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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


November 28, 2000, RR

Lleyton Hewitt - Pete Sampras 7-5 6-0


MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. Is that a second set to tell the grandkids about?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. You know, I felt like I hit the ball really well today. Took me a while to get onto Pete's serve just because it is his weapon. I struggled in the past returning his serve. Once I sort of got in the zone, obviously Pete coming off such a long break as well, wasn't at his best today. I knew it was a big opportunity for me to get a good match under my belt and get a good start in the Masters Cup.

Q. How did you feel physically? Don't look like you're struggling for breath.

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's what everyone says to me. You know, Darren and my parents, "You look fine out there." I feel like I must look so bad to everyone, but obviously I don't. I'm definitely not a hundred percent out there at the moment. You know, I'm pleased that even though I'm not feeling great, I'm still able to, you know, compete with the top players in the world and still able to play such good tennis, which I've pretty much kept at a pretty high standard for the whole year.

Q. What difference does it mean to you to beat a guy of that stature 6-Love rather than say 6-4 or 7-5?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, but when it goes in the papers back home, everyone is going to think he forfeited or something (laughter). You know, obviously it's fantastic. I just felt like I got better and better with the whole match. I'm sure Pete lost a little bit of interest towards the end of the second set, as well. He definitely wasn't the six-time Wimbledon Champ out there today.

Q. How much of a role has Darren played in your success this year and your success currently?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, Darren has played a huge role. Even in the years leading up. My mum called him up a few years ago when I must have been 12 or 13 years of age and asked if he'd hit with me sort of once a week because I wasn't getting great hitting in Adelaide at the squads and that. He said that would be fine. I went out there, going around his place at West Lakes every day, hitting for two hours. It was a pretty easy choice when I had -- when I wanted someone to travel with me, to invite Darren to come along. He's obviously made a big impact. At the start I struggled with the whole ATP Tour. I came out and got success at such a young age, my first real tournament. I didn't really know what the whole tour was about. Darren has been there and done that. I thought that was important to add to my talent, as well, sort of his experience coming together with me.

Q. With the experience that you had at such a young age, what has he done this year to help you specifically?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We just worked on areas of my game. Obviously, the serve I think is probably the main area of the game, trying to get a little more cheaper points off my first serve, which has been very useful. I think it definitely helped me throughout the US Open, making the semifinals there. In Stuttgart, you know, even there today I got some cheap points when I needed them. You know, I think just trying to become a more all-court player. If you look at Darren's game, that he used to play, it was more of a serve-volleyer, chip-charger, as well. He's very good at that aspect. I'm mainly a baseliner. Maybe he can help me out with the things he was good at.

Q. When you experience your breathing problems, are there degrees of it? Is it worse for some matches and not so bad at times? Some matches is it a lot worse than others or is it the same kind of feeling each time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's pretty much the whole time. Obviously I notice it a lot more when I'm out on the court just because I am exercising, sort of you get out of breath a lot quicker than if you're just walking around your hotel room or going to dinner or something like that. I can notice it at rest as well as exercising. Obviously, I probably feel it more the longer the points go. I'm sure next week on the clay courts I'll be feeling it. You know, it's something I believe, and I've spoken to Newc and Rochey about it, I believe I'll be able to overcome it next week and hopefully do the job for the boys.

Q. What is news from the Davis Cup camp? We hear Pat is on fire.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Definitely putting a lot of long hours on the clay. I think everyone realizes that he needs to -- he's one of those guys who needs to hit a lot of balls on the clay court because it's totally different. He has to be a lot more patient and pick the right balls to come in on. On a hard court, he sees the first ball and he's in. He has to structure his points more on the clay court. He's hitting great. I think Sandon and Woody are arriving today, yesterday, tomorrow, I'm not sure. I'm sure they're right sort of to get straight into it, start working really hard. I'm ready, if I get there Monday, Saturday, Sunday, whenever, I'll get hopefully four or five good days of practice in before next Friday comes, the big one.

Q. You mentioned on the courtside interview about not so long ago you were playing in the Satellites. Does it sometimes amaze you where you are now?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, a little bit. It's hard to reflect on all the success you have at such a young age, I suppose. I always look forward to the upcoming and big events I'm going to be playing, like this week, the Davis Cup, all the Grand Slams and that. Sometimes you forget just a few years ago I was playing the Perth Challenger, two weeks later after Christmas, I'm holding up the trophy in Adelaide. Sometimes it's sort of pretty hard to believe. I look at all the guys I grew up with playing in the juniors and then getting into the satellites, I was getting my butt killed in some of those matches. Now they're still playing out there in the satellites, I'm sitting up here No. 6 in the world. I think just sort of mental toughness and making the sacrifices really helped me.

Q. Pete obviously has an incredible record through his career. You've beaten him on grass, you've beaten him indoors. Do you have a sense when you're playing him of his mystique? Do you have any intimidation at all when you go up against him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, you've got so much respect for Pete. You can feel the class when you walk out there. Obviously tonight wasn't one of his best matches. We all know the reasons why. I feel he sort of raises my game a little bit as well because, you know, you know that you have to compete at your best. If I lost my service game early in the first set, there's the first set gone. There's just little things where he does put that kind of pressure on you where you've sort of got to come up with the big points. I feel like I've done that. I definitely did it in Queen's. That match has got to go down as possibly my best match ever. Out there tonight, I didn't make too many unforced errors on the big points.

