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January 8, 2008

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. What are your thoughts on the match today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a different kind of match a little bit. Yeah, he, like I thought, he was going to be very flashy and he was. He came up with some big service games, especially early on.
I felt like all in all I returned pretty well today. Yeah, you know, the breaks that I got were because I kept putting a lot of pressure on his service games. It was a little strange because he played a very loose game and looked to be struggling a little bit towards the end of the first set and then played fine after he had a treatment after the end of the first set. It was more keeping my concentration s the second set went on it is.

Q. Are you looking forward to playing Gucc tomorrow?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a challenge. He's the kind of guy, very similar. Played Wayne Arthurs a few times. Pretty similar to that matchup.
So, yeah, I'm obviously going to have to return well and make him play a lot of balls.

Q. Have you practiced with him a lot?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A bit for Davis Cups. Not a whole heap. Very rarely do I play someone that plays like Gucc in Davis Cup ties.

Q. Did you feel like your game progressed today from before?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. It's a tough matchup today against that kind of guy. You're trying to dictate as much as possible, but then again he's going to dictate and make errors as well.
You sort of got to weather the storm with him and try and get as many balls back, and tomorrow's going to be the same situation.

Q. On another subject, Roger Federer is now going to go into the Australian Open without any match practice. Do you think that will make him more vulnerable?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably not. Yeah, between the French Open and Wimbledon he didn't have any matches either and didn't worry him too much last year.
Yeah, he's a good enough player that he's going to get through his first few rounds, and that's probably all he's going need to get his eye in. He had enough matches towards the end last year that it shouldn't be a problem.

Q. Bernard is playing qualifying for the Open now. What sort of challenge does that pose to him? You did that ten years ago.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know Bernard that much, so I don't really know how it's going to go. He's got a pretty nice backhand, and I think his serve and forehand has to have a little bit of work done on it I think, yeah, especially to make that jump into the senior ranks. But I haven't seen him hit enough before it really know.

Q. What sort of advice would you give him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Good luck. No, it's a matter of, yeah, he's just got to go out there and see what happens. A lot depends on the draw and quallies. There's still a lot very good players out there in qualifying for a Grand Slam. He'll need a little bit of luck with the draw I would say.

Q. Was it difficult to regain composure after losing serve in the first set with the line call and all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not too bad. I felt like he played a good game to break me in the first set. Yeah, and I felt like I was having a lot of opportunities on his service games to put pressure on him. It was a matter of trying to stay on top of that and not get too worried about losing my serve there.
He played a pretty flashy game to break my serve and in the first set. I bounced back straightaway breaking him again. Yeah, that was a huge positive.

Q. Were you happy with your serve today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I served well in patches. Probably towards the end of the match I started serving -- started getting a bit more rhythm, especially my second serve.
But, yeah, all in all I served reasonably well. The game that I got broken early in the second set I just a lost concentration a little bit. Yeah, he seemed to be struggling with an injury for a couple of games and then he seemed fine. It was more lack of concentration, I think.

Q. How did you think the new surface will affect Rafael Nadal's prospects at the Australian Open, if at all? There was a feeling it was a little bit on the slower side previously.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't think it'll worry him too much. You've seen him play well in Indian Wells. He won last year, tournaments like that, which is a very similar pace I would say. I can't see him having too many problems. He's a good enough player.
He's won in Montreal before on a similar hard court, so I don't think it'll worry him.

Q. On your first match point today you came in and volleyed on his serve. Is that the kind of thing you've been practicing with Rochey?
LLEYTON HEWITT: When I get some opportunities, I guess. It's not my natural game, but to mix it up and put some pressure on him. He came up with a pretty good pass and I was able to hit a real good volley to win that point.
Yeah, the guy actually hit some pretty good passing shots when I came in on him today, so it wasn't that easy to do it.

Q. But you volleyed well. Why is it so much against your instinct to do?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A lot depends on the balls that are -- that you've got to do it off, I guess, as well, and probably who you're playing. Yeah, I guess in the past I've always been more of a counterpuncher, so you still got to be able to take that from the practice court onto the match court and pick the right balls to do it.

Q. Does the racquet technology affect it, the way you serve and volley?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe a little bit. I think every thing is sort of a little bit slower and the balls have probably got heavier over the years as well. Even for a guy like Tim Henman, even though he's retired now, the last two years he's been serving the same the majority of the time, even on a grass court.
So I think just the conditions and probably the balls more so, even on a grass court such as Wimbledon and Queen's. When he's got to serve and stay back you know it's playing a little slow.

Q. So do you feel like you actually are getting a bit more comfortable doing that over the past few months?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm definitely getting more comfortable. Still got to be able to put it into practice though.

Q. So it's still something you have to think about?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Now and then. There's times when you try and do it, especially in this kind of tournament as well. Try and pick your chances and do it when the opportunity's there.

Q. Have you been surprised at accusations that the cricket team play it too hard?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Played too hard?

Q. Yeah, play it too hard.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. I think the Australians have always played the game hard. I think they're a pretty fair team as well. Yeah, it's hard to say. I don't know the ins and outs of what happens on a cricket field at all. I know Adam Gilchrist extremely well, and he's one of most fairest guys I've ever met, one of the nicest guys. I know all the boys and I can't have any bad words to say about any of them.

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