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March 10, 2006

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Can we have questions, please.
Q. How do you feel?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not too bad. Be nicer if the weather was a bit warmer. But, no, it's pretty good.
And yeah, it's one of my favorite tournaments. It's always nice to come back here and get stuck into it; the surface fits my game here. I've always felt very comfortable here. It's nice to come back to a place where you've played well in the past.
Q. How many of these tournaments did you play in California, like San Jose that you played before you came here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: How would you rate them or...
Q. Yeah, yeah, how do you rate your game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, my game, yeah, I feel like I got better and better, you know, after having three or four weeks off after the Aussie summer. It was a matter of trying to get as many matches under my belt as possible before coming in to these two tournaments, these two Master Series now, so I'm pretty happy to get ten tough matches under my belt and played some good tennis.
In the end, I started playing some better tennis and, yeah, I was pretty happy with how the body felt as well, which is definitely a positive.
Q. Is it harder year by year to prepare each year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not always. I guess I'm fortunate that in December and that, I can be in Australia and get acclimatized to conditions, and that's when you can -- you know, it's not a long preseason in getting ready, but, yeah, I can do as much as possible I guess before the Australian summer starts. So I'm definitely fortunate in that way.
But, you know, you want to do enough work in November/December that you can just tough it out throughout the year 'cause you're not getting normally those seven-, eight-week gaps where you can actually do different stuff and work on your fitness and those kind of things. You've got to really last throughout the 11 months.
Q. Lleyton, what's your opinion of the instant replay, how it will affect your game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. It's -- probably see how it turns out. I'm not sure whether it will be a huge positive or negative either way. It will be interesting, I think. If it gets the crowd involved a little bit more and stuff like that, it definitely can't hurt.
Yeah, it's going to be different for officials, spectators, and players I think, so it will probably take a little bit of time for everyone to get used to.
Q. Have you played where they've used it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't, no.
Q. Are you concerned that it might disrupt the momentum of a match if someone's calling for them?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, there's definitely -- I think you have to have those couple of challenges, there had to be a limit on how many. You know, I think that's a good idea purely because you can't just keep going on every second ball so...
I don't think it should be too bad, you know. I've seen back home in cricket, you know, you have the third umpire for run-outs, stuff like that, yeah, it all happens pretty quickly.
Q. There really is no limit on how many if you keep making successful --
LLEYTON HEWITT: If you make successful, yeah.
Q. So you can just go on forever?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, we'll see how good the players are, won't you.
Q. If you're accurate every time?
LLEYTON HEWITT: If you are, yeah, the umpire shouldn't be wrong that many times though, should they?
Q. What is your reaction to people that comment about your playing and going over the top and being an intimidating factor? Is that a component of your play, your energy you put out there or --
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just sort of happens naturally, I think, more than anything. You know, just the way I -- you know, I'm very competitive out there in whatever I do and in any situation.
So yeah, I think it's good to have a lot of different personalities out there and I think, you know, Nadal is very similar. We're both at very young ages, very hungry out there and want to succeed and want to get the best out of ourselves. And I think that's one reason why the two of us have been able to do it at such a young age as well.
Q. What changed in you like over the years? I mean, you were as young as Nadal and you were acting similarly as one might say, but what changed through the years? How do you see yourself now comparing to maybe five years ago when you were basically No. 1?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a whole heap, I don't think. Yeah, I think, you know, obviously, you're focusing from when you come on as a 16-, 17-year-old every week is like a Grand Slam, and, yeah, after you get to No. 1, you win a Grand Slam then the focuses and the priorities obviously change and Grand Slams and Davis Cup were my highest priorities. And that's what I was focusing on, you know, for three or four -- the last three or four or five years now.
So it's basically you're working your schedule back. For me it's been working back to how I want to play my best tennis at what tournaments. Then I'll play as many tournaments that I feel I need before each of those to prepare as well as possible. But when you come on as a 15-, 16-year-old, you know, as I said everything -- every match is life and death out there as well where I think you see the bigger picture a lot more and looking after your body and trying to have as long a career as possible in this sport as well.
