Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
DAVIS CUP - SPAIN vs AUSTRALIA
December 8, 2000
Lleyton Hewitt - Albert Costa 3-6 6-1 2-6 6-4 6-4
MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Haven't had a lot of time to reflect on it so far. It's the best feeling I've ever had. You know, it is a dream come true again. It feels like I say this all the time. This is the biggest thing in my tennis career so far by a mile. You know, I remember warming up with Stolty a couple years ago for the Davis Cup, I was the orange boy, about 15 years old. He said, "You'll have your best moments in Davis Cup tennis and you'll have your worst moments in Davis Cup tennis throughout your whole tennis career." There's no doubt that so far to date, the one lost that I lost in a live rubber last year to Pioline was the worst feeling I've had on a tennis court. Then this year, you know, it's amazing how one year and it's all changed.
Q. Were there some tears at the end? You're walking back to serve for the match. They're jeering you as you walk back. Love-40 down, jeering every move you make. How do you get your mind around that and focus?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was the toughest thing I've ever had to do in tennis, I think. I looked over at Newc and the boys on the sideline. They're pumping you up, but they're like a little bit disappointed because two minutes ago you were serving for the match in the fifth set. This feeling came through. You know, "You can still get this." That's the most positive I've ever stayed in a game like that. I was telling myself just to block out the crowd, not let it affect me. I knew Costa wasn't going to do anything with the next three points that he had breakpoint opportunities. He was tight as ever out there. I knew if I went out there and I served a couple of good first serves, if I stayed aggressive and made him come up with the passing shots, I could still get out of that game. That's what ended up happening.
Q. How about your own stamina? It was pretty tight. Strong test of your fitness.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was unbelievable. In the interview I did with Fitzy after the match, I just said there was a question mark over how long I was going to last out there. I've done very little practice since Toronto, since I started feeling ordinary. I just went out there, played a match, warmed up 15 to 20 minutes before the matches. I wasn't able to do the yards. I've done as much as I've ever done, more than over the last 22 weeks. I definitely wasn't giving myself the greatest preparation due to this illness. You know, it's an unbelievable feeling that I was down and I was hurting, I got my second wind, I was able to guts it out and come through with the goods.
Q. You said at the end the crowd were the most difficult you've had to face. At the beginning, you went 5-Love down pretty quickly. They were on your back as soon as you walked onto the court. Did that have any bearing on you going down 5-Love?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, that had no bearing. You know, obviously it was pretty tight out there. I think we were both pretty tight. I looked at it, you know, I kept telling Newc, "I have breakpoints, game points." Really the first set I felt I should have won 6-3, the total opposite. Out of the first four or five games, I had game points in three of them. I felt like I wasn't playing my best tennis. You know, I think the second set I really stepped it up right from the start, ended up winning six out of seven games when I came back from 5-Love down. I felt like, you know, I let him off a little bit of a hook at the start of the third set. I had a lot of deuce chances the first two or three of his service games.
Q. Do you think the crowd went too far at any time?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Definitely that last game was the worst I've ever seen. You know, if they're going to have a rule that you give out point penalties or whatever for the crowd going over the top, you know, I don't think it will come any worse than that. I think, you know, someone's got to step up and say something. We've been talking in the locker room. You know, the worst crowd -- not the worst crowd, but the worst game or noise between points, I literally had to serve, play the first point, the first shot, even the second shot I had to play, you know, was still played in a lot of noise out there. You know, I definitely feel it's probably a little bit out of order.
Q. Do you feel in Davis Cup games that the crowd etiquette could be different, rules go out the windows compared to other tournaments?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think a little bit. All the past matches, I think France was loud last year, but they didn't go over the line I don't think at all. This is the first time I think that, you know, we -- I don't mind a bit of whistling between first and second serves. Some tournaments you've got to put up with that if you're playing the home guy anyway. We're used to putting up with that. When you're actually playing the whole rally, it's not a soccer match out there.
