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August 6, 2007

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Kind of special when you play a guy like him, as good as he has been, he's still a pretty good player?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, says a bit about the Masters Series events. We're both not seeded and we draw each other first round. Yeah, it just shows how tough matches are. You can't take anyone lightly. I was prepared for an extremely tough match today. He's picked it up again this year, I think. He made the semis of Monte-Carlo and then quarters of Hamburg and the quarters of Wimbledon, beat Blake along the way.
You know, I knew it was going to be a tough match. I was happy to get through it.

Q. What do you do after Wimbledon to gear up for the US Open part of the year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, probably took maybe not even a week and started hitting balls again, getting into it, in the gym every day. That's pretty much it. Just training and doing as much hard yards as possible. It's obviously a lot colder at home at the moment than over here (smiling).
I was just trying to prepare as well as possible for the next few weeks. I enjoy this stint of the year. I've always played well on U.S. hard courts. US Open I've always really enjoyed. Yeah, it's something I look forward to.

Q. You seem more focused in the last sort of six months than you were last couple years perhaps. Is that because you've short of shaken off the injuries, you feel fully fit again?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, don't know. I know I've done all the hard yards, done all the right things. You know, the body's feeling good at the moment, as well, which makes it a lot easier to go out there and not worry about your body, just worry about your opponent, how you've got to execute out there.
Yeah, it was frustrating. Indian Wells and Miami were frustrating because I was playing well going into those events. Winning Vegas, I felt like I was starting to turn it around again.
After Miami, I spent a lot of time in the gym, worked extremely hard to try to get my body right. It held up really well through Rome through to Wimbledon. You know, just about trying to do those little things to keep it going.
The tour is tough enough as it is playing so many weeks of the year. You don't really get a chance to build a big base, so...

Q. Tony Roche, any effect? What have you found so far that he's been helpful with?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I've known Rochey for so many years. Yeah, we've sort of spoken on a lot of occasions over the last few years as well when we're at tournaments. We've always had a great relationship. He's very easy to talk to for me, someone that I respect so much, as well. Helped me out a lot when I was coming up through the ranks with Davis Cup.
The last two and a half, three weeks has been good back at home. We've been training extremely hard. Rochey's a tough taskmaster. We've put in a lot of hours.
Yeah, he's got some good ideas which, you know, you're not going to see results straightaway, but hopefully they come in the next six months to a year.

Q. Will you be talking to him after every match you play here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so.

Q. Sometimes sports have a dominant player like Roger or Tiger Woods, they thrive. But do you think tennis is better off with rivalries or can it thrive with just one player who's clearly dominant?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't know. You know, the rivalries over the years have been good for tennis I think, especially because of the different personalities as well. We've been fortunate with guys in the past, whether it's McEnroe and Connors, you throw Borg in there, a totally different personality. Sampras, Agassi, too, totally different guys. You look at the moment, Roger and Nadal, two totally different guys as well.
In those terms, we've been fortunate probably. Yeah, I think it definitely helps, you know, because people want to see those matchups, see those guys come head-to-head at the end of big tournaments.

Q. They've been 1-2 now for over two years. What is it going to take for someone to crack those two?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A lot of good matches, you know. There's no secrets. They're not going to get any worse. Guys are going to have to step up to the plate, play a lot better week in and week out. Those guys are so good because they bring their A game every week. Very rarely do they have a bad match. So it's a matter of, you know, every week.
Nadal now has gotten extremely good on all surfaces. It's not like he comes in on grass or hard court and you expect him to lose early. Both those guys, you know, they deserve to be 1 and 2 at the moment.

Q. You spent your time at No. 1, occupying that space. Can you express how hard it is to stay at that level with the depth and quality of men's tennis today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's very tough. That's why you've got to take your hat off to Roger. He makes it look easy. Yeah, everyone wants to go out there and play their best tennis against the best player in the world.
Roger, he's been dominant for the last four or five years now. It's not an easy thing. I think people probably take it for granted a little bit.

Q. You have had some great Australian rivalries back in the day. In the U.S., sometimes it's hard for people to warm up to a rivalry that doesn't include an American. Is it the same in Australia? Is it something that the fans have to grow to understand and appreciate?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so, no. Yeah, I think -- come the Australian Open, I think obviously those two guys will be 1-2 probably at the time. There's obviously going to be a big buildup just like there was in January this year that potentially they could play in the final. Nadal hasn't had his best results at the Australian Open as of yet.
But, you know, I think the crowd would be - apart from myself - pretty excited to see those two guys doing well.