Q. Seemed like Pete was having trouble reading your second serve. Did you have any sense why that was?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think last week practicing on the clay a little bit. I had Pat Rafter trying to chip-charge on the clay on me a fair bit last week. My second serve improved a little bit there. It was obviously a factor out there tonight. Pete on the big points likes to try to put pressure on you, come up with a pass. He wasn't able to do that probably as much as he would have liked.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


November 29, 2000, RR

Lleyton Hewitt - Marat Safin 4-6 4-6


MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. Could we have a health update to start with? How were you today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: The same every day. Nothing much changes overnight. You know, I think it's going to be a process where I've just got to guts out the next week and a half and then as soon as I get home, I've got to see some people that I have a lot of faith in. It's probably going to take a couple of weeks, I'd say. I've had this since Toronto, which is probably 18, 19, maybe 20 weeks since then, and it hasn't shown any signs of improving. It's very hard to expect that one morning I'm going to wake up and it's going to be all fine. It's something that I've got to play through. I understand that. I've got a big week and a half ahead of me. I wasn't really expecting a lot going into this week just because, you know, I have had two weeks off and I haven't been able to put in the hard yards, hit a lot of balls on the practice court. It's nice to be able to have at least three good matches here, maybe four action maybe five, then go into the big one next week.

Q. How significant is tomorrow's match, given next week, as well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think it plays a real big part. For starters, the surface is an obvious difference. Playing on clay next week, we've never played on clay before. The other thing, it's in his home crowd, which is going to be a huge advantage for him. You know, I don't think you can really read into it too much. It's also Davis Cup. I think we've seen so many surprises in Davis Cup tennis. It brings out the best in some people, and some people fold under the pressure. I feel like you probably can't have a good look into it. I've had two good wins over Alex already this year. I don't think that counts for much come next Sunday.

Q. Is it possible for you to sort of weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of spending a week playing the world's best players and a week practicing on clay? Is it possible for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Going into the Davis Cup?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, the advantages are I'm getting at least three good matches against the world's best players. I don't like to say it to Paul Kilderry, but here I am playing against Pete Sampras and some of the great players. If I was hitting over there, it would be with Peter Tremachie and Paul and those guys. That's definitely one advantage, that I'm getting great match practice. The big disadvantage is I'm only going to have 4-5 days practicing on clay which normally takes a while to get a groove, to make that transition. Some people do it a lot quicker. I think I'm probably one of the guys who can change surfaces a lot quicker than the guys like Rafter and those kinds of guys. It's still going to be a big ask, but I'm prepared to do that. I think this is the right call for me.

Q. I just asked Marat if he and you could form a rivalry over the next five, six, seven years, similar to the one between Sampras and Agassi. He said he hopes so, but it was a longshot. What do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope so, as well (smiling). Obviously, I think there's a definite chance there. We're both -- I'm No. 6 in the world, he's No. 1 at the moment. You know, I think at the age of 19 and 20, there's a very good chance that we hopefully haven't peaked yet, as well, so we're still improving our games. But there's still a lot of young guys coming up, as well. I think there's probably going to be a lot more guys than just Agassi-Sampras. I think there are going to be more rivalries, whether it be Federer, Vinciguerra, these kinds of guys, Ferrero. I think there's a lot of 19 -, 20-year-olds coming up. It's good for tennis.

Q. What gives you the most joy in playing the game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just competing, you know, being out there. Doesn't matter whether I'm kicking the footy or playing backyard cricket back home, I want to win. This is a sport I love competing in. I love getting out there and hitting tennis balls. I'm able to do that at an elite level, which a lot of people aren't as fortunate as me to be out here at the moment. It gives me a lot of joy just going out there, seeing guys that I've idolized growing up, actually being out there sort of the center of attention playing against these guys.

Q. In the last year, how have you really changed your serve? Anything you've done differently on it technically?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not technically.

Q. You're tossing the ball pretty far in front of you now.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not so much. Just probably monitoring my ball toss a lot. I used to throw in sort of the old slack ball toss and still hit it. Now I try to concentrate a lot more on my ball toss. Really just sort -- probably the ball toss a little bit higher, as well. That's pretty much it. To sort of make sure I fall into the court as well instead of pulling back. Sometimes on the second serve, you have a tendency to pull back, you're worried about the guy hitting a good return, whereas you have to really follow through. I think that's sort of come out the last four, five, six months, just I'm not serving as many double-faults as I used to, as well.

Q. When you go home, when you get away from the tennis, are you still a down-to-earth kid? Do you still have the same mates as before? Do you think it's changed a bit and you can't relate to your mates as you once did?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I can relate to my mates exactly the same. Obviously, everything around me I think has changed just being in the public eye all the time. You know, you go home, you're in the papers. There's TV cameras everywhere, you're on the news. I think it changes a lot of other people's opinions. Not so much opinions, but stature about yourself, sort of, whereas I haven't changed at all, I don't think. I still have exactly the same mates I hung around with at school. I still go out to Darren's Night Club occasionally with those boys. I go to the movies with some of the mates I played junior tennis with. It's pretty much the same group of guys that I hung around with then.

Q. Obviously this is a pretty special week to be top eight. Is there something on a lighter note that struck you about life in the big-time that you can get used to in the future?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You get your own driver for the week. I've never been able to have that before. I'm sure a lot of the other guys in the eight this week have probably had it at smaller tournaments. I haven't been that fortunate to get my own driver. That's been pretty cool.

Q. Have you got him to take you anywhere special?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just dinners. He's great. His name is Pedro. He's a good bloke.

Q. Although the season is far from over for you, what has been so far the greatest moment of the year and the most difficult moment for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. Obviously this has been one of the best moments, making it to here. Over 52 weeks, to actually say you're in the top eight of tennis players in the whole world, at the age of 19, has been fantastic. I really -- I was hoping to get into the Top 10 sometime this year to. Actually consolidate my spot in the Top 10 at the moment, and hopefully I've got another thing to tell you next Saturday, Sunday night, fortnight, hopefully we'll win the Davis Cup. That would probably go down as the biggest thing. Probably the biggest disappointment, I suppose, was probably going out first round of Wimbledon I'd say just because I was hitting the ball so well going into there. I felt like I came up against a guy, he was too good on the day. I don't think I played a really bad match at all, but I had to take my hat off to Jan-Michael on that day. I still felt I could have done a bit of damage on the draw if I got the right path through.

Q. What is the best match you've played this year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty hard to top beating Pete in the final of Queen's. I think I nearly played a perfect match. I didn't make any errors. It was the best I've ever returned. I think I actually served more aces than Pete that day, as well, which on grass is a big thing for me. I think I just played a perfect match then.

