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March 16, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: With the win today, Lleyton improves to an ATP best 15-1 on the year, and he becomes the first back-to-back champion since Michael Chang in 1996/'97. Questions for Lleyton.

Q. Do the champions pool their prize money?


Q. Do the champions at this event pool their prize money?

LLEYTON HEWITT: What do you mean?

Q. Put it together.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about that.

Q. What are you going to do to celebrate tonight?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I haven't even thought about it. Don't know. Golf might be on the agenda.

Q. You just kind of suffocated him out there, never really gave him a chance to get in the match.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always an interesting situation when you have someone coming off playing this morning and being on Cloud 9, making a Masters Series final, then have to turn around in an hour and a half and have to go out and play the final. But it works both ways. I'd like to go to bed the night before knowing who I'm going to wake up and play the next day. I was wary, I lost to Pat in Cincinnati semifinals two years ago, and Guga didn't get to play his semi, came out and beat Henman 5 in the third, chopped Pat 1-2 in the final. I was very aware that Guga is capable of coming out and playing a another good match. On the other hand, I wanted to get to get off to an extremely good start. I felt like I was reading his serve well. Even when he was hitting his big first serves in, I was still making him play a lot of balls. Today he just to me early was pushing the panic button a lot to try and go for winners where he didn't want to be in a lot of long rallies with me.

Q. How do you feel about your play this week compared to Scottsdale?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's been patches. I've improved over the week, which has been great. My last three matches I got better and better. That's what you got to do when you get in the quarters. But it's important to survive those early ones. I had to survive a couple of scares early. I got through those tough ones and was able to, you know, just focus on the bigger matches from then on. You know, I think both weeks have gone a little bit the same in a lot of ways. I think I got better from the quarters onwards in Scottsdale, as well.

Q. Was your first match point against El Aynaoui the shot of the tournament, and in any way does it help you when you have an early scare?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Gee, I don't know for the whole tournament. I haven't seen too many other matches.

Q. For you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For me it was a huge turning point in the tournament. I still had to save a couple of match points on his service game in the next game, which is probably a lot tougher to do. What was the other question?

Q. The other question was, when you have an early scare like that, does it help you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, sometimes. You know, in best-of-three matches, normally you're not going to be too tired because of it. You know, sometimes it can help you, you know, to get through a tight match and know that you've come through a tight match and you've played in pressure situations when you get in that situation again. Like I was down a set and early break to Coria, I didn't press the panic button. I believed in myself and I believed I was able to get out of the match. Best-of-five matches are sometimes a bit different.

Q. What does this title mean to you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It means a lot. You know, to come back to a place, you know, where you're defending, you're the No. 1 seed, everyone wants to knock you off, you come out here and defend. You know, for me it's one of the nicest tournaments of the year. I really enjoy playing here. You know, I think it's always nice to come back to somewhere where you played well, you know, in the past. You know, I made a semi, now two wins here. I've got good memories about this place.

Q. Two demolitions in two finals.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's nice (smiling).

Q. I assume you'll be thinking the same when you go to another tournament towards the end of June.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I hope so. Hope the final is the same as last year.

Q. You didn't seem -- Guga has a great backhand. You seemed to have no fear of it. Is that where you thought you'd have an advantage?

LLEYTON HEWITT: His forehand and backhand are probably both as dangerous as each other. I think a lot depends on days with Guga, whether it's backhand or forehand is marginally better. I just felt like today, I felt I had a lot of confidence in my backhand cross-court against his backhand. Standing in the court, I wasn't getting too far back, I wasn't giving him the chance, I was keeping my ball very deep, I wasn't giving him that easy ball to go up the line all the time, and he had to start pressing, and he started going for that backhand up the line, which in a lot of cases he's able to hit incredible shots off. You know, today whether his footwork was a bit slower out there and I was hitting it a little bit deeper, as well, it put together a little bit tougher shot selection I think for him. You know, as I said earlier, I don't think he wanted to be in those longer rallies today.

Q. Before your matches, do you talk with Jason about strategy or just think it out once you get on the court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We talk a little bit, not a whole heap. You know, I've played these guys enough now, I pretty much know how they're playing. Most of the time I'm more concentrating on my game more anything. I feel like if I play as well as I can play with my game and have everything in touch, then I've got an extremely good chance of winning. You know, it's more he just gives me some reminders of, you know, little areas that the guy, you know, maybe likes to go to on big points and stuff like that.

Q. Two titles in two Sundays. Is it accurate to say you're in top form?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel pretty confident at the moment, which is good.

Q. Everything seems to be clicking?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I'm extremely happy the way that I've been playing and the way that I've been competing over the last two weeks.

Q. A long-range question. Guga said he felt you could win six or seven majors. Would you be pleased if you did that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That would be fantastic. If I can win another one, it would be fantastic. You know, I'm not looking too far ahead of myself. They're bloody tough to win. There's so many good players. You know, all you need is one average day and the other guy to have an extremely good day, and you can be bundled out. You know, they're bloody tough. I'll take any one of them.

Q. Which is more daunting for you, winning on clay or winning at home with all the pressures there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't worry me. I think my game at the moment suits the Australian Open more than the French Open still. But I think I'll get better and better on clay. Who knows. A lot of people have told me by the end of my career that maybe the French Open will be my favorite. We'll have to wait and see.

