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January 21, 2008

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Novak said at the end he felt really, really nervous going into the match and it showed in that first set. Do you think that was the crux of the match? Had you got that one under your belt, might have been a very different story?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. Yeah, I had -- you know, I was playing pretty well at the start. At 2-1, I saved four or five breakpoints and got out of that game from Love-40.
Was up 4-2 and had a breakpoint in that game. Yeah, he came up with some good shots and big serves to get out of that game.
But, you know, if I got 5-2, I felt like I could have closed out that first set. Yeah, I would have been, you know, obviously starting the match pretty well.
But, you know, even in the second set I got up an early break and had game point. I didn't play a bad point on that game point to consolidate for 3-1 in the second. He came up with a big pass up the line.
Yeah, obviously I would have had a lot better chance if I'd, you know, consolidated and won that first set.

Q. Did you feel your last match in your legs?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. I didn't feel too bad. But probably not quite as sharp as I would have liked to be.

Q. Physically tired, but was concentration also affected by the lack of sleep from the other night?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't think so. You know, I felt ready when I had to go on the court. You know, I started pretty well. As the match went on, you know, maybe I lost that sharpness a little bit. But, you know, I was ready to go 7:30 tonight when we went out to play.

Q. Do you sense he's grown in stature, not only competitively but almost he seems to be getting taller and bigger, even since Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, he's -- you know, he had a great US Open and, you know, pretty good Wimbledon. Had to forfeit because he played a lot of long matches there. But he's shown, you know, in big matches and over best-of-five sets in the big tournaments that he is the worthy world No. 3 at the moment. And he has been a standout over the last 12 months, pretty much since Indian Wells last year.
So, yeah, he's a lot better player than he was 12 months ago, I think, when he lost to Roger here last year. And, yeah, he's got a great all-court game.

Q. All things considered, how do you assess your game at the moment?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not too bad. You know, obviously, you know, it was nice to have that win against Baghdatis, against a top-quality opponent. Yeah, it's obviously disappointing to lose tonight.
But I felt like there were patches there where I was playing some pretty good tennis, as well. So, you know, you've got to try to take the positives out of it as much as possible.

Q. What sort of measure has the tournament given you for the year, in terms of your hunger and the way you're playing as well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't really know at the moment (smiling). To tell you the truth, I haven't really thought about the rest of the year too much. Been pretty much focusing on the Australian summer and now I'll reevaluate, I guess.

Q. Playing in the tournament, do you feel the hunger?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Absolutely, mate. Wouldn't have been out there for 4:34, whatever it was, a couple nights ago if I didn't want to be here.

Q. How much did that 4:34 throw your body clock out of whack?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. Obviously I could have probably slept all day yesterday. Yeah, if I had my choice probably. Obviously, in the middle of the tournament, had to get up at some stage and do rehab and, you know, prepare as well as possible.
So, yeah, wasn't the ideal finishing time.

Q. Is your dream of winning the Australian Open beginning to fade?
LLEYTON HEWITT: This year it has.

Q. What about future years? Do you think you can win it in the future?

Q. I know it's a difficult subject, but the lateness of the hour in your previous match, do you think, all things being taken into consideration - it's always easier with hindsight - but do you think Grand Slam tennis should start, matches should start that late in the day, taking all the elements out of it? A big match in a big tournament like this...
LLEYTON HEWITT: At the French and Wimbledon obviously you don't have to worry, so it's only here and New York, two out of the four, that it's even possible.
Yeah, it's not ideal. But then again, you know, backing up the next day's not ideal either. So, you know, what's better? I don't know.
Yeah, obviously Ferrero and Ferrer had to back up and play two days in a row. We've done that at Wimbledon. It's not the easiest thing to do.
So, yeah, obviously it throws your body clock out a little bit more, you know, finishing so late. But, you know, what's better? I'm not sure.

Q. Do you blame the late night for the loss? Simple as that.
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, absolutely not. He was too good tonight.

Q. Jim Courier I think said on commentary how you and Tony Roche were a work in progress. How much more improvement do you think you've got in your game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, still a fair bit I think. You know, you can do a lot on the practice court. But, you know, to make that transition from the practice court to the match court, it's never going to happen overnight, especially against these kind of players: Baghdatis, Djokovic, Federer, these top-quality opponents.
So, yeah, there were patches out there tonight that I was pretty happy with. There was other stuff I think I could have done a lot better as well. So, you know, you go back to the drawing board, take the positives out of it, and there's still things to work on, which is a good thing, as well.

Q. When can we expect you to be peaking, so to speak?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know.

Q. You said after you started with Tony Roche you would be peaking in about six months. Do you still think you can get there?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, see what happens. Obviously, there's a small hard court season, and the next slam is obviously on clay. It's a little bit different situation going into, you know, a Grand Slam that, yeah, I've probably got better on over the years really.
Yeah, that will obviously be the next major goal.

Q. Davis Cup, you definitely going?

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