Q. Could you speak a little bit about today's match? How tough was it to play Safin today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's a great player. He hits the ball very heavy off the ground. He didn't give me a lot of chances to sort of dominate many of the points. You know, he served well. I didn't really get too many chances. The only chances I got sort of close on his service games is when I was sort of a break down anyway. I was always playing catch-up tennis a little bit out there today. Still you look at it, I lost 4 and 4. In the first set, I was 4-All, 30-Love up on serve, looked like I was pretty much cruising. I played a couple of slack points, he comes up with a couple of good points, that's the set good-bye. I felt like against those top guys you only get sort of a point here and there where you've got to take it, you've got to take your opportunities. In the past I've pretty much been able to do that in the big matches. Occasionally you falter. I felt like I didn't come up with the big points out there today.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


November 30, 2000, RR

Lleyton Hewitt - Alex Corretja 6-3 6-7(3) 3-6


MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. With the way the crowd reacted today, was that a bit of a taste of what you could expect next week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think, yeah, definitely in the way the crowd was today, for sure. Playing neutral -- I suppose that's as bias as I've ever seen (laughter). It's a good piece of experience I think going into next week, for sure. I think I'll definitely be better for the match practice, as well. I still have errors in my game that I have to work on. I think today I just sort of, you know, struggled because I haven't had so many tough matches under my belt the last few weeks. I had three weeks off coming into this tournament. It's a big ask to come out here and match it with the best guys in the world. Who knows? If I made that volley at 2-1 in the tiebreaker, could have been a different story.

Q. Talked about taking things out of it positively. What can you take away from it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hit the ball pretty well, I think, especially the first two sets. I think it was high-class tennis. There weren't a lot of cheap unforced errors. There was a lot of close service games on either side. I was pretty happy with the way I actually hit the ball today. I felt like I dominated the match for at least the first set, the start of the second, and the end of the second set, apart from the tiebreak.

Q. How much extra feeling or intensity, whatever word you want to use, was there out there today given what's coming up next week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I never -- the Davis Cup never came into my mind the whole match. I was out there. This is a totally different tournament, totally different surface. The closest thing was the crowd, I think. That's nothing to what it's going to be like next week. It's a small taste of it. From what Newc and Rochey are telling me, we've got to be prepared to go through worse things than we did in Nice last year.

Q. Can we read anything into the result?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think so. I'm definitely going to raise my game next week. I'm going to be better for this match.

Q. Did you feel any more tired today? Looked like in the second and start of the third you were looking a bit exhausted at some points.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. Pretty much the same. I think it was just a totally different style match than I've been playing against. Even the guys I played against in Stuttgart when I did well, it was really only Kafelnikov, Ferreira the last two days where I actually played a baseliner. The others were big serve-and-volleyers. I haven't had a lot of matches against the clay court specialists, so to say. I felt like I adapted my game well enough today. You know, I think it's a little bit that I had to play three matches in a row, as well.

Q. Do you feel that you have lost the game or was Corretja the one who win it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's hard to say. I think I got out of jail a little bit towards the end of the second set. He got the break halfway through the second set. He probably should have served it out. You know, to my credit, I kept fighting there, and I got it to a tiebreaker. You know, then I had an early chance. You know, even if I was 3-1 up, there's still a lot of points to go. It could have been a different story. You know, I think, you know, in one way I feel like I lost it a little bit, but he played good tennis.

Q. You'd have to expect him to be an even tougher opponent than that next week, considering it's going to be clay?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. It's really who is going to raise their game, you know, to the next level, I suppose. You know, we all know he's capable of it, especially it's going to be even a bigger lift I think playing -- I don't think Spain has ever won a Davis Cup final. It's in his home city. I think he's from Barcelona, as well. There's a lot of incentive there to play for. I've got a lot of things I'm playing for, as well. So far in my Davis Cup career, I've only lost one live singles rubber. I believe in myself in the big matches. I believe that I give myself every chance of coming through.

Q. Even so, would you have sort of taken a bigger psychological edge if you think you won today, given what happened in January in Australia?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He's definitely going to have a little bit more confidence today, I suppose. You couldn't be more down than his loss in the Australian Open. I wasn't expecting to go out and beat him Love and Love today. That's for sure.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


December 7, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt


MODERATOR: Could we have questions, please.

Q. Did you really expect that Alex Corretja wouldn't place the first day?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: We thought Corretja would play the first day.

Q. What do you think their thinking is on that?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Well, I guess Alex must be resting up for Lleyton on day three.

Q. Does that throw your plans off in any way?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: No. We prepare and we go out and bring out whoever we want.

Q. To what extent does Davis Cup experience count in a final or is it still very much up to the nerves and pressures on the day?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: You would think that it counts to have been there before. That usually adds something. But then again, once you get into the battle, all that can be torn up. Strange things happen in Davis Cup. We've just got to be prepared for anything. We're certainly not counting on that being an advantage to us. However, we do feel that there's probably a little more pressure on the Spanish team than on us.

Q. Lleyton, your comments about being first one up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I've always seemed to go well first up. You know, I've been in that situation a few times in the past now. You know, I feel confident that, you know, hopefully I can get 1-Nill up. It's going to put a lot of pressure on Juan Carlos coming out 1-Love down, never having played in a Davis Cup final before.

Q. Pat, what is your state of mind right now? How much does this mean to you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, very excited. I've done the work and I'm looking now forward to tomorrow. The work's been done. I just want to get out there and play.

Q. How much does it mean to you compared to other big tournaments and big events in your career?

PATRICK RAFTER: Davis Cup has always been one of the highest in my pecking order of tournaments. Sorry, mate, did you get that (laughter)? (Referring to translator).

Q. John, how is it to defend the title versus different people but on the same surface?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I'm not sure I understand.

