Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
September 4, 2005, 3rd Round
Lleyton Hewitt - Taylor Dent 6-3 3-6 6-7(2) 6-2 7-5
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. You play against so few serve-and-volleyers. Do you enjoy it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a good challenge. It's obviously a lot different to 90% of the guys out there now. It's pretty much -- you know, even Henman doesn't serve-volley first and second serves anymore. So there's not too many guys that keep coming at you like that. That probably works in Taylor's favor, I guess, a lot of matches - especially on these kind of matches, these courts as well.
Q. Worked for you at the end.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was very close.
Q. Thought you were going to give that fifth set away there.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I felt like I was -- I played Taylor in '97 in Juniors here. I felt like it was that today.
Q. Two double-faults?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I let him have another chance after I did well to break. Got the first break late in the fifth set, then just didn't close it out at 40-15. That end was the tougher end to play from today, which has been different than the other day when I played Costa on that court, opposite wind direction today. So it was a lot tougher playing from that end. When Taylor chip charged and hits deep balls like that, he's tough to pass. He's a big guy and he's got a lot of reach across the net. He's not the easiest person to pass or lob. Just a matter of trying to hang in there. I felt like I was returning pretty well the whole match. That sort of kept me in it.
Q. The double-faults, obviously, one of the stats was when he broke you there were double-faults. That always gave him momentum. Was it just the wind, you think, the conditions today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't serve great today, there's no doubt about that. But I guess a guy like Taylor, I think if you're going to play well and beat him, you've got to serve well. It was one of those matches I sort of put myself against the 8 ball a little bit, behind the 8 ball, because I went out there, didn't serve well and I had to do other things well to put myself in contention, like my return of serve. I felt like I was able to do that today. He's not the easiest guy to return serve, even on second serves. But I felt like I was really stepping in and dictating any opportunity that I got on the second serve, which that was probably the biggest positive to come out of today's match.
Q. He was in here earlier and said 5-Love, he was thinking, "This is going to be a quick day." What changed?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He started serving a lot better. He made a lot more first serves towards the end of the first set, you know, throughout the second set. But he made a lot more hiccups and low-volleys and half-volleys. I actually felt like -- in the second and third set, I felt like I returned pretty well out there and, you know, he just came up with some tough, awkward dinks. With the wind, it was hard to lob, moving forward, playing a chip shot when he's all over the net. So in terms of that, he just made life, you know, difficult in that situation. Yeah, I still felt like I could have been a lot more positive and aggressive out there and taken it to him a lot more from the back of the court, but, you know, the conditions made it a lot tougher to do that.
Q. How many times during the match did you have in your mind maybe your serve-volley point here, it's not quite right, then you played the serve-volley point on the big point there in the last game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he was just bunting, bunting the serve back trying to get into the point, especially from that end with the breeze. He's just chipping it back, waiting for a short ball to pounce on. So, yeah, at deuce there, I just mixed it up. Served out wide to his forehand, expected him to hit a chip shot with his forehand and got the perfect reply that I wanted. You know, as I said, if I served better, then it would have given me more opportunities to serve-volley, mix it up a lot more. But I just didn't have great rhythm out there serving today.
Q. You might not have liked your serve overall today, but you came up with two big serves in the final game. Did you catch him leaning the wrong way?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I had to get lucky out there some time. I didn't get a whole lot of cheap points off my serve today.
Q. One was 127.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm getting big now, so (smiling)...
Q. You've got Hrbaty now. What are the challenges he presents coming off a match like this, five sets, serve-volleyer, big guy. Now you go against Hrbaty. Compare, contrast those.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a totally opposite match in tactics and the way the opponents are going to play. Hrbaty, he's one of the fittest guys out there. He's a workhorse. He's going to make you play a lot of balls out there. He's going to run down a lot of shots. But, you know, he doesn't play with a lot of spin. He wants it in, you know, his zone the whole time. It's a matter of, you know, trying to change up, and trying to dictate play as much as possible against him. But, you know, he's a tough player. He's been in the semifinals of the French before and it's not going to be an easy day. I think I'm going to have to improve from today's match.
