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June 8, 2009
L. HEWITT/E. Schwank
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Couldn't be a better way to start, could it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was good. Never exactly sure, you know, how you're going to play, and your footing and everything, how confident you're going to be.
First match on grass, it's always a bit hard. I came out of the blocks really well, was seeing the ball well, returned extremely well from start to finish.
He didn't serve that poorly but I made him play a lot of balls.
Q. You've got a great record at Queen's. What's so special about playing here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure what I actually do, you know, why I have such a great record, but yeah, for me, it's always nice to get on the grass after playing on the clay for a few months.
I just go out there with a positive attitude. You know, these are some of the best grass courts if not "the" best grass courts in the world. You know, to come out here and play on this surface, it's awesome for all the players.
Q. In terms of the courts, do you prefer playing here to Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Ah, no, not too much. I feel comfortable on both grass courts. You're not going to get too many rough bounces on either of these.
Q. Does it ever take you a few days to adjust to grass, or do you get straight back into it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Um, I feel like I always hit the ball pretty well as soon as I come onto the grass. It's more just a little bit confidence with the footing more than anything and just forgetting the sliding and what you've been doing.
Obviously there's different, slightly different styles of playing on grass as well to playing on clay. We serve and return and those little things, but you know, I've been doing it for that many years now. I sort of know all those things. It's a matter of just feeling comfortable with the footing out there.
That's the biggest bonus of not having a bye here I guess this year, as well, to get a match like this today under those -- you know, the pressure of actually playing a competitive match, as well. You know, more court time.
Q. Six months into the year since you came back from surgery. How would you assess yourself?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the hip is holding up really well at the moment. I'm pretty happy with how it's pulled up.
The first few months was tough. You just have some rough days with the hip, as well. But at the moment it's feeling pretty good. On the clay, I didn't have any issues whatsoever, so that was a good sign.
Q. How soon did you leave Paris? And when you got to London, did you get on the grass that day or the next day? And when you do get on the grass, do you go full bore straightaway or gradually work in?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I had a couple days off after Paris. Yeah, then when I got here, it was probably a day or so before I started hitting on grass.
Yeah, I took it lightly the first day or so, first couple of days. There weren't that many players here really to hit with, either. Once I could start playing practice sets and that against guys, that's when I tried to step it up a notch or two.
Q. What do you think of Roger's achievement in Paris, what he's done?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, no, it's an amazing achievement. Yeah, his record speaks for itself.
Yeah, from what I saw of the match yesterday, he played his best tennis in the final, ball striking-wise. He probably didn't play his best tennis that he's ever played to get through to the final in all of his matches, but, yeah, he just -- he knows how to win over five sets, as well, knows what it takes to last Grand Slams.
Yeah, yesterday when -- yeah, there was a lot of pressure and expectation on him. He came out and played one of his best matches.
Q. Did you ever think that Sampras' 14 would be matched?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Ah, it's hard to say. When Pete won that many, yeah, I think everyone thought that it's an unbelievable achievement and it's going to take someone a long time to do it.
Yeah, Roger's obviously an exception, though. To do it as quickly as he has, as well, and obviously at all four majors, yeah, if it wasn't for Rafa he'd probably have quite a few more, as well.
Q. As a fellow player, how do you think Roger will react to this? Obviously he had history on his shoulders and now that's been lifted. Some may say he might sort of take his foot off the gas or he could be relaxed and really go for it and, you know, dispense of all before him. How do you see him reacting to this?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think coming to Wimbledon is probably his favorite tournament of the year, so he's going to be feeling pretty confident, I'd say. He may be a bit drunk and confident. (Laughter.)
But he's going to be -- yeah, he just won the French Open. He's got to be feeling pretty good.
Q. In terms of Grand Slams and records, do you see him getting stronger?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He's got an opportunity at every major. That's the thing about his game, and he's -- yeah, as I said, he's been the second-best clay-court player over the last four or five years now. There's only one guy who's really stopped him.
