Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
TMS - LISBON
November 27, 2000
MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.
Q. How are you feeling?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, definitely getting a bit better just because I've had a couple of weeks off. I had time to chill out and play a bit of golf and just relax with some of the boys in Spain. Just sort of getting that team atmosphere, as well, just lifts spirits more than playing the individual tournaments each week. I'm definitely not a hundred percent at the moment, but I'm going to guts out the next two weeks. I feel I'm going to be able to do that, otherwise I wouldn't be playing the next two weeks. I'm going to go out there and give a hundred percent. I feel like I've got a very good chance both weeks.
Q. Have they found out what it is yet?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't seen anyone since I pulled out of Paris. It's too hard. I feel like I've been asking the same questions to the same doctors. I keep sort of changing where I am, and it's hard to get any answer from one particular doctor because then I've got to move on to the next guy. I do one test in one country, another test in another. It's very hard. I think I've got to wait till I get home, as soon as I get off the plane, go and see one doctor that I have a lot of trust and faith in. I've got to sort of tick off every test we do and narrow it down to one thing, take a couple tablets and I'll be right in a couple weeks.
Q. What are some of the theories you've been hearing so far?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard. I've had sort of diaphragm things are coming to mind now. Since I've seen the Davis Cup physio, back in Barcelona last week, he seems to think it could be some kind of diaphragm problem, whether I have a spasm around my stomach area which is pushing the diaphragm up, which is why I'm getting -- finding it hard to get my breath back all the time. There's been a lot of things. I've been to a few homeopaths. They think I may have been a virus in my trachea that went down to my stomach. So many things at the moment. No one has been able to pinpoint what it is.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel like I'm hitting the ball great. It's just annoying when I get out on the court. I forget now because it's been going so long, I actually forget how I was breathing normally back a few months ago. It's frustrating. I still feel like I'm hitting the ball great. I'm hitting the ball better than at the start of the year as well when I had all my good results. Even I made the semifinals of the US Open with it, you know, then made the final of Stuttgart, had a very tough draw coming through there. I feel like it's probably bigger to get over the mental hurdle, I think, especially for the upcoming next two big tournaments. If I can mentally get over it and start believing in myself and know what I'm capable of, just get through that sort of pain barrier, then I think I'll be all right.
Q. Shortness of breath, when do you actually feel?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a hard feeling. You sort of feel very bloated in the stomach, sort of like a bit of a sick feeling in the stomach, but not like you're about to throw up. You know, the breathing is probably the main thing, especially being a tennis player, as well. I've just been able to notice since the start of the year where I'd be able to get my breath back in between points, I notice on the court I'm not able to get my breath back before I have to start the next point. The thing is, it's at rest as well as exercising, which makes it even more a tougher thing to find out what it is.
Q. Is there a possibility that it's a result of the busy schedule?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. A lot of people have said virus and that you can pick that up in your hotel room, just with air-conditioning and stuff like that, or in the carpet, anything like that. You know, it's very hard to put a finger on what it is. Until they actually say what it is, it could be from stress, it could be anything. We can't really go out and say it's one particular thing at the moment.
Q. Are you thinking of reducing your schedule next year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not at the moment. That hasn't crossed my mind at all.
Q. What about Adelaide? You haven't entered there. They've kept a wildcard for you.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just a wait-and-see thing. If I feel -- Stubsy and I get along great. I had to be honest with him. I've had a hectic year this year. The four Davis Cup matches I have to play this year, as well as the Olympics, I feel I haven't had a lot of time off. This sort of thing with my breathing has come along. I said, "If I'm right to play two or three days before the tournament, even if I haven't hit a ball, I'm happy to go out there and give 100% in that tournament to defend my title, play for the public, the Australian people as well." If I am going to risk myself or risk myself doing harm for the Australian Open, you know, it's going to be disappointing to lose those points and also not play in my hometown. If that's going to be better for the future and myself and tennis career, I've got to take that hard option.
Q. Would that mean there would be a bit of a doubt about Sydney the following week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, they're all up in the air at the moment, I suppose. I've entered Sydney. I sort of like getting those matches on Rebound Ace the week before the Australian Open, that's why Sydney became a priority.
Q. How exciting is it for you, a 19-year-old, to make the elite eight here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Unbelievable, sort of a dream come true. At the start of the year, I wouldn't have had it in my wildest dreams that I would be here in Lisbon. Especially, the feelings since the US Open, it's been the talk in the locker rooms, who is going to make the final eight. There's a lot of spots up for grabs, the last four, towards the end of the season. Luckily enough Stuttgart probably made it for me, making the final, beating Henman, one of the guys who was a big rival for the last position. I feel under those pressures, I've come through very well. It's just fantastic to look at the company, most Grand Slam winners or finalists here. It's just great to be a part of this. You get treated so well at this tournament.