Q. I suppose after last year we ought to be asking how the toe is?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's good at the moment. It wasn't too pleasant playing, you know, the final last year the way I was feeling, but, yeah, something had to be done. It was needling me for far too long and, you know, straight after this tournament a year ago I went and had a small surgery. And yeah, it's feeling pretty good.
Q. Lleyton, after last week in Dubai you might consider Roger just that little bit beatable?
LLEYTON HEWITT: When Roger's played in big matches in big tournaments, you know, he hasn't put too many feet wrong. You know, obviously, last week -- I haven't seen a point of the tournament, but he was obviously, you know, in cruise control there for a little bit, 6-1, Love-30, and maybe lost concentration a little bit. And that's where you go back to Nadal's competitiveness out there.
Yeah, he's got a never-say-die attitude. It obviously paid off for him last week. Yeah, whether Roger is a bit more vulnerable, we'll wait and see, but he's still the man to beat.
Q. What's your opinion about (inaudible)?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He's a good player, changes pace extremely well, moves well for a big guy as well, and, yeah, he's got a lot of fire power out there. It will probably take him a little bit of time I think to have consistent, big results, I think. But, you know, he's jumped leaps and bounds in the last year since pretty much whenever I saw him at Queens and Wimbledon, so he's definitely moving in the right direction.
Q. Lleyton, does your agreement to play for Australia and Davis Cup signal a peaceful situation between you and Tennis Australia and consequently on the Australian Open on the courts?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always peaceful.
Q. How are you feeling then about the court at the Australian Open in changing the surface, because I understand the TA is talking about it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I haven't spoken to them.
Q. How excited are you about the Davis Cup now that you've missed one?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's good, yeah. The boys did extremely well over there, so, yeah, they've given us a good opportunity to get through to a semi again and you never know. If you get in the last four at the end of the year with home and away ties, you just never know how it's going to pan out. So, you know, I look forward to the opportunity, but Belarus isn't going to be easy whatsoever. They'll be some tough players and I think Myrni plays some of his best tennis in Davis Cup situations, so it's not going to be an easy tie for us.
But, you know, I always love playing Davis Cup and look forward to the challenge yet again.
Q. Mark just said he's not available, 99 percent not available. Does that surprise you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, but Mark's got to get -- you know, he's got to get more matches under his belt right at the moment. He's obviously had a sniggling back injury the last couple of weeks after playing a good match against Robredo in San Jose and, you know, I know he wasn't feeling great out there today on the court either.
So, you know, I just think Mark's got to hopefully get some matches over the next few months and obviously just this Davis Cup tie come up after the first round pretty quickly, and if we can get through this one and Mark gets some good matches, especially on the grass, you never know. Maybe he'll be a contender for the semi finals in September.
Q. What do you reckon between Guccione and Luczak, say, based on what you saw in Geneva or heard about it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. It's totally different -- totally different match now as well. Different surface, different opponents. Either one of them, I'd feel confident with, but I've hit a lot of balls with both of them at different stages, and I think it's going to just depend on the week a little bit, who's hitting the ball where at the time. And Fitzy will make that call closer to the time.
Q. You sound sort of like warm about instant replace. Would you do it differently than the way they've set it up or --
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. You know, I haven't watched it close enough to tell whether, you know, it's going to be a major success or not. Yeah, only time will tell.
Q. Something in the sport you'd like to see happen, something in the sport?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not off the top of my head right now. I think the game in itself is a lot of tradition, about, you know, the way we play the game, and, you know, the system and the scoring and all different things. And I think, you know, especially singles, I'd like to see it stay pretty much the same.
Q. Apart from the lack of sleep, how has fatherhood changed your game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It hasn't changed my game too much. It hasn't changed my game. Lack of sleep, I'm doing all right I think we got pretty lucky.
Q. Something about the Australian Open, it was a little tough, lack of sleep?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No never lack of sleep, no. I'm doing all right on the sleep front.
Q. How many diapers do you change?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've changed a fair few.

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