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May 12, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt


Q. Is it fair to say that this one, getting to the Semifinal of this one, gives you greater pleasure than getting to the Semifinal in Miami?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd say so, more it does, for sure. Miami, I was hitting the ball well. It was on hardcourt, and I had beaten some great players, I'd beaten Yevgeny before. But to come here after having a bit of a break after Davis Cup, I didn't know what to expect, to tell you the truth. I only started hitting a week before I left. I had a little bit of a virus before that. Then, you know, it's always -- your first European claycourt tournament is always tough. To be through to the Semifinals now, I really take it one match at a time. A lot of people say that, but this week I've taken it one match at a time more than ever.

Q. It's taken some players years to figure out that stuff. It seems to have taken you about five minutes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: A bit longer than that, but yeah, obviously Darren Cahill's been a big help for me, you know, even though the way he plays is totally different to the way I play, you know. He felt that clay was going to be my best surface in two or three years' time. That was the attitude that we're going into it - the whole claycourt season this year - with, was to just gain experience. Obviously, I'm up there pretty high in the rankings at the moment. It was a great opportunity to go even higher. We didn't really expect much to come out of this, this was just a learning experience. And, you know, I don't think I've mastered claycourt tennis just yet, but, you know, I think I've definitely taken a big step this week.

Q. How did you feel physically at midnight last night?

LLEYTON HEWITT: (Laughing) A little disappointed that we did lose that doubles, because it was a big opportunity. We did have a lot of chances, but, you know, who knows? It may pay off come tomorrow that I didn't have to play another doubles match till later tonight.

Q. But it didn't affect you at all going into today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. Obviously, I wasn't -- I didn't play 100 percent, I wasn't feeling 100 percent out there. But I gave 100 percent, I gave everything I had on the court and, you know, I think that's anything -- sort of what Woodforde would have asked as far as me going into that match. But it was very hard to get room service and stuff at one o'clock last night.

Q. Did you enjoy playing that match today as much as the crowd enjoyed watching it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. It was another -- I suppose another different experience for me, playing against a guy who has been brought up on clay and really, you know, most of his results have all been on clay. And he's had some great results this week, to beat Kafelnikov and Ferreira in back-to-back matches is a hell of an effort. I really enjoyed it out there. Obviously, once I lost the second set I had to raise the bar out there today, and that's when I was happy with my game. I sort of stepped up and sort of took it right to him. He's one of those guys that you don't really -- he's not going to lose the match; you have to go out there and win it. That's why I felt that I was pretty pleased today.

Q. In a curious way did that virus come at the right time for you? Because it's given you a break. You probably wouldn't have wanted it yourself, but you can come back now almost in the middle of this claycourt season.

LLEYTON HEWITT: In one way it may have been a blessing in disguise. In another way, I still got a zero-pointer in Monte Carlo. Who knows, I could have done the same there maybe my first week there. Obviously, it's a big disappointment to me to sit out on the big tournaments. When your ranking gets higher and higher, those are the ones you sort of go out of game for and it's a big opportunity to be playing against the best players in the world in those tournaments, because they have to play them now. It was a little bit of a disappointment, but who knows? I may have lost a few first rounds and had no confidence coming in here anyway.

Q. Did you play very much on the anthill courts in Australia?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Did I try on them?

Q. Did you play on them as a youngster?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, I played a little bit in Cairns, a little bit in Melbourne. I had the Claycourt Nationals, 14s and 16s I played on. I played in Canberra for one satellite actually, in Dubbo, all these lovely places out in the middle of nowhere. This was really all I've played on.

Q. And so really, I mean, as far as you're concerned, you are pretty new to clay? Clay is not a surface that you're particularly used to?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, for sure. You know, it's -- it's one -- sort of an unknown factor a little bit to me. I've learned a lot sort of the last week or so, but I still have a lot to learn about playing on clay to be able to do it week in and week out.

Q. Cahill was saying last night that there are a couple of red claycourts at Memorial Drive where you boys grew up. Did you sort of just look at them and wonder what they were like? Did you ever go on them?

LLEYTON HEWITT: There's a little bit of a story behind that as well. I had practiced on those a little bit as a junior, so before I went on European Tours and stuff like that and in Junior squads, Tennis Australia put a lot of money into putting those courts down. One -- I think only one state got them, South Australia was lucky enough -- we had a good junior program -- to get them. Then this year the Next Generation Center, the new center next to Memorial Drive, took them over and I practiced on them in December and they took them over in January. And I came back to practice on them, then go away straight after the Davis Cup, to come away to Europe, and it was grass coming through them and, you know, very old, for a lot of money Tennis Australia put into it. So the guys at Tennis SA took them back in there, they got them ready. I had a week or five days of good practice on them.

Q. The reason we were laughing is that the bloke who owns Next Generation is David Lloyd, who keeps saying dig up grasscourt. So it's funny that there's grass coming in on the claycourt.

LLEYTON HEWITT: (Laughing) It is.

Q. How do you explain that difference between your game in the second and the third sets which seemed, just watching you, quite dramatic?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a strange match. You know, it was a little bit very up and down today and yesterday I suppose as well. So I just felt I had a lot of chances in the second set which I didn't capitalize on, and I felt that, you know, I should have probably been up an early break instead of down an early break in that set. Then sort of whether it had to do with a little bit of energy, sort of in the end of that set, I didn't worry about it too much. He played some great tennis and started serving a lot better, used his forehand a lot better, his backhand cross-court was unbelievable, he was getting a lot of angle off that. I just had to refocus and I just thought about yesterday's match, to tell you the truth, the start that I got off to on Thomas yesterday, and I tried to do the same thing today and it paid off.

Q. Who was giving the fists behind the umpire's chair? Was that family or...?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That was some Australian guy.

Q. Really?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know, I'd never seen him before.

Q. How did you know he was Australian?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You could tell by the accent. Every time I'd stand up out of my chair, he'd say, "Come on mate, let's go, come on the Aussies." I just thought in the end I'll repay him a little bit, maybe he got some TV time as well.

Q. Talking about energy, you were obviously very tired when you played Norman in Australia. What are your thoughts about that match tomorrow?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's going -- you can't take Magnus lightly at all. I don't think he's dropped a set here all week. He's obviously hitting the ball very well. You know, I'm going to have to try and start early. In Australia I sort of let him get away, he got this confidence going where he served huge and hit a lot of big ground strokes as well. I found it very hard to sort of get myself back in the match there. I just about scraped that third set out, served four, had opportunities in the tiebreak as well, and I think I got to try to stay with him early tomorrow. But, yeah, you can't take him lightly at all. He's a great player.

End of FastScripts….

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