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June 11, 2008

Lleyton Hewitt


L. HEWITT/X. Malisse
6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. How do you think you shaped up today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a pretty good match overall. I didn't lose my serve against, you know, a good returner out there who works the ball around extremely well. He's a great shot-maker. He mixes it up with slice and also goes for his shots, both cross-court and down the line.
It was good to get up an early break, though, in both sets, which was important.

Q. When you actually come here, do you feel you're at home? You won it so many times. Lovely place, straight into the groove?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. It's always hard, though, you know, when you haven't played on grass for 12 months, to come out straight. There's no bigger difference than going from a clay court to a grass court. You know, not just the moving aspect, but tactics. It puts a lot more pressure on your serve and return game than clay court. Serve and return is sort of just starting the point. There's a lot of different tactics out there, as well. So it's always going to take a little bit of time.
But, you know, I'm fortunate that I felt like as soon as I get here on the grass, I'm always hitting the ball pretty well. And my movement's always, you know, pretty good as well, which is lucky.

Q. You adjust so quickly; you've done it for years. Why is that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm not really sure. For me there's no real answer. You know, I don't know. I always really look forward to this time. Whether that has something to do with it, I don't know. I think a lot of top guys these days have a pretty positive outlook on the grass. Maybe years before, some of those good clay court players didn't always look forward to playing here on the grass I think for this month. Yeah, maybe that had something to do with it.
I've always had a good outlook, positive outlook, to come here and succeed and do well.

Q. What makes you a good grass court player?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I think if I'm serving well I can be tough to beat because, you know, my return of serve is one of my biggest strengths. So if I can put enough pressure on my opponents, they're going to have to serve extremely well to keep holding their serves all day.
Grass is a tough game to play, though, because you get those half chances and you really have to take them on this surface. If you're playing a big server that's serving extremely well, sometimes those chances are tough to take.
Yeah, over the years I've been able to put a lot of pressure on my opponents with my return of serve. If I serve well, it makes life a lot easier.

Q. Have you had to change your game plan since you won Wimbledon or is it a question of executing the same game plan successfully?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the game plan, me for grass, really hasn't changed a whole heap. I continue to try and improve, come to the net, play a bit more of an all-court game, just add another dimension to my game - on every surface, not just grass. Hopefully that can take me to the next level and keep improving.
So, yeah, that's obviously one area that Rochey and I have been working on. But it's not just for grass; it's sort of through clay and hard court as well.

Q. Has grass court tennis slowed since you came on tour?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. The game's probably changed. There was a lot more serve-volleying, chip-chargers out there when I first started. Nine times out of ten now, you're going to have guys serve and stay back. Still got a lot of big serves out there. Even if they are serving and staying back, they're looking for that first ball to really punish - a mid-court forehand normally.
The actual pace of the game probably hasn't changed that much. It's more, you know, the style of play. There's so many good returners out there these days, it's hard to serve every point.

Q. Can you speculate as to why that change has happened?
LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, I think there's so many good returners. There's a lot better returners than there has been throughout the years. Someone like Tim Henman, as good a serve-volleyer as he was, even the last couple years of his career, found it hard to serve-volley all the time consistently, even on a grass court.

Q. In that week or two weeks that you started to hit again before the French, did you start to hit on hard or did you go to the red clay courts at Homebush and start on that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I only hit like once, I think. It was on a clay court in Sydney, not at Homebush. That was once, but it was more sort of stroking the ball. At that stage I probably wasn't really a hundred percent sure whether I was going to be able to play the French or not.

Q. Still only had a couple of matches on the grass. Are you feeling with each one you're more comfortable or is it still new surface, got to settle?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You get more and more comfortable with each match, for sure. I felt like as soon as I got here, and even with all the changes, I was still hitting the ball well, yeah, in practice sets and that. But you've got to go out there and do it in match situations, which is so much different than practice.
For me, that's been a huge bonus, to get these couple of matches under my belt, and another one tomorrow.

Q. Playing the doubles obviously helps with that. Is that something you might aim to put together that combination, you and Gooch, for the Olympics?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not sure yet. I really haven't even thought about doubles at the Olympics. Yeah, I don't actually know if Gooch is in directly or not. I think he's about borderline at the moment. Tennis Australia will have to work out what they think the best options are, who's going to get in. I don't think Gooch and I would probably get in on our own rankings, I don't think, into doubles at the Olympics.
Yeah, right at the moment it's probably still Paul and I would be the best option.

Q. The doubles, in addition to getting more matches on, match practice, is it also a point to give Fitzgerald another option for Davis Cup?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. For me, this one here at Queen's is probably more so to get a couple more matches, more serve and return, serve-volley a little bit, play different shots. Yeah, you don't get to play that many matches in a match situation on grass. For me it's trying to sharpen up areas of my game leading into Wimbledon.
For me, I still feel like I can teach Gooch a lot, as well, on the court. So for me I enjoy playing with him and I think he responds to playing with me a lot better than maybe a lot of other players. So, yeah, that's a positive.
Yeah, maybe down the track, if we do play more matches, we will be another option. But right at the moment, I think Fitzy's got enough faith in me and Handles for Davis Cup.

Q. Is that important for you, because playing for your country is so important? Is it good to give something back in the sense you can help foster Gooch's career a bit?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Gooch is obviously the standout player we've got coming up. He's the most likely opportunity to get into the top 50, top 20 in the world. Davis Cup-wise, when I'm gone, Handles is gone, he's going to be playing a lot of the matches as well.
Anything that I can pass on to him is an extra bonus, I hope for him and not only his career, but for him and Davis Cup.

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