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AUSTRALIAN OPEN


January 20, 2009


Lleyton Hewitt


MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

F. GONZ√ɬĀLEZ/L. Hewitt
5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Midway through the fifth set, a switch in momentum. What do you attribute that to in Fernando lifting his game a bit, yours going off a bit?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Big point was probably 1-All in the fifth, I had fif-40. I had another breakpoint. I couldn't get that break. I felt at that stage I was starting to get back on top. From the second and third sets, he was dominating the match. I had to try to find a way to get back into it. I was able to do that through the fourth, broke a couple of times. Early in that fifth set, it would have been nice to go up an early break.
Yeah, he came up with a couple of big forehands on those points. Yeah, but if I could have got that early break, it could have been a little bit different.

Q. Is this the toughest loss in your career?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not the toughest, no.

Q. Was your recent lack of match play a factor?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Who knows. Obviously, the more matches you have, the more matches against the better players in the Masters Series, big tournaments, it's obviously going to help in the tight situations on the big points.
Yeah, there was still only a couple of points in it there in the fifth set, if I could have broken there, then consolidated early in the fifth set, you know, he was ready to go as well a little bit.
Yeah, even with that set, I still had my chance out there.

Q. Did Fernando's injury break throw you at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe a little bit, I guess. I wasn't quite serving as well as I had early in the match, though. Even though I won the fourth set, I didn't feel like I had my best serving set that set at all. Then the fifth set, I didn't serve great. I gave him too many chances to dictate with his forehand. Yeah, that was probably the telling point.

Q. You pushed him pretty close. He's a very good player. Is this discouraging for you with your comeback or encouraging? Does it give you hope you can get back to where you were?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know right at the moment. Haven't really thought about it too much. You go out there and you try and beat whoever you're up against.
I'll probably look back at it in a couple of days' time, yeah, look at where I could have improved and whatever. But, yeah, in hindsight, when you haven't had the matches, haven't played five sets for quite a while, yeah, you're always going to be fighting it, I guess, a little bit.
In terms of that then, you know, I think it's a good springboard for the rest of the year. I would have still liked to have gone a bit further in the tournament.

Q. Where do you go now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Play San Jose and Memphis in a couple weeks' time.

Q. No matter what happens from here, do you feel you've written yourself into the history of this tournament by having so many great matches?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. I guess I wrote myself into the tournament when I lost in the final a couple years ago.
Yeah, I'm not sure. This is my 13th Australian Open. I've been coming here for a while now.

Q. Any sense that it's your last Australian Open?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't think so.

Q. Where do you feel you are at the moment as far as getting back into the top 10?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Right there. The guys that I've lost to, especially the last two weeks, yeah, they're both top 15 at the moment. But when they're at their best, you know, Nalbandian is possibly top-five, top-seven player and González is a top-10 player. The two losses haven't been the worst losses on paper. I probably could have easily won both those matches, as well.
In the next couple days, I'll get to assess how it went, how the body's pulled up. I'll probably go through it with Rochey and see what maybe I could have done a little bit better.

Q. How did your body hold up? Your first five-set match in months.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, pretty good. Just wasn't quite getting enough push-off in my legs, my left leg, just due to playing five sets, especially as the match went on with my serve. It probably cost me a little bit. Especially late in the fourth and fifth sets, I just wasn't getting a high enough percentage in first serves. That probably comes with the strength of pushing off my left leg a lot more than I've done in quite a long time.

Q. You said during the week that it would be nice to have someone else take a bit of the burden of expectation off you that you've had for a long time. Bernard Tomic in the last 24 hours is all over the front pages. Do you think that might help you as you come back, not having as much pressure on you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a great win by Bernard yesterday, but he's still got a long way to go before he's in the top hundred and playing in the other slams, the other Masters Series week in and week out. I could be retired by the time he gets to top hundred. Who knows how long that will take, so...

Q. Do you see similarities in the expectations that are on him now and were on you at a similar age?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. When I was coming up, though, Pat was already up there. We had a good stock of players, I guess. There was quite a lot of, you know, not exceptional top-10 players, but a great group. Stoltenberg, the Woodies, Sandon Stolle, Richard Fromberg. There were so many of them that were competitive week in and week out on the tour. It probably made it easier for me to hang around with guys, hit with guys, learn from them as well a lot, whereas Bernard right at the moment, there's probably really only myself and Gooch that are on the tour week in and week out in the actual ATP tournaments.
The more Aussies we can get there, the better off it is for everyone coming through.

Q. (Question regarding the surgery and thoughts of retirement.)
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at all. I really didn't have that much time to think about the surgery, to tell you the truth. As soon as I flew back from Beijing, I landed that morning, then that afternoon I was under the knife. If I was going to retire, then I wouldn't have had the surgery done.
It wasn't something that was going to affect me in everyday life for the rest of my life. It was something that, you know, if I want to still play tennis, then it had to be done.

Q. Did you have any input as to whether this was a day or night match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I would have preferred to play during the day today, so...

Q. Will you take Bernard under your wing if he approaches you to hit with him on tour?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Absolutely. I haven't really seen a lot of him. He came to the Davis Cup tie in Townsville. He rolled up a little bit later than everyone else, so I didn't get a chance to hit with him at all there.
I really haven't seen him play a lot. Yeah, obviously to win a tour match is obviously a huge bonus. It wasn't just him yesterday. You know, Brydan Klein, who I've hit with a lot, had I thought a really good win against a really good player yesterday as well. They're boys that have to take the next step. When you get wild cards into these tournaments, you have to take them, you have to take your chance.

Q. How would you rate Fernando's chance in the tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's a tough player to play against for anyone, even the best guys like Roger, Rafa, those guys, purely because he wants to play on his terms. He's always gonna be the guy trying to dictate play. If he's able to dictate play, then he's extremely tough to beat. He's obviously in a section with Gasquet and Nadal after that. He's going to have his work cut out. But he's a dangerous floater.

Q. (Question about his left leg.)
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it would keep improving probably six months since the surgery and rehab till it gets actually to its strongest and when hopefully you don't have any issues.

Q. How tough are the next few months going to be now? Your ranking is going to drop a bit. You won't have the protection of the seeding any more.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It won't be that tough. I'm only playing a couple of small tournaments. Got Davis Cup, a couple of Masters Series in America. Yeah, I really don't have any points to defend, apart from a fourth round at Wimbledon, for the whole year. I can't say I'm too worried about points and rankings right at the moment.

Q. Will we see you in the doubles here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, no. I think the double's draw is done already. Probably won't go and play.

Q. This is a close match. You've had a lot of dramatic matches here. What are some of the most memorable ones for you looking back?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Nearly all seven matches that I played in 2005, I think. Yeah, every match was a bit of a rollercoaster out there. That was probably the year that I had a lot of -- a couple of five-setters, a couple of close four-setters nearly every match. That and probably obviously the Baghdatis match last year.

End of FastScripts




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