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August 26, 2006

Lleyton Hewitt

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. With your injury, has it reached the stage where you considered not playing?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll probably play. We'll see how it goes.

Q. What exactly is the problem, Lleyton?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just had patella tendinitis and then a little issue with my patella tendon, as well.

Q. What practice have you been able to get in over the years?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I've hit the last three days now so, yeah, it's more just trying to get my rhythm back and testing my movement out a little bit. You know, it's been more over the last couple weeks trying to do all the rehab and treatment and everything I need to do to try and give myself every possible chance of being able to compete here.

Q. How does it trouble you? You talk about your movement? Is it sore?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, you know, when I did it exactly, you know, the first time, it was obviously pretty painful. You know, there was inflammation and swelling afterwards. You know, the next day it goes down, but, you know, the pain's still there and the problem was still there.

Q. So what does the treatment consist of?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just been a lot of things. A lot of rehab and, you know, different muscle exercises to work on other areas of the leg to stabilize the knee, as well.

Q. How far off a hundred percent do you think you are?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Uhm, not really sure, you know. It's definitely not a hundred percent yet, but hopefully there's still a couple more days to go and, you know, hopefully if I don't aggravate it any more during the tournament, it will just get better and better.

But, you know, I won't know that until we keep going.

Q. Can you last seven games, seven matches?


Q. Is this the least prepared physically you've been for a Grand Slam?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. The French Open this year was pretty tough, as well. Twisted my ankle, uhm, five days before the French Open, so that wasn't ideal.

You know, I've been able to play with, you know, niggling injuries in the past. You know, there's no doubt that my ankle wasn't a hundred percent during the French Open, but I was still able to get through a few rounds and push Nadal in the fourth round. So, you know, I definitely know how to play with pain, at least. That could be something that's going to get tested again here in the next fortnight.

Q. Have you played points out there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I've played a few points.

Q. Are you able to play full-out?


Q. How much of a drive is it to return to Flushing Meadows where you've had so much success? Is that really boosting you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always nice to -- you always get a bit of a buzz, I guess, the week before any major, any one of the four. You know, obviously, for me, coming back here, a place that I've played so well throughout my career, you know, I've had so much success here, you know, not only winning, but making a final, semis and quarters here.

So, you know, I've been able to put myself in contention deep in the tournament here so many times, so it's always nice to come back to somewhere you've played well at.

Q. A couple years ago Pete Sampras played his last Open. This will be Andre's last Open. What does it mean to the players on the tour when somebody who has meant so much to tennis is saying their good-byes?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's -- well, Pete, at the time, it was a little bit different than Andre, I guess, because no one really knew when he was gonna retire and if he was gonna play Wimbledon the next year and so on. As it turns out, it couldn't have been much better for Pete, you know, going out, winning the US Open, his national title.

So in terms of Andre, that's a different situation, but, you know, Andre is at the stage of his career where I think it's been good, and he's such a showman and given back so much to the game that it's good that he's been able to have this sort of farewell, leading up -- probably started at Wimbledon when he announced it, through to the US Open. I think he's a bit different than Pete with his personalty and off-court attitude, I guess. So I think that's probably worked in Andre's favor. I think the crowd definitely enjoyed it, as well.

Q. If you could go off with a farewell win like at the Australian Open or Davis Cup, Wimbledon, which would you choose?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I don't know. You know, obviously, I've never won the Australian Open, so that would obviously be one of the highest priorities.

Q. How have you fared with the scheduling?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I'm not sure. I've got no idea what scheduling is happening.

Q. Where does Andre fit in for you among your competitors in your career?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's one of the best that I've ever played against. He's definitely the best ball-striker that I've ever played against, the cleanest hitter of the ball. For me, you know, I always enjoyed growing up watching a guy like Andre Agassi play, as well. I liked the clothes that he wore when I was younger, and his personality on and off the court.

So, you know, I think he was very entertaining for tennis in particular. You know, I think the way he's been able to come back, as well, you know, after a year or so, 140-or-so in the world, then to be able to bounce back and win more majors and be able to play until 36 is pretty amazing.

Q. What do you think of that match with Andre you played in Adelaide?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I was pretty nervous before the match going out against a guy like Andre Agassi who you've seen so much about on the TV. Yeah, it was a dream just to be walking out alongside Andre Agassi, let alone beat him, you know, especially in your first tour event. I really didn't know what it meant at the time, I guess.

Q. How did he handle that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. You know, he's joked about it in the past a couple of times when we've had practice sessions and that, but I'd say at the time he probably didn't take it too well.

