Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
September 2, 2001, 3rd Round
Lleyton Hewitt - Albert Portas 6-1 6-3 6-4
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. Given everything that's happened, can we get your thoughts on how you feel about the last two days?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I've given my statement yesterday. I've spoken to James. James and I have both moved past it. I think it's time everyone did.
Q. Did you understand why people would possibly be upset by what you said?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, as I said, James and I have moved past it. We are the ones in the incident. You know, I'm just thinking towards my matches now. You know, nice to get through today.
Q. When you came on court today, you weren't introduced. Did you find that unusual?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Didn't even think of it. Wouldn't have known. It's something that when I'm out there anyway, I'm going through my warm-up. I'm not worrying about getting introduced or not.
Q. Were you conscious of any scattered booing throughout the crowd?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I thought the crowd was pretty good. I thought it was pretty fair both ways. You know, at the end of the match, I thought the crowd was, you know, great.
Q. Your explanation was that you only meant the similarity was that the linesman was the same linesman that foot faulted you earlier. Can you tell us why you didn't say that to us in here on Friday, that that was exactly what you meant?
LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, I think everyone's moved past it. The ITF couldn't work out anything chargeable in it. You know, that's pretty much it. It was something that got very blown out of proportion, I think.
Q. To a lot of people what you said was offensive. Do you have anything to say to those people?
LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, I apologized if it came out in the wrong way. I said that right from the start.
MODERATOR: Any questions about the match today, please.
Q. Pretty happy with your form?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not bad. Hit the ball pretty well. Got through in three sets.
Q. Did you step it up today from the first couple rounds?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, a little bit. I still have a long way to go, though.
Q. Considering all the publicity regarding the incident, were you expecting maybe a little worse reaction from the crowd?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I wasn't really worried about it too much. You know, I was going out there, have a third-round match at the US Open. You know, it's a place where I've had a lot of good memories from last year, making the semis, my best singles result. I was just trying to get through to the fourth round. That's pretty much what I thought about the whole time. I wasn't worrying about the crowd too much.
Q. I don't think anyone considers you a racist. Let's face it, in two of the last three Slams, you've had an incident that's been pretty controversial. You've had incidents before. What have you learned from this? Are you going to try and change things in any way?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, they're different incidents for sure. You know, this one in particular, you know, I think it all got blown out of proportion. You know, it's something that for sure I don't think anyone wanted to go through. But I'll learn from it. Hopefully, it won't happen again.
Q. Do you think you'll choose your words a little more carefully in the future?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, as I said, you have to learn from your mistakes. I made mistakes on and off the tennis court. You know, if I'm going to be a better player on and off the court, I've got to, you know, learn from that. Hopefully, you know, that will happen in the not too distant future.
Q. How is it blown out of proportion? Both McEnroes were on TV saying it was Australian unforgivable comments, you're challenging this man's character based on his race. We're not saying you're racist, but that is racism.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It had nothing to do with his race. I think if you'll listen earlier what Brian Earley said, it had nothing to do with race. That's what the ITF has looked into. That's what they've come out of.
Q. What is the similarity you're talking about?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You have to ask Brian Earley. We've gone through the whole tapes. I've been through this three days straight now.
Q. Brian Earley is just going on your explanation. The question was, what is your explanation for what happened? Brian Earley just related his view of what you said.
LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, all I wanted was the person changed off that line. I just wanted the person changed off that line. That was the whole thing.
Q. When you said "similarity," what did you mean? That's all we're asking.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's all gone now, mate.
Q. It's not gone. It's not going to go away. It will haunt you for months and months and months. Just say what you meant.
LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, you know, I've spoken to James. I've spoken to the ITF people. We've all gone through it.
Q. Speak to your fans through the media. When we walk in the stadium, that's all that people are talking about. They want to know what you meant by that.
LLEYTON HEWITT: All I wanted was the line person changed, as any of you people would have if you got foot faulted twice at the same end and hadn't been foot faulted in the first-round match or today's match either. It's just a strange situation when you get foot faulted twice at one end and not at the other end.
Q. What did you mean by "similarity"?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'd like too to move on to today's match, if you could.
MODERATOR: I think we've taken this issue as far as we can in this forum. Can we have questions about the match.
Q. Can you talk about your temperament on court, whether it plays in your favor or sometimes its negative walks the fine line between blowing up at lines people and trying to charge yourself up to get through?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I like to get pumped up, I like to get the crowds involved in my matches. I play my best tennis when I'm fired up and ready to go for each point. You know, some matches that has cost me, especially in best-of-five matches, where you have to stay a lot calmer in the first few sets. I've run out of gas sometimes in the latter part of matches because of that. That's something I'm learning to, you know, deal with with every sort of Grand Slam, Davis Cup tie that passes.
