Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
THE STELLA ARTOIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
June 18, 2006, Final
Lleyton Hewitt - James Blake 6-4 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton, please.
Q. First title in a while. Must be pretty pleased that it's come here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, yeah, it's always nice to be playing on, you know, the last Sunday of a tournament, of any tournament. And, you know, this place has always been pretty special to me. You know, I really enjoy coming back here every year.
You know, sort of the same this year, I've got better as the week's gone on. And that's sort of been in the past as well when I've had to play Sampras and Henman and these guys in the semis and finals here, I've got better as the week's gone on. Hopefully, it's going to lead to good preparation for a week's time.
Q. What does this do for your Wimbledon confidence?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It doesn't hurt it, you know. I felt like in Paris I was hitting the ball well. It was a matter of trying to take that confidence after not playing a whole heap of tennis for a few weeks and sort of working, you know, getting confident on my ankle as well. And, you know, that's got better and better.
You know, I think once I started feeling like I could move a hundred percent out there, then it made life a lot easier for me to play my best tennis out there. And, you know, today, I felt like I played pretty flawless tennis for most of it. You know, I was pretty happy with the way that I struck the ball. I served really well and put pressure on his serve as much as possible.
Q. When was the last time you felt in this sort of groove where it just seemed to click and you're feeling good about it and don't have to worry about the ankle or anything like that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Uhm, it's hard to say, you know. Last year, it was a different year I guess because I sort of had these little periods where I had time off and I came here to London. I actually felt like at Wimbledon last year I was hitting the ball really well considering that I'd only played Queen's before that. I had a break from Indian Wells to Queen's through two different injuries.
Obviously, before that was sort of the Australian Open and Indian Wells, where I made both the finals there, and won Sydney. That was probably the last time that I actually was able to get on a bit of a run, I guess.
Q. As someone who's as competitive as you are, Lleyton, not having won your last four finals, was it beginning to get to you a little bit? Or you knew at some stage it would
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was frustrating, you know, in terms of the finals that I've lost have, you know, all been, you know, tough matches. And, you know, against Murray it could have gone either way, six in the third. Against James in Las Vegas, I had chances early in the third set and ended up losing there, one break. Obviously, Safin in the final of the Aussie, and Federer in the final of Indian Wells.
It hasn't been that I've played poorly in those finals, but if you keep putting yourself in those situations, then hopefully, you know, you're gonna come out on the right side of it.
It's nice to win here, though, for a fourth time as well.
Q. How much of a step up do you think you made today compared with yesterday and the rest of the week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: From my first match to today has been a big step up. You know, I felt like, you know, I really felt at home out there today on the court. You know, it was pretty much, you know, the way that I've played in the past here when I've beaten good grass court players.
Yesterday I felt like I was striking the ball well. It was a different kind of match, I think. I had probably early chances in the second set against Tim and wasn't quite able to take them.
But, you know, the way that I came out at the start against Tim was similar to the way I played for both sets out there today.
Q. In this next week, this week off, what will you concentrate on? Will there be anything specific that you'll want to work on before the start?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, just sort of trying to keep the rhythm there now more than anything. You know, as I said, I felt like I was striking the ball well in Paris, especially in my last two matches against Hrbaty and Nadal. It was a matter of bringing that on to the grass, and I think I've been able to, you know. Since adjusting from clay to grass, I think the actual ball-striking has still been the same. Now I just feel a lot more comfortable having five tough matches on this surface.
So it's a matter of just, I guess, keeping your confidence up and, you know, staying relaxed and, you know, putting in enough time on there not to lose touch as well of the good things that I've done this week.
Q. Is this on a par, your form, with 2002, better or worse?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, the way I've played the last few matches, the last couple of matches anyway, I think ball-striking-wise, it's the same as when I won here, you know, the three times before.
Uhm, you know, obviously, you know, Federer is going to be the guy to beat at Wimbledon. You know, who knows if I have to meet him in a quarter, semi, or final if I get there.
