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March 31, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt


ATP: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. What happened the last set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously I got broken twice and had game points in both those games. Out there, I felt a lot closer. I had 15-30 in the first game of the third set. Finally he'd missed a few first serves. You know, on the game points, I didn't really attack much. I just sort of was out there playing. You know, he came up with great shots on those game points to sort of get the break.

Q. To be fair, he didn't give you much opportunity to attack?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. The first set and few games, he was unbelievable. It was tough conditions out there tonight. The ball was swirling a lot. I couldn't see his serve at all. He served great. He didn't give me any rhythm at all. You know, even when he did miss a first serve, which wasn't very often, he was coming up with huge second serves, as well. He mixed up his serve well. Off the ground, that's as well as I've seen him hit the ball for a while. I think it's sort of the Pete Sampras of old, that's for sure.

Q. What got you into the second set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He started missing a few first serves. It's as simple as that. I started sort of moving forward, just having a go at his second serve when I got the opportunity. It's a big thing, just confidence out there. I started getting these second serves, then I started reading his first serve a lot better while I was out there, as well. I think that was the turning point in sort of the end of the second set.

Q. Big Rocky fan. When he's throwing in those 130 bombs, do you feel like a middle weight?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. Last couple of nights, last night against Jan-Michael Gambill, I got used to walking off to the side, good ace. Wasn't that big of a shock to the system tonight.

Q. Big point in the third set where you had to make five consecutive defensive shots in the corner, then Pete put the point away, was that emotionally a big letdown?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit because I'd already had my game point, sort of my chance to close out that game, just to settle the ship, I suppose, at the start of the third set to get to one game all, you're sort of in the set then. Definitely was a big point. As you said, I was always the one retrieving. I didn't really have a chance to attack him or put any pressure on him on that breakpoint.

Q. Do you think people as good as him, playing as well as that, will be needed to stop you doing well this year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope so. There's not that many guys who can play as well as he is at the moment. Obviously, everyone has their ups-and-downs. I've had a lot of highs so far at the start of the year. I hope it continues.

Q. Do you feel you were hitting the ball as purely as you were against Gambill?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I definitely wasn't. But, you know, that's one thing about playing Pete. He doesn't give you the timing as much. That's why Pete is No. 2 in the world, has been No. 1. That's why Jan-Michael Gambill is 80 or 90 in the world.

Q. Did he surprise you with those inside-out forehands going down the line instead of into the backhand corner?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, he can hit that one anywhere. He was hitting as well as I've seen him, the two times before that, tonight was definitely the best he's played. That's for sure.

Q. When do you head off for the Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure when I can get a flight. As soon as possible.

Q. Do you want to set up Sampras-Kuerten for us?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to go back Sampras. Obviously, Gustavo is hitting the ball well. Everyone says you've got to sort of escape sort of out of a situation to win a big tournament. Gustavo definitely did that early in the tournament. He's hitting the ball well to beat Agassi so well today. If I was going to have a bet, I'd probably go on Pete.

Q. Do the two nights back-to-back have anything to do with this evening's performance?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. Not really, mate. I was feeling physically pretty good.

Q. You seem to do your share of self-coaching on the court, talking to yourself after certain points. Is that normal or something you do more on a night like tonight when the crowd is kind of behind Pete?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's pretty normal. That happens every time I step on the court.

Q. How well do you think your game is suited to grass?


Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. You know, I've definitely got a lot more confidence playing on grass over the last year or so. Last year, if you look, including Davis Cup matches, if you look at the guys I lost to on grass, it was Sampras, Rusedski and Becker, who aren't three bad grass court players. I beat Kafelnikov and Safin at Davis Cup. They're not traditional grass court players, but they're still great players. I feel pretty comfortable on it. But it is going to be a big test next week playing the Davis Cup tie.

Q. Have you played much on the court that it's going to be played on?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I've never played on it.

Q. Never played on it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. It's right next to the court I love (laughter).

Q. So much of your game flows out of your service return. Would you have rather played in the heat and humidity of the day, maybe had a better look at the serve, or played in the evening?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I probably would have preferred the day, I would have said. But, you know, coming off a night match last night, you know, I definitely would have preferred as much a break as I could have got.

Q. I noticed in the second set Sampras was kind of favoring one side, seemed like his back stiffened up. Did you pick up on that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. Obviously, starting to serve a lot of faults. I don't know if that had anything to do with the back injury. He was sort of coming down on his serve a little bit more. I couldn't notice him sort of favoring any side out there.

Q. Disappointed at the moment. Do you sense a great deal of progress you've made so far this year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. You can't take away sort of 25 wins and 3 losses. I'll take it, for sure. To make the semifinals of this tournament, as well, you know, it's a good achievement. It's a good stepping stone for me now to try and raise the bar again, sort of go to the next level.

Q. How difficult is his second serve?


Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Very difficult. He can go anywhere with it. He's got the same ball toss. It's very hard to pick. Particularly tonight, the ball was gusting so much as well coming off the court. He's got a great serve, first and second.

Q. You handled it well, the second set.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. It just took me a little bit of time to get that rhythm going. He was sort of in a zone there for a set and a few games, the second set. He didn't really give me any chances at all to get any rhythm. Then he started missing some first serves, I started picking up on his second serve. I started picking up his first serve pretty well.

Q. Were you surprised he got it together, looked like he was fading?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's why he's possibly the greatest player. He can do anything.

End of FastScripts….

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