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March 13, 2006

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. Schuettler seemed to give you all you could handle today.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, we've had tough matches in the past. Haven't played him for a couple of years. You know, I played him more when he was in the top 10, top 20 in the world.
He's a tough player, especially on this kind of surface, I think. Suits his game well. Yeah, he's extremely quick around the court. He moves really well. I just had to hang out there, you know, try and grind him down, I guess.
It was hard to hit winners out there for both of us. Just felt slow conditions out there, really heavy. The balls were fluffing up a lot, you know, after a couple games. When the balls were getting older and older, it just felt like it was hard to crack an egg out there.
New balls made a huge difference every time. You're using new balls. But it was tough to dictate play and I think both players were feeling that today.
Q. What do you think got you through?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I played the bigger points well, but I really should have, you know, still got through in straight sets. So many chances early in the second set and just didn't take them. Just played the wrong shot at the wrong time.
Love-30, had a second serve. I went for an off backhand winner. Just small things that normally I wouldn't do, it gave him an opportunity to get into the match. Both of us, it wasn't like we were holding our serve convincingly out there. We were always having chances against each other. Yeah, he got his confidence up in the end of the second set.
Q. Are these courts slower than last year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if it's the court. I think it's more the balls to me. The balls just felt really heavy out there. The courts, whether they're a little bit rougher or not, which is cutting the balls up a little bit more, I'm not sure.
Q. What is your definition of a rivalry? Do Federer and Nadal have one yet?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I'm not sure. I guess they've probably still got, you know, maybe a little bit longer to go before they have a rivalry, you know, such as whether it was McEnroe/Borg, McEnroe/Connors, Sampras/Agassi, you know, these kind of guys. Yeah, purely because Rafael has only been on the tour for a couple of years. But if he keeps going the way he's going, and obviously Roger continues his form that he's had the last three or four years, yeah, there's a good chance.
But you never know. You know, there's a handful of us I guess just behind at the moment. If you keep knocking on the door, if there's a group of five guys, is that a rivalry? I don't know.
Q. You're saying they haven't played enough for it to be a rivalry?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not right at the moment, I wouldn't say.
Q. Haven't played enough big matches?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not quite. You can't quite put them in the same bracket as a Sampras and Agassi rivalry. You know, played, I don't know, over 40 or so times, I guess. It's hard to say that just yet. They're obviously No. 1 and 2. It was only probably a year and a half ago everybody was trying to talk a Federer/Roddick rivalry. Where has Andy gone? Has he disappeared? I don't know.
I think it's hard to say. They're the only two guys out there at the moment. Andy is still No. 3 in the world. Nalbandian. There's a lot of guys out there. But if they keep going obviously the way they're going, maybe it will turn into that.
Q. Andy seems to be a distant third in that rivalry.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess a little bit. In terms of ranking, maybe. I don't know. You know, I know Andy struggled the last couple weeks, the last couple months maybe.
But, still, on grass, yeah, at the US Open I think Andy, that's when he probably plays his best tennis. So, you know, I'd look for Queen's through to the US Open, he's probably going to have a pretty good stint.
Nadal, yeah, he's going to be -- we all know on clay he's going to be extremely tough every tournament. On grass at Wimbledon, I don't know if it's quite a rivalry against Rog just yet on grass (smiling).
Q. Andy said he got obsessed with beating Roger and made adjustments to his game for that purpose. Have you ever thought of that, making adjustments just to beat Roger?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit sometimes, only because you know nine times out of 10, to win one of the big tournaments these days, you've got to beat Rog at the business end of the tournament.
Obviously, you know, I played him a hell of a lot at some semifinals and finals of Grand Slams there the last couple of years. You know, it would be dumb not to go through your mind about what you may have to do to beat this guy. So there's small areas.
