Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
29th December 2011
Transcript Ė Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Ė seventh time, Hopman Cup, what keeps you coming back?
I think its good preparation. For me especially this year and the last couple of years when I havenít played the most matches, to come back and be guaranteed three tough matches in my group again this year. You know the first two matches are going to be extremely tough for me, but itís good to test out and preparation obviously for the Australian Open only a couple of weeks away.
Who do you rate your toughest opponents in your group this year?
Well obviously Verdasco and Gasquet are on paper the two toughest, but Wu from China is no easy beat either. Heís very good indoors and actually beat Matosevic in our Davis Cup match in singles in five sets earlier this year - so at least Iíve seen him play a little bit.
You seemed to move pretty well out there, howís the toe going?
Yeah not bad - just battling through it. Doing all the right things and hopefully I can get out there and play as pain free as possible, you know go out there and hopefully do the job.
Are you feeling any pain at the moment?
A little bit here and there, but itís been a while since Iíve been injury-free and pain-free now, so itís a matter of just being mentally tough out there and not worrying about it and going out there and getting as close to 100% as possible.
Is there any doubt that Lleyton that you may not play?
That was a fairly heavy work out, does that give you confidence that itís all good?
Iíve been training pretty hard the last few weeks, obviously back at home in Sydney with Rochey, heís been putting me through my paces Ė those sessions are never easy. So Iíve been doing a lot of off court work as well, a lot of foot work drills. Iíve been trying to get the agility more than anything, I havenít really played that much since I had foot surgery at the end of February, start of March earlier this year, so itís more about trying to get my movement sort of second nature again out there and that reaction time back to how it usually is. Itís a matter of doing the long hours on the practise court and on the fitness gym to try and make it second nature as much as possible.
Weíve heard people say that theyíre amazed that youíre out there even and going that hard - is that just the way you are or is that your body? How fit are you do you think?
Oh I donít know everyone has niggles. Iím not sure if other play with what Iíve got - I wouldnít have a clue. My motivation is there, Iím pumped up to play the Australian Summer again, and Iíve done everything in my power to get us close to 100% as possible. Thereís no stone unturned for me and thatís what I pride myself on doing - being as professional as possible and hopefully that rubs off on some of the younger Australian guys. Especially around the Davis Cup team and with Patty Rafter as captain and now and Rochey as the coach Ė I think itís a good team mix and hopefully some of the senior stuff can rub off on the younger guys.
Fitness wise what have you been doing over the past few months?
A little bit of running, a little swimming, a lot of bike obviously, but a lot of agility stuff just to try and get confidence back in the movement more than anything. As I said just so it becomes second nature. Normally when you go on the court and youíve been playing a lot of matches itís not something you think about. So for me itís more been trying to do that so I donít rely on or think about how my foot is or movement out there or pushing off from the sides, or stuff like that.
And what was the feedback from the surgeons? Did they say this is something that is likely to flare up again?
Who knows? No-one knows.
Taking Looch around with you as a hitting partner now, how does he help you?
Well heís my second coach, so Iím nearly like a football team now. I have a head coach, assistant coach Ė this is great. Itís a lot easier that way. Looch has been fantastic; heís a great guy to have in my corner, heís helped me out a lot in Davis Cup matches. Heís what playing for Green and Gold is all about. The small stuff behind the scenes that goes in to obviously helping myself or Bernard Tomic or Guccione and these guys go out and play. For me itís going to be great to obviously have Looch in my corner this year. I donít know if heís going to play the Australian Open or not, but heís a great hitting partner and still one of the best ball strikers out there and he works extremely hard.
If you two get on the court at the Aussie Open for doubles, as is rumoured, what will that mean to you to help say a farewell alongside your mate?
Yeah weíll wait and see. Weíll see how my body is going first Iíve got to try and get on the singles court, but yeah if we did play doubles it would be nice. We played doubles, got a wild card at Wimbledon which was fantastic to play in the main draw there for him. For him if he can play one more Australian Open doubles alongside myself it would be a lot of fun.
Weíre used to seeing you team up with Alicia Molik, now Jarmila Gajdosova a new partner, how do you feel about her and how do you think sheíll go?
Yeah not a lot, I havenít spent a lot of time around her. Iíve seen her play some matches though and she hits the ball extremely well. Sheís a great ball striker; she moves well, sheís strong out there. Sheís got to hit a lot of winners but sheís got to cut out her unforced errors I think a little bit as well and thatís probably the main part of her game - to take that next step from 32, 35 in the world to getting into the top 20, top 15 in the world. But sheís dangerous, I wouldnít write her off against anyone and Iím looking forward to playing the mixed doubles with her.
Have you had the opportunity to set some goals heading into the Aus summer?
Youíre just going to go out there and play and take it as it comes?
Yeah basically. Iím a wild card so there are no expectations on me.
Youíve counted up 6 years here, what have you learnt from the team environment and representing Australia and that side of things?
Well obviously Davis Cup pressure wise, you donít get any bigger than that, so I thrive on playing in those situations and every time I come to Perth Iím fortunate the crowd has been fantastic in the support that the Australian team always gets. Itís a lot of fun going out there and playing and it would have been nice to have won it at some stage Ė weíre outsiders this year but weíll see what happens.
Can you do it?
Oh weíve got an outside chance. If Gjada goes out there and plays the way that she can then thereís no reason why she canít win most of her matches in our group, and if I can win the odd match then that would be nice.
Just looking ahead to the Australia Open, youíre a pretty good judge on how whoís going to go well. Who do you think will win on both sides of the draw?
Well I only care about the men so Iíll only give you that one. Djokovic is obviously the form guy, you know I think he would have had plenty of time to get over his shoulder niggles that he was having at the end of this year. Heís played extremely well on the Australian hard courts. He played well here in Perth last year. Heíll be the guy to beat. Roger has obviously stepped up to the mark again Ė he should have knocked off Novak in the semiís of the US Open and hasnít lost a match since, so heís obviously played extremely well in Australia as well. You can never count Raffa out, so theyíre obviously the main three. Itís the usual four at the moment with Andy Murray sort of just behind them. Thereís dangerous floaters out there as well and some of the young guys coming up, so weíll just wait and see.
And just on your time off the court does a period like that really fuel your hunger to get out there and enjoy it as much as possible?
Yeah it depends; you sort of see where your motivation is at. I guess when youíre not playing and youíre seeing other guys out there competing and playing it really depends how much you want to go out there and still be a part of it. Iíve obviously got a beautiful wife and three kids now as well to look after, but the motivation is still there for me to go out there and compete otherwise I wouldnít be doing it.
Is thatís what is driving you now, considering your pushing through an injury and pain?
Iím probably more motivated now than even a couple of years ago really. Sometimes you just go through the motions a little bit I think, and you take everything for granted. Right at the moment, this situation, and the rest of my body feels unbelievable. Itís just been this sort of niggling foot injury and if I can get over that then Iíll 100% totally and fully committed to doing all the right things. Hopefully thatís just around the corner.
There have been those retirement talks. Do you feel you can go around again and what challenges does this year pose for you?
Retirement talks have been around since I was 26, because I was a ten year veteran by then, so for me itís just a load of rubbish. I go out there and do my job and Iím fortunate that Iím in a sport that I can choose when I want to stop when the time is right.
So Lleyton you have never had a set time or never thought about a particular age at all when you want to retire?
This is the last Hopman Cup in the Dome Ė how great would it be for the Aussies to take it out?
Yeah it would be nice. Once again though, you people in Perth have been saying that for seven or eight years now, I keep coming back and itís still here. So Iím not holding my breath that weíll be playing anywhere different next year.