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March 15, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Tomorrow Lleyton attempts to become the first back-to-back winner here since Michael Chang in 1996/'97. He also will attempt to win his second career Tennis Masters Series title. Questions for Lleyton.

Q. A lot of matches, a lot of wins for you in the last two weeks. How do you feel mentally and physically?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, pretty good. I think I was a little bit not quite as sharp as I could have been at the start of today's match, but I got better as the match went on. The second set I played a lot better. But it was tough conditions out there today. You know, the other days we haven't had that much breeze. Today it was swirling around. Every second game I felt like it was changing direction out there. Vince, he was playing very competitive out there. He wasn't making any mistakes. He was making me come up with good shots if I was going to win the points. In the end I felt like I got my rhythm and timing a lot better.

Q. Do you feel like you broke his spirit a bit?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I felt like once -- when he was 4-1 up, I won that long game to get back to 4-3, then I held from the tougher end to hold on to 4-All, I felt in much more control of the match from that point on. I had chances to break at 5-All. He actually got like a half volley net cord that I scraped back, he hit a winner on. I felt like I was getting in more and more control. The big key was winning the breaker. After I won that, I felt like, you know, I was adapting to the conditions as well as his game a lot better. I hadn't seen him play for a couple of years. So, you know, he played well.

Q. Talk about that breaker.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think we both, you know, didn't want to give too much away. I think early he hit a double-fault to give me a mini-break, then I went up. We had a great point I think at 5-2 maybe. You know, I was a bit unlucky not to win that one. Then it went to 6-3, had another long point. I lost that one. Hit a double-fault. Then he hit a double-fault. It was an interesting way to win it. But the way for me the double-fault, just felt like halfway through the breaker the actual -- when I felt like I started up the worse end, the tougher end to play, then I was going up the better end, it felt like the wind changed. When I went up the better end, it felt like I was against the breeze. You get those short balls, you suddenly feel like they're on you a lot quicker than you think. It was tough conditions. I think both of us didn't want to pull the trigger too early and waste the mini-break.

Q. Volleying, and you hit a dropshot on match point. Do the doubles help?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. It does help. There's no doubt about it. The more -- you know, I don't play a natural volleying game. So the more, you know, volleys you hit, the reflexes that you got to play in tough doubles matches like I had last week, it does help, there's no doubt about it. But, you know, I feel like I'm coming into the net on most of the right balls. I still think there's chances I could do it a little bit more. But it comes with confidence, being able to transfer it from the practice court to the match court as well.

Q. What does this week tell you about your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think I've been getting better and better with every match. Started off, you know, tough draw early on against El Aynaoui. You know, I survived that match. You know, I've had some pretty tough matches. The Coria match was very tough as well. I feel like I've been getting my rhythm a lot better during the week. The last couple of days actually, as I said, have been a lot windier out there. It's actually tougher to play with your rhythm. I felt like I'm a little bit slow starting, but in the end I've played better tennis.

Q. The way you recited how that tiebreaker went, it almost seems like you have total recall. You gave us a play-by-play practically of every point. Do you have that good a memory about all things? Do you remember a match you played a couple weeks ago?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty well, yeah. You can test me on a few matches if you want (smiling).

Q. Last year when you won, you won in a sandstorm when the board blew over in the middle of a match. Do you think weekends at Indian Wells are always going to be like this?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not quite as bad today as when I played Pete in the semis last year on Saturday. The sandstorm I think was the day I played Pavel in the second round last year. It was pretty incredible playing in those conditions. I don't know. For me, you know, I don't know if the boys are back on the court now, but I'm glad that I'm sitting through to the final now and they've still got -- I guess if it rains, it makes it tougher, as well.

Q. At the end of the first set, the crowd is chanting, "Vince, Vince," then he double-faults.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I was hoping he'd do that (laughter). That was a good way to shut them up. I didn't have to do anything (smiling).

Q. Can you talk about the last time you played Guga. Some people say it was one of the most spectacular matches some people have ever seen.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it was the best I've ever played. In those conditions, in that atmosphere, on my worst surface and his best surface. Yeah, in such a big match, a clutch match, you know, a lot of people have told me I was hitting bad bounces in the middle of the racquet that day. You know, I'm not sure why, but I went out there, you know, just played one of my best matches. I'm not really sure why. Everything I sort of touched that day turned to gold.

Q. Is he one of those types of players that you can get really pumped up to play?

LLEYTON HEWITT: This is a final. I'll be pumped up no matter who I play. But he's a great player, there's no doubt about that, the caliber. It's great to see him back, you know, in the semis and finals of these big tournaments again. You know, it wasn't long ago, I think this time last year, he was sitting out of all these tournaments. He's had to struggle and work through it. He's come through a very tough draw this week as well and got through pretty convincingly.

Q. Do you get on pretty well with him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah, pretty well.

Q. Having been through the experience of that kind of amazing match, does that create almost a bond with a player?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think he was too happy about it afterwards. But, you know, I don't think it's got anything to do with that match. I think he's just a very laid-back, easygoing kind of guy. I don't think there's too many guys who would have a problem with Guga at all.

Q. Should you play Schuettler, just talk about him, too.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's taken a huge step forward the last probably six months or so. Yeah, he proved during the Australian Open how good a player he can be. He's done it again this week. The way that he beat Andy yesterday was very convincing. You know, I think he's a great mover on the court. He serves well to make advantage of his game I think more than anything. He's got a very nice package game, and it's come together very well obviously since the start of this year.

Q. Can you say one thing American tennis fans don't know about Lleyton Hewitt?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I don't know. I don't know. What have you guys told them (smiling)?

Q. You don't like to give interviews.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I give interviews to the right people.

Q. Tooheys or Fosters?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably Carlton Cold. You don't have it over here.

Q. Budweiser or Sam Adams?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't have the American stuff.

Q. How about hot dogs or hamburgers?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Whichever. I like probably hot dogs a little bit more.

Q. A friend of yours was saying she likes pasta with broccoli. Does she ever push that on you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, sometimes. Not that often.

End of FastScripts….

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