Q. Do you think the Australians feel that Corretja not playing, that decision by Spain, has played into your hands a little bit? Does that suit you all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's hard to say. I think we definitely thought that Alex was going to play on the first day. There's no doubt about that. He's got the best ranking, he's the most experienced out of everyone. If you look at the match-ups, you can understand why they put Costa against me. It's the only clay court match that I've played against any of the Spaniards, and he won that at Roland Garros. Ferrero, you know, he's not the typical Spaniard. He does hit very heavy off the baseline, but he's a very good counter-puncher and good returner, as well. You can understand their thinking a little bit, sort of to put him against Rafter, as well. But it is a big call in Davis Cup not to have your No. 1 player on rankings in the team.
Q. Did you say anything to Pat or did Pat say anything to you before he went out and you came back in?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Boys get pretty crazy when you go back in the locker rooms after you've had a win. You know, Pat just said, "Gutsy win, mate." I just said, "Good luck. Let's try to finish this day one on a good note." It's hard I think for a person in Pat's situation out there. You know, after the team has had such a good win, he's been waiting in the locker room for four and a half hours before he gets to go out there. This morning with the opening ceremonies, he's all ready to go, he's got to sit back, wait, have a lot of nerves. It's a tough situation. You've got to block that out and try to go out there and do the job, as well.
Q. When you won the last point, were you feeling you had a little bit of the Davis Cup already in your pocket?
LLEYTON HEWITT: That's a big call. We're only into the first match of the tie. Definitely it was a great start, though, for the team. Just to get the momentum and really show the Spanish that we're here to play.
Q. What did Newc say to you? It looked as if he was almost in tears when you came off.
LLEYTON HEWITT: After the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He was very emotional. Newc, thought he wouldn't stop hugging me (laughter). Obviously, those guys have been through a lot. He played a major part in the role today in me winning, just with the health situation and everything under the control. Just to have a guy who I'm sure he's been in so many situations the same as that before when you're not feeling a hundred percent, trying to push through it, sitting next to you, it's a huge bonus.
Q. You changed quite a few racquets at quite interesting times. What makes you change it and want to get a new one?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's just a matter of I'm playing with natural gut. Once it starts cutting through the gut, I put a couple of string-a-lings in there, but I'll never let myself -- I can't say "never." Most times I don't want to let myself break a string on a big point. I'll put a few in there. It actually makes the racquet a little bit deader, as well. Sometimes you actually don't time the ball as well when you have a lot of string savers in the racquet. You know, I just try and -- when I can see it's going to go on the next three, four points, it's time to change.
Q. Were you aware that their captain was getting quite boisterous about it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, mate. He had a lot to say about everything, today. It wasn't going to worry me one way or the other.
Q. How much do you owe to Newc and how much does Australia owe to Newc for his captaincy over the last few years?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A hell of a lot. You know, firstly for me, he took me under -- he and Rochey both took me sort of under their wing. My first Davis Cup tie was in Sydney where we beat France. Just hanging out with the guys, practicing a bit, picking up balls, getting their drinks, it's just fantastic to be a part of it all and be wearing an Australian Davis Cup jacket or track suit. You know, I owe so much to those guys. Not only have they helped me through Davis Cup matches, but also my career. They're one of the main reasons, with all the other coaches and family and everyone who has -- that's one of the main reasons why I've reached sort of the Top 10 in my career at such a young age.
Q. How much is that win going to -- what is it going to do for your confidence coming into Sunday? How much is it going to boost your confidence? Secondly, how sure are you that you'll be playing Corretja?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's obviously a huge boost, not only for me, but for the team, as well. It's one of those matches, so tight, you feel like you're always down, then you get over the last hurdle and actually win is a great feeling for the team. Obviously, I feel like I'm hitting the ball quite well on clay, I'm moving well. It's nice to know I have the stamina, as well. With Corretja, who knows? You know, I think a lot's got to do with the match that's going on with Pat and Ferrero and also the doubles tomorrow, you know, who he chooses to play. Is Costa up to playing a fifth match if it came down to it? We don't know.
Psychological warfare in Davis Cup. How much sweeter is that after the comments that Alex made this week, if at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I've had to put up with comments in the past. I haven't faltered at them so far. You know, I don't understand why people open their mouths all the time. I mean, I get pumped up on the court anyway. It's not going to stop me at all. You know, to look over and see that their No. 1 player is sitting on the sidelines on day one not playing, I think that gives everyone a lot of confidence in our team.