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May 11, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.

Q. Well, Lleyton, first of all, thanks for coming in. I know it was only three games, but there was a hell of a lot of effort and energy and everything else that went into it.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always hard coming off a rain delay, especially when you're a set and a break down. You can't be too slow out of the blocks. And yesterday, I, you know, I felt like I really got behind the eight ball the first couple of games of each set. I just, you know, struggled early and didn't get my rhythm going until late in the first set. That's when, you know, I fought back to get in that first set, and didn't play a great tiebreaker. That was a first set gone. And today I had to come out and be, you know, right on my toes right from the start.

Q. A lot of people will be expecting a lot of things from you in the next couple of months. What do you expect of yourself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. You know, it's hard to say. I'm, you know, learning more about particularly playing on clay, you know. Obviously playing in Brazil gave me a lot of confidence, but to be able to play like that match in and match out in the big tournaments, you know, that's still another ball game. So I'm going to have to, you know, raise my level of, you know, competing - especially over at the French Open, over seven matches if you're going to win the title. So I definitely give myself a chance there.

Q. You're ready to win a Grand Slam now, do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I believe in myself, and I believe if I play the way that I did down in Brazil, then I've got a hell of a chance.

Q. The clay in Brazil was different or similar to this one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit different.

Q. You mean faster or...?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about faster. It was different to move on. It was probably, you know, this one is a bit more slippery than the other, the one in Brazil. It wasn't, you know, I'm not sure if that was more of a muddy sort of surface, but, you know, obviously this one probably got a little bit more like that today after the rain yesterday.

Q. You realize you are the only one who beat Kuerten on clay in the last year.

LLEYTON HEWITT: (Nodding.) It's good.

Q. What was your problem when you had the trainer yesterday?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was just getting strange, I was getting a sharp pain in the back of my knee, sort of down a little bit towards the calf area. It was just shooting straight down my calf. So, you know, I was getting a little bit worried about it. It was just getting worse and worse. I got halfway through the first set, and it got worse and worse as it was going on. At first I thought it was a pinched nerve or something, might just go back and be fine after a couple of games, and kept going on. That's why I just called the trainer, and it was nice that the rain came down at that time as well.

Q. No problem with it today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's still a bit sore. It wasn't 100 percent, but they're not really sure what it is. They couldn't really tell. But it was pretty sore.

Q. Have you been doing a lot of running in preparation?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot, no. I put the racquets down and really did nothing for, you know, a good couple of weeks after Brazil. But it's been such a long start to the year, I hadn't had any time off. We played two Davis Cup matches, we prepared for those Davis Cup matches, I played two Masters Series, a Grand Slam, you know, it was pretty full on. Especially after the end of last year as well, it felt like I hadn't had a good break for a long time. So, you know, I didn't do a hell of a lot. So this week, you know, to have beaten Haas is a pretty good win in the second round in straight sets, you know, still to go down to Alex in a tight match where he's definitely one of the best clay court players in the world. So, you know, this week's, I think, been a good start for my clay court preparation.

Q. Do you sort of get your level of fitness back pretty quickly, or does it take you a while?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really, sort of comes pretty quickly.

Q. You said going in to the match that you did see it as a tremendous benefit to actually play Alex on clay, who is one of the top players on this surface. You said you could maybe benefit and learn from it. You found that, did you, hopefully?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I haven't had enough time to reflect fully on it. But for sure, yeah, he plays a different style of game to the Tommy Haases and even Guga. You know, Guga goes for his shots a lot more than Alex does. So, you know, it's nice to know that there are still areas of my game that I've got to work on to play a guy like that. But I feel like I can adjust my game. I think I played a little bit better out there the last three games today, and I had game points in every game. Could have very easily just about snuck out of that second set. I feel like if I go out there and work on a couple of things in my game, then coming into the French Open, I feel confident playing, you know, a player who plays well there.

Q. You won a fair number of the longest rallies, too. There were some pretty long ones out there.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I felt like -- it was strange. I fought my butt off to get back in the first set, had 5-all yesterday, break point, missed a pretty easy second serve really, didn't even give myself a chance. I felt like I was starting to get a little momentum going coming back from 5-3. But, you know, obviously that's disappointing. Today I didn't take the big points when I needed them. You know, that's something that, you know, some days you take them all, some days you don't take any. Hopefully when I get to the French Open I'll take everything.