Q. Last year you won Davis Cup on clay to France, and this year it's to Spain, on the same surface, clay. How is it to train after all this year and all this season on hard court? How is it to come back on clay and play Spain?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Well, first Spain is a very difficult nation to beat on clay, especially when they're playing at home. But for us, Pat especially wanted to prepare longer for the clay, so he did what he needed to do, which was to go to Marbella for a couple of weeks before coming here. When he enters the match, he'll have had three weeks' practice on clay, and that's what we judge to be sufficient. With Lleyton, he doesn't need so much. However, he did go to Marbella for eight days and spend some time practicing on clay, as well. The clay is not a problem. We're prepared. We have no excuses. We're just ready for the battle.

Q. Did Santana give to you the right of special suggestion in Marbella when he was there?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: No. I think I should correct something. It was actually through a friend of mine, Cino Marchese, who I asked to find a place to go. Cino asked Emilio Sanchez. It was Emilio who arranged for us to go to Marbella. Of course, I talked with Monolo in Marbella because he's a friend for many years, but we didn't discuss the Spanish players or tactics, of course not.

Q. Mark, with everything kind of winding down now, talk briefly about your feelings. Then, Sandon, is there any additional pressure playing this final match that Mark is going to play?

MARK WOODFORDE: Well, for me, it's just a great opportunity to finish my career hopefully with another victory for Australia. I mean, it's damn exciting in the last two years of my career to participate in two finals where I've played over 15 years, and maybe in those 15 years played maybe one or two Davis Cup finals, the last two years to play two. I've always believed that we had the goods. Finally it gelled together. It's just a great time for me. It's just like each day I've been here with the guys, just trying to sit back, breathe it all in, just let it, you know, sit with me, the fact that it's not going to happen anymore for me. There's no better way to go out with a victory. I'd prefer to have a victory, but it's just a great pleasure to be amongst a champion team.

Q. Sandon, for you, any additional pressures in playing this final match with Mark?

SANDON STOLLE: No, I don't look at it like that. You know, I think part of the team last year for the final, I learned a lot. I think, you know, we go out to play our match. Mark and I have played enough to get that one point for the team and win it for Australia. Obviously, it's going to be a lot of pressure on the day of the match. You know, I feel I've played a lot of big matches over the last few years in my career and I think that's important going into this match.

Q. Lleyton, Alex Corretja has sort of presented you as sort of a Ned Kelly figure of the Australian team. Can you understand why he's doing it? Do you think maybe it will have the effect of maybe pumping more adrenaline into you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know, maybe it's something to be proud of. I'm not really worried about it. I've had to deal with a lot of things in such a short career already. I think I've dealt with most of the pressures and stuff that's been put on my pretty well so far. You know, I'm just taking it like another Davis Cup match. You know, I've had to work very hard to get here. I learned a lot from my loss to Pioline last year in the Davis Cup final. I think I'm going to be a better player come tomorrow because of it.

Q. You lost to Costa in Roland Garros. Will it be on your mind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It will be in the back of my mind, I suppose. But tomorrow is a different day. You know, it's Davis Cup. You know, the crowd is going to be a lot worse. It's going to be a lot more vocal than, you know, ten people sitting there at 8:30 at night playing in rain at Roland Garros. I think for me it couldn't have been a much worse court for me than I had to go out that night. I got a set and a break down before they actually called it off. I think there's a lot of positives to come out of that, that I was that close. You know, the next day I came out and played pretty good tennis and felt like I had him on the ropes. I feel like if I go out there and play my game, I have a very good chance.

Q. John, the court itself here, how slow is it or how fast is it? What are your feelings about that?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I think the court in Nice last year was a little bit slower. We've found the court okay. We're quite happy with it.

Q. What do you feel about this being your last time, John?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: That was a decision that Tony and I made 12 months ago. We're well-adjusted to that. I was sitting there today at the draw just thinking, you know, take it all in and observe it, put it in the memory bank. Now we'll put the next three days in the memory bank. Hopefully they're good memories to have.

Q. Presumably going out on a triumph would be extra special, wouldn't it?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Exactly. It would be a little bit more. Yeah, it would be a stronger party than the losing party - or maybe the other way around (laughter).

Q. Pat, you were expecting to play Corretja tomorrow. Is it a big difference to play Ferrero, considering that you lost to him last time you played?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was probably expecting to play Alex. It doesn't change the way I'm going to play, the way I'm hitting the ball and the way I feel. I'm ready for whoever they want to play. My game plan does not change from Alex to Juan Carlos at all.

Q. Even though your game plan hasn't changed, as a team do you see it as a bonus that you're playing Juan Carlos rather than Corretja?

PATRICK RAFTER: I put both those guys on the same sort of par. It's just a matter of who can respond on the day. Alex is someone that you would have thought maybe he would have played because of the more experience, but they're both very accomplished players. It doesn't really change the format of the whole draw.

Q. Just as dangerous?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just as dangerous, yeah.

Q. There's been talk in Spain that Alex will be playing on Sunday. Are you expecting that? How are you approaching that?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Yes, you would imagine that Alex has to play in the singles at some time. Perhaps the thinking is that he comes in fresh in the doubles and then he'll play the first or second on Sunday, depending on who's won or lost on the Friday. So maybe what we have to do is to make it so that it doesn't matter by Sunday.

Q. Patrick, do you feel you're in your best ever moment in your career on clay surface?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think '97 was hard to beat. But I feel like I'm hitting the ball as well as I am now as I was then. Match day is always different. Hopefully I can say that '97 and this year are two great clay court years for me.

Q. Pat, can you talk about the moustaches?

PATRICK RAFTER: This is a tribute to John, all the players. Lleyton, unfortunately, he's a little bare (laughter). Sandon said he'll shave the hair on his bum to put on his face (laughter).