But Grand Slams are funny things. You have to try to find a way to get through the first week and put yourself in a position in the second week, and a lot of strange things happen.
Q. Obviously, you don't lack confidence because you don't go on the court without that confidence, but how excited are you about the chance you've given yourself over the coming weeks now by this win, and the confidence boost you take with you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I feel confident. You know, I guess over the last year or so there's been times where I felt like I've hit the ball extremely well and, you know, I felt like I came awfully close to knocking Roger off in the semis of the US Open last year as well. There's been times where I just haven't been able to put a whole string of tournaments together, I guess, due to small niggling injuries.
You know, this is obviously, you know, a small ankle injury going into the French wasn't the ideal preparation, but I feel like I've been able to turn that around now. Now it's heading in the right direction, so hopefully I can keep it going.
Q. Nice to share it on a you said on the interviews it's not Father's Day in Australia, but nice to share it with family?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's great. This is the first title I've obviously won since being married and having Mia. So, you know, it's nice to have them here with me, that's for sure. You know, apart from I guess winning a Grand Slam, this is probably the next best tournament, I think, for me.
Q. How does the field at Wimbledon stop Roger Federer this year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. No one's been able to do it the last three years. So no one's really come that close either, I don't think.
He's obviously had a few hiccups this week in Germany, but he still finds a way to win. That's why he's the best player in the world. It's gonna take someone to play an awfully good match, especially over five sets, to beat him at Wimbledon.
Q. Is there a preferable time to meet him in a tournament, semis, quarters?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. Up till the French Open, Roger had never lost, you know, a Grand Slam final before, so he's obviously extremely good in big matches, I think. You know, the last two years at Wimbledon I've lost to him in the quarters and the semis, so it would be nice for me to meet him maybe in the final.
Q. With the seedings for Wimbledon and the formula, first part of the question is do you agree that it is something different rather than just going with the rankings for the seedings? And where would you think you should be seeded? Roddick was saying yesterday that he doesn't see it as a shoo-in for him to be No. 2 when you consider Nadal's performance even though it's on a different surface. Looking at yourself, firstly, the formula then, where do you think you should be?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, you know, it's a bit strange last year to be No. 2 in the world and drop down after you've -- apart from Roger, I've been the last person to win the tournament. I find that a bit strange. I think that's probably the first time that something like that's happened, though. It's normally, you know, people that have done well or won the tournament move up, not down.
So, for me, that was obviously a bit strange last year. You know, I wouldn't have a clue points-wise what the formula does or where it puts you or whatever. I wouldn't have the slightest idea.
So, you know, obviously, Roger and Nadal are that far ahead of anyone else in actual points that I find that - I don't know how it works - but I'd find it hard for Andy to catch Nadal. You know, I'm not sure how the point system works, though. But, yeah, Nadal is No. 2 for a reason, and, you know, he probably deserves to be the No. 2 seed, I think.
Q. Where do you think you should be?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I got no idea, mate.
Q. Are you following the soccer results?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely. You guys don't want to talk about the rugby, so talk about the soccer (laughing).
You guys must be a bit worried about meeting us (smiling).
Q. You went to Roger after as well. Is it good for him that you've got a title now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always good. Roger and I get along extremely well, you know, on and off the court. You know, he's a lot more than just a tennis coach for me. You know, he's been fantastic in my corner. He does a lot more work than any tennis coach that I've had in the past as well. He really is a full package for me.
It's always nice to do well. Obviously, it's disappointing when I made a few finals and came awfully close to the Australian Open, the big one that we wanted. It's nice to get back in the winner's circle. I'm sure he enjoys it.
Q. Is there any way you can sort of control what would be a bit of a circus around you and the family? Have you thought about how you're going to protect yourself from a bit of intrusion?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Intrusion? I just worry about playing my tennis matches.
Q. Doesn't faze you at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No.
Rusty - always # 1 in my heart