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March 15, 2002

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Lleyton improves to 32-4 since the beginning of last year's US Open. He's now won nine matches in a row for the 2002 season. It is his 9th career Tennis Masters Series semifinal. Questions for Lleyton.

Q. We saw the softer side of yourself, when the ball hit the girl. You tried to play around the post?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I actually tried to go over the net (laughter). I miscued it. Thomas was obviously in a pretty good position, though, at that point. I miscued it a little bit. As it turned out, if it was a little bit wider, it probably would have gone around the post and close to in. It was unfortunate, the angles, came off and sconned her.

Q. What did you say to her?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I just asked her how she was. She looked like she had a delayed reaction a little bit. First off it had hit her, I don't think she realized what had quite happened, then she probably felt the pain. I just asked her if she was all right. She said yes a couple times. I think she was trying to hold back the tears on national TV.

Q. Stats to one side, do you think you have Enqvist's number?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's hard to say, to have a guy's number who is such a great player and such an explosive player, as well. But I've definitely, you know, had the upper hand the last few meetings. I lost the first time in the final of Adelaide when I was defending after my first win. Then the next year I actually got him in the final, so that was a nice feeling. Since then, it's sort of been, you know, a little bit one-sided my way, which is nice. I just felt confident. I felt like I saw the ball extremely well out there today. I was reading his first serves pretty well. I was able to move the ball around. I moved extremely well. It's just one of those matches that I played my game and maybe looked at a few areas of his game and it matched up well.

Q. The announcer on television said you had a walk of invincibility. What do you think of that comment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. A bit silly maybe. A bit silly. You know, I feel good out there at the moment. I feel confident. I feel -- I'm just taking it one match at a time, though, because a couple of months ago I was feeling pretty ordinary. I didn't really expect to come back and play this well and have these kind of results straight off, and win - what is it - nine matches in a row now. Obviously, I'm getting more and more confident. Fitness level-wise, I feel pretty good out there.

Q. Can you talk about the possibility of playing Pete again.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, you know, if I have to play Pete, it's going to be, you know, another tough match. You know, he's playing well. You can never write Pete off, that's for sure. And, yeah, he'll be probably looking to get some revenge from the US Open final, as well. I just go out there and play my game, yeah, basically not worry about his game too much. I'm going to have to return extremely well, make a lot of balls back.

Q. Has not losing another match for the rest of the year crossed your mind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all. It's a bit hard to do that.

Q. Do you think the break you had at the beginning of the year was, in a way, good because it took you off the game, your mind off the game for a while?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's hard to say. You know, it's frustrating as well, though. You know, maybe in hindsight, it may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise, I don't know. It's hard sitting back and watching the Australian Open, and knowing that, you know, the way I was playing going intoo it, that I was a contender. You know, getting struck by an illness a week or so before the tournament was disappointing to me. I felt like I really had good rhythm. I won both my matches in the Hopman Cup before I had to pull out of there. I really did feel good. But it was really only the sort of energy level that really hurt me.

Q. Do you feel in a way a little more fresher than the guys who played maybe more than you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. I spoke about it the other day. I feel like in some ways I like playing a lot of matches, being match-hardened. It's been tough the first couple rounds in both these last two events that I've played, you know, because you don't have that match fitness, that match toughness yet. So I feel like I get better and better as the tournament goes on. And it's going to take a while to get that back after a three-month break.

Q. How far down the road do you think you are in this comeback to where you were at the end of last year, let's say at a hundred percent, as an example? Where would you say you are now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I'm playing pretty well. I feel like fitness level, you know, I haven't played a five-set match yet, but I've played, you know, an extremely tough final in San Jose which nearly went three hours, that's probably equivalent to, you know, most five-set matches. I'd say against Andre, I actually came out pretty well I thought at the end of that match. I had, you know, stuff left in the tank. You know, it's hard to sort of rate yourself where you are because some days I'll wake up and I feel I have a bit more rhythm, playing better, seeing the ball better than other days. Today was a lot better, I think the best match I've played during the week, the last matches against Gambill and Enqvist.

Q. Would it have any special meaning for you to beat both Andre and Pete in a three -week period of time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't even look who's up the other end. You know, a win's a win.

Q. Taking that a bit further, I know you get up for every match that you play. When it's somebody like Andre Agassi or Sampras, or that caliber, do you get up even more for those?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's not something that I focus on, playing Agassi or Sampras, one of the greatest players ever to live, "We've got to get up for this one." I think you're up within yourself because you know you've got to be up playing those guys because if you're slightly off, they're going to make you look silly out there. They're that kind of players. They're, you know, extremely tough. If you're not on the top of your game, you know, you can't go with those kind of guys. Some of the other guys you can maybe get through not playing your best tennis. With those two, you know, you can't. But I don't think it's something that I think about, "All right, you've got to, you know, get up even further for this game." I go out there and I give everything I got every time.

Q. Can you talk about Rainer in case he does upset Pete today, Schuettler?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've never played Rainer. I think he's one of the, you know, players who's probably improved the most. I think he started off really well in the tournaments in Doha, Dubai, stuff like that at the start of the year. He's a tough player. He made the semis I think last week in Scottsdale, so it's no surprise to see him do well here I don't think. He's a totally different kind of player to Pete, though. He's very quick around the court, returns extremely well, big groundstrokes. But, you know, it will be a different match-up for me whichever one I have to play.

End of FastScripts….

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