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January 15, 2008

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That would have to be the best start you've had in a Grand Slam.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's up there definitely. Didn't do too much wrong today, especially against -- I didn't really know a lot about my opponent either.
It's never easy coming into a Grand Slam. First match is always tough, especially not knowing much about the other guy. He obviously knew a fair bit about my game.
So, you know, I went out there and was aggressive at the start and tried to dictate and got off to a good start.

Q. Was that the key to your game, aggressiveness?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I felt I mixed it up well, was aggressive when I needed to and stepped it up on his second serve. You know, especially early in the first set was able to put pressure on his second serve. You know, that made him go after his first serve a little bit more.
You know, then I just felt like I could dictate points from there on in, which made it -- made him feel like he had to go for a lot more.

Q. Was there something particular you worked on with Rochey that you saw the fruits of today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Everything is pretty good out there today. You know, obviously against that guy, you know, in the end I felt like I could do pretty much what I wanted to do out there and play on my terms, which is good.
Against the better players they're not going to give you as much opportunity to do that. But, you know, with that said, I felt like I went out there and was aggressive and took what I've been working on in practice on to the match court. Got off to a good start.

Q. Was there anything that Tony wasn't happy with today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that I've heard yet. Wait till I get on the court tomorrow.
No, I think he's pretty happy so far.

Q. Do you still get the collywobbles just before you go out for an Australian Open?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Collywobbles? Football team gets that, mate (laughter).

Q. Butterflies in the stomach.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you always get nervous and anxious. I get it every week, but always in Grand Slams. You know, I think any athlete gets that.
You know, especially probably first round, as well, you want to get yourself into the tournament a little bit.
So, yeah, you're always a little bit anxious to try and get that first one under your belt.

Q. No more so this time? You had been out of the game for quite some time last year. No greater anxiety to want to do well?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. You know, I was looking forward to getting into the tournament, that's for sure. Feels like it's been a few months waiting just to get this tournament going.
Yeah, it's nice to get your foot in the door now and sort of have something there to build on.

Q. You said you worked on your serve. Was there anything that you tinkered with that worked well today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I felt like the last few days in practice I've been serving really well. I've just been hitting the spots. You know, the ball toss has been in the right spot. You know, just getting the right amount of spin on it.
Yeah, stuff that Rochey and I have been working on the whole time. I felt in Adelaide and Sydney I served in patches, even when I lost to Gooch. I started to get my serve going in that match. I felt a lot more confident with my service games.
Obviously serving against a guy like Gooch, a little bit different than serving against the best returners, as well. But I felt that was sort of a steppingstone. Then I continued it all last week in practice.

Q. There's been some impression about you can mix it with the top players anymore. Does that give you confidence you can, give you that confidence boost?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I know I can, so it doesn't really worry me too much what other people say. So, you know, it's a matter of going out there and doing it, though.
Yeah, as I said, you know, today's one match down, and they're only going to get tougher from now on.

Q. What do you know about the next one?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Nothing yet. Yeah, I don't know. I just know he won in four sets. Rochey and I will do our homework, though. We'll know a fair bit about the guy before we go on.

Q. You've never seen him play?

Q. Two sets up and 5-Love, 30-Love, you called for the Hawk-Eye on that line call. Tell us about your reasoning for doing that. Given the circumstances of the match, do you take any of that into account?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely. I think you have to. You have three up your sleeve before the end of each set these days, then another one in the tiebreak.
Yeah, obviously in that situation I could have done one on the last three points, got them all wrong and it still wouldn't really matter.
Right at the start, when it first came out, you're a little bit -- I was a little bit backwards towards when to really do it and when you needed to.
That ball, I didn't actually see it when it went past me. There were a couple of ball marks on the court so I couldn't tell. I asked the umpire. He said it was close, and that's when I decided to -- might as well throw one out there.

Q. Obviously you're well ahead at that stage. Do you take that into account? Do you really need to challenge this one?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You challenge it on whether you think there's an opportunity there. Yeah, I think towards the end of sets is where more guys are going to challenge, obviously, especially in closer situations when they've got a couple of extra ones up their sleeve.

Q. How much more settled do you feel than this time last year? You've settled in with Tony. Everything seems to be heading in the right direction. Do you feel that's impacting on your game or that it will very soon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. I think, you know, just having Rochey in my corner, as well, to have a couple of months of hard work, you know, the mutual respect we have for each other, just going out there and practicing and doing all the hard yards.
I know I've done all the hard work with him. We've put in all the hours, you know, that we needed to and prepared as well as possible.
So in terms of that, you know, you just got to worry now about going out there and executing and playing. You know, I don't have too many distractions worrying if I'm fit enough or if I've hit enough balls or worked on the right areas of my game, stuff like that, which is a good thing to know.

Q. How curious are you and some of the other players to see what Roger's going to look like tonight because of the health problems?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. Probably won't watch at all. Unless I get to the semis and he's there. He'll obviously be hitting the ball pretty well if he gets there then.

Q. How much stock do you put into Santoro's record for breaking Agassi's record for Slams in the Open era, and why do you think he's the guy that's done it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He will today?

Q. Yes.
LLEYTON HEWITT: What is that?

Q. 62.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just played the most Slams?

Q. Yes.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Okay. Yeah, well, he's been around for a long time and he's still -- obviously made the semis last week in Sydney. Yeah, he's a very dangerous player. I'm not even sure how old he is, 35, 36 now maybe. Yeah, it's a great record to have, I guess.

Q. Do you feel it's a real accomplishment?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Absolutely. To be able to go out there and put yourself -- do all the hard work to prepare for Grand Slams isn't easy. For him to be able to keep doing it at that age, and probably more so with him with the game that he's got, because he's not going to blow guys off the court either.
You know, Andre's a little bit different because he can go out there and dictate play and play on his terms a lot more than Fabrice can.

Q. Can you see yourself out there in your mid 30s in Grand Slams?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. That's a long way. This is my 12th Australian Open in a row. That will put me in the 20s.

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