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


December 8, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt - Albert Costa 3-6 6-1 2-6 6-4 6-4


MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Haven't had a lot of time to reflect on it so far. It's the best feeling I've ever had. You know, it is a dream come true again. It feels like I say this all the time. This is the biggest thing in my tennis career so far by a mile. You know, I remember warming up with Stolty a couple years ago for the Davis Cup, I was the orange boy, about 15 years old. He said, "You'll have your best moments in Davis Cup tennis and you'll have your worst moments in Davis Cup tennis throughout your whole tennis career." There's no doubt that so far to date, the one lost that I lost in a live rubber last year to Pioline was the worst feeling I've had on a tennis court. Then this year, you know, it's amazing how one year and it's all changed.

Q. Were there some tears at the end? You're walking back to serve for the match. They're jeering you as you walk back. Love-40 down, jeering every move you make. How do you get your mind around that and focus?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was the toughest thing I've ever had to do in tennis, I think. I looked over at Newc and the boys on the sideline. They're pumping you up, but they're like a little bit disappointed because two minutes ago you were serving for the match in the fifth set. This feeling came through. You know, "You can still get this." That's the most positive I've ever stayed in a game like that. I was telling myself just to block out the crowd, not let it affect me. I knew Costa wasn't going to do anything with the next three points that he had breakpoint opportunities. He was tight as ever out there. I knew if I went out there and I served a couple of good first serves, if I stayed aggressive and made him come up with the passing shots, I could still get out of that game. That's what ended up happening.

Q. How about your own stamina? It was pretty tight. Strong test of your fitness.

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was unbelievable. In the interview I did with Fitzy after the match, I just said there was a question mark over how long I was going to last out there. I've done very little practice since Toronto, since I started feeling ordinary. I just went out there, played a match, warmed up 15 to 20 minutes before the matches. I wasn't able to do the yards. I've done as much as I've ever done, more than over the last 22 weeks. I definitely wasn't giving myself the greatest preparation due to this illness. You know, it's an unbelievable feeling that I was down and I was hurting, I got my second wind, I was able to guts it out and come through with the goods.

Q. You said at the end the crowd were the most difficult you've had to face. At the beginning, you went 5-Love down pretty quickly. They were on your back as soon as you walked onto the court. Did that have any bearing on you going down 5-Love?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, that had no bearing. You know, obviously it was pretty tight out there. I think we were both pretty tight. I looked at it, you know, I kept telling Newc, "I have breakpoints, game points." Really the first set I felt I should have won 6-3, the total opposite. Out of the first four or five games, I had game points in three of them. I felt like I wasn't playing my best tennis. You know, I think the second set I really stepped it up right from the start, ended up winning six out of seven games when I came back from 5-Love down. I felt like, you know, I let him off a little bit of a hook at the start of the third set. I had a lot of deuce chances the first two or three of his service games.

Q. Do you think the crowd went too far at any time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Definitely that last game was the worst I've ever seen. You know, if they're going to have a rule that you give out point penalties or whatever for the crowd going over the top, you know, I don't think it will come any worse than that. I think, you know, someone's got to step up and say something. We've been talking in the locker room. You know, the worst crowd -- not the worst crowd, but the worst game or noise between points, I literally had to serve, play the first point, the first shot, even the second shot I had to play, you know, was still played in a lot of noise out there. You know, I definitely feel it's probably a little bit out of order.

Q. Do you feel in Davis Cup games that the crowd etiquette could be different, rules go out the windows compared to other tournaments?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think a little bit. All the past matches, I think France was loud last year, but they didn't go over the line I don't think at all. This is the first time I think that, you know, we -- I don't mind a bit of whistling between first and second serves. Some tournaments you've got to put up with that if you're playing the home guy anyway. We're used to putting up with that. When you're actually playing the whole rally, it's not a soccer match out there.

Q. Do you think the Australians feel that Corretja not playing, that decision by Spain, has played into your hands a little bit? Does that suit you all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's hard to say. I think we definitely thought that Alex was going to play on the first day. There's no doubt about that. He's got the best ranking, he's the most experienced out of everyone. If you look at the match-ups, you can understand why they put Costa against me. It's the only clay court match that I've played against any of the Spaniards, and he won that at Roland Garros. Ferrero, you know, he's not the typical Spaniard. He does hit very heavy off the baseline, but he's a very good counter-puncher and good returner, as well. You can understand their thinking a little bit, sort of to put him against Rafter, as well. But it is a big call in Davis Cup not to have your No. 1 player on rankings in the team.

Q. Did you say anything to Pat or did Pat say anything to you before he went out and you came back in?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Boys get pretty crazy when you go back in the locker rooms after you've had a win. You know, Pat just said, "Gutsy win, mate." I just said, "Good luck. Let's try to finish this day one on a good note." It's hard I think for a person in Pat's situation out there. You know, after the team has had such a good win, he's been waiting in the locker room for four and a half hours before he gets to go out there. This morning with the opening ceremonies, he's all ready to go, he's got to sit back, wait, have a lot of nerves. It's a tough situation. You've got to block that out and try to go out there and do the job, as well.

Q. When you won the last point, were you feeling you had a little bit of the Davis Cup already in your pocket?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's a big call. We're only into the first match of the tie. Definitely it was a great start, though, for the team. Just to get the momentum and really show the Spanish that we're here to play.

Q. What did Newc say to you? It looked as if he was almost in tears when you came off.

LLEYTON HEWITT: After the match?

Q. Yes.

LLEYTON HEWITT: He was very emotional. Newc, thought he wouldn't stop hugging me (laughter). Obviously, those guys have been through a lot. He played a major part in the role today in me winning, just with the health situation and everything under the control. Just to have a guy who I'm sure he's been in so many situations the same as that before when you're not feeling a hundred percent, trying to push through it, sitting next to you, it's a huge bonus.

Q. You changed quite a few racquets at quite interesting times. What makes you change it and want to get a new one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's just a matter of I'm playing with natural gut. Once it starts cutting through the gut, I put a couple of string-a-lings in there, but I'll never let myself -- I can't say "never." Most times I don't want to let myself break a string on a big point. I'll put a few in there. It actually makes the racquet a little bit deader, as well. Sometimes you actually don't time the ball as well when you have a lot of string savers in the racquet. You know, I just try and -- when I can see it's going to go on the next three, four points, it's time to change.

