March 30, 2000
GREG SHARKO: Lleyton advances to his first career Tennis Masters Series semifinal. At
19 years, he's the youngest semifinalist on the male side in the 16-year history of the
tournament. First question.
Q. Was the hand sign something you planned to do?
LLEYTON HEWITT: What do you mean, "planned to do"? If I won?
Q. Obviously it means you cracked the Top 10.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, it was definitely a goal of mine. To do it on this trip, this
three-tournament trip, it's fantastic. Obviously starting the year at 22, had to defend a
lot of points over the Australian summer from just bonus points, Adelaide and Sydney the
year before. You know, it's at unbelievable feeling to have done it so early in the year,
Q. So what next?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't know. Haven't had time to think about it yet.
Q. You continually were able to pin him back, make him playoff balance. Is that what
you wanted to do or just the way the match developed?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was probably a tactic that I went out there with. Obviously,
Jan-Michael is a big hitter of the ball. He's got a great serve as well. I knew I had to
be seeing the ball very well out there tonight and try and pick up his serve as much as
possible and take the opportunities every time I got it. You know, I felt like one area
that I had an advantage was definitely movement. I had to use that to my advantage as much
as possible and make him play as many shots off balance as possible. You know, I feel like
I did that pretty well tonight. You know, really I only played one bad game on my service
game. The first three points of that game, he actually did get a net cord in every point.
You know, a little bit unlucky, but I didn't make any first serves either.
Q. You were quick enough to play that second lob on that remarkable point.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a big point in the tiebreaker, turned out to be. You know,
it was a good point. I felt it was going to be whoever got that sort of mini break first
was in a big advantage. Obviously with Jan-Michael's serve, if he got ahead, it was going
to be very hard to break back. I think that was sort of a big turning point in that second
Q. Pete is going to come out tomorrow and shorten the points, keep you from getting any
rhythm on your groundstrokes. What are your plans for Pete?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm just going to go out there and give it a hundred percent, like I
have in every other match. I'm going to go out there and play my game. Obviously I'm going
to have to play my very best tennis if I'm going to come off the court a winner tomorrow.
But I know that. We had a close game at Queen's last year. It's just great to sort of be
on the other end of the court against such a great player.
Q. Do you like having a target up there at the net?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't really don't mind. I definitely don't dislike it at all.
Q. When you get on sort of a sequence of victories like this, how much does your
confidence swell whenever you go out there to play? Do you begin to almost feel as though
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about unbeatable. But I definitely feel like I've got a
presence out there on the court every time I step out. I felt it back in Sydney, even
after I won that Adelaide tournament. I went out there and I played every match on center
court during the whole Australian summer. I just felt I had this presence out on the
court. That was a big turning point for me. Even if the first round against Grosjean in
Sydney, I had lost to him in the Davis Cup dead rubber there, but I still just had this
self-belief and confidence just coming off the win in Adelaide. It really did wonders for
me. It feels like that every time I step on the tennis court now.
Q. Does it hold when you go up against somebody like Pete or Andre, say?
LLEYTON HEWITT: All I can do, you know, I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow,
but I'm pretty confident about how my game's going to play tomorrow. I feel that, you
know, I'm not going to have a letdown in my game. Obviously if Pete is a better player on
the day, that's too good. I can't do much about that. I'm going to go out there and be
hitting the ball as well as I've been hitting it. I know that for sure.
Q. Is it a perfect opportunity playing Pete, given the run that you're having, to
actually just measure yourself against the very best?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always great to play the best players. You know, especially in big
tournaments, as well, because you know they're going a hundred percent. We're both going
to be going at it tomorrow. You know, these are a good chance for me to match my game up
against such a good player. He's possibly the greatest player ever to live. For me to step
out on the court with him, 19 years of age, with this record at the moment, it's a good
opportunity for me.
Q. You don't seem at all surprised about your run this spring. Seems like you were
waiting for it to happen; you were ready for it.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it probably really hasn't sunk in as yet. Obviously, I've had
a great Australian summer - the last three summers really - at such a young age. You know,
I think everybody sort of expects that now every time I go to Australia. That wasn't such
a surprise, even though I did have a lot of wins under my belt. But obviously this stretch
has been fantastic for me. To do it away from home, I enjoy these three tournaments,
they're great tournaments to be around. They're well-run tournaments. I enjoy getting out
there and playing. These three tournaments, I've looked forward to coming over and doing
well. Obviously, I don't think it's sunk in that I'm in the semis of this one yet.
Obviously, you know, I am in the Top 10, it's a good achievement.
