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adidas International

January 12, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. Was that a good workout for you or more of a struggle? Which one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was good. It's always nice to have a tough match going into a Grand Slam, and Sebastien's a very tough player to play. He's going to be around for a lot more years at the top, top 20. Top 10 I think he can get into. He's got a very big forehand and he uses his serve well for a smaller guy. I'm happy just to get through it, and I get another match tomorrow. And, you know, better again I get to defend the title.

Q. How do you feel about playing Norman? How do you think that will go?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Magnus is a great player. I lost to him a couple of times last year in big events. Playing him in a final in Australia's going to be nice as well. I get to play him on rebound ace again, and it's a big game to be playing, again, going into the Australian Open next week.

Q. How do you feel about playing Jonas Bjorkman in the first round in Melbourne?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, he's a tough player. You know, I think anyone in a Grand Slam is going to be tough, but he plays well. He's obviously hitting the ball well. I think also as we saw in the match today he's in good form. I'm going to have my work cut out with him.

Q. Can I ask you how you feel about the possibility of Pat Rafter finishing at the end of this year, and what has he done for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I -- you know, I don't know what Pat's been thinking or, you know, what he's going about retiring or whatever. You know, he's been fantastic to me. He's been like an older brother on the Tour. You know, he really took me under his wing when I was sort of 15 and sort of just coming into the Davis Cup team and, you know, he helped me out unbelievable amounts at those Davis Cup ties even though he had huge matches coming up, you know, on the weekends there. For a guy to be doing that when, you know, he's got the country basically on his shoulders for that weekend, you know, he's really just a nice, down-to-Earth guy.

Q. Things are starting to come together for you just at the right time. You've reached the finals here again in Sydney. Your game's coming together. You're moving quite well. The Australian Open is next week. You have a good ranking, good seeding.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think I've -- it's hard to say. You really don't know until you actually get in there, till the Australian Open, you get that feeling around the courts. You know, I think everything's gone as well as I could have planned given that I really didn't give myself much chance of winning Adelaide this year because I had such late preparation for the tournament. You know, definitely for Sydney I did get through a couple of matches in Adelaide, got a little bit of confidence there. I got beaten by a better player in Tommy Haas that week. But to come through to the final gives me a lot more confidence extending to next week. I definitely feel like with each match I'm playing I'm moving a lot better, I'm hitting the ball a lot better, I'm serving a lot better, and my game's really coming together. So hopefully I can keep it going for another two and a half weeks, two and a bit weeks.

Q. Do you think it will give you any advantage tomorrow that you didn't have to play in the heat? Most of your match anyway was played in a lot cooler temperatures than Norman played in.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think -- yeah, probably that I finished a lot later as well. He's probably having dinner at the moment, putting his feet up, watching a bit of TV. I don't think it will play a big part. Maybe if it was a best-of-five match, if he went for four and a half hours or something, it may play a bigger part. He's fit enough, he's been on the Tour long enough, he's played enough long matches, he ought to be able to back it up fine tomorrow.

Q. You seemed to be a bit calmer - if that's the word - tonight playing Sebastien, a bit more in control. Was that out of respect for Sebastien, or did you just want to keep a lid on things?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I just felt like, you know, there's times, you know, when you want to get pumped up. Last night, he had a couple of, you know, very good shots, I think, on the run and passing shots and that, and the crowd was into it and they really enjoyed it I think. Today I didn't hit as many of those sort of flashy winners where you can afford to get pumped up after the point. But, you know, I respect all the guys that I play against. There's no difference in respecting Fabrice last night to Sebastien today. They're both great players. But, you know, it's really just a timing thing. I suppose playing under lights, the crowd was sort of pretty full last night as well, and they were getting into it.

Q. What's your level of excitement coming into a final here with the Australian Open next week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always nice. I love this time of the year, and it's my favorite time of the year coming home and playing the tournaments in my home country. You know, touch wood, so far I've always done well in these tournaments. Melbourne Park means a lot to me. I've been there ever since I was probably nine or ten years old. I've gone and watched the Australian Open ever since it was in Melbourne Park, formerly Flinders Park. When I walk around there, it gives you a buzz. It really does lift you up, I think, being an Australian player walking underneath those sort of corridors down there.

Q. Will you play tomorrow's match any differently?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well. I'll just keep the same tactics. I'm not worrying about my opponent's game too much. I'm just going out there, playing my game plan, sticking to it and hopefully it pays off. If not, I've had a great week. If I end up losing, I lose to a very good player in Magnus.

Q. On that note, Magnus did say that no one can wear him down, that he's quite willing to play five sets in today's heat, so he seems to be gearing up for a fairly hard struggle tomorrow. You would think the same way?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. I think we both play -- well, obviously, we both play a more baseline, aggressive baseline game. It's going to be a bit of a slug fest out there tomorrow I think from the baseline. You know, it's just going to be, you know, only a few points in each set I think is going to sort of see the outcome. I'm going to have to sort of -- he's a very powerful player. I'm going to have to try to overcome his power if I'm going to win the match tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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