Q. Were you aware that their captain was getting quite boisterous about it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, mate. He had a lot to say about everything, today. It wasn't going to worry me one way or the other.

Q. How much do you owe to Newc and how much does Australia owe to Newc for his captaincy over the last few years?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A hell of a lot. You know, firstly for me, he took me under -- he and Rochey both took me sort of under their wing. My first Davis Cup tie was in Sydney where we beat France. Just hanging out with the guys, practicing a bit, picking up balls, getting their drinks, it's just fantastic to be a part of it all and be wearing an Australian Davis Cup jacket or track suit. You know, I owe so much to those guys. Not only have they helped me through Davis Cup matches, but also my career. They're one of the main reasons, with all the other coaches and family and everyone who has -- that's one of the main reasons why I've reached sort of the Top 10 in my career at such a young age.

Q. How much is that win going to -- what is it going to do for your confidence coming into Sunday? How much is it going to boost your confidence? Secondly, how sure are you that you'll be playing Corretja?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's obviously a huge boost, not only for me, but for the team, as well. It's one of those matches, so tight, you feel like you're always down, then you get over the last hurdle and actually win is a great feeling for the team. Obviously, I feel like I'm hitting the ball quite well on clay, I'm moving well. It's nice to know I have the stamina, as well. With Corretja, who knows? You know, I think a lot's got to do with the match that's going on with Pat and Ferrero and also the doubles tomorrow, you know, who he chooses to play. Is Costa up to playing a fifth match if it came down to it? We don't know.

Psychological warfare in Davis Cup. How much sweeter is that after the comments that Alex made this week, if at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I've had to put up with comments in the past. I haven't faltered at them so far. You know, I don't understand why people open their mouths all the time. I mean, I get pumped up on the court anyway. It's not going to stop me at all. You know, to look over and see that their No. 1 player is sitting on the sidelines on day one not playing, I think that gives everyone a lot of confidence in our team.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


December 10, 2000

Lleyton Hewitt - Juan Carlos Ferrero 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 4-6


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How emotional was that for you today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's obviously very hard to take, especially being the one out there to actually lose the Davis Cup. You know, two days ago I was saying I had the greatest feeling out on that court, and now it's probably the worst feel in my tennis career so far. How things change so quickly. I felt like I gave 100% out there today. You know, I've been struggling coming into this Davis Cup. You know, I gave everything I had in both matches. I couldn't have asked any more of myself.

Q. Were you pretty tired towards the end?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I felt as good at the end as I did at the start. Obviously, the body was pretty stiff after the five-setter two days ago. You know, I felt if I could have got out of that fourth set, I would have won the fifth. He gave everything that he had. To his credit, he came up with some big points at the right time. Obviously, with such a big crowd behind him, as well, he knew he was only a game or two away at that stage. It's tough to stop someone in that situation.

Q. How were the crowd today? A lot better than it was on Friday?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, pretty much the same. I think they kept a pretty poor standard the whole way through. You know, it's definitely a lot worse than Nice last year, that's for sure.

Q. What condition would you have been in if you were required to play today?

PATRICK RAFTER: Obviously, it was more strange and disappointing the first match I played. I felt I was in pretty good condition. So it was a bit baffling for me to have done what happened, how the way it went. Today I sort of looked after myself a lot better. I didn't watch that much of Lleyton's. I was really calm and a lot more controlled than when I was watching Lleyton on Friday. I presume I would have been fine.

Q. John, what are your feelings on the three days and the end of your reign as Davis Cup captain?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Just checking Sandon is all right. You don't need to do anything?


CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: The three days, I think as I said on the court, in the end, you know, the Spanish team won. We have to say that over the three days, they proved that they were the better team in these conditions. We fought as hard as we could. I would have loved to have seen it gone to the fifth and decided between Pat and Corretja. That would have been something to watch. I thought that Lleyton's two singles matches were what sport's all about: two guys just going at one another. Today was something special because we saw the two of the future people of the world of tennis playing in that sort of a match. Some of the points towards the end, you had to just applaud. Didn't matter who won the point because they were such great points. I thought perhaps today it was difficult for Lleyton because, you know, he sort of gave away the start there. That was mainly because, you know, we were concerned about how much gas he had in the tank. Until you get in the match, you really don't know that. You try to take it easy at the start. Of course, Juan Carlos came out swinging, and that got him away to a lead. It was catch-up for Lleyton. At a set all, if he would have gotten those set points at, a set all, the story could have been different. But that's how it finished up. They deserve all the credit.

Q. Your own emotions?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: My own emotions? Whenever a battle like this is over, I find it very difficult to know exactly what my emotions are. It's like it's over and you just slump down. The next couple of days you think about it. I know that my chief emotion is that the last seven years is seven years of my life that I'll always remember.

Q. A word on Ferrero's performance today in beating Lleyton.

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I think it was great. As I said, it's two young guys of the future playing against each other. They're going to be around for another eight to ten years playing some more, you know, huge matches against one another. Tennis is going to be the better for it. You could see Juan Carlos' face, going into the fourth set, that he really didn't want to get into the fifth set. As Lleyton set, he took his chances at the end of the fourth, and that's great. I'm sure the crowd support pulled him through, as well. Had he not been playing in Spain, been playing in Australia, under those conditions, he might not have survived.

Q. What's your overriding feeling as you go away from this final? I imagine a few different things going through your head. Since you rested and you felt fine, does that make the regret about Friday even more difficult?

PATRICK RAFTER: What was the first one?

Q. Your overriding feeling going away.

PATRICK RAFTER: I sort of feel really weird. I trained very hard, and I wanted this a lot, this Davis Cup. I was playing well. I just feel like a bit of a real letdown for myself and for the team for really only being able to play two sets. You know, the guys might say otherwise, but it's something that it will leave a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth for a while, the way I performed. So I've just got to try and pick up my heels and get ready for next year. The great thing about this game is there's always next year or there's always next week. That's the way we're going to approach it now. Keep our chins up, look at the side that we fought hard and hopefully next year will be a win for us again.

