Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
AAMI Classic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club
Questions for Lleyton Hewitt
MS KELLEY: Congratulations Lleyton on your win and welcome back to Kooyong. So can we have some questions?
Q.The kind of match you wanted?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, it's good. Obviously really tough conditions for everyone out there playing today and you know, it's what you come to expect though, playing at Kooyong on centre court. It's always tough, you know, with the wind. If it's a calm day in the city, there's still going to be a little bit of wind out there on centre court and it's sort of blustery. It's very tough to get a guide on actually which way it's going. So a lot of it's sort of playing percentage tennis out there, but also yes, you've to hit your spots and you know, good movement and mental toughness, I guess, as well.
Q. And all those things were as you wanted them to be?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, well obviously playing Milos as well, that tests - tests your mental toughness and you know, you feel like you get a lot of half chances out there and he takes them away from you straight away. So to keep plugging away and keep giving yourself those opportunities, it's - you know, it's the perfect kind of preparation and hit out that I needed.
Q. Does that sharpen the focus, I suppose, with the ball moving in, it actually moved, I suppose, inside and then sweeping (indistinct) or (indistinct)?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, a little bit, I guess. You know, the only down side - you know, you don't want to be going out and just pushing the ball, you want to be able to go - go for your shots as well. But you know, as a whole, you know, I played pretty well. You know, in terms of serve, I served extremely well in the first set, hit my spots well. The second set, just didn't quite get enough first serves in and he decided to really step it up on my second serve. And you know, he's such a big guy with - with the dangerous shots, so I felt like I was on the back foot for a lot of the second set. And you know, early in the third set I sort of had to weather the storm and save a couple of break points and hang in there.
Q. So given the preparation you've had, how many (indistinct)?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I feel pretty sharp out there at the moment. As I said, you know, return wise I - I - you know, he's got one of the biggest serves out there and in tough conditions and whatever I could get my racquet on, I put him under pressure most times. So in terms of that, you know, there's a lot of positives. You know, there's always areas he gave me - you feel like you can do a little bit better, but you know, all in all, we move on to tomorrow.
Q. How much has (indistinct) improved since you've been (indistinct)?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a lot better than it was. You know, even - you know, it's started turning around for me, probably halfway through to the end of the Newport week. I started not having pain in my foot and then I played the Olympics with no pain, which you know, my movement, to beat Cilic and Stakhovsky and then I obviously pushed Novak on centre court, was as well as I've moved in a long time. Then the tough thing was learning to move on hard court, once I got to the US Open and that again. But now I feel like I'm moving a lot better now than I was at the US Open. So you know, all in all, it probably just took a little bit more time than - you know, I'm always in a hurry and trying to rush through as quickly as possible. But you know, all in all it's - you know, I couldn't be happier with how the surgery has turned out.
Q. Do you have to compensate with special inserts in shoes or - - -
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, no, just - I've just got a lot of screws and metal plates in there and I can't move it.
Q. Does that have a knock-on effect beyond the physical, mentally when playing you don't need to think about that pain?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, it just - off the court, I - you know, this year compared to going into the Australian Open last year is - mentally it was very wearing for me last year, I had an injection before any warm up hit before a match. You know, so I don't know how many injections I had last January, it was just - it was getting out of control. So, in terms of mentally, I can just focus on what I need to do and my game, which is a lot - you know, that's refreshing.
Q. Does it allow you to spend more time on the practice court
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, I could if I wanted. You know, I - sort of right at the moment, I felt like - obviously in January - November-December, I spent quite a bit of time and you know, could do whatever I needed to do and - whereas last year, I was obviously, you know, cutting corners a little bit more.
Q. Travelling with Looch all of the year, (indistinct), what does he bring to your sort of entourage and your approach?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well firstly he's a good mate, so you know, it's always important to have people around you that - you know, you trust and get along well and he knows my game and what makes me tick as well. You know, so I have a lot of confidence in him with that. You know, plus he knows my strengths my weaknesses as well and how to get the best out of me. He's a very positive guy as well, which is a good thing and - so no, it's going to be a bit of fun. I've always enjoyed - got along extremely well with Looch, tried to help him out as much as possible when he was playing and you know, obviously we're pretty close family friends too.
Q. So how much did you have to do last year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He only did a little bit, now and then. He did a lot more sort of practice weeks last year than actual tournaments, and then he was at the Davis Cup ties. Whereas Roachie won't do as much travelling this year, and Roachie will – you know, which is fantastic for me, because, you know, obviously Roachie will – I think he's going to be at Wimbledon and the grass court season and Davis Cup ties and everything anyway, so you know, I get both of them, and they get along extremely well, which is great for me.
Q. Are they sort of co-coaches are they?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, I guess. Yes, I don't know what Roachie is he's a jack of all trades, you know, his golf partner, his everything so – only Roachie doesn't play golf, so - - -
Q. So do you feel kind of reborn as a player with all these (indistinct) going to this year (indistinct) as you have (indistinct).
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, as I've just said – you know for me mentally there's no stress or extra pressure about my body at the moment, which is – it just leaves me with a clear mind. I don't know what more to say – you know, I'm just – you know, for me it's just – it makes you happier to be out there doing the hard work and not grimacing every time you've got to do something, but you know, I've never said I can't do anything or whatever in training. But you've just got to push through the pain the whole time, whereas this I can sort of push myself a little bit harder, and still feel good.
Q. You should be feeling better results (indistinct)?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, obviously – you know, a lot depends on draws obviously going into the majors and whatever, but you know, I obviously want to peak at the Grand Slam and you know, for me the Australian Open and Wimbledon are the two priorities.
Q. You've always been known as a very mentally tough player Lleyton, do you see yourself now as mentally the toughest you've ever been in your career?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've always prided myself on being pretty tough mentally anyway, you know, even when I was 20 and world No.1 I – you know, I felt like I won so many matches through mental toughness back then, and doing the right things, and those one percenters really got me across the line in so many close matches. I don't think that's changed that much, you know, I still – you know, I still believe in myself and back myself out there. But – yes I feel like I - you know, when the going gets tough I'm there, and I enjoy those moments.
Q. (Indistinct) next year, and you've come out now and said that you're not going to play the second one, is that disappointing for someone like you, who's always had their hand up?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, I guess. I haven't – has someone said something to me I haven't spoken to him about it, has he said it – yes, so I haven't – I haven't spoken – I'd like to have a chat with him obviously at some stage about it more and just seek, because I know Pat, you know, he's pretty frustrated, you know, for one – you know, he wants to have the best possible team we can have, and Bernie's in that, there's no doubt about it. So, you know, that's a tough one. Obviously, you know, he had to work on a few things before he got back in the tie, and whether that's had any influence on him missing the second tie then I don't know. But I personally haven't spoken to Bernie about it, but I feel like the last year and a half, two years, I've got - you know, I'm probably the closest out of anyone with him, which, you know, a lot of people would find amazing after a few years ago.
Q. (Indistinct) persuaded him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know, I haven't spoken to him, and I'm not going to talk to him right now about it. It's not the right time. So – you know, it's disappointing he's not playing the first tie, but that's for other reasons than Bernie, you know, missing it himself. That's not for his own reasons. So – you know, there's still a bit of time before the second one. We'll have to wait and see, and that's if Pat – you hope one season he's allowed to play two. That's Pat's call and Josh Eagle and Roachie, you know it's not mine.
OK, anyone else? Thanks very much Lleyton.