Q. Does it make it special to win a tournament like that, to play a final right after Kim's win?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Well, especially with the way it turned out. If I went out and lost, it wouldn't have been too special. It's obviously fantastic for the both of us to come here, No. 1 seeds, everyone wants to knock you off, and we've both been able to handle the pressure and situation very well this week. But, you know, it's a bit awkward, I guess, going on straight after her. I'd much rather be out there supporting her than sort of sitting in the locker room waiting. So it's a tough situation, as well, playing on the same day straight after.

Q. I assume you were watching in the locker room.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, yeah, I saw the scores.

Q. Jump up and down on your own? Were you on your own?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I was actually getting my feet taped, doing all my preparation that takes me a while to do.

Q. Did Kim's win motivate you to go out there and just go through Kuerten?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, obviously I was really happy for her when she won. But it sort of goes out the window. Once I get out there, I totally to get forget about her winning the tournament and I'm just basically thinking about Guga, focusing on what I've got to do to beat my opponent rather than Kim's win. Is that a good sign that I'm going to win or whatever? I don't know. It's more once I get out on the court, it's pretty much just me and him, one on one, out there.

Q. I didn't see the entire match, but to go up --?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Why not (smiling)?

Q. Talking to your friend. You played a serve and volley point to go 3-1 in the second set.

LLEYTON HEWITT: To go up 3-1?

Q. In the second set.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I serve volleyed a couple times today. I just felt like -- Guga stands an awful long way back. I just felt like it was -- I don't know why I did it. Felt like it was a good play at the time.

Q. Doesn't happen often.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think I lost one today when I did it. Might have to do it a bit more.

Q. After such a roll, how many days off do you need to regroup before Miami?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I'll take tomorrow off for sure. May have a light hit Tuesday. At this stage, I'm not sure. I think it starts Wednesday, Miami. I think I've got a bye, I'm guessing, like last year. Thursday, Friday. Friday maybe I'll be on. I'm not sure. Yeah, Tuesday will be a light hit, if anything. Probably get serious Wednesday.

Q. Are you going to play golf tomorrow?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably a good chance.

Q. How do you feel about Miami? Does it have the same kind of good vibe that here does?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It has good semifinal vibes. I had three semis in a row. I like the tournament. I like the place. The conditions are totally different to here. The wind, it's pretty much windy every day. You can play on that center court and you don't know where it's coming from. It's tough conditions to play in. It's a lot more humid obviously there, as well, so you're sweating a lot more. I enjoy the tournament, though, yes. I'd like to try and get one or two stages further in it.

Q. Has there been any time since you won the US Open when you've gone into a match doubting you were going to win it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I think even before the US Open I felt like I could probably beat anyone on any given day. Didn't mean I was going to. You know, I felt confident enough in my game that if I played the way I wanted to, the way I envisioned playing, I could go out there and beat, you know, anyone. But then again, I could lose a lot of matches as well. Obviously the confidence after the US Open just grew and grew.

Q. What do you want to improve next in your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I think, you know, a little bit more serve-volley, still working on my serve a lot more. I think I can still put pressure. Even as good as my returns are, I still feel like I can make them more of an attacking shot sometimes as well, especially on the second serve now and then, you know, taking advantage when I get the short ball. It's easy to do all these things in practice. When you're going out there and you're winning tournaments such as these last two weeks, it's tough to sort of change a winning formula, as well. When you get out of there to play, it's a little bit like a robot: you just keep playing.

Q. Could you compare this effort of winning 12 matches in two weeks to a Grand Slam where it's seven matches?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't know. This has been tough, though, winning I think like 11 matches in 13 days. It's tough. But it's only best-of-three sets, as well. You get a couple of quick two-set matches in there, it's a lot easier. I pretty much look at a straight three-set match, it looks very straightforward in a Grand Slam. Not very often do you get a white wash in all three sets. Demand on the body, it's tougher playing seven best-of-five-set matches. Then again, to keep your concentration on a mental level after you won a tournament, to keep it going for the next, that's another thing.

Q. As fit as you are, if you had to do what Guga had to do, do you suppose you'd have done better than he did?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope I would have got more than two games, but I don't know. I don't think I've had to do it since Juniors. It's a tough thing. I think for him, he's played a couple of clay court events the last couple weeks, and I would imagine the clay would be a lot easier on his hip, coming back from surgery, than an American hard court. This is hard enough on my or anyone else's body, let alone a guy who just came back from surgery. I would have hoped my body would have held up a little bit better in that situation, but you never know.

Q. How are you going physically?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel pretty good. Wait and see next week.

Q. Any parallels with this year's tournaments and last year's, why they've been so easy for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. Last year I felt like I played really well against Tim in the final. I played one of my best matches. I didn't do a thing wrong. I think I played perfectly to his weaknesses. Tim probably didn't play his best match as he could have. A little bit today, Guga didn't play as well as he definitely can. But then again, I felt like I stepped it up from what I've been playing during the week, as well. You know, it's a lot easier when you're getting off to good starts in both sets to sort of run through them a lot quicker.

Q. Some people are going to describe you and Kim now as the king and queen of tennis. Does that embarrass you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I couldn't care really. Couldn't care less.

End of FastScripts….

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