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January 13, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What were your thoughts when you saw the draw for your first-round opponent and also possibly the path ahead?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not too bad. You can't take anyone lightly. Darcis, he had a big year last year, especially on the challenger circuit. He won an ATP event as well on clay.
You know, it's going to be a guy I think I can work my way into the match and get a lot of rhythm. You know, for the draw ahead, there's a long way to go before I have to worry about the big names just yet.
Q. The possibility, though, of perhaps meeting Baghdatis or Safin in the third round, it is a tough side of the draw. Are you confident you can go deep into the second week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, at the moment I'm just trying, you know, trying to get through my first match and get through the first week.
You know, obviously, those guys have got to take care of each other. They're not in the easiest section for those two to play each other, if they both get through in the second round. Yeah, last year I played González in the third round here. He went all the way to the final, so I probably couldn't have gotten a much tougher third round last year. Probably won't be as tough as that.
Q. What do you know about Steve Darcis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot. I've seen him hit a few balls. Seen him play a little bit in Adelaide and Sydney. Yeah, he's going to hit a lot of balls back. Yeah, he looks likes he moves pretty well. No huge weapons, though. Probably pretty similar to Olivier Rochus, I guess.
Q. Do you feel at all that time is starting to run out a little bit on your opportunities to win this tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, every year is another year down the drain, I guess. Not really. I'm only 26 at the moment. Yeah, the body's been feeling really good the last couple of months. Yeah, you need a little bit of luck in any Grand Slam to win it, I think. Yeah, for me right at the moment, it's just a matter of trying to survive the first week. If I put myself in a position deep in the second week, I've got as good a chance as anyone.
Q. So you believe you are in the form that you could win possibly?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm hitting the ball pretty well at the moment in practice. Yeah, if I take that into the match court, then I'll be feeling pretty confident.
Q. Do you deal with the expectation of being obviously Australia's No. 1 hope for this tournament better now than you did, say, a couple years ago?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, you know, it's hard. In 2005, you know, it was very hard to deal with it any better than I did there.
I guess right at the start, when I first started, we had Flip and Pat Rafter as well, who were obviously the two main guys. It was a pretty good transition for me taking over, especially from Pat once he retired, 'cause I was No. 1 in the world at the time anyway.
You know, I've never really felt that much expectation or put more expectation or pressure on myself when I go out here to play. I try and use the crowd to my advantage as much as possible, you know, try and take all the positives that I can.
Q. What do you make of Rod Laver, practicing in different temperatures, how is it behaving for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's played pretty similar the whole time I think. It hasn't varied too much. You know, today I hit indoors with the roof closed. The last couple of days, the weather was hot, the first day that I hit here, then a bit cooler the last couple.
It hasn't changed too much. I'm happy with the speed of it. I feel pretty confident that I can go out and compete.
Q. What is your take on the balls? Marcos Baghdatis said last week they were really heavy with a potential to hurt the arm. Have you seen that at all in the last couple weeks?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, they get a little bit fluffy, especially we change at 7 and 9. Probably those last couple of games before you change for new balls. You probably notice a little bit of a difference especially when you go straight into the new balls rather than, you know, playing with the old balls those last couple of games.
The new ball's obviously shooting through a lot quicker.
Q. There's been a bit of talk about sportsmanship, bad sportsmanship in Australia of late. Can I get your thoughts, particularly with the Aussie cricket team, the controversy there, and whether you consider yourself a good sport?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know enough about - I don't think anyone really does - about the cricket. Yeah, there's obviously a lot of sledging goes on on the field. Who knows what's said and what isn't out there.
You know, if no one else has picked it up, it's only between the players that really know. I'm a bit out of position to really talk.
But I think in general, the Australian cricket team, I know most of the guys reasonably well. It's harder to find a nicer bunch of guys, I think, especially considering how dominant they've been over a long time now. It would be easy to be very arrogant. But, you know, they go out there and prepare and take on every challenge every time, so...