Yeah, every major he goes into right at the moment, he still has as good a chance as anyone to win it.
Q. What did the locker room feel when people were saying his career is on a slide? Surely you...
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think anyone spoke about it. I didn't talk to anyone about it. We know what you journalists are like. (Laughter.)
Q. But you knew the quality despite what...
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, mate. Yeah, as I said, he made the last two or three French Open finals, a semi before that.
Yeah, the only Grand Slams he's lost in the last, since I can remember, those three or four guys have gone on to win the Grand Slam; otherwise he would have captured them all. So, yeah, it's an incredible run.
Q. Who do you think is favored for Wimbledon now after the French?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Still gotta be Roger, I think, is the favorite right at the moment. He hasn't done too much wrong.
Even though last year he lost, he only just lost. He was probably only point or two away from winning against -- and Rafa probably played his best grass court match he could ever play.
Yeah, Roger's going -- he's going to be the one to beat. You throw -- those top four guys there, they're obviously the main four at the moment.
Q. Do you feel you can win it again?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think with a bit of luck and a door opening up. I think if, you know, you can last into the second week, anything can happen.
This is one Grand Slam probably where there's probably only a few guys who really believe they can win it, as well.
Yeah, the French Open, obviously Rafa was a red-hot favorite, but behind that there's a lot of guys who can cause upsets. Whereas on grass, there's really only a few guys I think deep down who believe they can win it.
Q. You've been practicing with Andy Murray and playing doubles. How did that come about? Do you think the British public have to be patient with their expectations with him for Queen's and Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Well, I just -- I was looking for someone to play to obviously get a few more matches. Yeah, Andy was free to play doubles. That's how that happened.
It's not a real big deal either way. Yeah, he's got a good chance, no doubt about that, here and Wimbledon, the No. 1 seed here and at Wimbledon -- he's No. 3 in the in the world at the moment, and plays extremely well on this surface.
He's got his -- as I said, Roger's probably just the favorite, and then you throw Andy in that next mix, for sure.
Q. London has their Masters Cup this year for the first time. You played, I think I'm right, Houston, Shanghai, Sydney, Lisbon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yep.
Q. What do you think of coming to London? And can you sort of remember a few of your highlights from those places, obviously Houston being the big one?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, Sydney and Shanghai were a bit better.
Q. Sydney and Shanghai.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Houston I lost in the final, but it was okay.
Well, The Masters Cup is sort of the pinnacle that everyone tries to get into at the end of the year. It's a special event, unique event, round-robin system.
But, yeah, every match is extremely tough, as you know. You go in there with the best eight guys in the world. Yeah, it's good it's being shared around I think in different places.
For me -- Andy is going to have that same feeling as I had when I played in Sydney, and I was able to come through and win that and get No. 1 for the first time ever. That was an amazing week.
Q. Another question on Roger and Rafa. As someone that played Rafa in Paris and you've played Roger throughout your career, how do they differ from an opponent's point of view?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Um, the way they play is totally different, obviously. Roger's a lot more all-court player, relies on his serve and his forehand, a lot more than Rafa does. Roger can mix it up so well, as well, and obviously comes in and can serve/volley and stay back.
Rafa, on the other hand, hits the ball different to anyone. No one hits the ball like Rafa. The work he gets off any court -- grass probably not quite as much. The spin that he hits with doesn't quite bite as much on grass.
But he's becoming a better all-court player these days, Rafa. You see him coming to the net. His serve has picked up. When I played him in Paris, he's serving a lot bigger than he used to.
They're both unique in their ways. That's why it's been such a good rivalry.
Q. Do you find one more difficult than the other to play?
LLEYTON HEWITT: They're both difficult. Not easy matches against those two.
Q. Why do you choose to play here instead of Halle?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I've been coming here for 11 or 12 years, so what's one more? No, I've never played Halle, and I've always enjoyed this tournament and had great success here.
End of FastScripts