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June 16, 2006

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.

Q. How did you feel you were going in that game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I felt like I was getting better as the match was going on, obviously. I felt like I came out at the start and, you know, felt like I was the better player out there, but it wasn't really showing on the scoreboard. Felt like I had a lot of chances and wasn't able to take them.
You know, that's tennis when you're playing against the best guys. Against Mirnyi yesterday, I had five breakpoints and broke, you know, all five times. Then today I couldn't buy one.
And, you know, to his credit, though, he played some big points on those breakpoints, and, you know, I sort of had to put my head down and work hard at the start of the second set.

Q. I think there were 14 breakpoints in all. You took two.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Yeah, well, that sort of says it all. As I said, there's no real solution that much to it. Yesterday I couldn't put a foot wrong on the breakpoints, and today I couldn't buy one.
So, you know, against the better players, though, especially on this surface as well, that's when you want to step off and take those chances. You know, against Tim tomorrow, you know, you have to take them when you get them.

Q. Apart from that, are you quite pleased with the way you're playing on grass?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I felt like my ball-striking out there was pretty good today. It's not easy to try and dictate play against a guy that has a swing at everything. Sometimes you even feel like you've got good depth out there, and he's still able to put an extremely big hit on it.
You have to try and think. I stood up in the court. I felt like I tried to dictate play when I had the chances. You know, all in all, I served pretty well. You know, the game that I lost in the first set, I just didn't quite make enough first serves. Apart from that, you know, I felt like I was serving reasonably well.

Q. What did he say to you when he shook your hand?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He just said he had a bit of soreness in his shoulder. I said, I guess you get that after winning so many matches (smiling).

Q. Is it more difficult these days on the grass? Do you sense that it is, the conditions are slightly tougher? He mentioned heavy balls. He didn't expect it to be even tougher than the clay, the balls on the clay.

Q. Is it harder here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think the balls have been quite heavy for quite a few years now, though. The courts quicken up as obviously -- you know, I felt like the court was a lot quicker today than my first match against Vicente. And then at Wimbledon it starts reasonably slow, the courts. You've got to protect them as much as possible, though, so they last the two weeks as well.
Yeah, I don't know. I think a lot more baseline players, though, are, you know, getting more and more confident on it and probably moving a lot better on it than they had in the past, I think. That's probably the biggest difference.
And then, you know, a few years ago a guy like Nadal wouldn't have really had a lot of confidence on grass, a guy like Moya, Ferrero, these kind of guys. But I played them in Davis Cup, and all those guys, you know, they're class players. A bit of self-belief out there, and they can come up with the goods.

Q. You played some bloody good matches in Paris, so you came here feeling pretty good about yourself. Is this the continuation? Have you felt your confidence level just rising nicely as match by match has gone by?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel like I've got better and better with every match so far. My first match I felt was a little scratchy, especially at the start against Vicente. It's just that small adjustment, though. You can't expect miracles in your first grass court match, I think. I was able to get through that one. I felt like I hit the ball extremely clean against Max yesterday, and today was a totally different match.
In that respect, holds me in good stead for Wimbledon, if I play a guy like Max Mirnyi and a guy like Nadal as well, two of the biggest extremes, I guess. Obviously, playing Tim tomorrow is going to be a different match as well to both those.
It's a lot of good matches going into Wimbledon.

Q. How much do you enjoy playing at this championship?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I love coming to this tournament. Yeah, it's always nice coming back to places that you've had success at in the past. You know, I've had some big wins against top players here, so, you know, I always look forward to this month in London. And, you know, this and Wimbledon are probably two of my favorite tournaments.

Q. You've got a great record against Tim. He's been saying he's rediscovered new form on grass this week. Have you seen any of it, and what do you make of the matchup again in the semis here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I lost to him in Miami earlier this year. You know, I think he's been playing reasonably well this whole year really. His results probably haven't, you know, stood out that he's been playing fantastic tennis, but I think, you know, all in all I haven't seen him play too many really average matches. This week I've only seen points here and there, I haven't seen enough. But, you know, he's coming in this year in a different situation than he probably ever has before, you know, under the radar a little bit, and maybe that holds him in good stead.

Q. You don't seem to mind dropping a first set every now and then.

Q. Is that because you get extra practice playing three sets?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. Maybe my first match, but not the next couple. I prefer to get off to a better start. As I said, today, I was trying to get off to a good start and I did everything that, you know, I wanted to do out there in the first few games and couldn't break serve.
So, you know, it would be nice to win the first set tomorrow, but if it doesn't, I won't press the panic button.

Q. You're a three-time winner here; so is Andy Roddick. Assuming you are able to get past Tim Henman, would you like a showdown against him in the final?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about "showdown." Whether it's Blake or González or obviously the other guys in there, I think it leaves a pretty good field for the tournament, you know. It's gonna be two good semifinals no matter who gets through, Andy or Fernando. And James is obviously, you know, having the year of his life right at the moment.
So, yeah, no, I don't think anyone's ever won here four times, so it would definitely be good to put myself in a position to do that. But, you know, whoever -- if I can get through Tim, then whoever is in the final is not going to be an easy matchup.

Q. You talk about Tim being under the radar. Do you think you're under the radar as well a little bit?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, maybe a little bit.

Q. People are talking about a lot of other players, apart from someone who's actually won here and won Wimbledon.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I guess a lot of people in the last six months or so have just been talking about two players in tennis.
I know Wimbledon's a totally different situation and Roger is going to be the clear-cut favorite. But as I've said right along, there's probably a handful of guys just below him that have a real crack at it, and I'd like to think that I'm in that group.

Q. We're doing a little documentary on Andy Murray. Could I get your thoughts on his rise through the rankings over the past year.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's obviously -- this is where he sort of made his breakthrough last year, I guess. You know, I think he settled on to the tour pretty well. It's never easy in your first year. You know, he won a title at my expense, which was fantastic for him.
Yeah, it's obviously a big thing, though, to win your first title, I think, to get that breakthrough. You know, I guess the next year or so is a bit of a settling-in phase for him and trying to make that next step now - not just be a regular player on the tour week in, week out, to be a dominant player. It's just going to get tougher and tougher, I guess.

Q. Is getting the right coach key to making that step up?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It definitely can't hurt. It can only be a positive. Then again, you know, I think you definitely need someone that you mix extremely well with and get along with as well. You know, only he'll know the right person, I guess.

Q. Do you mind telling me what you like about his game in particular, and how high you think he can go in the rankings.
LLEYTON HEWITT: He moves extremely well for a big kid. He cuts off angles well. You know, he can change pace as well as anyone out there, you know. He rallies a lot of balls, but he can pull the trigger when he wants to and does it extremely well.
So they're, I think, his biggest strengths.

End of FastScripts...

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