But then again, you don't want to get too caught up in the fact that to get a crack at Roger, normally you have to win five or six matches to make the semis or finals. You're obviously doing something pretty right to keep putting yourself in position. Roger plays a pretty different game to everyone out there, an all-court style of game. Sort of a tough one.
I understand what Andy is saying, though, because Andy is obviously doing something right to make Wimbledon finals the last couple of years. But, you know, he wants to go that step further, and Rog is probably going to be there. I understand what he's saying, but you got to try to make yourself a better player no matter who's at the other end.
Q. Did you feel in control of that match the whole way today or were you concerned at any point?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I felt in control. I mean, you know, I felt like I had a lot of Love-30 games, even when I lost the second set. I felt like I just gave him a little bit of the momentum there halfway through the second set. Before that, I felt like I was having all those half chances and wasn't able to take them.
I thought it was a matter of time before I'd get the break. But the game I ended up breaking in the third set, he was 40-Love up on his serve and I got back. You know, it was hard to hold serve out there today.
Q. Agassi plays Haas tonight. Who would you say is favored to win that one?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. Andre obviously hasn't played a lot of tennis since the US Open. Tommy Haas played a lot. He's won two tournaments, played extremely well in the Australian summer. I'm not sure. I know they've had some tough matches on hard courts the last three or four years. Both great ball-strikers. Could go either way.
Q. What does the wind today like this tell you about your game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot today (smiling). I get through to have another crack and try to improve tomorrow. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I feel like I can go out there.
I got through today's match, but it wasn't the prettiest tennis. Hopefully I can pick up on it tomorrow. I'll need to.
Q. What do you make of the sort of Borg auctioning off his trophy issues? Andy and Jimmy Connors said Wimbledon should buy the trophies, put them in a museum. Andre said maybe people should get together to buy them. What are your views?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I hadn't really thought about it. When I heard about it, it was pretty disappointing purely because, you know, the guy did so much for tennis, and for that tournament in particular.
But when I heard about Jimmy Connors' thoughts, I thought that was a bloody good idea. I think if Borg can't have them, then I think it would be fantastic for the Wimbledon tournament to have it in their museum. I think that's the next best thing. Whether one day he'd be able to get them back from Wimbledon, then I think that's the right decision to do.
You know, it's hard for Wimbledon to come out, you wouldn't expect this kind of thing to happen either. Yeah, it's a different situation. But, you know, if there's some way that it could happen, that it could stay in the museum at Wimbledon, I think it would be great.
Q. Would you get on board and be part of the group to buy the trophies?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know, I haven't even thought about it. Thanks for that. I hadn't even thought about it (smiling). I might take one and put it next to mine (laughter).
No, I don't know. Yeah, I guess it's something you'd think about. I'm not quite sure what Bjorn's situation is, how long it could take to get him back. It would be nice to see Wimbledon step in and try to do something.
Q. Where do you keep your trophy?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Mine is in Adelaide.
Q. In your home?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, in my house.
Q. How often do you look at it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I guess a few times. Not all the time.
Q. When you're serving drinks?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, it's not quite along the bar. A few boys would want to drink out of it (smiling).
Q. I know you've said in the past about the No. 1 ranking, it's a case of been there, done that, it's not the be all, end all for you. Generally speaking about the ranking, you don't want to be around No. 10 in the world obviously. Where do you really want to be suitably positioned? I know you have a lot of tournaments coming up where you're only going to be picking up points because of last year.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Ranking-wise, it doesn't really bother me. Obviously, you know, I don't really want to be sitting outside the top 10. But then again, I haven't played -- I only completed maybe seven or eight tournaments last year. You can't expect a whole heap.
But then again, yeah, it's always nice to be in that top four or five group. You've got to make semis or better of slams to be up there. That's what I look forward to. The clay court season I didn't play last year, and then Queen's I feel like I can do better there this year, as well. There are a lot of opportunities to pick up points for me.
But for me it's more about preparing as best as possible for the French, but probably more so Wimbledon and the US Open.

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