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August 10, 2007

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was it like to play him again today two years later? Has he changed? Have you changed?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot. Yeah, I think all in all, his game's still pretty similar to when I played him at the US Open. I think that was the last time we played, in the semis in 2005.
You know, obviously he's got a great serve that sets up a lot of cheap points for him. He's got a good second serve to back it up. You know, he's got a great forehand and that's where he can dictate play.
Over the last five years, that's been the difference, I think. His forehand, he can hit winners from anywhere on the court.

Q. Is it pretty hard to get away from his forehand?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, if you don't get it up good enough into his backhand, he's able to run around. There's a couple of times he did it, he just chipped the returns back. I didn't quite step in a couple of times enough and penetrate into his backhand, then straightaway he's on you.
He generates a lot of pace from very little effort on that forehand, as well.

Q. Anybody else on the tour that's at all similar to him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so. Yeah, he's -- yeah, Nadal's ball is totally different to Federer's. But the way that he can step up in the court and, you know, hit the ball on the rise coming forward, follow it into the net, no one else can do it like that.

Q. A couple of times where you look like you hit a quite decent return, he'd still step into it, smash it down the line.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he passed pretty well today, as well. I felt like I took it to him. On a fair few occasions out there, even when I got broken in the first set, I had game point. He played a couple of good points. Then on breakpoint, I came in on his backhand, he sort of just did a flick half volley up the line.
Still could go anywhere, but he made a lot of backhand passes today.

Q. After this match can you judge a little bit how close you are of going back to No. 1?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, it's hard to say. You know, you got to play -- I felt like all in all, ball-striking-wise today, I hit the ball pretty well. We had a lot of good rallies out there. There's a lot of positives to take out of this match.
This week, the couple of matches I played before today, I hit the ball okay, but it's a totally different match-up than playing Roger. I felt like I took it to him. I had a lot of chances to break serve. He came up with big serves on big points.
He saved two breakpoints there late in the first set with two big aces out wide, 210 Ks, I think. I had a lot of 30-All points on his serve, as well. I felt like he was having a pretty good serving day.
So, yeah, if he's a little bit off sometimes, maybe I would have got a few more opportunities to break.

Q. You consider yourself improving?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I felt like today I improved from yesterday's match. A different kind of match. I knew I was going to have to take it up to Roger. I felt like, yeah, if I served a little bit better today, it would have given me a bit better chance, I think. He returned well, though. He got a lot of returns back in play, which makes you go for that little bit more. His forehand return, you know, puts you under a lot of pressure, as well.

Q. How do you evaluate your performance in general in this tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's been a good week for me. Yeah, after a few weeks off after Wimbledon, to come out, it's disappointing I lost today, but I felt like I got better with every match. Come through a couple of tough matches. Ferrero in the first round is not an easy draw either. It was good to get through that one. Yeah, there's a lot of positives I can take out of this week and this last match today.

Q. Just as a tennis player, forget about the crowds, the money, is there a satisfaction or something about playing him as a player, to measure against him, have the thrill of playing that high level in the game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You love playing the best players. That's what you look forward to. He's obviously the best guy around at the moment.
For me, it was a good chance. We hadn't played for a couple of years. I always look forward to that challenge.
Yeah, it's always nice to play the better players, I think, especially in big arenas and big tournaments as well.

Q. According to the official data, you won two-thirds of the points on his second serve. Is it something you can build on for your match-up against him? Also is there something he needs maybe a bit to improve to make sure to win the tournament here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: The way he played today, I can't see him losing the tournament. But, you know, obviously, his match-up, if Rafa gets through, Rafa's had the wood on him a little bit in big matches, except on grass.
I felt like I returned his second serve pretty well today. He doesn't have an easy second serve to return. It's still heavy with a lot of kick. I felt like I stepped up in the court, went after it, took my opportunities on that. It was just a shame that on some of those bigger points, you know, I wasn't able to get a second serve. He came up with big first serves and he hits the lines on a lot of points.
Yeah, it's a little bit like playing Pete. Pete, at his best, came up with a lot of big first serves. You were sort of looking, hoping you were going to get an opportunity on a second serve, and it just doesn't happen.

Q. Having to play him, having your coach be a guy that coached him three months ago, did that in any way change or help you? How did that play into the match today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a big difference, I don't think, just yet. Yeah, I can definitely see areas of his game where Rochey's helped him over the years, last few years. It's just little things, you know, that I think I've seen Rochey work on with Pat over the years when I was in Davis Cup. Roger does some of those things extremely well, as well. There's no doubt that Rochey instilled that into him. Roger's so talented that he's able to do it and execute it perfectly (smiling).
Yeah, in terms of little knowledge, I pick up little things when I play against him, as well. Yeah, there's little things that I take out of today's match hopefully for the next time I play him.

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