January 9, 2001
THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.
Q. That running forehand down the line was pretty timely.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was strange. I felt like the first set I was in pretty much command of the whole set, yet I had 5-all, Love-40 in that game and ended up losing it because he served too good. Then the next set, I can't remember, 2-all, 3-all, maybe I had 15-40. He served too good out of that one. I was feeling like towards the end of the second set I could have easily been in the showers, having won five and four, pretty much as comfortable as last week. Then I found myself at 5-all, breakpoint down after an overrule after second serve. Had to come up with a big backhand when he came in. Then a very stretched forehand on the run. You know, it is my, I suppose, better shot, though, passing shot. So under pressure it was nice that it came off.
Q. Did he have a rule on that serve?
LLEYTON HEWITT: On the second --.
Q. On that overrule.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Second serve deuce, 30-all, he overruled. There wasn't a call from the linesman.
Q. It was a tough match, good preparation. Just what you need?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. It's -- playing Wayne is the same as last week. You know, there's only one or two, you know, points in the whole match, and two or three sets of tennis that is going to be the outcome of the match. Because, you know, if you get those opportunities to break, you've got to take it. Obviously, it's fantastic that I'm through again, you know. But he is a very tough player to play against just because he's got one of the best serves in the world.
Q. Was it a more difficult match than last week, and did you approach it any differently?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think that I -- it was strange. I felt like I returned the ball a lot better last week. I think he served a lot, you know, pretty much the same as last week. I thought he served pretty big last week as well. My legs were probably a little heavier today because I've been putting in a lot of sort of work on court the last three or four days since I lost in Adelaide. That's all in preparation for the Australian Open, so...
Q. What's it like playing an Aussie and a mate to boot?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always tough. I'd like to play the Australians sort of in the semis or the final of each tournament. That way, win or lose, we both had a good week. But it's always tough playing Aussies, especially in the first or second round. I've got another one coming up tomorrow. Stolty and Scotty Draper played earlier today in the first round. That's what tennis is all about, I suppose. It's luck of the draws. You're going to go out there and put your game face on while you're out there and catch up with them later.
Q. Third set, I saw you reach down. Was there anything you were worried about?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I just went for a backhand pass and my racquet butt handle sort of went into my knee. It went away straight away, so.
Q. How have you been feeling lately?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm definitely not 100 percent still, but I'm working through it and I'm trying to sort of block it out as much as possible. You know, the things that I've got to draw strength from is that I lasted, you know, in the Davis Cup Finals in both matches, that I lasted pretty well in very tough conditions on a surface that really takes it out of your body as well. So that's something that I can draw a lot of positives from going into the Australian Open.
Q. Has you been given a diagnosis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's strange. I've seen a lot of people over the last three or four months. It only came up probably two weeks ago now that a guy suggested having a CAT scan done, and they found that my sinuses were very blocked. They're not 100 percent sure if that's causing the problem though. They think it may be that kind of problem with an allergy-related asthma sort of thing. And the only way of really draining it out is having surgery. I'd be out for three, four, five weeks. So, yeah, at this stage it's not an option. They couldn't really -- they couldn't guarantee that I'd be 100 percent from it anyway after the surgery. So that's in the back of my mind at the moment.
Q. Lleyton, Stoltenberg said he felt quite emotional going out playing against Scott Draper because of their special relationship. How are you going to feel going out for your next match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just going to take it like I did today pretty much. You know, as I said, it's always tough playing the other Aussie guys, especially the guys we hang around with at the Davis Cup ties as well. It was only a few weeks ago that we were all together, sort of pulling for each other, and now you're on the opposite end of a court playing in Australia as well where the crowd's 50-50. So it's a tough situation, but, you know, I've got to go out there. I've got to do a job. I've got to prepare for the Australian Open, and I'm going to do it as well as possible.
Q. Sorry to get back to this health thing just one more time, but have they actually sort of more or less said what you're doing is the best thing: Trying to play through it and forget about it? You can't make it any worse, whatever you do.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, they don't think I can make it worse - the guys that I've seen anyway - which is a nice thing to have in your mind anyway, that you're - I don't know - not going to collapse on court or have problems. So, but I'm taking tablets at the moment to try and stop the inflammation in my chest, and nasal sprays and stuff like what. I'm doing everything possible to get away from surgery.
Q. This year you're only playing in the singles in Adelaide and Sydney. Are you happy with that decision? And how far are you away from what you call peaking for the Australian Open? Last year, you were a little flat when you got to the second week.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a totally different situation than I've ever had really coming into the Australian circuit. I don't think I was left with any options but to pull out, but to not play doubles in Australia just because the year was so long and so tough. You know, that Davis Cup final just took a lot out of me mentally and physically, which I don't think I was ready to bounce back and play singles and doubles both weeks going into the Australian Open. So that was a little bit out of my hands. For the peaking, I think I'm definitely not peaking yet, but I'm getting better with each match I play. I think that's a good thing. I've probably got six days before I have to peak.
Q. How far away are you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. I've played Wayne twice and he's a strange kind of player. He doesn't give you a lot of rhythm. On the practice court, I feel like I'm hitting the ball very well. We'll probably see tomorrow. Andrew's a little bit flamboyant out there as well, so it's going to be a strange match out there I think.
Q. Is there a danger that subconsciously you might be feeling if you exert yourself to the absolute limit this week, it might harm your chances next week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I'm not going out with that mind. I'm going out, taking it one match at a time, going out there to work on the areas of my game that I have to work on for the Australian Open. But also, I'd like to be holding up the trophy come Saturday afternoon as well. You know, there's a lot of good players here. It's going to be -- it's going to give me a lot of confidence going into the Australian Open if I can get that winning feeling back on the rebound ace.
Q. You only dropped a couple of points on your serve in the first set. Is that a result of what you've been working on with Darren?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. One way you can probably look at it, I felt like I served reasonably well out there today, but also, you know, Wayne's not the greatest returner in the world either. So I felt like more today was a lot of placement and, you know, just trying to get him stretched out, so the first shot I was always going to be on the attack on my serve. I think that worked well today. But playing against other guys, it's going to have to be a little bit more different I think.
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