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May 7, 2007

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Just what happened out there? Was it a matter of a rain delay, or are you feeling all right?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. For the first two sets -- I felt like I was a better player the first two sets. I just didn't take my chances. Got off to a bad start in the first set and rain delay, courts play extremely heavy.
Totally different conditions out there. He got better as the match went on. But, yeah, for the first set and a half, yeah, especially I felt like I was the one that had breakpoints and opportunities to go up a set and a break and perhaps serve for the second set, and I just couldn't take the breakpoints when I had them.

Q. Is it a bit frustrating to be always in the same sort of condition here in Rome, because this is not the first time this happened to you here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Last time I was here it was very similar. As I said, the conditions, when you come back out after a rain delay, are completely different. Yeah, the courts are a lot heavier and you're playing a lot slower than it was earlier.

Q. May I ask you, maybe it's an embarrassing question, but you have been No. 1 in the world 80 weeks, not just two or three. You play singles, and at the same time there is a double where Nadal and Federer are playing and 4,000 people watch the doubles. What that means to you? It's the media who have built up the image of those two top players right now and they don't give consideration enough to the other players? What's your reaction?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, those two, over the last two years or so, have been clearly the two best players in the world. You know, and I think considering -- yeah, apart from Roger's couple of losses to Canas this year, Nadal is the only guy that pushed Roger, especially on clay in the last couple years.
I think everyone sort of looks forward to those matches because they know that Nadal has gone out there and had Roger's measure on clay. I think everyone knows that if Roger wins the French Open he can be the greatest player of all time.
Yeah, obviously it's pretty intriguing at the moment when they get matched out there, and they don't play doubles that often. I wasn't here last year, but by all accounts they had a pretty epic match here. It's understandable the crowd is going watch them play.

Q. So it's not frustrating? You don't feel lonesome?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, no, not at all. For me I only worry about going out there and playing my game and not worry about that at all.

Q. One more question about Kim Clijsters. Yesterday she decided to retire and she announce it officially. What was your opinion about that? It was a mistake to try to play this year when she had already planned to get married in July? She should have done something different, or what do you think?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not necessarily. I think, you know, Kim's so well-liked around the world and she's played well in so many tournaments around the world that it would have been nice for you her to compete for the rest of the year just for herself to get enjoyment, and obviously for the crowds as well.
But I know how many injuries she's had over her whole career basically, and she's had to play through some tough times. She knows her body best. Everyone's -- very rarely do you walk on the court feeling 100 percent. So, you know, yeah, she's had a great career, though.

Q. For you now, where do you go now? Put a little wrench in your plans? French Open preparation?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for me the French Open is the main goal on clay.

Q. Right.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Got two more tournaments: Hamburg and Austria before then. This week I was basically just coming here to try and get some matches and get in rhythm. I haven't played really since Indian Wells and Las Vegas basically. I was just feeling it out.
You can practice on clay as much as you want at home, and we don't really have the caliber of players playing these tournaments.

Q. And for you, being Nadal and Federer are where they are, what is your goal? I mean, what is the goal of everybody more or less who was top, No. 1 in the world? To become No. 3? Or you still see the possibility or you dream about going back and being where you were?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Absolutely. You keep working hard and you keep working on areas of your game to improve. But, yeah, you don't really focus on Nadal and Federer that much. If you come across them, hopefully it's going to be later in the tournament anyway when you come up against them.
Nine times out of ten those two guys over the last couple of years are the guys you got to beat to win Grand Slams. Obviously on clay Nadal is a stand out and on hard court and grass Roger's stand out.
So yeah, it's always something that yeah, you try to improve your came ever time you step at practice court. It's a lot easier said than done as well.

Q. The family life has mellowed you a bit in your opinion? You were more relaxed or instead you're more nervous, you know, to be married and have a child sometimes changed people?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. When I get in the gym or in the practice court or match court is all the same. Maybe away from the court I'm more relaxed and not thinking about tennis quite as much. Booking flights and hotels around my baby more than myself I guess. That's the biggest change.

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