Q. But more comfortable for you, this kind of an opponent, than a guy like Taylor Dent?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It depends on the conditions. Today the conditions made it tougher as well, because, you know, as I said, he's got such reach around the net, and overhead as well, he moves back great for his overhead, which was very hard to pass in the breeze today. If you're slightly off, or a quarter -- slightly a bit late, he was over the net. That made it tougher. It's obviously, depending on the conditions, but as Bud said earlier, it's not too often that you play serve-volleyers first and second serves these days.
Q. More breeze there than usual?
LLEYTON HEWITT: There was more today. It wasn't as bad as the first day I played last Wednesday against Costa. But it's definitely swirling out there. This tournament's always had very few days where you have, you know, great conditions where there's no wind at all. Apart from the wind today, it was a great temperature and whatever to play tennis in.
Q. How do you think you might rebound physically from today, three hours-plus? Going back a few weeks you were sick in Canada?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'll be fine. For me personally, it wasn't that grueling. I was hoping that my fitness is going to be better than Taylor's out there today as well. Once I got into the fifth set, I would have been pretty disappointed if I lost it due to fitness.
Q. Is there a key to your increased serving? Someone pointed out if you look at the Top 10 players, number of aces they hit per match levels the playing field, you're right behind Andy Roddick. Is it just nothing but work, nothing but serving? Is there another key to what you've done with your serve?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. It's something that Roger and I have had worked on the last 18 months or so, two years now - pretty much since Roger took over, basically. It was an area of my game that we felt like we can improve and get cheaper points and make life a bit little easier out there rather than just battling away from the back of the court the whole time. Yeah, it's hard work more than anything, just practice and trying to keep that rhythm. You're gonna have days like today where I didn't feel like I served great out there. But my first two matches I felt like I served pretty well in general. You're always going to have days where you still got to find a way to win, even if everything's not going great. But, you know, pretty much at the end of the day, it's just hard work and trying to find that rhythm again.
Q. Did you change your motion?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not motion. You know, it's just more placement and working the ball and, you know, picking the right times to go for the big one and, you know, more trying to be smart, I think, about the way that I serve.
Q. Do you think with the year that you've had, you know, just getting -- in terms of your goals here, obviously you want to win every time, but you would have been obviously quite disappointed not getting to the second week of the US Open. Now that you are, I mean, how do you sort of assess the way it's gone for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: So far, so good. I'm still in the tournament. I still feel like there's areas of my game that I can work on and I think I need to work on if I want to make any real in-roads into this tournament and be a serious contender. But, you know, I feel like, you know, I'm still here and, you know, Hrbaty is going to have a challenge in the next match, put up a challenge for me in the next match. But I still like my chances in that one, you know, if I go out there and execute the way that I want to. I can't look too far down the line. Obviously, Federer is going to be waiting there, most likely. But, you know, you can't look too far ahead of yourself. You've seen what happened to Nadal and Roddick. There's no easy matches out here.
Q. Eighth game of the fifth set, you're ahead 40-15, don't put a first serve in and you double-fault twice. Do nerves enter in at that point?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. As I said, my rhythm just didn't feel great out there today. That was the tougher end to serve from, into the b breeze. I just felt like my ball toss was not quite as high as it should be, sort of falling back the whole time against the breeze. It was more that, I think, than anything else. Because Taylor wasn't really chip-charging off my serve that much today. He was sort of waiting for his opportunity in the point to come in.
Q. Foot fault call annoy you at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. If I've been foot faulted in the past, it's normally on the ad side. It was weird to get a couple on the deuce side.