Q. What do you know about your first-round opponent?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, he's a typical Spanish clay courter, I think. You know, he's gonna be a bit of a road runner out there, make a lot of balls, hit a lot of forehands, but he's not a guy that is going to hit me off the court. I'm gonna get my chances to execute out there, and that's what I have to try and do.

Q. How are you feeling mentally? Is it all about survival, or do you feel as though you can be a threat?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, the first week's about survive, and then if you can get into the second week and put yourself in that position, you never know what can happen, and especially in draws these days. You take your chances and opportunities open up. You know, I've played enough big matches in this tournament, in this arena to know what it feels like to play another one there. So, you know, hopefully I'll get the opportunity to do that late in the second week.

Q. Have you security concerns about the tie in Argentina?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'm not even worrying about Davis Cup right now, mate.

Q. When you think about some of the retiring Americans of this generation, do you see any similarities sort of with the Aussies in the '60s and '70s, Margaret Court, Laver, Rosewall, that chapter ending? Do you see similarities there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, probably. I probably don't know enough about Laver and Court and these people, you know, to do with their actual retirement and everything. But to see guys like Connors and Sampras and Agassi and these guys that I've been around to witness, you know, it's pretty amazing to think Andre Agassi won't be going back on the tennis court after this tournament. You know, so many tournaments and so many people love watching him play, so it's a different feeling, I think, and something you get used to over time, but he'll definitely be missed in this game.

Q. If you could reflect for a minute, do you think it's sort of a sad commentary that so much discussion these days about sport is about either drugs or security? Do you think there's a sad element to that?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe a little bit, but I think, you know, that's just the way the time is. I think everything keeps improving.

I guess in the terms of drugs, you know, there's been too much of it happening, I guess. That's why it keeps getting headlines. You know, there's not a whole lot that we can do about it. You know, you guys, when someone gets done and it gets written on the front page of every paper, then it's gonna get on a bit of a roll, as well. Obviously, all other sports are trying to do their best to keep their sport clean, and it's the same in tennis.

Q. Security, also, which has been a topic?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Security, a little bit. I don't know so much about security with sport. You know, not so much I don't think there hasn't been as much talk about security as actual doping.

Q. What's your sort of personal philosophy on how you handle the right to challenge the line calls here? Any sort of approach?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't worry about it too much. I'm more worrying about, you know, going out and doing exactly the same. Obviously, that's there if we need it or we feel like it's necessary out there, but it's sort of a spur-of-the-moment thing. If you think there's a line call to be challenged and you have challenges left, you challenge it. I don't think it's a great tactic sort of thing out there in my mind.

Q. Did you use it much in LA or Toronto?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A couple times. Not a whole heap.

Q. On a lot of these challenges, the player thinks it possibly could have been good or out, but there are also challenges where the player absolutely is certain that the call was the way he didn't want it to go. In your particular case, have there been cases where you looked at balls and said, I absolutely know that ball is out or good, and it turned out to be incorrect?

LLEYTON HEWITT: There was one or two cases in Washington where I was playing Clement and we both sort of -- I challenged one, he challenged one, and we thought the person that was challenging was right, and then on the screen it turned out to be just wrong, which was strange because the ball mark sort of didn't suggest that on the court. So both of us sort of found that weird and actually had a bit of a laugh about it at the time on the court.

Yeah, that was a bit of a different situation, I guess.

Q. Do you think players in general have been sobered by the challenge system, finding that their eyes possibly are not as good as they think they are?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think sometimes players, you know, use challenges at the end of sets because they're gonna run out of challenges anyway, so I think you'll see a lot more challenges go against the player purely because they're sort of doing it in hope because, you know, there's very little to lose if you've got two challenges left and you're in the last game of that set. So you may see some more challenges go against the players in that way.

Q. What's it like for you to come here not a top seed?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that different. I've still got to take seven matches to win a Grand Slam. That's the way I focus on. It's not looking at a guy like Federer or Nadal. I've got to focus on Montanes and trying to get through that match. I've been in enough situations in Grand Slams where draws have opened up, and you've got to take those chances when they pop up.

Q. Among the Hispanic players, who do you think is improving the fastest?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. Obviously, you know, there's a lot of tough players. Acasuso, I think, is playing extremely well at the moment. Calleri has played well, I think. There's a couple of young guys I think from Argentina, as well, who have come through quallies and probably have decent futures ahead of them, as well.

Q. Now that you've been a dad for a little bit, what's the best part and what's the toughest part about being a dad?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I guess the enjoyment you get, you know, just seeing your child change every day. That's pretty amazing.

Q. Any "C'mons" yet?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no.

End of FastScripts...

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