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adidas International

January 13, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. Well, that's the ideal preparation: Six matches going to the Australian Open.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I've been getting better with each match that I've played the last week and last two weeks really. And it's nice to cap it off with a tournament win as well this year. It's always nice to get one early in the year, and, you know, no better than doing it in Australia as well. So I felt like today I really started hitting the ball well, and I think I can take a lot of confidence about beating a, you know, guy ranked No. 4 in the world going into the Australian Open.

Q. Can you make a comparison between today's match and the match you played against him in Melbourne last year. And, if so, is that an indication of how far you've come in twelve months?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. One's a Grand Slam, one's a tournament final. You know, Magnus was hitting the ball very well this time last year. I think he's hitting it pretty well. I'd say he definitely didn't play quite as well as he did last year in the Australian Open, whether that's got a bit to do with he's a bit tired from yesterday or it's not a Grand Slam or whatever. I think I'm definitely hitting the ball better than I was in that match, in that particular match. Whether that's got to do with I haven't played as many matches as I had going into that match against him last year, so maybe I was a little worn out going into that one. But I felt like out there today I moved the ball around well, I didn't make too many errors from the baseline, and when I was able to keep good depth out there, I won most of the points.

Q. It was June, your last title. Does it feel like a long time since then to win another one given that you've been in the Top 10 all that time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not really. I think I've played so many big matches since that time that it -- I haven't really been thinking about winning too many tournaments. I've been going in and, you know, doing well in most of the big tournaments. And, you know, the big step for me sort of after that Queen's and after Wimbledon, that was to start doing well in the Masters Series events then the Grand Slams. I think I started completing that sort of goal by the end of the year, making the semis of the US Open, the final of Stuttgart where I was feeling ordinary that whole week and, you know, so close to actually winning that title. Then the Davis Cup finals. So I've had so many big matches lately, it doesn't really feel like I've missed out on too many titles.

Q. Lleyton, were you disappointed at all that you weren't really extended in the second set particularly? Would you have liked to have been threatened more than you were today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, the first set was very hard out there. I thought it was very good tennis out there, particularly the first set. You know, I raised my game, I think, at the start of the second. You know, I think it was pushing probably about 50-something minutes for the first set. It was hard hitting out there. There weren't too many cheap points. You know, I think Magnus was probably a little tired still from yesterday as well. That's why he sort of gave me a bit of a cheap game in the second game in the second set which sort of got my confidence up, and I was able to extend it from there. But it's always nice in a final to get through in straight sets.

Q. Are you confident you've got plenty in reserve for the next two weeks?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope so. Yeah, you never quite know, I suppose, until you get out there. And a lot's got to do with how you get through your first couple of matches, if you do, you know. So it's really hard to say in Grand Slams, I suppose, just best-of-five sets and how many tough matches or how much energy you've got to waste in your first few rounds. Come the end of the second week, you're still sort of feeling fresh, you know. At the moment I couldn't be happier, I think - the way that I'm hitting the ball, the way that I've got better with every match I've played. There's still a big question mark, but it's over everyone in the draw.

Q. You made reference in your speech to the pressure you felt in Barcelona, or certainly the way the crowd reacted to you in Barcelona. In terms of going into a big event in Australia, can you possibly say what is more pressure, is it playing in Australia in front of your home fans, or is it kind of being the naughty boy everyone wants to beat in Spain?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't really feel too much pressure playing in Australia. You know, I think the guys in the past have struggled playing in Australia just because the weight of expectations. I don't really feel that. I feel that this is where I was brought up, I've got -- the conditions suit me, the courts suit me, the climate. There's so many bonuses, I think, for me. Plus, I've got the crowd on my side. For me, you know, this is where it all started: Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne for me, my tennis career. So I don't feel any added pressure going out there. Sure, I want to do well, and if there's one Grand Slam I want to win it's the Australian Open. But I don't put any added pressure on myself going out there feeling like I've got to perform out there.