Q. Did you get treatment for a blister or was it something else?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I just had a blood blister from two days ago when I was playing. It got worse and worse as the match went on. Towards the end of the second set, start of the third set, it just sort of popped open. I just had to get a little Band-Aid just to keep playing, I suppose. You know, it was nothing too major.

Q. In terms of a legacy for Fitzy and Wally, are you happy with the state of the squad, what's coming up in Australian tennis?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Yeah. I think things are looking pretty good for us. We desperately need in the next two years to come up with some backup support for Lleyton. Pat probably has two or hopefully three more years. We'll squeeze that out of him (laughter). You know, we need to get some new guys coming through. We've got to find who they are and really try to fast-track them through. That's the key thing at the moment. But overall, I think the stage is set if we can find those young players for the next 10, 15 years. Could be really good for Australia.

Q. Lleyton, considering the occasion and your condition, how would you describe the last few days?

LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, you know, two days ago, I was on top of the world. There was no better feeling than, you know, coming back from two sets to one down in a Davis Cup final away from home. Two days later, playing to keep the team back -- sort of to give Pat a chance to go out there and play the fifth rubber. You end up losing the match. You know you've given everything you've got left in the tank, whatever. You're still so disappointed with yourself. You know, you look back on little points where maybe if I won these points, maybe if I got off to a better start, I'd give Pat that chance of going out there and playing the fifth rubber. It's very hard to look back on it so quickly after the match, as well. You know, it was obviously disappointing standing out there and getting the silver medal, that's for sure.

Q. Mark, not to dwell on this crowd in Barcelona, but when you look back on your Davis Cup career, what is it about a Davis Cup crowd that sets it apart from other tournaments?

MARK WOODFORDE: I think it's the home-and-away aspect. You know, like we're playing here in Spain, and you know what 90% of the crowd are going to be for the opposing team. You get to play under immense types of pressure. I just think it makes you a better player. I think you get a lot more passionate spectators coming out to watch a Davis Cup match. Probably at a regular tour event, you get people from all types of countries coming out just to watch tennis, they just want to see it. Here they want to support their own countrymen. They're very passionate about it. I would say they're very passionate about it here, as well.

Q. John, did you have another chat with Stefan Fransson today? Any complaints lodged? Were you disappointed that he didn't appear to do anything today when you went over to him?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: No, because he said that the umpire had already spoken to him and if he got up again, he would speak to him himself. I was just getting a little bit sick and tired of him complaining about Lleyton, you know, playing within the rules. I mean, he was going over and changing a racquet because a string was looking like it was going to bust. You're allowed to do that. I think the complaint he did was when he fixed his strings up, which you're also allowed to do, within the rules. I just got a little fed up with him trying to tell the umpire how to run the match. You know, in hindsight, I didn't know that was how he behaved all the time. In hindsight, I would have acted on day one. It just sort of happened. We figured out that was what was going on, so we took measures to try to stop it.

Q. You talked to Fransson this morning?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I want to see if he does it when he's in Australia next time - if he's around.

Q. Did you talk to Fransson this morning before the match?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: No. We did have a discussion last night. I had a transcript of his press conference. We had a good discussion about everything. There was no bad blood between us.

Q. Mark, as you bow out, what advice would you have for Fitzy and Wally? What would you like to see with regard to Mark Philippoussis and the future of this team?

MARK WOODFORDE: It would be pretty tough to ignore a guy ranked in the Top 15 at the moment. No. 10, I'm not sure of his exact ranking. It's up to them to sit down face-to-face with him and give that a try. It's not to say that John and Tony never tried that. I think if you can just get to him and get all the outside influences away from him, just speak face-to-face, and hear it from him, hear it from the horse's mouth. If he doesn't want to play, that's fine. We've all said that the last few years. If you don't want to play, that's fine. We have no problem with that. Don't chop and change, say you're going to play, knowing that you're not, and make up an excuse that you're injured. I think our team is so much stronger and better if you have a guy like Philippoussis playing. You have a choice of three singles players. I mean, how rare is it to have three Top 10 tennis players in the one team? I mean, that's huge, a huge advantage over a lot of other countries. It would be great to see him back there. But, again, it's up to Mark. It's his final choice.

Q. If you could explain what the King told you, the conversation with the King of Spain?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I was so nervous, I can't remember (laughter). I told him it was good to be King. No, I'm just joking (laughter).

Q. Was it in English?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Yes. He speaks English very well. He was very complimentary to Lleyton. He told Lleyton what a great fighter he was, how tough he was. Then I said to the King that I was watching him towards the end of the match on some of those points, and -- he had his hand covering his eyes. He was very nervous. So we just laughed about that.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference

adidas International

January 9, 2001

Lleyton Hewitt - Wayne Arthurs 6-7(3) 7-6(5) 6-2


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. That running forehand down the line was pretty timely.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was strange. I felt like the first set I was in pretty much command of the whole set, yet I had 5-all, Love-40 in that game and ended up losing it because he served too good. Then the next set, I can't remember, 2-all, 3-all, maybe I had 15-40. He served too good out of that one. I was feeling like towards the end of the second set I could have easily been in the showers, having won five and four, pretty much as comfortable as last week. Then I found myself at 5-all, breakpoint down after an overrule after second serve. Had to come up with a big backhand when he came in. Then a very stretched forehand on the run. You know, it is my, I suppose, better shot, though, passing shot. So under pressure it was nice that it came off.

Q. Did he have a rule on that serve?

LLEYTON HEWITT: On the second --.

Q. On that overrule.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Second serve deuce, 30-all, he overruled. There wasn't a call from the linesman.

Q. It was a tough match, good preparation. Just what you need?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. It's -- playing Wayne is the same as last week. You know, there's only one or two, you know, points in the whole match, and two or three sets of tennis that is going to be the outcome of the match. Because, you know, if you get those opportunities to break, you've got to take it. Obviously, it's fantastic that I'm through again, you know. But he is a very tough player to play against just because he's got one of the best serves in the world.