Q. And yourself obviously?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. You know, I feel like I'm a pretty good sport, you know, out there. You know, definitely always give my opponents the respect that they deserve whether I win or lose.
Q. Do you think you were successful in getting your message across with your comments after the loss in Sydney?
LLEYTON HEWITT: What was that?
Q. About the umpires. Have you had any contact from any officials?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It wasn't about getting my message across. I got asked. That's how I saw them on the day. No one's spoken to me about it.
Q. Do you hope it will be better here or do you have confidence it will be better here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's a lot different situation with Hawk-Eye here because you can challenge calls. So I just think, yeah, the umpires have obviously changed a little bit over the last couple years when we have Hawk-Eye in the system. They don't go out and look to overrule quite as much as they probably have in the past I think.
Q. Comments in the papers from Wayne Arthurs saying by being more aggressive you may have lost that consistency which made you the best player in the world. Do you think that's a fair comment?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, sometimes. I'm still pretty consistent, though, compared to most guys out there, still play the percentages a lot better than most guys out there, I'd say.
So there's probably a handful of guys that are up there in terms of consistency with me. But the game's always changing, as well. And Roger Federer's obviously the guy that's taken the game to a new level. And you've got to look at little ways of, you know, improving your game to be able to match it with the best players. And being slightly a bit more aggressive and maybe not so predictable is maybe one way of doing that.
Q. With his lack of preparation, does that change the way you view him going into this tournament? Is there anything to be read not having any hit-up competitively for months?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so. He played late November. He won the Masters Cup in pretty good fashion, especially the semi and final there. You know, Roger didn't play any matches on grass before Wimbledon this year after losing the final of French. Yeah, he's that good a player that he can work his way into the tournament over the first couple of rounds and get confident and maybe not play his best tennis in the first couple of rounds, but he'll still be able to get through.
Yeah, I don't think it's going to affect him a whole lot.
Q. You know what it's like to be No. 1 for a long time. Apart from Roger's playing ability, how difficult is it for him just to stay fit the way he has?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, it's not easy, especially to be at your peak fitness when everyone wants to knock you off and is trying to knock you off.
Yeah, we all talk about his shot-making, how well he plays on big points. But for him to be able to, you know, his body to be able to stay healthy and a hundred percent, you know, throughout all those Grand Slams is pretty amazing, as well, especially considering how many matches he plays because he wins so much throughout the year.
Q. Who else would you see as the major threats here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, you throw Nadal in for sure. The bottom half of the draw. Roddick's obviously in there with, you know, sort of the same bunch of guys, I guess. Then Djokovic. Apart from a little hiccup towards the end of last year, you know, he was the stand-out third best player last year. He made big inroads. He's another guy to watch out for.
They're probably the main guys. There's a whole group of guys under it. You look at the last couple of years, Baghdatis, González coming through and making finals, you know, there's a potential for those guys, for a couple of guys to sneak through, as well.
Q. For 2008, you got a new coach, Tony Roche. What is your expectation for the whole year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, right at the moment I haven't really thought about the whole year. I've just been trying to focus on this tournament as much as possible. You know, obviously to try and get back in the top 10 as quickly as possible, cement myself in the top 10. But, you know, with that is giving myself a real shot at all four Grand Slams, not just the Australian Open. I feel like I've been, you know, playing better and better each year at the French Open, so I look forward to the challenge there. And obviously Wimbledon and the US are two places I've played well in the past.
Every year you sort of talk about the Grand Slams. But that's the main priority, all four of them.
Q. How about the Olympics?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the Olympics as well. It's a tough time of the year I think for all tennis players to play the Olympics and fit it in their schedule, and, yeah, sometimes peak at the Olympics because the way we're situated. We play two Masters Series, play the Olympics, then go back for the US Open. That's probably one of the reasons you saw so many upsets in Athens.
End of FastScripts