Q. This time last year we were sitting here talking to you after you had won two titles in Adelaide and Sydney. With one title under your belt, do you feel better placed going into Melbourne this year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a learning experience. Last year I went out there and I didn't feel like I was going to peak for Adelaide and Sydney and win both tournaments if you asked me before Adelaide. Things just happen. When I get out on the court, I give 100 percent in every match I play. I had better preparation going into Adelaide last year. And maybe because I played singles and doubles every week it took a little bit more out of me as well. This year, I stuck to singles. So far it's been paying off. I feel like I'm, you know, getting some of that sort of energy back in the legs I think out on the court. I was really struggling in the first few matches that I played in Adelaide, as I said. I've just been happier because I worked pretty hard after I lost in Adelaide there. If I did go out in the first round here, it was something I was going to have to say, you know, I haven't had the greatest preparation. I got through the first couple of rounds here, and now I think it's paying off.

Q. What do you think of the crystal vase? What will you do with it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's very nice, I like this tournament. You get a nice trophy. (Inaudible.) It sits up in my bedroom really, next to the Davis Cup trophy.

Q. On a different note, Lleyton, Pat Cash reportedly made some disparaging remarks about some women players on the WTA Tour. How do you feel about him calling Lindsay Davenport a little bit overweight, referring to other players as being overweight, since you're a guy who has a bit of an interest in the women's Tour?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I haven't heard what Pat said. I don't know much about it. It's got nothing to do with me really. Lindsay Davenport's won so many Grand Slams, I got no right to come in on her. She's a great player. To tell you the truth, I think she's in pretty good shape for a girl who's so big and so strong. I think Pat maybe opens his mouth a little bit too often.

Q. Just looking ahead to the draw in Melbourne, have you had a chance to look at who's around you? You've got some very unseeded but quite solid players in your half: Haas and Jonas and Rios.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm just concentrating on Jonas. That's the only guy I got to worry about. You know, if I get through that one, then I'll start worrying about the rest. You know, I feel like if I, you know, I can get through the first couple of rounds and get deep in the tournament, then I have a definite chance. But until then, I'm just concentrating on my first match and, you know, hopefully I can get through it and hopefully I won't have to waste too much energy in it as well.

Q. Can you relax at any stage during these next two weeks? If so, how do you do it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's very hard. Yeah, Melbourne's such a big sporting city, and, you know, everywhere you go obviously tennis is so big there at the moment that you're going to get recognized everywhere. So, you know, whether I go to the movies occasionally on my days off or whatever. But it's just really kicking back, and it's good that the cricket and stuff is on TV so we can watch that as well. You know, there's not a hell of a lot to do apart from concentrating on the matches ahead.

Q. Are you someone who's able to sort of come down from the highs of matches pretty well and then get back up again for the next one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's something that I've had to learn I think in the last two or three years. I think in the past when I've had some big wins it's very hard, especially when you're a 16 -, 17-year-old in your first few Grand Slams and you start beating guys - for example, probably the Pioline match at the Australian Open a few years ago. It was hard to come down from that cloud that I was on for that night. It was very hard to get to sleep. I probably didn't get to sleep until four or five in the morning, after you have massages and everything. I had to come out, play doubles the next day, back it up with singles the day after. It's something that I'm learning to do though.

Q. Have you been given any indication as to when you might start your first match? And, if not, would you prefer Monday or Tuesday?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I haven't heard anything. It doesn't really worry me. What comes out, comes out. You know, whichever side of the draw they play, you know, it's a toss of the coin.

Q. What sort of a setup do you have in Melbourne? Do you always stay at the same place, do you surround yourself with the same people to keep things on an even keel?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I just hang around with family and friends. I have, you know, my best mate from Adelaide comes over to watch as well. So it's just important to relax as much as possible really. You know, obviously, as I said, it's very hard in such a big city where sport is such a big part of everyone's life in Melbourne, and, you know, I just like hanging around relatives and friends and stuff like that. So that's all I'm going to be doing sort of during my breaks when I'm not practicing or playing.

Q. Do you hide yourself away when you're not on court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I wouldn't say I hide myself away, but I definitely try to keep out of the spotlight as much as possible I think. Especially during those two weeks, you know, it's a very important time for me. And, you know, it is such a high priority, the Australian Open, on my calendar. So, you know, I've got to really be very mentally strong I think during those two weeks.

End of FastScripts....

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