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June 23, 2009

Lleyton Hewitt


L. HEWITT/R. Ginepri
6-4, 6-1, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Lleyton Hewitt. We'll take the first question, please.

Q. Maybe just take us through your match. You had a bit of a shaky start, but you never looked troubled after those wobbly first couple of games.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always tough, any tournament I think, the first few games. Yeah, just get the nerves out of the way. Yeah, he's a different opponent, as well, because he can serve in patches where he hit some good first serves, goes for his second serve.
But, yeah, he normally steps on your second serve, makes you play a lot of balls on your service games. First game of the match I had 15-40 and wasn't able to consolidate. The second game I was up 40-15 and got broken.
So, you know, apart from that small hiccup, it was pretty smooth sailing after that. I was able to dictate when I wanted to. My serve picked up. I felt like I was in all of his service games, which was good.

Q. The serve definitely picked up. You went sort of from losing the first serve to 13 aces.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, no, my rhythm's been good in practice. It's a matter of just keeping that going. It was a little bit swirly out on that Court 3 as well today, which just took a few games to get used to.
Once I sort of had that under my belt, I felt like I was capable to use the wind to my advantage.

Q. How do you feel about Del Potro in the next round?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's gonna be a tough match. He's a class player. Yeah, he was only a couple of points from maybe winning the French Open a couple of weeks ago.
You know, it's a different surface. He hasn't had the best success. But, as I said, he is a class player. He's an all-court player. He's got a big game. It's going to be a good challenge.

Q. What is it like for you playing guys of that stature, like a Del Potro?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's going to make a lot of aces out there, and he's gonna hit a lot of winners. It's a matter of really trying to, you know, stay in my game as much as possible and not worry about his and what he's doing.
Over five sets on grass, a lot of things can happen as well. There's a lot of up and down. When I get those small opportunities, yeah, it's like playing Roddick, I guess, a little bit at Queen's a couple of weeks ago. When you get those small opportunities, you've really got to try and take them.

Q. Do you really feel that's a size difference? I know you've had a problems with a Karlovic or a guy like that. Do you notice how big they are compared to you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. Not so much Del Potro. Karlovic, he's big for anyone. Yeah, Del Potro is big, but I've practiced a lot with Cilic and those guys and Soderling.
There's a lot more of those guys, you know, 6'4" to 6'6", I guess, that have big all-court games and move pretty well for their size.

Q. Has it ever felt a bit sort of like Land of the Giants, or you've been used to?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, just been used to it, I guess. Doesn't worry me too much. I think on this surface, yeah, you can take advantage as well of people's movement sometimes as well. I feel like I move pretty well on this surface, so...

Q. Have you had to fix your game for next time? Is there anything you picked up from this match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, the next step up's gonna be a lot different match. It's gonna be a lot tougher match. I'm gonna have to step it up, yeah, to hang with him.
Yeah, I'm gonna have to try and play a clean match. I think a lot's gonna be on the serve and the return of serve in the match, and hopefully I can get into enough of his service games to put pressure on him and keep making that one extra ball.

Q. You probably share with Nadal that at a young age you played a lot of matches, and you're both pretty labor-intensive players. With your hip and his knees, do you ascribe the five-set format in majors as contributing to injuries of that kind?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't think the five-set format at slams. More so the schedule I think more than anything, and the amount of matches that you've got to play, especially if you are top five in the world.
Yeah, he, as I was, the way he moves around the court and hustles for everything, it's gonna take wear and tear on your body over years. I think everyone realized, you know, it was going to happen at some point. It just depends when it was gonna happen I guess for him.
But over five sets for Grand Slams, I don't think it's a big deal.

Q. Nothing you'd ever think about reducing to a best-of-three format?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think for Grand Slams. I think it's good how it is.

Q. How arduous is it for you sort of getting through a Grand Slam to, say, five or eight years ago when you were on fresh legs?
LLEYTON HEWITT: My recovery's still not too bad. It's obviously important always, you know, especially the first week, to try and get a clean week and not waste a whole lot of energy and not put your body through too much travel.
But, again, you've got too be able to survive that first week and put yourself in a spot to do some damage the second week. Yeah, probably a little more time spent recovering.
And with the hip now, that's just an ongoing rehab, a lot of physio work, whether it's a big tournament or a small tournament now, so...

