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November 4, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Lleyton goes to his first Tennis Masters Series final. Questions, please.

Q. Yevgeny was saying that you both have too much respect for each other's game, you were both waiting for the right ball to come in, a bit of cat and mouse. Do you feel that way?

LLEYTON HEWITT: At the start I felt that way, for sure. Towards the end, I just tried to play my game. That's what really got me back in the second set. I felt like I really took it up to him. You know, I was a bit stiff in the tiebreaker in the second set. I felt like I played a pretty good set to get back in the match. I was feeling quite confident going into the third set, if I continued playing the way it had been going. He had longer matches I think this week, doubles and everything, than I had. I was feeling pretty good.

Q. That's a heck of a section of the draw you've come through, beaten four class acts.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's been very tough. When Darren and I saw the draw first off, saw Krajicek playing a qualifier, we didn't know who the qualifier was at that stage. We all knew how important it was for the points; the Masters cup in Lisbon, as well. I think Darren and I were a little bit worried as soon as we saw the draw. It just got better and better. I'm full of confidence at the moment. I believe I can match it with anyone out there.

Q. Does that help you focus when you see a section of the draw like that, you know what's at stake?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've really been taking it one match at a time. I wasn't worrying about it. Obviously, I would have thought that Safin would have got through to the quarters. I really wasn't worrying about those matches. I was just taking it one match at a time. I think that's been the big bonus this week. Everyone that I've played has been really tough, and I've had to worry about getting through that match. It's turned out so far, so good.

Q. Is there any surface you go on and you think, "I don't like this very much"? You adapted to clay for the first time this year, grass, Queen's, obviously hard court you grew up on. You come indoors.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think my kind of game is suited pretty much to all surfaces if I'm playing well. You know, I feel confident in my return of serves on a grass court. I don't think it makes that big a difference. Obviously, I think I've had to learn how to play a more grass court game and a more clay court game sort of the last couple years. That's what Darren has been a big help, in that factor. Just coming up through the juniors, I didn't have a lot of grass and clay court preparation, it was all hard court. I never played indoors in my life. I don't find it that different really to playing on a hard court.

Q. Increasingly this year, again this week, we've heard your opponents say how mentally tough you are to play, you give them very, very little. Do you know that within yourself now? Is that an extra bonus for you when you are under pressure?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I think I've always believed that I've been mentally tough, you know, even when I was in juniors. It's nice to know that your opponents think like that, though, as well. When you're going out there, you get in a tough situation, they know you're not going to give them too many cheap points. I think that's a big thing to have in my favor.

Q. A lot of players this week have been saying how sticky the surface is. In that respect, is it very reminiscent of the courts that you do so well on at the start of the year in Australia?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it's a totally different kind of stickiness or gritty court. It's strange. You can't -- I normally slide a little bit on my passing shots. You know, you go out there to slide - you probably saw today where I went to slide for a forehand with an open stance, my foot just stuck. You're sort of pulling back. That's when you're off balance. On a Rebound Ace court, it is sticky and hot, but it does give you a bit of give when you go to slide a little bit. That's why it is actually a strange surface, this one.

Q. You have a heck of a schedule coming up. Although it's not mathematically certain, we would be all amazed if you weren't in Lisbon. Then you have the Davis Cup a few days later on a completely different surface. Does that worry you at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, it is a lot of tennis. The way that I've set my schedule is that I was going to make the finals in Lisbon. I knew that Davis Cup was going to be on clay, since Spain beat the US. I knew it was going to be the following week. There's nothing I can do about it. I feel like, you know, I'm probably a little bit different to a lot of the other guys. I don't need a hell of a lot of play on a particular surface, because I've done so well on all surfaces this year. I'll pop back on clay, after a few days, I'll hope that I'll be ready to go, come Friday. You look at Rafter, I think he's a different kettle of fish. I think he really needs to be sort of out there grinding and hitting a lot of balls. I'm sure he'd say the same thing.

Q. Are you aware of the results from Leipzig?


Q. Good day?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not bad (laughter). Hopefully it's as good tomorrow.

Q. Have you spoken to her?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not after her match. I spoke to her before the match, not after.

Q. You have been in the race, in the Top 10, since the beginning of the season. Do you feel like you have been one of the most consistent players of the year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. A lot of guys don't play the first couple of weeks in Australia. Obviously, Agassi has been consistent here and there. He doesn't play the first couple of tournaments in Adelaide or Sydney. That's why you saw, I think -- I think the public was amazed because Santoro, myself, these guys are No. 1 in the world in the race. It also seems to pan out, I think, probably after Wimbledon a lot more. It's been working pretty well, I think, since then. I feel like I've had a very consistent year without doing something spectacular, I suppose, like winning a Grand Slam, which would be nice.

Q. Can't win it all the first time around; you have to have something to go for next time.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I can go for another one (laughter).

Q. Yevgeny said he was very tired in the third set. Did you feel it by then?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Me personally or feel that he was?

Q. Did you feel tired?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit, but not too bad. I think he's played a lot more tennis this week than I have, just with the doubles, late nights, stuff like that. I felt that he was a little bit tired after he won that second set. He just didn't put as much pressure on me early in the third set as he had done throughout the whole second set.

End of FastScripts….

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