Q. What did you think changed in the game since you and Juan Carlos were also No. 1 in the world?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always improving. A lot more players getting better. We probably took it to another level, then Roger's taken it to another level again. Yeah, a lot of things have changed.
I've had a few injuries over the years. Juan Carlos had the chickenpox and had a few bad injuries which was tough to come back from, as well. He's a tough competitor. He can match it with the best players, as I said, beating Blake at Wimbledon pretty comfortably in four sets. That's his least favorite surface.

Q. Do you think it's really Roger and Rafael Nadal that came or how the players have approached the game, it's more tough physically now than it was a couple years ago?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Roger definitely took it to a new level, there's no doubt about it. The game keeps improving. You've got to improve with the game. That's where Roger has been so good over the last four or five years, he's sort of improving as well. It's hard for anyone really to catch him.

Q. You talk about Nadal playing better on hard courts. Is it easier for a clay courter to make that improvement as opposed to a hard court player trying to learn how to play on clay?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely. There's no question about it. Yeah, this is one place, I think this hard court is quicker than a lot of other places around the world, too. This is a lot quicker. It's a lot bouncier out there than a lot of other places that we play. Indian Wells, Miami, those kind of tournaments are a lot slower than this court.
You know, those slower hard courts definitely suit clay court players, a lot easier to make that transition.

Q. What is your side of the story of playing doubles with Nadal? He said yesterday you were talking in the Wimbledon locker room.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he asked me at Wimbledon. Yeah, quite often I like to play a match of doubles the first tournament back from three or four weeks off just on that surface to try and get a couple more matches under my belt. It's never really bothered me who I've played with. There's not that many English-speaking guys on the tour now, so I have to look elsewhere (smiling). If Hanners isn't here, I don't have too many guys.
Obviously, I'm looking forward to it. I like Rafa a lot. I think he's great for the game. He's got a great attitude. I don't know why the hell he would be wanting to play doubles here after all the matches he's played. That just says, you know, how much he enjoys competing.

Q. Said he was a little worried about being able to communicate with you on the court.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, that could be a problem. I don't know if he'll serve-volley, stay back, what he'll do. We'll work something out.

Q. Work out a code system.
LLEYTON HEWITT: We'll to something. We might both play singles and hopefully still win.

Q. With getting married, the injuries, having a kid, being an older player, you're a tremendous competitor. Can you look back the last five, six years where you dipped maybe a little low in motivation, is that a normal thing that would happen to any player as they mature?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really my motivation hasn't dipped too much over the time. You get frustrated, yes, with niggling injuries and stuff where you feel like you can't compete at your best. But in terms of motivation, there hasn't been one time I've stepped on the court and think I'd rather be somewhere else, in practice or the gym. That's one thing I've prided myself on, that every time I go in the gym or in the practice court, it's business as usual.
In terms of that, the motivation for me's never changed. I've always wanted to improve and try and get better. Maybe it comes with feeling good at the moment. Looks a bit different, a little easier than it is some other times.

Q. Do your expectations change? When you're floating around 15, 20, even like Juan Carlos, do you sort of have to make readjustments as to where you think you're going to be in the game? Have you reached that point?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I'm not overly concerned about my ranking at the moment. I'm more thinking about the Grand Slams and trying to get myself in as good of nick as possible because Grand Slam's a different kettle of fish. You go out there, draws open up. Over five sets, the guys that I've lost to this year in the Grand Slams have been three pretty decent players.
You know, I like the US Open. My main focus is on that more than ranking situation. In terms of points, though, I've only got a US Open quarterfinal for the rest of the year. I feel like I'm a lot better player than where my ranking is sitting at. I'd like to say I'm a dangerous floater now. Yeah, things change (smiling).

Q. Can I ask you about the whole Davydenko betting story? What was your reaction to it when it came out?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I didn't know much about it. It's obviously a little bit strange.
Yeah, as far as I can see at this stage, you can't sort of read too much into it until the investigation. I think the ATP were quick to jump on it. They're doing everything in their power to work out what's happened and the situation.
Yeah, it's a hard one right at the moment. Till we find out more stuff, I think it's hard for any player to sort of get their head around.

Q. Are you surprised by something like that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit I guess. I think there's so much for a player to lose for going through something like that. Until it's all sorted out, who knows.

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