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May 8, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt


Q. Mr. Hewitt, ready?


Q. So, if I'm not wrong, is it your first time in Rome?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I lost in Qualis two years ago.

Q. Yeah, Qualis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Majors, yes.

Q. First time on center court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, yeah. I couldn't make Qualis last year. I had just won at Delray Beach, and I couldn't get here in time for Qualis in time.

Q. What is the feeling in center court? We call it "the cramped stadium." The public stands like this. Small seats. So your feeling?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It feels all right to me. No, it's a very nice center court. The court plays very nicely. You know, feels like it's a very closed atmosphere in there, which is very nice as well. There's not a lot of stadiums that have that sort of facility. So, you know, I feel very good out there. I think the crowd sort of got into it. Obviously, as the tournament goes on, there's going to be bigger and bigger crowds.

Q. Is that fast enough for a supposedly fast court player? I mean, we feel that perhaps you are a better player on cement and faster court than on clay. But how do you feel, the bounce, those sorts of things?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think at the moment my results have definitely been a lot better on hardcourt than clay, but really if you look at my game, it is suited to clay. I think that's just going to come with experience. Obviously, the court here plays -- I haven't played in Hamburg or Dusseldorf or any of those tournaments. I talk to the guys like Pat Rafter, who's very experienced. He definitely says that Rome and the French Open play very similar, high bouncing, and that's why he can do so well at these kind of tournaments with his serve-volley game. You know, I feel the court suits my game pretty nicely.

Q. Sorry, because I ask questions, nobody else. Have you ever seen Borg playing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's all right, mate. Watched him play?

Q. When you were small.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't really seen him playing. I've obviously seen clips of him, but I've never seen sort of a whole match of his. I've seen some, sort of, clips of him playing at Wimbledon and et cetera.

Q. This is like following question. Do you think there is any similarity between his game and yours? Because I feel there is something, a little bit. I don't want to get into details, but what do you think about it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think, obviously, we both play from the baseline a lot. I think we don't give a lot of cheap errors away. I think that's probably, you know, John Newcombe centered. You know, he obviously knew the way Borg played and seen him play a lot of matches as well. And he's pretty experienced, and he's seen me play a lot now. And he thinks that we play very similar because we don't give a lot of cheap points away, is probably the main area I think.

Q. Lleyton, I came in late as well. Have you talked about why you haven't played since Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Why? I wasn't feeling well.

Q. Was that a virus?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Virus, yeah. I had it at Davis Cup, and, yeah, even though I felt like I had played extremely well in that first match on the first day against Kohlmann, who's very inexperienced, I just didn't feel right at all. And going out and playing dead rubber, I was really struggling.

Q. Just to follow up, you were supposed to play Monte Carlo, right?


Q. Is it a question of sort of rationing the play as well a bit? You don't want to play too much at your age, or would you have played a lot more if you had felt better?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, it was a big disappointment not to play Monte Carlo. I want to play all the Master Series events. That's where all the, you know, the money is; that's where all the points are; that's where you're playing the best players on Tour. I want to play those tournaments. But it is very difficult with the schedule these days. It's so spread out. And being from Australia as well and having my residency in Australia, it's, you know, even harder because every time I got to step on a flight or a plane, it's 24 hours to Europe. I felt like I got the virus when I was flying home from Miami after I had, you know, four pretty hectic weeks. And, you know, I was just lucky I think that I had three weeks off after the Davis Cup match.

Q. Corretja was saying in Monte Carlo that come what may, there's still too much tennis for a young guy like you. Obviously, every tournament wants to have you in their tournament. Do you have to be careful and do you have to watch that you don't play too many games?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It is a big concern for me; there's no doubt about that. I think for a guy, you know -- you look at the women's events, and young girls at the moment aren't allowed to play that many tournaments, you know, there's so many young women who, you know, 16, 17, are able to win Grand Slams, that do very well in Grand Slams and aren't able to play a lot of tournaments and get that ranking up. With the men's, there's a few 19-, 20-year-olds coming through now, there's probably five or six of us who are out there in the top 50, I suppose, and it is a very hectic schedule. When you have to play the Grand Slams, all the Master Series, then still play the double-up weeks as well, I think Alex has sort of hit the nail right on the head there.

