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January 7, 2008

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. You said yesterday you took only positives out of your defeat in Adelaide. What were they?
LLEYTON HEWITT: First two matches I played really well in Adelaide. I was doing all the things that I wanted to do and I was executing it all. Just didn't serve quite as well as I would have liked against Tsonga. He just served a lot better than I did.
I guess a guy like that I gave myself the amount of chances that I probably need to beat him, it was just that I didn't take those chances, and then I didn't take care of my service games as well as I would have liked.
All in all playing a big server like that I actually returned pretty well to give myself that many opportunities. I just didn't take care of my service games as well.

Q. Is your serve your biggest concern like ongoing? When you serve well you seem to play well and get results, but if you're not it's very difficult for you.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Everyone's probably like that. In the game these days there's not too many matches where you break serve a lot of times. Normally it's only going to be that once in a set. Got off to a good start last week. I was up an early break and had breakpoints to get 3-0 double break, so I was doing everything right on the other side of the net. I just had to hold my service games a bit more comfortably.

Q. Do you anything about Mahut, your opponent tomorrow?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's another fleshy Frenchman. He's got a big serve, decent forehand, and can come into the net. He's got a bit of an all-court game. I feel like I've got to take it to him and see what happens.

Q. Do you think the match against Tsonga, another big-serving Frenchman, will help you tomorrow?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe a little bit, yeah. Tsonga has more firepower I think than Mahut. I saw him play at Queen's earlier this year. It was probably his best tournament of the year really. Made the final there and should have beaten Roddick.
Yeah, he was pretty confident playing on grass. On hard court could be a little bit different.

Q. Going back to your serve, do you think it's improving?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, yeah, my first round against Sela I served really well. I served in patches against Acasuso when I needed to. I didn't lose serve for the match, so, yeah, I couldn't be that disappointed with it.
My second serve was holding up probably a lot better against Acasuso than against Tsonga. That was probably the biggest difference.

Q. Is there anything else is in your game that you feel like you need to fine tune before Melbourne?
LLEYTON HEWITT: This week is about getting more match practice for me and getting out there. I hadn't played competitive matches for three months or so going into Adelaide. Absolutely I would have loved to have won Adelaide or got a couple more matches there, but I got three tough matches.
For the main part I hit the ball pretty well, and hopefully I can continue this week.

Q. Your impression of Plexicushion? Any further thoughts on how it's playing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Playing like a hard court.

Q. As you expected?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much.

Q. Some players are saying that it's too slow for them. What are your views?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Depends who you talk to, I guess. Yeah, I think it's probably medium pace. I wouldn't say it's medium-fast or medium-slow, I would say it's medium. It's definitely slightly a little bit slower than the US Open for hard court I would say.

Q. (No microphone).
LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty similar.

Q. So you're comfortable?

Q. How does it compare with Rebound Ace?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's a lot more consistent across the board. Hopefully doesn't differ so much from Adelaide to Sydney and hopefully Melbourne. That's the biggest thing. Rebound Ace you're playing in different states. I played the Hopman Cup before and every court was different.

Q. Do you think this whole thing will blow over? Once the tournament goes along it'll sort of be a spent issue?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. Obviously any kind of change or new thing and all you guys are going write about it, aren't you? Yeah, I don't think it's a big deal for the players. We play on hard courts three quarters of the year.
I wouldn't say it's that much different than Indian Wells and Miami. I don't think it's going to be a big deal. I think it's pretty equal for all players.

Q. Does it get a bit boring answering questions about the speed of the court?
LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment. You going to keep asking this week?

Q. What's a realistic goal after the three months off?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm not putting a round on it. It's a matter of, you know, see what happens. There's not too many easy draws that's days in any tournament. For me, I feel like if I can survive the first week I'm going to be a lot better for it going into the second week and give myself a chance.

Q. There's always a lot of talk about the injuries that come up. You've been preparing for the Australian Open. Sometimes it's been the surface and sometimes it's that players haven't been playing. Do you think it's that so much, or people coming in not playing this time of year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's a bit of both, absolutely. Yeah, the season's that hard that you can't expect guys to finish up in the Masters or whatever and then straightaway get on the practice court and start grinding it out for the 2008 season.
That's the hard thing, because you have to be well-prepared to do well in Australia in these conditions and in this heat. Sort of a Catch 22 a little bit for the guys that have had a big year and played the Davis Cup final in December. They do need some time off, but then again, that could hurt them coming into the Australian summer, too.

Q. You're looking fit and tan. Rochey must have been hammering you after Christmas.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he works extremely hard and puts in a lot of long hours, and I really enjoy working with him, though. I feel like he gets the best out of me every time we step on the practice court, so it's a good thing.

Q. To get back to where you were when you were on top of your game, do you have to improve substantially? Seems like every year the game goes up by five percent.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know about every year it goes up, but, yeah, it definitely goes up I think over three to five years. The game changes, yeah.
Federer's sort of kept it around the same mark I'd say. It's very hard to lift it too high for him. So it's obviously, you know, somewhere that I feel like there are small areas of my game that can help me make that adjustment and to hopefully put myself up there with Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, the three stand-out players like last year.

Q. Do you have any more insight into Federer's game now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I probably do, but it hasn't really -- I haven't spent too much on it, talking about it at all. Only time it's really come up is when I played him in Montreal and Cincinnati those two weeks in a row. I felt like I played a lot better in those two matches against him, especially in Cincinnati, but I'm sure Rochey has got a few things in the back of his mind.

Q. I saw on the telly today about you and pressure regarding the Australian Open every year. How will Lleyton Hewitt go? Do you thrive on that, or do you wish we would stop talking about it altogether?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It doesn't worry me. I don't take too much notice of it. 2005 I had a lot of expectations I guess. I finished off 2004 pretty well. I finished No. 2 or 3 in the world and then made the final of the Masters and then won Sydney going into the Australian Open.
I handled the situation pretty well, and it was a huge buzz going into every match that I played, all seven that I played in Melbourne. I was just trying to ride the wave as much as possible. I get dumped. I would have liked to have kept going.
For me it's a really enjoyable time of year. I get to go home and watch the cricket and play a bit of tennis at night.

Q. How is Rochey different than other coaches?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Rochey is very -- the biggest thing is every time we go on the practice court there's a purpose behind every session that we have and every minute that we spend on the practice court. That's the biggest thing. I think really there's a reason and a tactic out there why we're spending hours on the practice court.
We're not just going out there to hit balls up the middle of the court. There's always a reason behind it, and that's probably been the biggest advantage, I think, to having Rochey in my corner.

Q. Has that been stimulating for you to think about your game in different ways than you have previously?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I've enjoyed it. Every time after a drinks break or whatever we're going out there to work on something specific. And, yeah, it's easy for me to get motivated as well, to want to try and improve as well that way.

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