trust them. So I'd like to think that you'd be able to trust what you get given.
Q. Do you know of any other players that the same thing happened to them as well, to Bohdan Ulihrach?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know anything about all those others. I've got no idea who they are and know nothing.
Q. Somebody wrote that Greg would be ostracized by other players.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I got no idea. You know, I'd say hello to him. I'm not that close to Greg, but I wouldn't ignore him or anything; that's for sure.
Q. Do you think drugs is a problem in this sport?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess probably in a lot of sports. It's not only tennis that's had people being singled out, I guess, or had issues and been banned for three to nine months. There's a lot of sports that have problems. You just got to deal with every case individually, you know, and on the situation.
Q. Do you think tennis has more than any other sport?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think everyone's had issues throughout time.
Q. How is your ankle?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not bad. It was still a little sore playing against Kucera the other night after I hurt it against Malisse. It was funny, I went over a couple extra times that match against Kucera, just not quite as bad as the first time against Malisse. So it was weird to have it a few times in one event, but I'll be fine to play.
Q. Could I ask you a question about the marketing of tennis. The last few years, the women's tour has marketed tennis a lot on women's sex appeal.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You like that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Do you like that?
Q. Not personally. I know that sounds strange. But at the top of the men's game, you've got Andy Roddick, Federer, Juan Carlos, yourself, Andre, Moya, all very sexy guys.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Are we? I don't know, mate.
Q. Well, they're now appearing in Vogue, GQ. Andre has his own cologne. Have the men actually caught up to the women in terms of marketing sex appeal?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I'm not sure, mate. No, I don't know. I really don't know. I don't know how much people would like to get that kind of sex appeal, or the fans would like to, you know, see the players in that kind of side. I really don't know. I don't know whether that would be a positive or if it is, for someone like yourself, as you said, you'd prefer not to see it. So I really don't know if more of that would work in a positive or a negative.
Q. In terms of bringing more fans.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It may or it may not. See, you said that you didn't prefer it, so...
Q. Will Kim play in Melbourne?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'd say in Melbourne she'd probably be certain.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I'd say she'd at least try. It's a Grand Slam anyway. You know, I'd say it's getting better every day. So I'd say Melbourne is a very good chance of playing.
Q. What about here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Here, I don't know.
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