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May 13, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt


Q. Lleyton, was it a case of maybe you ran out of steam today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit I think. You know, I definitely wasn't feeling 100 percent out there on the court and it was a tough match because Magnus, you know, obviously is feeling the ball pretty well at the moment. He's a great player. He's No. 4 in the world because he is playing so well at the moment as well. There's always going to be a tough match, but I really did have to be sort of 100 percent and have all my fighting qualities if I was going to get up today.

Q. This hasn't been a great place for Australians, but are you starting to like the clay?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. Well, I don't know, Rafter made the final last year, and -- for sure, this week was a big learning experience for me, and I'll be able to take away a hell of a lot from this whole week. I've played different types of players, you know, some real claycourt players and then, you know, probably Enqvist and Norman who are sort of bigger guys with big serves on clay and who sort of hit the ball a lot flatter. So I'm going to learn a lot sort of this week and hopefully that's going to, you know, improve my preparation for the French Open.

Q. Were you damaged by playing doubles as well as singles?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, in one way it probably wasn't the greatest preparation if I knew I was going to be in the Semifinals on Saturday. You know, I missed out on a few lead-up claycourt tournaments, I wanted to get all the matches I could on clay, whether that's singles and doubles, you know. And to have the opportunity to be playing with Mark Woodforde this week, it was too good an opportunity to let up. So, you know, I don't blame playing doubles on my result today at all.

Q. Are you a wiser player than you were last Monday before this tournament?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For sure. There's no doubt about that. I've learned a lot just in sort of the five, six days that I've been here in Rome, and to have made the Semifinals in such a big tournament as well in my first week on clay, you know, it gives me, you know, something in the back of my mind where, you know, I've still got a lot of things to work on but I'm going in the right direction.

Q. What did you learn from watching Norman today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He just sort of scraped a lot of balls back early every time I sort of had him on the run, and I just couldn't sort of, you know, the short balls, I couldn't do anything with them today; whereas every time he got a short ball he'd get a winner off of it. Obviously, his serve was a lot, lot better than mine today as well. I really struggled retaining his first serve, and normally that's where I'm preparing my game, I can sort of counterpunch the guy into a few loose errors and get a look at his second serve. I didn't get too many chances at that today at all.

Q. I was just wondering, when you lost the first set, did you know physically you didn't have enough to do anything about it? How did you feel after losing the first set from a point of physical tiredness?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I sort of knew, you know, once I was out that -- there's times where the whole week I've been able to scramble those balls back on the sidelines and the guy ended up not winning the point and I'd be able to work myself back into the point. Today, even in the first set early, I just couldn't do that. So I was struggling a little bit right from then. But you know, you just never know. I play -- got a little bit lucky to scrape back on his first set point there and had an easy opportunity to go to juice in that game, you never know if I could have sort of scrambled away with that game and got a little bit of confidence and got pumped up a little bit and it could have been a different story.

Q. Lleyton, as you said, you learned a lot from this week in Rome. Do you think it will be enough to claim a big role in the French Open? Do you think you still need to --

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've still got a lot to learn, I think, before I can win the French Open. You know, obviously I'm going in the -- just going to take it one match at a time again. But this year really at Roland Garros is going to be a learning experience for me. I'm probably going to be seeded now. It's going to be my first time seeded in a Grand Slam. You know, that's nice that I know that I'm not going to meet sort of your Agassi, Sampras and guys like that in the first round. But there's still a lot of smokies, sort of Moyas and Philippoussises that are outside the top 16. But you know, I wouldn't say that I'm one of the favorites for sure this year.

Q. Talking about Philippoussis, Hamburg's interesting?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't seen it.

Q. No?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Do I play him first round?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: That is interesting. (Laughter.) Obviously, we've played twice and it's 1-all. We haven't played on clay before, but, you know, it's -- well, it's a bit of a shocker. (Laughter.) I wasn't really expecting that. But obviously Flip is a great player and it's going to be a very hard match. There's no doubt about that. If he's on, he's very hard to beat.

Q. Have you had much to do with him lately? I know you played Pat last week, Woody this week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot. I haven't really seen him around a lot this week. He's played, I think, a couple of late-night matches. I didn't really see him at the courts too much this week at all.

Q. How much more time do you think you're going to need on clay before you can be as much of a threat as you are on a hardcourt?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. You know, obviously this one's been great for me. You know, I've made a lot of sort of steps upward this week. But definitely playing I think Hamburg, Dusseldorf the next couple weeks, I think it's a lot slower play as well. That's going to be another learning experience for me. I think I will come back to the French Open, which is going to be very similar to here I'm led to believe. So, yeah, it's hard to say. But, hopefully, you know, by next year after the French Open -- I really won't play another claycourt tournament until next year on my schedule at the moment, the Italian probably. If we play the Davis Cup final against Spain, I'll be coming back to play on clay and I assume that they'd just choose clay.

Q. Have you learned anything about Rome?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot actually. I haven't had a lot of time to learn much about Rome. You know, I was here two years ago and obviously it's a great tournament. And last year I missed out because I couldn't make it for qualifying; I was still in America at the time so I was a little bit disappointed. But it's always nice to come back here. You get treated very well. It's a very well-round tournament.

Q. Have you seen anything of the city at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not this week. I had a lot of late nights.

Q. Two years ago?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that I can remember, no, sorry.

Q. Lleyton, now you're in a position where you're expected to get to the closing stages on any surface. Have you got to be careful not to play too much, too many tournaments?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit, I suppose, at such a young age. It is very hard with the schedule; there are so many compulsory tournaments that you have to go and play now that it is very hard to sort of pick out a, you know, three or four-week gap just to chill out a little bit and hang with the mates at home and sort of recharge the batteries. But, you know, obviously I think if you're going to be very good on every surface, you have to have those sort of breaks and you just have to find it in the schedule.

Q. You were talking the other day about, you know, how long it takes you to get back home after every tournament, whatever. Now Mark is now based in Florida; Pat's based in Bermuda; Woody's based in California. You're still a very young lad who lives at home with your parents. Any thoughts about that at all? Or are you willing to suffer those 24-hour flights?

LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment I haven't really -- it's been in the back of my mind a little bit now and then. Obviously, I sat down and talked with Pat a little bit about it, you know. I'm not quite making the money that they are making as well at the moment. So, you know, it's definitely a possibility. But right at the moment I'm still pretty happy. I enjoy going home and catching up with the mates and doing what a normal teenage kid would be doing with all his mates at home. If I was going to set up in a new base, I wouldn't know anybody around the place and that would be a difficult thing for me, I suppose, at such a young age. At the moment, I'm still happy travelling and going home, you know. I really enjoy it every time I do go home.

End of FastScripts….

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