Q. When you got over here from Australia, won at Scottsdale, when you got to Indian
Wells, did you sense that people were coming out to see you as more or less a curiosity at
first, "Who is this guy?" If that is the case, have you moved away from the
curiosity stage to the established stage where people now know Lleyton Hewitt is a Top 10
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think there are still a lot of people out there who
don't know who was I was, away from Australia. Hopefully I am getting a bigger name around
the world. I think a lot of people in Scottsdale sort of knew who I was from last year,
making the final there. You know, the Scottsdale crowd was fantastic for me. The whole
week I played there, they were really behind me, got behind me, helped me get through. I
feel like I had good support in Indian Wells, as well. I'm not sure if they came out
because they were sort of looking at, "Who is this young kid winning all these
matches," or they actually did know some of my background. It's hard to say.
Q. Where are you playing in the buildup to the French and also for Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment, I'm playing Rome, Hamburg, World Team Cup, French,
Queen's, Rosmalen, Wimbledon.
Q. Can you just remind us how that match against Pete developed at Queen's?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I got an early break in the first set, won the first set. Tight second
set. Lost my serve towards the end of the second set. I can't remember the actual stages.
It was like a 4-3, 5-4 game. On serve till then. Right at the end of the second set, rain
came. You know, it's England.
Q. Australia sometimes.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Come on, mate. We've got a roof. I probably had about a two-hour delay,
came back out and played, broke first game of the third set. I led until 3-2, then Pete
broke back. Had breakpoint at 5-All in the third. Had a mini break in the tiebreaker.
Ended up losing.
Q. Your recollection is a bit hazy then.
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. I don't remember every point, but most of them.
Q. Weren't you two points away from winning that before the tiebreak in the third set?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I was still going to serve for it. I had breakpoint, he served a
second serve which could have been called in, could have been called out. It got called
in. It was one of those that the top players come up with on big points. I could have been
a call away, but I still would have had to go down there and serve for it.
Q. How did you get thrown together with Darren?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Ever since I was pretty young, my dad knows his dad through football
background. Obviously when his knees packed up, he was back in Adelaide owning clubs and
bars and stuff like that. I think mom rang Darren up and asked if I could have a hit
because there weren't that many hitting partners in Adelaide.
Q. How old were you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I can't remember. Probably ten. A bit older than that, 12, something
like that. I just started hitting with him once or twice a week and gradually got more and
more. The actual first week he traveled with me was to the Perth Challenger before I went
to the Australian men's hard court, the year I lost to Enqvist in the final. It was the
end of '97 -- '98, start of '99. Then I went right through since then.
Q. How do you think the reaction to your performance will be greeted back home? Have
you had any idea how it's been so far?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, in one way I'm sure they're very happy. I don't know, probably
they're a little disappointed that I won't get back there to practice on grass as much as
possible. Obviously, I think the Australian fans and public are behind me, you know, a
hundred percent. I think they're probably looking forward to me getting back there and
playing the Davis Cup tie next Friday.
Q. It's going to be like from the frying pan into the fire. With Philippoussis having
pulled out, the onus will be on you.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Has he pulled out?
Q. That's the theory.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think he's having an MRI.
Q. Let's say he doesn't play. Suddenly the onus will be on you once again to kind of
lead the charge, as it were.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I still think we've got a great side, though. I don't feel any added
pressure. I've got a hundred percent support, confidence in the rest of the guys that they
can go out there and win their matches as well. I don't feel like somebody's going to
lose, so I've got to go out there and win my singles. That's one thing that has been a big
thing for Australian tennis. We've always had these good No. 2's sort of backing us up in
the Davis Cup matches, particularly the last couple years.
Q. How old were you when you broke a hundred pounds?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I have no idea, mate.
Q. Were you kind of small?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty below average my whole life for my age.
Q. Then you shot up height-wise?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. Getting there.
Q. At the start of the year, I think you were setting some sort of ranking goals for
the end of the year. Do you think you'd be Top 10 before the 1st of July?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Will I?
Q. Did you think that was possible?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not before Adelaide I wouldn't have said because I was defending so
many points. You know, I've got Delray Beach coming up pretty soon, as well. If I looked
at my schedule, I would have said the big opportunity for me was Toronto, Cincinnati,
Indianapolis. I'd say they're the big three weeks because I missed those last year. Even
though I went to the US Open and made the third round, I wasn't a hundred percent there
playing. I really only did it to test the ankle out and to make sure that I was able to
play the Davis Cup the following week. You know, I feel like if I looked at my schedule, I
would have picked out that sort of month as my big month to sort of chase a lot of points.
Q. What's the new target?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Haven't even thought about it yet. Obviously, probably next thing is to
look at the Grand Slams, I think, really, and the rest of the Masters Series. This is only
one Masters Series. There's still a lot to go.
Q. Is there anything you did specifically to put yourself in position to make this run
or is it actually just part of a development on your part?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. When I went into the Australian summer, my whole goal was
to be hitting the ball the best come the Monday morning of the Australian Open. Obviously
I just love playing in Adelaide. Sort of it all started there really. I had a bit of a
shaky start. Beat Mark Woodforde in the first round of Adelaide. After that, it just kept
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