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January 17, 2008

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Was that a solid workout?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was. Yeah, I felt like I had a lot of opportunities out there, even right from the start. Even though the first set went to a tiebreaker, I felt like I played pretty well in that first set.
Yeah, he served well on big points. You know, I just wasn't quite reading where he was going, you know, the shots that he liked to play on the big points, you know, when the pressure was on.
But, yeah, he hung in there and played a pretty good match.

Q. How would you describe your form to this stage?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not too bad. Took me a little while, you know, to figure him out today more than anything. First round, I played exceptionally well. You know, today was a bit patchy here and there. But I felt like I played the big points well when I needed to. And then the fourth set, I probably played my best tennis for the match in the fourth set, which was nice.

Q. Is there room for improvement to come?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, see what happens. The matches aren't going to get any easier.

Q. Frustration for you that in Adelaide you played two good matches, one not so good. Here, fantastic first match. Second one not so good. Is that something that is part of the change in the game that you're trying to get into a groove?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. On and on today I felt like I had a couple lapses in concentration obviously at the end of the third set, not to finish it off there. But he played a lot better when he was down than when he was actually on serve with me. When we were actually pretty close, you know, on serve, I was holding my service games relatively easy every time. Then when I'd go up a break, he actually came out and smacked a couple of winners. If I didn't get my first serve in, he was going for it, you know, right from the go.
So he was an awkward guy to play because, you know, he served well on big points. His second serve wasn't great, but he was making a pretty good percentage of first serves on the big points. And then he actually moved, you know, well across the baseline, as well. So it was actually hard to come in on him because he never got too far behind the court.

Q. Is the concentration, the mind wandering, is that something that happens when you haven't played as much tennis? When you play more, you tend to be sharper?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. It was really maybe only a couple of points. I just, you know, played a couple of loose points there not to finish it off. But, you know, to his credit, he stepped it up, as well. You know, he hit two or three winners off my second serve straightaway and put me under pressure. And that's when he got the break late in the third set there. You know, even when he was up 6-5, he played a good game to break my serve. I didn't do too much wrong.

Q. You had hoped to come in a fair bit more than what you did?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I probably would have liked to come in a little bit more, put a little bit more pressure on him. I felt like I was able to put a lot of pressure on his second serve right from the start. But, you know, I didn't get too many second serves on big points, especially early in the match, which was, you know, the reason that I probably wasn't getting those opportunities to break serve as much.
But, yeah, he moved a lot better than I thought he would for his height.

Q. Treatment at the end of the second set, is that a bit disconcerting? Should the rule be tweaked?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a bit strange, because I didn't see any problems with his movement-wise leading up to the end of the second set, and then -- definitely, for him to last another two sets... So I didn't see any major problems. I'm not sure. If he was cramped, he wouldn't have been able to last another couple sets, that's for sure.

Q. Seemed to revive him.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Maybe it was something to just take an extra three minutes at the change of ends. I'm not sure.

Q. Sort of the tournament starts now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it does. Baghdatis or Safin, it obviously doesn't matter who gets up tonight, it's going to be a tough match. Both guys can play. They've both played really well here in the past.
It's going to be interesting. Yeah, for me, I've got to worry about my game, though, and executing what I want to do, staying aggressive. Obviously it's not the easiest thing being aggressive against Safin, because he's the one that wants to be aggressive out there and dictate play a lot more.
So, yeah, a lot depends on who I come up against, I guess.

Q. Do you think your game matches up better against one or the other of them?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Hard to say. Probably on a day, a little bit different, I guess, depending on day to day. Both guys, you know, great ball-strikers, a couple of the most talented guys in the world.
Yeah, whether they can always provide their best tennis day in, day out, that's probably their biggest question mark, I'd say.

Q. Will you watch any of it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I might have a little bit of a look at some of it. I know, for the most part, how both guys play, though, pretty well.

Q. I guess maybe Safin, maybe Baghdatis. On Saturday night of the Australian Open, is that about as good as it gets for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, or any time at the Australian Open is pretty good. I prefer to be, you know, Sunday week. Doesn't get much better than that.

Q. You anticipate a real sort of atmosphere on the court?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think when you start playing the big names, the crowd's always extremely into it. Yeah, it is a big buzz; that's for sure.

Q. Do you think you have to improve significantly on today to beat either of those guys?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, it's a different kind of match. You know, I know that I can compete against both those guys at my best.

Q. Have you got any thoughts on the court, how it's playing for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's still the same as, you know, before the tournament when I practiced on it for the week or so. I'd say it's a medium-paced hard court.

Q. Is it slightly slower than last year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think it's slower than last year, no.

Q. You said you know you can compete with the other two at your best. How close to your best do you feel you are?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. You know, definitely a couple days ago against Darcis, I played extremely well. If I play like that, then I'm going to give anyone trouble, I think.
So, yeah, it's a matter of going out there and executing what I want to do. Yeah, those two guys have a lot more firepower than Darcis. The matchup is going to be different depending on which guy I play, but I'm going to have to play a pretty clean match.

Q. Is your confidence at all diminished by today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. I feel confident. Yeah, I'm through to the third round. It's a matter of surviving the first week as much as possible. I'm getting there so far.

Q. Do you think you play at your best when you are aggressive in matches such as today, and that conversely, when you don't attack, that's when you're vulnerable?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a lot depends on the opponent I guess. Yeah, it depends -- you know, the guy today, I dictated early on. He actually handled pretty well on his service games. On my service games, I was winning quite comfortably.
In the tiebreaker, I played pretty consistent in the tiebreak. Didn't make a lot of easy errors. Yeah, his forehand definitely broke down on the bigger points.
Yeah, you got to be wary of a guy like him. He hasn't played on the big stage too much, either. You've got to ask the question whether he's capable of handling that in a tight situation such as a first-set tiebreak.

Q. Do you have a different approach in the second week of a tournament, different strategy, different tactics?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. I sort of take it match by match. Yeah, if you can survive the first week, put yourself in a position in the second week, you never know how many doors open up for you.

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