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January 18, 2007

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. From playing Michael Russell, being two sets and a breakdown in the first-round match, you seem to be getting back in the groove. Are you pretty happy? How do you think you've done it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. Obviously wanted to go out there and get a little better start than I had a couple nights ago. Yeah, that was important today. I got on top of him early. I was able to play the big points well, especially in the first set there, get that under my belt.
His serve, though, did get better and better as the match went on. I found it hard to get into too many of his service games. I got to a few 30-Alls, but couldn't get break points out there. Just had to keep holding my serve, take care of that in the fourth set, and wait for my opportunity.

Q. Is there a problem at the moment with serving? Just a lack of match play?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, today was a little bit different. I think I just didn't serve great. When I got my first serve in, I took care of it. I just didn't -- my second serve just wasn't there today. Yeah, disappointing. You know, it's nice to come through those matches even when not everything's clicking either.
I was able to find a way. In the fourth set I served a lot better when I needed to. Takes care of business a lot easier, as well. The games I was holding to Love or 15 nearly every time in the fourth set.

Q. When you've been away, your serve is usually the last thing that clicks in for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Sometimes, yeah. It's a unique stroke, I guess. You have days. Against Russell, I served the big points extremely well when I needed to. Today was maybe just a bit of an off day with my serve. Everything else felt a lot better than when I played Russell, especially early in the match.
I still felt when I needed to I served well today. Serving for both the first and second sets. I served good games there. Throughout the fourth set when I needed to I wasn't getting into enough of his service games to put pressure on him.

Q. You said you wanted match practice. A little bit more than you'd like at this point?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit probably. You can't win the tournament in the first couple matches. You got to find ways to win. When you're a little under-done, sometimes there are tougher matches to get through, and they're most important ones to get through.
These guys have nothing to lose against me. Russell played an exceptional match the other night, especially for two and a half sets. This guy today was flashy. Doesn't give you a lot of cheap points out there either.
You got to be prepared to work and do the hard yards. It's good to get two wins.

Q. You mentioned at Indian Wells that you wanted to improve your approach shot and volley. Your volley looked crisp. Have you improved a lot on the approach and volley?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting in there and being able to do it. If you pick the right balls to approach off, it makes it a hell of a lot easier at the net.
Yeah, if you're coming in -- and for me a lot of the keys are hitting those approach shots into the corner, giving myself a good opportunity at putting away the first volley rather than coming in sometimes like a Rafter and having to play a lot of lunge volleys, half volleys and low volleys, a lot of those ones.

Q. You seemed more willing today to go to the net though. Is that a conscious thing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe a little bit. I think playing that guy, as well, I felt like that was one way, when he -- you know, when he changed to his slice backhand instead of going topspin, I felt like I had an opportunity to get in and put pressure on him.
Even when he went for a couple of flashy backhands, he made a few passes here or there, but I won a majority of the points by doing that.

Q. No shortage of advice leading into the tournament. Part of it came from Todd Woodbridge Monday when he suggested you have too many off-court distractions now to really produce your best tennis. He felt you were zapped of energy when you walked out on court. Do you have any response?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a big call by Todd. That's about it.

Q. In what way?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not going into it, mate.

Q. So is it just a point of it's unusual to have a former Davis Cup teammate being critical, publicly?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Todd's entitled to his opinions. We'll keep it at that.

Q. How big a factor was the heat today? What is your view on the heat policy, how uncomfortable?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's warm. Obviously a couple days ago it would have been a lot warmer if you had to play outdoors in those situations. You know, I still feel that's what you do all the hard work for, to play in situations like that, put your body through grueling times. If you're not up to it, then pull out.

Q. You don't think the matches should be stopped once they're started?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so. This is a different situation where we can close the roof on a couple of courts and keep playing on those. Sometimes if you're fortunate enough to be playing on those courts...
This is a sport where you have to do a lot of hard work and preparation to get your body ready. It's a one-on-one sport. You come into the tournament knowing there's going to be some hot days. If you draw those days, you got to be able to put up with it.

Q. You always have got Nadal in trouble. Can you explain what you do against him? What is your recipe?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. We've had some tough matches in the past. None of them have been easy at all. I got fortunate in some of them. Got the better of him in a couple of 'em.
But even the one I lost at the French Open, I still feel like I played a great match on clay against him there. Yeah, I put a lot of pressure on him on obviously his favorite surface.
Yeah, I don't know if it's my game matching up against his or not. He's obviously a great player, maybe I'll get up for that match a little bit more.

Q. What is your plan?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just play my best tennis and see what happens.

Q. González, if he wins, what do you expect from him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's a great ball-striker. He can hit winners from anywhere on the court. Very dangerous. It's a matter of weathering the storm and trying to take my opportunities when I get them.
He's a tough player, especially on this kind of surface or a clay court. He's going to be obviously running around, looking to hit a lot of big forehands.

Q. How much better will you have to play?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I'd have to improve. I'd want to against him. Yeah, he's a worthy opponent, especially for a third-round match.

Q. Have you seen Del Potro?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've seen a little bit, not a lot of him.

Q. How is your calf and your physical condition general?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the calf's held up pretty well, considering the amount of time I spent on court the last three days. It's holding up well at the moment. The body, considering I haven't had a lot of tennis, a lot of match play, is holding up well, as well. Just try and keep it going.

Q. Are you growing in confidence that you can make a very big impact in the second week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm trying. Yeah, first steps first. Try to get through the first week. Now a lot tougher players, the tougher opponents. This is when you have to stand up and be counted.
These are the challenges I look forward to. This is why you play the Grand Slams, play the sport. It's going to get a lot tougher from here, though.

Q. Have you heard much about Del Potro? He seems to be a player on the rise.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I haven't heard a whole heap about him. Saw a little bit of him at the French Open when he qualified, lost to Ferrero first round. Yeah, he looks quite dangerous on a slow hard court or even a Rebound Ace, clay court.
Yeah, he's obviously got a big game, big serve, big forehand, moves quite well for a big guy I think, as well.

Q. Got someone out there watching him now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: We'll find out a little bit more about him.

Q. Shortly after he got out of the hands of the trainers, you and he traded shots with 22 rallies, which ended with him diving. Do you get cynical when you see that sort of thing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a tough rally. I enjoyed it. I felt like it was toe-to-toe. I was taking it to him in that rally. That was 15-30 to bring up --
You're talking about the match point?

Q. Yes.
LLEYTON HEWITT: -- to bring up match point, as well. You know, I enjoyed being in that situation, putting pressure on him. Obviously I was trying to play an extremely tight game to close out the match there, as well.

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