Q. It's difficult because of the way you turn your foot, hard to see whether you're actually on the line or not. I wonder if the lines people are guessing that your foot is on the line.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, there's a few in Sydney this year, in the tournament in Sydney I was getting called a lot for foot faults and we were going to tapes and they weren't foot faults. We had to have a meeting with all the lines people to go through them. Obviously, my foot turns, but your foot actually has to touch the line, part of your foot has to touch the line to be called a foot fault.
Q. Did you hear the Fanatics? They're so far away in this stadium.
LLEYTON HEWITT: They don't get close here. No, yeah, they're there the whole time. It's a bit harder to hear them, but I can hear them, and it's good to have that support.
Q. Being relatively new to tennis, how does Bec deal with the big moments like that? Does she get nervous? She seems quite calm.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think she's pretty calm. She's sort of learning the ropes a little bit. She's probably a little bit nervous out there for me. But, yeah, I don't think she -- she can probably see the bigger picture a little bit better than I can, too.
Q. Taylor faulted his own serve. Does Taylor's serve seem any less dangerous to you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not right at the moment. I felt like I was on his serve a lot today. I don't think it's any less than it has been in the past. I think the balls are getting a little soft here after -- couple games after they lose their new -- when we play with new balls. Maybe that's got a little bit to do with his serve not coming through as much. But, yeah, every second serve today, I felt like I was seeing it and picking my spots well. Still, he's got a great first serve, no doubt about that.
Q. Is it fun to be in a match like that? The crowd is really in it. Everybody's in it. It could have gone either way. Is there a feeling that, "I'm really glad to be out here"?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Sometimes (smiling).
Q. Not today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I still felt like there was a lot of areas of my game that weren't quite clicking today. It was more a matter of trying to find a way to win today and get in the locker room and look forward to the next round.
Q. What did you think of the question that CBS asked you on court afterwards? Was it a cheap shot?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was a strange one. I think when you put people out there that don't have too much idea about tennis...
Q. Was your confidence destroyed and all your weaknesses exposed? Do you feel this way?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I'm through to the next round and, you know, he's a tough opponent for anyone to play.
Q. Don't look like a wreck sitting there?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'm hanging in all right. I think I'll sleep okay tonight (smiling).
Q. How are you physically? Saw you coughing there a little bit. Something in your throat?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'm fine, mate. Thanks.
Q. Keen for a night match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't bother me either way. You know, it is a great atmosphere to play at night. But I can get out of here at a decent hour, too, playing first match at 11. So whatever comes my way, I guess.
Q. The doubles players were in here a couple days ago announcing that they were suing the ATP. You don't play that much doubles, but you're a tennis player and a lot of your mates are doubles players. Can you offer opinions.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I spoke about it the other day. It's hard for me to comment too much purely because I don't know enough about it. You know, for me, I use the doubles, picking my tournaments, to prepare for singles now. Obviously it was fantastic to win my first Grand Slam in doubles with Max Mirnyi here in the US Open in 2000, but apart from that I've hardly played any Grand Slam doubles and I just pick my weeks here and there. I think you can understand why some of the guys are disappointed, you know, to be changing the scores and whatever. But does it affect me? Not really.
Q. Does it strike you as sort of the wrong thing to do to the game to tennis?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, doubles has been such a big part of our game for so many years, but tournament directors are putting the money up to supply tournaments and get sponsors and whatever. If they feel that that's the way that, you know, is going to help them make more money and support the game -- and they put a lot of money and financial help into our game. So it's very hard to go against what they're suggesting as well in a lot of ways. You've got to try to find a happy medium, I guess. At this stage it looks like they're all trying to get one extreme in 2007, 2008. I think that's what the doubles players are trying to get against.
Q. What do you think of your countryman, Ben Graham, making the Jets as a punter? Ben was more of an AFL star.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he is a good player. I don't know that much about it. But, yeah, he's obviously got a great kick on him, left-foot kick. I know Geelong were very disappointed to lose him.
Q. But they still made the playoffs?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Geelong?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, they're still going. They're still in there at the moment.
Q. Your guys have another week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: What, just one?
Q. I think so.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You think so? We'll wait and see.