Q. We saw you have a little bit of a stumble the other day practicing. Is that sort of a regular thing now with the hip?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, that was nothing to do with the hip. That was just unlucky. I just got wrong footed and slipped over. I was more worried about my groin than my hip. My hip was fine.

Q. Just going back to the five-set thing, you've been involved in thrilling five-set matches. Do you think that the women's game could benefit from going up to a five-set format?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. It's hard to say. I don't think a lot of them would last five sets. So, yeah, the training you have to do to last five sets, especially seven best-of-five-set matches, it's a lot more than three-set matches.
Yeah, there would obviously be question marks a lot of them could last that much.

Q. Is there still a big advantage here for people who are experienced, like yourself, on grass, to sort of a Del Potro, who is a clay courter, or has that narrowed a lot because of the conditions?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it has narrowed. I've noticed in my time, the last nine or ten years on the tour, from when I first came on.
Because there was -- it seemed a lot quicker with the balls and the courts were playing a lot quicker. Whether that was because, you know, a lot more guys were serve-volleying and that as well.
Whereas now, majority of guys, even Federer, as good as he is, he plays most of the game on grass from the back of the court as well.
So, yeah, it has changed a little bit, I think. But there's still areas where grass, compared with any other surface, you can get a slight edge I think from knowing how to move and how to play and the craft of playing on this surface.

Q. What's changed, the balls?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think the balls are a little bit heavier. Whether it's the actual grass or the ball, I'm not sure. Yeah, I think Tim Henman has also spoken over the years. It's definitely played slower in the time that I've played here.

Q. So the actual grass might be different?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure if the grass. It's a little bit cut. I have no idea. But it's definitely playing a bit slower.

Q. You've always been a big one for representing Australia in Davis Cup. You're the only Australian here for the first time ever at Wimbledon. Is that something you're aware of? Does it sort of put any extra pressure on you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm absolutely aware of it. And it doesn't put any more pressure on me because, you know, it's been a couple of years now where I've sort of been the main focus since Flip and Pat haven't been at the majors.
Most of the majority of the focus has been on me anyway. So that doesn't worry me. It worries me that we don't have players, absolutely.

Q. No one in the change room.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Absolutely. Not a lot of guys that speak English anymore (smiling).
It's frustrating. Obviously we want Tomic to improve. We can't throw all our eggs in one basket either. Back ten years ago when I first came on the tour, there was a good group of guys. Maybe some of those weren't going to win majors or be in the final, but they were going to be competitive and they were going to go close to making second weeks of Grand Slams. Somehow we've got to get back to that.

Q. Back to the best-of-five set question. Why doesn't that take a toll on you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think because we prepare. All our preparation is built around the four majors. I think any of the top players who have been to the pinnacle of the sport, all their preparation is built around these tournaments.
And, yeah, this is obviously the toughest one, coming off the French, for Rafa or Roger, whoever has done well at the French. To be able to back it up a couple of weeks later, that's slightly a different story.
Yeah, leading into the US Open or the Australian Open, you get a pretty long break beforehand, and you're able to do the preparation work that's needed to last those two weeks.

Q. What do you think can be done to get more young Australian guys coming through at the top level?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. I'm not, you know, I guess in it enough to actually know what's happening back home in terms of, you know, development, squads and all that.
But, yeah, I think we still have to try and identify the right kids, as well. We're fortunate in Australia to have sport for choice with a lot of different sports. We've got to try and somehow get the best athletes.

Q. You were just talking about how you do recover now during Grand Slams. Is that some advice you would like to give Rafa, as well? You had a lot of injuries as well. Is there something you can tell him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think Rafa, he knows what to do in Grand Slams. You know, he's -- yeah, this is obviously disappointing for him to miss this Grand Slam.
But the way that he prepares and goes about his business in the majors is second to none. You know, he's as professional as anyone. So, yeah, he would have been taking -- doing an enormous amount of training and recovery work.
Yeah, at the Australian Open earlier this year, the way that he bounced back from his five-setter against Verdasco, to come out and beat Roger in another five-setter, there's not too many guys that can do that.

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