Q. Are you trying to play with less emotion on the court? You were calm and composed today.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't have much to get pumped up about 1-3-4. Obviously, I was down a break early in both the second and third sets, but I got those pretty much straight back before it could get to the next point.
Q. As a consequence of this experience, are you going to try to be less emotional?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, in five-set matches I'll get pumped up when I feel it's necessary for me to get pumped up on the court, you know, when I've got to sort of raise my game, try and get to that next level. You know, as I've said, I've got to try and do that more and more in the latter parts of the fourth and fifth sets when you really need to dig deep.
Q. Your thoughts about Tommy Haas. He's playing well now.
LLEYTON HEWITT: He's playing very well. We've had a lot of tough matches in the past. I was very lucky to get past him at the Australian Open earlier this year. He was all over me in that match. I escaped somehow in all three sets, got out of it in straight sets. He's come off a big win last week beating Pete in the final. I don't think he's dropped a set here yet so far. I'm going to have to play my best tennis if I'm going to get past him.
Q. Does it give you extra confidence to know you came back in every set at the Australian?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Against Tommy?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, it does. But still, I don't think he's going to worry about that when he goes out there in two days' time and plays me. He's a very classy player out there. He's got a great game. You know, he deserves to be in the Top 10 for sure. He's one of the most dangerous players out there at the moment who aren't in the Top 10.
Q. What do you think of the foot fault rule since it's such a motivator, since it arouses emotion? Do you think the foot fault rule is a valid rule? Do you think it should be discontinued?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Are you going to go and serve at the net or what (laughter)?
Q. I'm saying, if it causes such an emotion in you.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I wasn't questioning the foot fault rule. I was questioning getting foot faulted. I have the exact same action when I prepare day in and day out on the practice court. I've done it in so many matches. To get foot faulted at one end twice, not up the other end in that particular match, not to get foot faulted out there today as well.
Q. You're pretty lucky because John McEnroe was one of the great players. Five years ago he was suspended from his breaking of the code. You broke it, but yet you're still playing. I'm saying you're pretty lucky in that way. I want you to know that.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You can perceive it whichever way you like.
Q. What are your thoughts on how James Blake handled the whole thing since the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Very classy. He's a classy guy, though. You know, I've known James since the Juniors. I've never been very close to him. I haven't seen him around a lot. He's going to be around for a long time. You know, he handles himself very well on the court and off the court.
Q. What was your conversation with James?
LLEYTON HEWITT: That's between James and I.
Q. What makes Haas so difficult for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, he's got an all-court game. He's very big from, you know, all areas of the court. He has a great forehand, great backhand, big first serve, and he can come to the net, as well. You know, I've had a few wins against him, though, as well. In Rome I beat him as well there. Lost to him in the World Team Cup. We always seem to have pretty hard-fought matches out there. This is going to be no easier, I think.
Q. For year people look at Tommy's game, see how talented he was, what do you think has prevented him from having a break-out?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. It's strange. I think he's got one of the best games on tour. You know, he started to come through. He beat me in the second round of the Australian Open maybe three years ago, went on to make the semifinals there. I think everyone thought that was going to be his big breakthrough there. It sort of didn't happen. I'm not sure whether that's mental or maybe he's had a few injuries along the way, as well. I'm sure if he keeps going the way that he's going at the moment, he can play on all surfaces, as well. It's another reason why I think he should be in the Top 10.
Q. What kind of reaction have you heard from any fans, negative or positive? Has anyone said anything?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't heard a lot. Basically, I went out there today, and that was my first time in the crowd, in the spotlight, I suppose.
Q. Pat and Pete might be playing the last match of the Slam tomorrow. Is there buzz around the locker room? Guys looking forward to seeing that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's going to be the biggest fourth round probably at a Grand Slam that you'll ever see maybe. You know, to have Pete seeded 10 in a Grand Slam is very strange. But he's definitely not playing like that at the moment, the way I saw him play yesterday. Pat is playing exceptionally well, as well. It's going to be a great match. You know, it's probably a shame that if it is going to be Pat's last Grand Slam, that these two guys, one of these guys has to lose in the Round of 16, because it's more like a semi or a final of a Grand Slam. I think everybody is looking forward to watching it.
Q. Will you watch it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'll definitely watch it. Probably on TV. Stay out of the heat.
Q. Is there an extra responsibility comes with being Top 5 in the world as a citizen of this tennis community?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so, for sure, just because you're in the spotlight a lot more.
Q. Are you playing as well as you were last year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably not at the moment, no. I feel like I'm gradually getting there. You know, I'm not quite timing the ball as well as I'd like to be. I'm through to the fourth round. I'm still hanging in there. There's still areas of my game that I think have to improve in a hurry if I'm going to be a real threat.