Q. Obviously you want to win this tournament. Do you feel it's been a great road to get here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: For sure. I think you just have to be satisfied to look at it and think for the year you've been one of the best players in the top eight around the whole world. At 19 years of age, sort of my third year on the tour, I think it's a fantastic effort. It's a good achievement coming from -- you know, I hadn't really done a lot in the Grand Slams and Masters Series until the last couple. The US Open I really sort of made my mark in a Grand Slam. That gave me a lot of confidence being able to do it over five sets and the bigger tournaments.
Q. Were you at all ever concerned that you might not make it over here because of the health scare?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. You know, that's gone through my mind really since the US Open. If it got any worse or I felt like it was going to jeopardize my career in the future or something, I would have definitely had to pull out. Luckily enough, I feel like I'm hitting the ball great at the moment, well enough to get through the matches. I think it's good preparation for next week, as well.
Q. Is that the reason you pulled out from Paris, just take a little break?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I was advised by a few doctors I had seen before that, I'd been in phone conversations. Even though I wasn't fully going to get straight into Lisbon at that stage, there was a good chance I was going to make it. I had to take the risk of not playing the last two events. Luckily enough I made it anyway. I feel the other guys bombed out, which was nice. Obviously it had been a concern that I may not have been able to play here, as well.
Q. You test the surface today in practice. You think it's going to help your rhythm? It's a little slow here.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think it's probably a medium-paced court. The balls are probably the slowest aspect of it. They just get very fluffy sort of after five minutes of hitting. They're very fluffy out there, hard to put away. I feel like I've been hitting the ball well the last couple days. I hit on Centre Court. It's a great court. Very similar court to the Stuttgart court, which I played very well on a few weeks ago.
Q. Would you like to have more practice on clay for the Davis Cup final?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. I knew what my schedule was going to be if I did make Lisbon. The way I look at it, I hit on clay a few times last week. Whereas if I didn't pull out of those tournaments, I was still going to be playing on indoors. You know, that's probably one positive, that I have hit a little bit on clay. I have that feeling of sliding and grinding it out there on clay. I've definitely got to put in a pretty few good sessions as soon as I get off the plane to Barcelona.
Q. How many days were you able to spend with the guys?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I spent about nine days there.
Q. What is the mood in the camp?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Really good. Pat is really -- the player on the team who is there at the moment. You know, he's working very hard at the moment. He's hitting the ball great. He realizes that he's got to put in a lot of hours on the court if he does want to hold up the cup again. He's giving himself every chance of being able to do that. I think in Pat's career, that's one sort of thing he'd like to do, if he had to choose one thing before he retires, and that's get his name on the trophy of the Davis Cup. That's a huge thing for the boys, and also for Newcombe and Roche going into the final, as well.
Q. You're facing a daunting atmosphere in Barcelona. Do you think you'll be better equipped after Nice?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think I'm a lot better player since then, there's no doubt about that. I think I'm a better player on clay than I was, a lot better. I just think overall mentally, I'm just a lot more mentally tough, sort of positive about the whole situation, about going there. I think Spain is going to be a lot tougher than even France was last year. I just think the depth of their side is unbelievable. Obviously playing in front -- I think the Spanish crowd will probably be worse than the French crowd. We're expecting to go through a bit of a nightmare, I suppose, there. You know, hopefully at the end of the day, we're going to be the ones standing holding up the cup.
Q. Do you think Australia are the underdogs?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think we're slight underdogs. I think just with the Spanish team on home ground and also, you know, we've only got two singles player on our team. If something did happen, they've got really three singles players and one doubles player.
Q. (Question regarding Alex Corretja.)
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think that's got anything to do with it. I've beaten him twice this year pretty convincingly. I wouldn't say that those matches have anything to do with the Davis Cup. For starters, it's on a different surface. The other matches were in my home country. The next one is going to be in his. It's Davis Cup tennis. You can't really read anything into from your previous matches going into a Davis Cup match. I think we've all sort of learned that in the past.
Q. How big is the Newcombe and Roche motivation for you guys?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's huge. I've been speaking to Newc nearly every day about different things, whether it be about my health, how I'm hitting the ball, other things. Just working with Rochey last week, seeing how much those guys want it again. You know, they've just done so much, not only for my tennis, but for Pat and all the other boys, sort of how they've brought us all together as a team, it's been pretty amazing. I'd like to go out there and come off with two wins for them, I think, really sort of give it to the boys, let them have one last hold of the cup.
