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March 13, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. That second set was a bit up and down, wasn't it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I felt like I got off to a really good start at the start of the match, got on top of him early, was a set and a break up. Then I played a bit of a dodgey service game on my serve there, gave him a bit of a sniff. Just did a cheap second serve, double-fault, right at the bottom of the net, missed a couple short forehands. To his credit, he kept fighting well, definitely raised his game and played a lot better than he did in the first set. I was happy to get back on him at the start of the third set and put the pressure back on him.

Q. When you went into that match, any thoughts going back to Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, definitely a few thoughts. Yeah, definitely motivated me a little bit more out there.

Q. How were conditions today? Was it hot? Did it bother you at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was pretty hot, but not too bad. Definitely played in a lot hotter conditions than that. But, you know, I felt pretty good out there. You know, it started getting a bit gusty with the breeze out there towards the end of the second and the third set. But it didn't really affect anyone, I don't think.

Q. You played some pretty long points, particularly in the first set. Almost looked like clay court tennis. Any way can you shorten them up or do you want to go out there and rally with him till you beat him down?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I thought I attacked on the right points, you know, pretty much at least three-quarters of the match. The courts are a lot slower out the back than I think Centre Court is. I only hit on Centre Court this morning. I warmed up on it. You know, I felt it was coming on a lot quicker than the outside courts. I think the balls are so heavy, it's unbelievable.

Q. It's early in the season. Where do you see your game right now? Where do you stand?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, so far this year I think I've played some of my best tennis that I've ever played. I've played some ordinary tennis, as well, I think. You know, definitely in Davis Cup, on grass, I played fantastic against Ecuador. That's as good a tennis as I've ever played, I think. Sydney, the second half of that, I played very well. Australian Open, I felt like I hit the ball pretty well, even though, you know, I played some great players there. The last couple of weeks, I've been very up and down, I think. You know, the Rios match a few nights ago in Scottsdale was one of the best matches I've ever played. But then, you know, the next day I came out and I was a little bit tired, you know, I didn't play up to scratch against Clavet.

Q. Any reason as to why it's been a bit up and down the last couple of weeks?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. I think a little bit's had to do with, you know, the illness late last year, I wasn't able to put in a lot of, you know, hard hours off court, which I normally do in that sort of December, just before January period, to sort of set you up for at least the start or the first half of the year. I wasn't able to do that, due to so many tournaments I had to play at the end of last year with finals in Lisbon, the Davis Cup final the week after that. It just felt like, you know -- felt like Australia to Adelaide before I knew it. I hardly hit a ball before going into Adelaide. I didn't do any running or any preparation. That's not what I'm used to going into there. At some stage when I get a couple weeks off, really sort of put some miles back in the legs.

Q. Do you feel your game has matured? Are you looking to add new dimension to it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it has a little bit. I still got areas of my game that I've got to work on if I want to consolidate my spot in the Top 10, try to get up in the Top 5. You know, obviously more cheap points off my first serves, you know, is a big key. In the big matches that I have won, late last year, early this year, you know, I've served very well, doubled the aces that I normally serve, I've got a lot more cheap points off my first serve. The other area is probably, you know, to come into the net a little bit more and put a bit more pressure on my opponents, just a little bit more doubt in their mind, I think, as well.

Q. So is it a case of doing it better or doing it differently?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a case of doing it more in the practice court and trying to bring it into matches. You know, I'm trying to do it in practice as much as possible. But, you know, to actually have that confidence and that self-belief to do it in the matches is another thing, to gradually build it. I just turned 20, I don't have "By 21 I've got to be doing it." It's a gradual thing. I'm winning matches at the top level by playing my own games. I've still got these areas, these weaknesses in my game, that can I improve on and I'm going to be a better player because of it.

Q. Last year you were one of only two players to be in the Top 10 of the Champions Race every week. This year you've dropped out a couple of times. Does that matter to you? Does it bother you? Is the actual ranking what's more important?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I think the actual ranking for me, you know, I really couldn't care two hoots if I was in it every week of last year or not. Really, there's no prizes for that. I'm looking at the entry system ranking. That's what I base my calendar year around. That's what, you know -- I'm sitting around six, seven, at the moment. That's a career high for me at the moment. I want to try to get in the Top 5 as soon as I can. There is a big gap between 6 and 5. If I win Adelaide, I'm No. 1 in the world. Rios was No. 1 after he won Doha. Agassi, Sampras, Kafelnikov haven't picked up a racquet yet.

Q. You would say then that the entry system is a true evaluation of a player's worth?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think so. You know, to see guys, you know, whoever, some of the guys who may be ranked 70 or 80 in the world, they're in the Top 10 for the first two weeks, you know, you have Agassi and Sampras who haven't played. You know, I just -- Thomas Enqvist is a perfect example. He didn't play the whole January circuit. We don't have him on the whole thing.

Q. Do you think the tour should go on using one system?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, I think they're now trying to do it to help out the public. You know, if people who are inside tennis are struggling with handling two, what are the public going to see? They see on ESPN only Agassi and Sampras results, yet it comes up he's ranked 50 after week one or something in the Champions Race. That doesn't make a lot of sense.

Q. Just going back to today's match, if you put the second set to one side, you're pretty happy with the way it went?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I just had a little bit of a lapse in concentration there for that one service game, then he took a couple of injury times there at crucial times late in the second set. That's when I had to come out. I dropped serve again after being 30-Love up there. If I put that aside, I think I played a pretty good match. I was pretty mentally tough out there and I felt like I moved the ball well.

End of FastScripts....

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