Q. How old were you when you first saw a red clay court or actually first played on a red clay court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Would have been 13, yeah.

Q. Where was that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: On a junior team, travelled like to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, I think.

Q. Was fairly competitive right through the match, today especially. It seemed at the end it was a pretty firm handshake. I mean, that's the first time you played since Lisbon when all things were said by Alex. Everything seemed fine at the end.

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I haven't said anything. You know, I started nothing. So, you know, he doesn't really fuss me at all. So, you know, I went out there and I just played -- you know, it's another match for me, it's another clay court preparation, and I'm playing one of the best players on clay. That's the way I looked at the match. He was too good on the day.

Q. It seemed there was a long time until there was a "Come on!" Is that just the way it goes sometimes, or you made a conscious effort --?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It doesn't help when you're 3-love down in about five minutes.

Q. You start to pump yourself when you play a good shot, you sometimes get yourself --?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, you know, I feel like I do it at the right times. You know, I got off to a shocking start. Wasn't much to get pumped about. Maybe at times I should have cracked my racquet or something, but I don't know about getting too excited about the way I was playing early yesterday.

Q. What is a key point for you to improve on to be able to compete for the title in Roland Garros, if you had one thing to work on?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably start aggressive a little bit more.

Q. Do you also go on the theory that the more time you can get on a clay court, the better it's going to be for you when you switch back to grass?

LLEYTON HEWITT: What do you mean?

Q. Well, a lot of great champions at Wimbledon have always said over the years that a lot of the preparatory work they do on the clay helps them when they get on the grass because despite what people say, it's not just serve and volley, it is as much your return.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. I don't know, you know, I bombed out last year in the Round of 16, had not a bad clay court season last year, for, you know, one of my first real serious goes on clay. And, you know, I came straight into Queen's seeing the ball like a football there. So it's hard to say. But I felt, you know, I wasn't hitting the ball that well at the French Open last year, and I still made the Round of 16s and still had chances, you know, to beat Costa in that match in the Round of 16s. Then came out, you know, strangely enough and played great the next week. So it was a little bit surprising last year. I'm not really sure how my game will, you know, suit up, whether if you do have a long clay court season, you know, make the weekend there, and back it up on Tuesday at Queen's or Wednesday at Queen's is going to be pretty tough.

Q. Did you view Wimbledon as one of the great disappointments of the year?


Q. Yeah?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's definitely up there. I didn't lose too many first rounds. Probably Wimbledon and the Olympics.

Q. Where do you rate your chances at the French? For us, we say that Kuerten and Ferrero are the strong men on clay. Where do you put yourself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say really. Kuerten definitely is the favorite, I think. You know, the way that he plays in big matches and, you know, he obviously plays well at Roland Garros as well. But Ferrero, you know, he's playing fantastic. You know, to win Barcelona as he did and, you know, to beat Rios and those guys so comfortably the last few days, he's -- obviously he's playing well. I'd rank those two probably the highest as well. You can never take Andre out of it either. I don't think you want to be in his path.

Q. And yourself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, I think there's sort of a handful of guys. To say Guga and Andre, they've probably -- they've been there before. Ferrero, he made a semifinal last year and had chances. There's still the Kafelnikovs, these guys, even Corretja and Moya who have been in Grand Slam finals and they know what it's all about. You know, Ferrero and I are relatively new to trying to make it to that last Sunday of a Grand Slam.

Q. Have you picked up anything yet from your brief doubles experiences with Andre?

LLEYTON HEWITT: How to come back from 5-love down in the third. Never done that before. To do it in doubles is pretty good.

Q. How much had been said between you at that stage, or nothing? Did you just get on with it or what?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We still believed we could win. For me to have a guy, you know -- you know, normally in doubles, with most players you wouldn't think that you could win from 5-love down, got to break maybe two or three times. When you got Andre Agassi on the other side of the court with you, you know, it helps. We knew we were going to make a lot of returns, and we just had to hold serve. In the end, you know, he was really pumped up to win it. It was nice to get out of it.

End of FastScripts....

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