Q. How do you feel being the youngest player in this tournament?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I'm only just the youngest player. Obviously, it's great to be here and be a part of such a fantastic and big event, to be sitting sixth in the world at the moment. It's another sort of dream come true.
Q. Have you recovered already from the virus?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a hundred percent, no. I'm getting better all the time. I feel like I'm able to give a hundred percent when I'm out on the tennis court. I'm hitting the ball fine. It's just one thing that I have to push through. Very rarely are you going onto a tennis court feeling 100%. There's always little niggling injuries that you always have. In the past, it's sort of been my ankle. I've had to overcome that. Now it's just another thing I've got to overcome. I've got to be mentally tough.
Q. Which players do you think it's difficult to play with on these courts? Which are the most difficult?
LLEYTON HEWITT: All the guys. You know, that's why they're here. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. You look at the head-to-heads. I may have a good head-to-head on someone, but they may have a good head-to-head on someone else. It's hard to predict, especially in a round-robin competition.
Q. Do you enjoy the fact you're the leading player now in Australia?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't really look at it in that way sort of at all. Pat sort of, I suppose, is the leading player to a certain extent because he's done so much for Australian tennis. That was sort of the time where I was just starting to get into from juniors to seniors. That's when he won the two US Opens. I think he's just done unbelievable things. Just to see how many kids are actually out there now wanting to be professional tennis players, I think that's got a lot to do with Pat. At the moment I'm still happy for him to be the No. 1 man.
Q. At the beginning of this year, you said you wanted to get into the Top 10. You're well-entrenched there. What are your goals for the next 12 months?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Hard to say really. It sort of all happened so quickly at the moment. Obviously sort of to consolidate my spot in the Top 10, really try to force myself to get into the Top 5, maybe making a Grand Slam final, giving myself every chance of holding up the Grand Slam trophy in the next two or three years.
Q. You have just entered the tour. Are there too many tournaments? Do you feel it would be better if there were fewer tournaments and you have more time to rest?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think with Davis Cup, for sure. I think it's very hard if you're doing well in Davis Cup in a year - especially this year because you have the Olympics in there, as well. You're practicing for a week or week and a half before the Olympics, as well. I just think, you know, maybe the Davis Cup, the ITF and the ATP have to sit down, sort of go through that. It's very hard. Whether they give the two teams who make the finals in the Davis Cup a bye. It feels a little bit stupid if we do win it again where we're going to go back, you know, a week after the Australian Open and go and play our first round tie again. I think just maybe you should give the first round a bye to the two finalists. I just think maybe they've earned it. Gives us a bit more time to celebrate, as well.
Q. John McEnroe talked recently about the Davis Cup, the Davis Cup setup. Were you surprised when he quit so soon after wanting to be captain so much?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think it was a big surprise to a lot of people. I think he's very good for the American Davis Cup team, just sort of getting -- because he is so famous over there, just to do with tennis, playing the senior and events still, I just think he was good for Davis Cup in America. Sometimes he gets overshadowed by other events, I think, instead of actually everyone playing the Davis Cup. I felt he probably should have hung in there a couple more years and tried to fight it off. Whether it's the fact that maybe Sampras and Agassi didn't play the whole year, it's hard to say. We don't know all the things behind the scenes. I think he was doing a pretty good job with the team that he had to put on the court this year. He probably should have given it a couple more years.
Q. You think he had a good point about having set dates.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't heard what he said.
Q. Just that each Davis Cup tie be the same weekend every year so everyone knew exactly when it would be.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's probably a lot better thing when you know when you're going to be playing and that -- you know, it's hard to say. I think someone has to sit down with the ITF and the ATP and just work out a schedule, just stick to it.
MODERATOR: ATP are currently in discussion with ITF on working out future calendars for Davis Cup. Obviously, over the next few years we're adjusting different calendars for different tournaments, trying to accommodate players with the season they have. At the same time we're trying to cooperate with the ITF to see where it can be a little better. We're currently involved with that at the moment.
Q. McEnroe recently said the doubles competition should be abolished, there's no point to play doubles. What do you think about that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I still think doubles has got a great tradition in tennis. I think definitely from a tournament director's point of view, though, they have to look at another scenario to hopefully get a lot more of the higher profile singles players to be able to play doubles week-in and week-out. It was the odd time this year where Grand Slam champions weren't able to play doubles because there were so many other guys ranked 60, 70, 80 in the world, doubles specialist guys, getting in those spots. Maybe they should give a few more wildcards to the tournament, they can give one to the locals and the rest go to the Top 20 singles players.
