March 13, 2002
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
MODERATOR: Lleyton advances to the third round, will take on the winner of Jan-Michael Gambill and Jiri Novak. With the win today, he's now won 14 straight matches in the US going back to last year's US Open. Questions.
Q. Talk about the conditions out there today.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I don't think too many matches today are going to be too pretty out there. It's tough conditions. You've just got to try to hang in there as much as you can and adapt your game. Yeah, you're not really worried about playing with too much rhythm out there. You're just trying to find a way to win for yourself. You know, it's basically playing ugly and trying to get through today.
Q. Why in these last two matches have you sort of started a bit slowly?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. Today it was more with the wind, I felt, swirling a little bit around. I just wasn't confident, you know, going out there and hitting the ball straight up. Yesterday I thought -- two days ago I thought Carlos came out, and he was very aggressive right from the start. He sort of put the pressure on me a little bit. Two days ago, it was a lot easier to get back in the match than it was today.
Q. Was the dust a problem at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was. You know, down the far end, you know, in your eyes the whole time. So it was getting pretty tough. What I saw on the TVs when I came in, I think the outside courts are going to be a lot tougher, as well. With the Stadium Court sort of surrounded a little bit out there, it's probably a little bit easier.
Q. The most different and difficult conditions you have played in?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's up there. US Open two years ago when I played Enqvist in the Round of 16, we played a night match. It was a cyclone, it felt like out there. Today and that match back then at Flushing Meadows were the two, the worst conditions I've had to play through. Just as I said before, you have to try to adjust your game. You don't try to pound winners left, right and center. You have to try and play smart, play within yourself a little bit.
Q. Do you change the spin you put on the ball?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You're changing everything. Especially on center court today, it felt like the breeze was coming straight down the court, as well. The court is on a little bit of a slope, as well. It was tough conditions. Especially up the far end I was playing, it felt like if you couldn't win your two games up the end with the breeze, you were starting right behind the eight ball straightaway. That was important for me to hold my first service game in the third set down at the tough end.
Q. Let's say you do have to play Gambill next. You beat him the last time. He's been a player that has sort of had your number in the past.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, he's a tough player. Big game. When he's on, there's not too many players who he can't beat, I don't think. He's had a few niggling injuries I think over the last couple of years. That's probably why -- I'm not sure if he's sitting around 20 or not at the moment. He's got a lot of potential. He's got a big game. But, yeah, I felt like I played really well in San Jose a couple of weeks ago against him in the semis. If I play like that again, then I'm definitely with a good chance.
Q. Unusual thing to have a No. 1 seed play at 10:00 in the morning. Did you ask for an early match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I didn't request anything. Right now I won't complain, though. I'd rather be in talking to you guys and having lunch than getting ready to play this afternoon in that weather. I'm not complaining. Doesn't worry me too much.
Q. What do you do for the rest of the day?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot. I would have thought about maybe playing a few holes of golf. If the weather stays like this, won't be playing too much. Not a lot, just put the feet up.
Q. You mentioned at your last tournament how very much you like In-N-Out Burger. For your lunch, are you going to seek one out?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I won't. I'm not sure what I'll have. I'll have to go down there. Something healthy, I think, considering I'm playing tomorrow again.
Q. Who do you consider your biggest threat?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Mate, in this tournament or left in the tournament or what?
Q. On the ATP.
LLEYTON HEWITT: There's not one player that I'm particularly worried about. There's a lot of guys out there who can play the game, who are capable of getting to No. 1 in their own right. That's talking about a lot of the young guys coming up. There's Safin, Haas, Federer.
Q. Do you consider yourself older when you say the younger guys?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'd probably put myself in that category. We're talking about -- you can never count guys out like Agassi, Sampras, Henman getting up there, as well . You never count those guys out of it. They're contenders I think for the Masters at the end of the year. Roddick, Haas, Federer, Ferrero - all these guys - I find these guys are going to be holding up the Grand Slams in the years to come.
Q. Do you like more a defensive game or an attacking game, serve and volley? What is your preference?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Me playing against or me personally?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I play mainly from the baseline. I don't know. That's the way I grew up. That's how I played. I'm not the biggest guy around.
Q. Sampras was saying the other day that it's harder to stay at No. 1 than to get there the first time. Granted you're not going to be there forever. There will be times when you drop away from No. 1. For you to get back there, do you think it's going to be as tough?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's hard to say. You know, I'm not really worried about it. I've been there. At the moment I'm still sitting there. I'm loving it there. You know, if I do lose it or when I do lose it or whatever, you know, it's not that big a deal I don't find for me. I think, you know, when the time comes, you never know what's around the corner I don't think either, injuries, whatever. So I find I go out there and play my game. Nothing's really changed since I've been No. 1 with my game except believing that I'm able to match it with the best players in the world week-in and week-out on most surfaces.
Q. The fact that you've done it has taken the monkey off your back?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. If I get to (sic) No. 1 in the world, I'm not going to go and cry about it. As I said before, you know, it's every kid's dream. My dream growing up, you know, was to win a Grand Slam, to get to No. 1 at some stage, and to win the Davis Cup. You know, for me to be able to do it last year by the age of 20, all those three things, it's incredible. You know, you've really got to sit back and, you know, enjoy those memories and moments. But also I feel like I can do a little bit better still as well.
Q. Has your lifestyle changed since you've been No. 1?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I don't like too many changes. You know, I don't think my head's sort of gone off my shoulders just yet anyway. So I'm still levelheaded about it all. It's great to have had the wins that I had at the end of last year, to have played as well as I did in that last quarter of the year. As I said, I still feel like I've got, you know, things to achieve in this sport.
Q. The early hard court season has a history of players getting hot. You've already won San Jose, off to a good start here. Do you feel now that you're off for a good stretch, do you feel in your gut you can put together a kind of streak and do really well in these two big hard court tournaments?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's hard to say. You know, I feel like I'm capable of it. I feel like if I hit the ball, then I've got a chance of beating anyone on any given day. There's a lot of tough players left in this tournament. Miami, you start all over again. The more confidence and the more wins I'm going to get, the tougher it's going to be I think to beat me, as well. You know, obviously your confidence is going to grow the longer you can sort of keep that winning streak going.
Q. How long does the confidence from the San Jose run stay with you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think, you know, you've always got it in the back of your mind, the way that you played there, you know, the way that you know you are able to play. Especially coming off a two- or three-month break, knowing you can perform at that level. You've sort of got a little bit of a mark you know can you go up to when you need to.
Q. Have you talked to Patrick Rafter in the last couple days? Do you think he is retired?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't know. I don't think anyone knows. I don't think he knows.
Q. You haven't talked to him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've spoken to him a few times. I've got no idea what his future plans are with tennis or anything.
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