Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
September 5, 2009, R32
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
R. FEDERER/L. Hewitt
4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What is it that makes him just so terribly difficult to play?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He's so good at dictating play, playing on his terms. You know, it's very hard on his service games to try -- you're sort of trying to hang into his service games. Yeah, you can't really play the style of tennis that you want to play out there. That's the hard thing.
When he is able to play the way he wants to play and dictate terms, he's going to be very tough to beat.
Q. You obviously have a long history with Roger, including three matches here now. When you come into a match like this, how hard is it to let go of what's happened in the past and come in with a clean slate?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's not that hard, really, because, yeah, not a lot to lose out there. Obviously he's got a lot of pressure on him, and every time he steps out here at the moment purely because he's won so many big matches out there and everyone expects him to keep winning.
Yeah, in terms of that, obviously, you know, how capable, how good he can play if he's on, but you've got to try and take those small opportunities when they come. You're going to get some out there but you're not going to get a lot, obviously.
Today at one set all, I had breakpoints to go 3-1 up and breakpoints to go 2-Love up in the third set, and he came up with big serves at the right time. That's why he's No. 1.
Q. How are you playing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I was pretty happy the way I played today. I'm pretty happy the way that I played the last couple of weeks. Yeah, Wimbledon I played extremely well. Disappointing, because the draw could have been slightly more favorable, I could have gone deeper in tournament.
Q. But you're better than you have been. You're better than you have been in a long time.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm more fit. You know, when the body is feeling closer to 100%, then it's easy to go out there and compete.
Q. It does?
LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment, yeah, absolutely. I did all the hard work after I had surgery the end of last year to get back and put myself in a position like this.
Part of making those sacrifices to come back and do it all again, you know, you're going to lose your ranking and you're going to have to come up and play the higher seeds earlier in the tournaments.
That's all part of it. But, yeah, I feel like I'm on the right track to getting back to where I want to be.
Q. How much can you tweak match to match against a guy like him in terms of strategy and tactics?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I can do it a little bit, I think. As I said, it's very hard because he wants to dictate play so much, and he doesn't give you the opportunity to try and do different things against him too much.
So, yeah, as I said, his service games he plays at his pace, and, yeah, he's got a great serve. It's not the biggest serve out there, but he hits his spots and he hits them extremely well to set up his next shot.
That's what he does so different to a guy like Roddick who is going to hit through you a lot more on the serve; whereas Roger sets up his serve obviously for his strengths.
Q. What about the forehand? Do you try to play it a bit?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, every time he broke me though he hit his forehand extremely well. I served there a couple of times at 5-All in the third set, and, yeah, he had a cold winner on the edge of the line up the line. Yeah, so you still got to be careful with his forehand, because it is so dangerous.
Q. You've played a lot of the greats over your career. He's got the record for maybe right now. But where do you put him up in terms of competition with the players you've played?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, he's as good as there is, there's no doubt, that I've played.
He's got the most all-court game I think than I've ever played. Obviously Agassi and Sampras were both greats, and I was able to play both of them when they were still at their best, winning Grand Slams, both of them.
You know, Roger has been able to take the game to a new level, and, you know, I think the most complete player for sure is Roger.
Q. McEnroe couldn't believe how well you moved after your hip surgery, given what happened to Magnus Norman and Gustavo Kuerten. Was your surgery similar to theirs?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't think so. I don't know what they had, but I didn't feel that mine was career-threatening at all. Both those guys -- I played Magnus when he -- after he had that surgery, and I felt bad for him. I felt bad for him. Yeah, he was a hell of a player, but his body just couldn't compete anymore. That's the toughest thing.
Whereas I always felt like, and my surgeon felt like I could get back to my best if I wanted to.
Q. McEnroe also felt you were well on the way the you played today back into the top 10. Can you drop back into the top 10? Is that your aim?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Absolutely. It's an aim, but then again, for me, it's you know, still going out there in the Grand Slams is what I want to play well at. It would be nice to get into the top 10 and have to come up against these guys later in the second week. Hopefully that's going to pan out for next year.
This year has sort of been more of a rebuilding year, I guess, trying to get the matches and get the match toughness under my belt.
First four or five months is always going to be tough after the surgery. You're never going to expect miracles straightaway. I've been able to battle through. I've laid it all on the line, especially the last two majors, and played extremely well. It's taken a couple of the best players in the world to beat me.
Q. Do you think your game is anywhere near its peak? I mean, obviously you were No. 1 in the world for two years straight six years ago, but is your game anywhere near that level?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. I think the game is always improving and changing. Roger took it to a new level, and then Rafa came, and believe it or not, took it to a new level again. Roger has had to better himself to stay with Rafa. You have a guy like Murray and Djokovic is hanging around there. Roddick has had to make himself a better, more complete player, as well.
Yeah, that's just part of it. I think that's what motivates the great players to try and keep improving and stay at the top of their game.
Q. I know it's no fun when you're out of the tournament to think about these things, but how do you see the event now sort of shaping up?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't seen enough of the other guys' play. Obviously Roger's -- yeah, he's going to be very hard to beat again purely because he plays so well out there on center court here. He's got the record to prove that. He knocked off Murray and Djokovic quite comfortably in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago. I think if he plays those guys he's going to be feeling confident.
Nadal, still a slight question mark over him, I guess. Yeah, he's going to compete all the way, and it's going to take someone to play a hell of a match to beat him, as well.
Q. What do you think about Del Potro?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He's a smokey. I like the guy a lot, great game. Great head on his shoulders and he competes extremely well. I don't know where he is in the draw, who...
LLEYTON HEWITT: Murray section?
Yeah, it will be a tough one. Obviously they played in the final in Montreal and Murray just got him there. I think Murray has had the edge over him a little bit in the past, but Del Potro, if the draw opens up, he can definitely make a run.
Q. Watching Safin heading to retirement, seems like he lost a little bit of fire for the game. After all these years for you, do you still feel like you have as much desire for the game as you had back in 2001 and years ago?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely. If I didn't, then I'd be hanging out with Marat. (laughter.)
Yeah, for me, yeah, I had to make the tough decision after the surgery, or to have the surgery done. I didn't have to have it done if I didn't want to keep playing professional tennis. I could have gone on being fine in everyday life and got around the golf course fine.
Only had it done to have these challenges to get back competing against these guys week in and week out. Tournaments like this, this is what motivates me, playing in these big matches against Roger and having a crack at him. That's where the motivation is.
Q. Do you feel as though you might have a point to prove to anybody out there?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I know what I'm capable of doing, and the people around me know that, as well, so get out there and do it.
Q. I imagine you think that Roger is still beatable down the track if you play him again.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so.
Q. What was the nature of the surgery?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just had a tear in my labrum, and then I had to have some bone shaved off, as well.
Q. Does it seem to be a long time till the Australian Open right now, or does it seem like time to really get your game going before the new year starts?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, doesn't seem like that long away really. I think after the US Open my focus is obviously on the Australian Open now.
To tell you the truth, coming into the last six months of this year I was focusing on the Australian Open as well, trying to get my ranking into a position where I can do some damage in the second week of it.
Now it's about getting my body in as good of nick as possible and make sure I can hold up.
Q. What does the fall look like in terms of getting your ranking up?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't really put a number on it. Yeah, obviously I have no points to defend from a few weeks ago at all. It can only go up. I'm not going to play every week though, that's for sure.
Q. What is your schedule?
LLEYTON HEWITT: At this stage, I'm playing three tournaments in Asia, don't know after that.