Q. What about Mark Woodforde, how much influence has he been on you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously he played a big part in my career as well, just because he comes from Adelaide. It's going to be a pretty emotional time for him playing his last match just in such a big arena, such a big event. Who knows how the doubles will be played, who he plays with or whatever happens. Probably up in the air until we actually know what it is after day one. It's sure going to be a big event for him and he's going to be working his butt off leading into that so he knows he's in peak form. Clay hasn't been his best surface in the past. He's going to be working towards playing one last good match.
Q. Has he had a guiding influence on your career?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, he's always sort of taken a lot of interest in my results, I think. He's always taken a big interest in South Australian junior results, as well, not only myself, but he supports a lot of the junior tournaments in South Australia which has been a good help for me because it gave me a chance to play those tournaments.
Q. We're making a story about players. Who has the best serve on the ATP Tour, in your opinion?
LLEYTON HEWITT: That's hard to say. You know, there's so many big servers I suppose this day. At the moment, I'd probably say Pete Sampras. He beat me in the US Open. His serve was a big difference in that match.
Q. Who has the best backhand?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Very hard to say. Probably either Safin or Pioline.
Q. What about the volley?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Patrick Rafter. Have to say that as an Australian.
Q. And the forehand?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Forehand is hard to say. I'd say Safin, then Kuerten.
Q. Are you superstitious on the court?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really.
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a great honor. Australia has such great tradition in tennis, I think, so many great players. To actually be up there, the other guys watching you on the sidelines, all those great players, actually just being part of that Davis Cup team, it's fantastic.
Q. They still don't know what it is, is it a virus?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't seen anyone over the last two weeks.
Q. Are you on any medication?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm on still the same stuff that I was on before which was really sort of the allergy sort of thing, some homeopathic drops, tablets, stuff like that. I'm taking everything under the sun at the moment.
Q. You're going to rattle when you go out there?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Just about. I feel like I'm rattling all the time (laughter).
Q. You feel you have five matches in you this week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel like I have seven or eight with the Davis Cup next week. I'm able to give 100% the next two weeks. Once that is over, I don't mind about taking a rest for a while, trying to really find a doctor who I do trust and have a lot of faith in, sort of -- really just trying to narrow it down to one particular thing I've got which is affecting my body, then really take it from there. Hopefully I can take just a few pills, be ready to come start January 1st.
Q. When you started to practice again, did you actually feel the benefit of the rest?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's hard to say. Not really straightaway. It's something I feel like I've got to push throughout there on the court. I've got to go through the pain barrier, just get it out of my mind mentally. I think over the next two weeks, it's going to be how mentally tough I really am and how positive I am. I've got to be very positive on and off the court if I'm going to give myself a chance of doing well here and also holding up the cup next week.
Q. Do you feel a pain?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel a breathing disorder, a problem. I feel out of breath at rest and also while I'm exercising. I feel sort of a sickness or a sick feeling in my stomach. It's not a thing where I'm going to vomit or throw up. It's a tough thing to sort of put your finger on.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think I definitely needed a lot more time off than two weeks. Especially I need to get away from tennis, as well. Last week I was around all the boys and that, as well. It was good for my spirits, though, to get some positive thinking, just start thinking about the Davis Cup tie.
Q. You were in Spain?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, with all the boys. But obviously if I do need to take some kind of rest, that's the time that I've got to go home and put the feet up, go to the beach, whatever, not to really sort of be around the tennis court or see tennis balls.
Q. The way you're talking, it sounds like Barcelona is more prominent in your mind than Lisbon this week?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously Barcelona because of the fact I was with the boys last week. There was so much talk about it. That's what all the talk is back home at the moment. It's such a big thing. Pat hasn't had his name on the trophy before. Newcombe and Roche, it's their last tie. So much meaning in that tie, it's hard to get it out of your mind.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Wouldn't worry me. I've played him twice in the past. I think those two matches are going to have little bearing on the Davis Cup match.
Q. Being the type of player you are, has it been considered that it's more of an emotional problem than a physical problem?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really.
Q. Never been a consideration?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I don't really feel that it's an emotional or rundown problem.
Q. Is there any reason why you never consider the emotional side, being the type of guy you are?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I just feel inside, I think you can feel your body itself. I just don't feel it's an emotional problem. I don't know. You know, I can't put a point on it at all. You know, I just feel inside myself that, you know, I don't feel like it is some kind of an emotional thing.
Q. I mean, that you put so much into it, and you're so young.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I understand where you're coming from.
Q. I heard Fitzgerald told you to slow down.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't spoken to him.