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March 11, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Lleyton will face Yevgeny Kafelnikov tomorrow. Saved two match points today.

LLEYTON HEWITT: More than that, I think.

Q. How did you dodge those bullets?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Backhand up the line, on the line, I guess. I'm not sure. You know, I went out there, I went for my shots on match point, and it paid off. Yeah, you sort of live and die on the edge, I guess. I practiced that shot, you know, it came off. A couple more inches wide or long, I could have been in a bit of trouble. You know, some days you have it, I guess, some days you don't. I felt like nothing was going right today at all until that time where it sort of all turned around.

Q. Where did it turn around?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably on that shot. Before that, you know, he was getting so many net cords, just nothing felt like it was going my way at all - overrules, line calls. I was able to block it all out during the match. Yeah, it just felt like he sort of just continued on his way, how he was playing so well in Australia against me in that match, and he continued exactly the same right from the word go today. I went out there on the court, and it felt just a much bigger stadium than what I was playing in Scottsdale. I felt smaller out there. I played a very average game first game, and he hit two cold winners in that game as well on his forehand. He sort of didn't look back from that point. I just felt like the good thing was he wasn't serving as many aces, as he was, today. During the Australian Open, obviously the conditions and the balls and the court were a lot slower here today. I felt like all I needed was to get one break under my belt and I was going to be all right.

Q. What did you think when you did that diving backhand volley, he had a wide open court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I was more worried about whether I was going to get up or not than whether he was hitting the ball in.

Q. How is your leg?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not too bad. Just like I just jarred my hip a little bit. Just landed right on the bone. It's not the smartest thing to go diving on hard court.

Q. How much did Melbourne come into your mind during that match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Into the mind?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think it came into his mind a lot. He just kept sort of playing exactly the confident tennis that he was playing in Melbourne. Serving well, hitting big forehands. It was coming into my mind a little bit only because I was getting a little frustrated I couldn't break serve. I wasn't having that many chances. When I did get a small opportunity, he came out and served an unreturnable or an ace. I just kept telling myself to hang in there today, I wasn't playing great tennis, but if you get your chance, you just have to take it. In the end, I kept hanging in on match points, even when I was serving for it. I could sense he was getting a little tight in that game. I knew if I could get it back to 5-All, things could turn around. In the end, I did. Very easily it could have been the other way around.

Q. When a guy has had a big win like that, like he did at the Aussie Open, does it make you more anxious to beat him? Do you start the match thinking that way?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. I think I'm probably more aware of the way that he can play, give him more respect as a player. He played pretty faultless tennis against me in Melbourne. There really wasn't much I could do about it. But, you know, there's not a reason why he hasn't won a Grand Slam if he can keep playing that kind of tennis, as well. There's going to be days when he's a little bit off. If you get those chances to take him on those days, you've got to take him.

Q. When you said it was a bigger stage, do you still feel nervous walking out into a big environment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It wasn't nervous. It was just different conditions. I hadn't been out there. Last year when I came here and played, I had a week of preparation between winning San Jose and starting Indian Wells, so I practiced on the court, got a feeling for the court, the balls. It just felt totally different to me today. That's why I said halfway through, this isn't about playing your best tennis, this is about getting through this match, finding a way to win, coming out tomorrow, hopefully for the rest the tournament, build it up and get better and better. I got through it. Hopefully I can get better.

Q. What things do you think you need to do to improve?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I just got to feel the ball a little bit better. I think I served well in patches. I can still improve that. I just got to step up in the court and take my chances when I'm given them.

Q. What did he tell you at the net? He took time to tell you something.

LLEYTON HEWITT: At the end? We were both sort of laughing. I don't know. I'm not sure. I think I said, "Sorry, mate." I don't know what he said. "Good luck," I think. It was more I think we were, I don't know, laughing at the situation because it very easily could have been -- a half hour, 45 minutes before that we could have been shaking hands.

Q. The bit of fun at the end with the kid and the remote control cars, is it my imagination or did you let him win?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, he was too good (laughter).

Q. What can you hope a win like this does for you getting through the next round?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's sometimes nice to get through a tough match. I don't feel physically fatigued because of this. It's only three sets. I didn't feel like I had to do that much running today out there. So I feel fit enough to go through the next hopefully five matches in five days. It's a little bit of a wake-up call, I guess, as well. Yeah, it's nice to sort of have an escape like that and to go out there, you know, just take it one match at a time. Obviously, Kafelnikov tomorrow, it's not going to be an easy match either. The draw just gets tougher and tougher. It's a little bit of relief to go through the next round after saving match points.

Q. On the match point against you when you were serving at 3-5, he appeared to make a very strong service return, you had kind of a high ball back. Did you have any concern that ball might be out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I knew that one was in. Yeah, I think he was actually -- he felt it may have been going out. The end he was playing was with the breeze. You know, I was sitting there, and I actually thought it was going in most of the time. I was still worried that he could turn around, and it was going to be an easier shot for him to whack a forehand winner off of. I think he played a backhand cross-court. I saw a huge opening up the line and went for it. It paid off.

Q. Would you have given him the point if the linesman miss-called? Would you give him the ball, a point?


Q. Would you play fair play?


Q. Let's say you missed that ball and you just saw that he didn't. Would you give him the point?

LLEYTON HEWITT: On that point?

Q. A particular situation.

LLEYTON HEWITT: There's not a hundred percent of the time where you're right. It works every way, I guess. There's a lot of calls out there which I felt like didn't go -- did not go with me at all, and there's other situations where they go with you. But the players aren't a hundred percent right all the time either. So it's a little bit -- that's why umpires and lines-people are out there. It's very tough actually to call lines. I know when I've played practice sets and that now, you're so used to having lines-people and umpires, when you're actually out there playing, you miss so many calls yourself because you're actually worried about hitting the ball. Close calls, there's millimeters in how close it is, whether a little bit of fur touches the line. Obviously, I think if there is some clear mistakes, it's obviously disappointing, and that's why you see some players reacting the way they do.

Q. What about Kafelnikov?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, tough player, especially on this kind of court. Apart from clay, maybe even these days it's his best kind of surface. Second round of a big tournament, it's a tough draw. I've got to go out there and play my game. I have to play better than I did today. You know, I played him in Paris Indoors, and I thought he actually played well that day. Tight two set match. Second set went to a breaker. Even though I've had the wood on him the last few times, we've had some pretty good matches the last few years.

Q. War seems likely in the middle east now. Do you have any concerns about safety, with all the traveling?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've probably got the same concerns I guess as anyone. There's not really much we can do about it, though. We're professional athletes, we have to travel. But obviously I think after the whole September 11th thing, I think it sent a shock wave through everyone.

Q. Are you happy that Kafelnikov is still playing, although he declared he would retire?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a strange one, wasn't it? I guess he didn't win a match in the Davis Cup final, so I don't know, maybe that's his out. Yeah, I think Yevgeny has still got good years left in him. There's no doubt about it. Yeah, I don't know what he'd do if he did retire. He'd play golf. I don't know what else. I think he's good to still have around. He's definitely good enough to still be around and in the Top 20 or Top 10 maybe again.

End of FastScripts….

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