Q. What kind of problems did you have because of your virus, and since when did you begin to play?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I felt it on the plane home, I was struggling sort of breathing. My nose was very blocked, and my chest, every time I coughed, sort of took deep breaths, I had stomach -- sort of problems in my stomach as well; I felt it. And I felt it around Davis Cup, as I said. I felt like I played very well in that first match and struggled in the dead rubber when there's nothing on the line. I took a good two weeks off after that, and I started hitting balls again, practicing.

Q. According to what you said about the girls, should we assume that they are stronger or they develop before the boys?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's a tough question. (Laughter.) I think they develop a little bit earlier before the men, but also I think the men's game is so hard for a guy, you know, obviously a, you know, obviously when I sort of didn't break through when I was 16 years old and that bit, I was a lot weaker than the other guys and sort of very much counterpunched. I was waiting for the other guy to make a lot of errors. It's very hard for a guy 16, 17 going out there and playing fully grown men like Agassi and Sampras, Ivanisevic, Rusedski and those types of guys and sort of matching with them week in and week out throughout the whole year. I think that's the biggest reason why we don't have so many boys. In the women's, there's not that big a margin I suppose, between a Steffi Graf and Elena Dokic, those players. The biggest thing is inexperience with those girls.

Q. How much do you think Australian tennis has to thank Newk and Tony Roche about this big result you have now? And every time you think about Newk or Roche, do you have a word, something, a lesson you remember about them?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, Newcombe and Roche have been an unbelievable bonus for Australian tennis ever since they took over for Davis Cup Captain and Coach. You know, I didn't have that chance to play under Fraser, but obviously he has an outstanding record. He was very good as well. Newcombe and Roche came along, and really Australian tennis was struggling a little bit at that time. They didn't have a guy for the juniors to look up to and idolize, a Grand Slam champion or a guy who's going to threaten in every Grand Slam tournament. They came along, I was fortunate enough to be an orange boy at the Davis Cup tie when Pat Rafter just came back from an injury and was not hitting the ball well all week, was down 2-Love against Pioline, he came out and won that in five sets for us. That was his turning point. Later that year he went on to make the Semifinals of the French Open, and went on to win the US Open. Newcombe and Roche, they're just such a great team as well. I learned a lot from being on the side of the court with Newcombe. He gets me very pumped up out there. Obviously, he's totally different with Wayne Arthurs compared with me. Roche, on the court, I've, you know, he's just been working away with little areas of my game, trying to make me a better player for the future. It's been fantastic and a dream for me to play my first Davis Cup match under those two guys.

Q. Talking about differences between female and male tennis, women's wanted to have the same prize money as men. What do you think about it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a tough question. You know, there's no real answer to tell you the truth. But obviously I can only speak on behalf of the men, you know, the money that we are getting is coming from the ATP Tour and the money that they work out and the sponsorships that they're getting for us. Obviously, with such big-name players as Agassi and Sampras, we're able to get those kind of sponsorships and that's why we are getting so much money, I suppose, compared with the women. I don't know how the ATP and the WTA go out and get their sponsorships, but at the moment the sponsors obviously like sort of putting the big money behind the men at the moment.

Q. Would you prefer to win Wimbledon or the Olympics in Sydney?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Wow. I haven't been a part of the Olympics yet, but obviously that's going to be a great honor playing for my country. It's like saying what would you prefer to win, the Davis Cup or Wimbledon or the Australian Open or a Grand Slam. At the moment, I've won the Davis Cup, and there was no better feeling than doing it for your country and playing for your country and the rest of the team. But, obviously, you know, you talk to guys like Pat Rafter, and it's very hard to separate both of those things. They're obviously in two different categories: One, you're playing for yourself; the other, you're playing for your nation.

End of FastScripts….

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