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May 17, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt

ATP: Questions, please.

Q. What were the circumstances that might have made it so difficult for you to finish off that match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He is a showman. Didn't play so many bad points; doublefaulted on the first matchpoint, but apart from that, he came up with some unbelievable shots in the matchpoints and it was very little luck. I felt like I played a high standard throughout the whole match and he had about ten or fifteen minutes there where he got on a roll. He got very pumped up and he hit some unbelievable shots. But that is Andrew Ilie.

Q. He is difficult to play against given that he is a bit theatrical and gets the crowd going as well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he is tough. He just plays totally different. I have been lucky enough, I have got through the matches pretty comfortably the times that I have played him, but he comes out, sometimes you are just sitting there in surprise when he comes up with these shots and goes for these shots. Normally you are expecting one kind of shot from a player and he comes up with a totally different kind of shot from what you are expecting. I just had to stay patient out there and sort of weather the storm and I knew I'd get up again.

Q. Given that you played late last night then again today, how do you feel physically?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not bad. It's always tough coming off a late night, playing the next day. I felt pretty good out there today fitness-wise. I feel like I am getting better and better fitness-wise, just playing on the clay, getting some miles on the legs again. After a bit of a break and I was a little bit weaker I think last week in Rome I am definitely moving a lot better this week.

Q. The atmosphere last night was a bit strange. There were not many people and it was cold and do you think in some ways that prepares you well for some of the matches you might play in the French Open, particularly like the one against Costa last year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's hard to say, that was an unusual match, to be playing with only about 10, 20 people, playing in rain, I couldn't work it out last year, but that is not my call. But next day we came back, it was a pretty big crowd, finished the match. Normally the crowds in Paris are huge and very loud and love to get into the matches. I shouldn't have that problem. Last night it was obvious, pretty tough to get into the match. I didn't really get a lot of rhythm in the first set; then sort of got the ball rolling in the second set. Could have been 6-2, 6-1 if I played properly.

Q. Do you feel on track for Paris?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not bad. I feel like my game is definitely getting better. Each time I step out there I am getting more and more confident again. I still want to go up a couple notches going into Paris. I still got a week and a bit before that, maybe good matches next week in Dusseldorf against high quality opponents. No matter how I far go this week that is good enough, in the back of my mind knowing that I am still going to get a lot of good matches even though if something did happen here.

Q. What do you think you have to work on leading up to the French?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably just stay aggressive out there. I think when I play aggressive out there today I felt in control of the match. I think I have just got -- that is going to be my base, and I felt like I did that well against Guga and Meligeni in Brazil. I think I could do that hopefully for seven matches in Paris.

Q. Does it bother you that you have dropped your serve a few times in the last two days?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. This isn't Paris clay, not even close, so this is a totally different kind of clay and I don't think Guga and Andre and those guys will be too worried about going out early here because it means nothing going into Paris.

Q. Given the most of the seeds have gone now before the quarterfinals, do you think that is a good example of how unknowns perhaps can win a title like the French Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. I think there is not too many unknowns normally win it. Guga was a great example of an unknown winning it, sort of coming from 60 or 70 in the rankings, I think, but still when I look at it this year, I think obviously the guys who won Slams I think are going to be the favorite. Then you have probably got Ferrero and myself sort of just coming up in that bracket. Guys like Federer and these guys who can knock guys off but I think the other guys ranked, you know, over 50 and so can definitely cause some upsets but to be out of the draws seven matches in a row, that is going to be tough.

Q. You don't think there is too much to be read into the fact that the big names are missing here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Nothing, absolutely nothing. As I said, this is a totally different kind of clay. Come Paris it's going to be a different story.

Q. You have got used to the new hairstyle; are you happy with that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's not bad. Won a few matches with it. It's hanging in there.

Q. You think you will stick with it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think I might shave it.

Q. Why do you think so many seeds have gone out at this tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: There is probably different reasons, I think. You know, Agassi and Sampras probably haven't played a lot of clay; particularly Sampras. Guga came off a tough five-set match in Rome; that is why you got to take your hat off to Ferrero obviously he has got a lot of confidence up in the moment as well which is a totally different story, but, you know, Norman is probably a little bit down on confidence at the moment, but come Grand Slam times he has been in Grand Slam finals he knows what it is all about and that is when the pressure really sets in. The Masters Series tournaments are big, no doubt about that, but come Grand Slam times and those guys who have been there Saturday and Sunday, of the Finals in Grand Slams, they know what it is all about. I think Magnus and those guys are going to as soon as they get into Paris they are going to go up a couple of notches.

Q. Does it give you anymore confidence that you are one of only two seeds left in the tournament and you have got a relatively easy passage through to the possible final?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Nothing is easy, mate. I got Gaudio or Squillari. Gaudio beat Safin. He is one of the up-and-coming clay court greats, I think, Squillari made the semifinals of the French. On these courts, you know, those South American guys are going to be very tough.

Q. Any preferences?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't matter to me. See what happens.

End of FastScripts....

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