Q. Was it a more difficult match than last week, and did you approach it any differently?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think that I -- it was strange. I felt like I returned the ball a lot better last week. I think he served a lot, you know, pretty much the same as last week. I thought he served pretty big last week as well. My legs were probably a little heavier today because I've been putting in a lot of sort of work on court the last three or four days since I lost in Adelaide. That's all in preparation for the Australian Open, so...

Q. What's it like playing an Aussie and a mate to boot?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always tough. I'd like to play the Australians sort of in the semis or the final of each tournament. That way, win or lose, we both had a good week. But it's always tough playing Aussies, especially in the first or second round. I've got another one coming up tomorrow. Stolty and Scotty Draper played earlier today in the first round. That's what tennis is all about, I suppose. It's luck of the draws. You're going to go out there and put your game face on while you're out there and catch up with them later.

Q. Third set, I saw you reach down. Was there anything you were worried about?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I just went for a backhand pass and my racquet butt handle sort of went into my knee. It went away straight away, so.

Q. How have you been feeling lately?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm definitely not 100 percent still, but I'm working through it and I'm trying to sort of block it out as much as possible. You know, the things that I've got to draw strength from is that I lasted, you know, in the Davis Cup Finals in both matches, that I lasted pretty well in very tough conditions on a surface that really takes it out of your body as well. So that's something that I can draw a lot of positives from going into the Australian Open.

Q. Has you been given a diagnosis?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's strange. I've seen a lot of people over the last three or four months. It only came up probably two weeks ago now that a guy suggested having a CAT scan done, and they found that my sinuses were very blocked. They're not 100 percent sure if that's causing the problem though. They think it may be that kind of problem with an allergy-related asthma sort of thing. And the only way of really draining it out is having surgery. I'd be out for three, four, five weeks. So, yeah, at this stage it's not an option. They couldn't really -- they couldn't guarantee that I'd be 100 percent from it anyway after the surgery. So that's in the back of my mind at the moment.

Q. Lleyton, Stoltenberg said he felt quite emotional going out playing against Scott Draper because of their special relationship. How are you going to feel going out for your next match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Just going to take it like I did today pretty much. You know, as I said, it's always tough playing the other Aussie guys, especially the guys we hang around with at the Davis Cup ties as well. It was only a few weeks ago that we were all together, sort of pulling for each other, and now you're on the opposite end of a court playing in Australia as well where the crowd's 50-50. So it's a tough situation, but, you know, I've got to go out there. I've got to do a job. I've got to prepare for the Australian Open, and I'm going to do it as well as possible.

Q. Sorry to get back to this health thing just one more time, but have they actually sort of more or less said what you're doing is the best thing: Trying to play through it and forget about it? You can't make it any worse, whatever you do.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, they don't think I can make it worse - the guys that I've seen anyway - which is a nice thing to have in your mind anyway, that you're - I don't know - not going to collapse on court or have problems. So, but I'm taking tablets at the moment to try and stop the inflammation in my chest, and nasal sprays and stuff like what. I'm doing everything possible to get away from surgery.

Q. This year you're only playing in the singles in Adelaide and Sydney. Are you happy with that decision? And how far are you away from what you call peaking for the Australian Open? Last year, you were a little flat when you got to the second week.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a totally different situation than I've ever had really coming into the Australian circuit. I don't think I was left with any options but to pull out, but to not play doubles in Australia just because the year was so long and so tough. You know, that Davis Cup final just took a lot out of me mentally and physically, which I don't think I was ready to bounce back and play singles and doubles both weeks going into the Australian Open. So that was a little bit out of my hands. For the peaking, I think I'm definitely not peaking yet, but I'm getting better with each match I play. I think that's a good thing. I've probably got six days before I have to peak.

Q. How far away are you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. I've played Wayne twice and he's a strange kind of player. He doesn't give you a lot of rhythm. On the practice court, I feel like I'm hitting the ball very well. We'll probably see tomorrow. Andrew's a little bit flamboyant out there as well, so it's going to be a strange match out there I think.

Q. Is there a danger that subconsciously you might be feeling if you exert yourself to the absolute limit this week, it might harm your chances next week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I'm not going out with that mind. I'm going out, taking it one match at a time, going out there to work on the areas of my game that I have to work on for the Australian Open. But also, I'd like to be holding up the trophy come Saturday afternoon as well. You know, there's a lot of good players here. It's going to be -- it's going to give me a lot of confidence going into the Australian Open if I can get that winning feeling back on the rebound ace.

Q. You only dropped a couple of points on your serve in the first set. Is that a result of what you've been working on with Darren?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. One way you can probably look at it, I felt like I served reasonably well out there today, but also, you know, Wayne's not the greatest returner in the world either. So I felt like more today was a lot of placement and, you know, just trying to get him stretched out, so the first shot I was always going to be on the attack on my serve. I think that worked well today. But playing against other guys, it's going to have to be a little bit more different I think.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference

adidas International

January 10, 2001, 2nd Round

Lleyton Hewitt - Andrew Ilie 6-4 6-1


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton.

Q. Was there any sense there today that you didn't get a good enough game, or are you quite happy with the way it went?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Sure, it's always nice to get through in straight sets. I felt like I went out there and, you know, I knew what I had to do out there today. I felt like I did it early, and there's areas of my game that I could build on as soon as I had that sort of solid base out there today through the first set. The second set, I felt like I played some good tennis, probably the best tennis I'd done in the last week and a half. As long as it keeps going in the right way, forward, then come next week, I should be starting to hit the ball well.

Q. Is it a case of just finding your rhythm today? Is that the difference?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. It's strange. I feel like I've just been getting better with every match I play, just getting that match fitness back. I'm out there. Obviously, it was a long year last year. I only had a little bit of a break. But to come off clay courts on to rebound, I felt that was probably the biggest difference the last couple weeks. I felt like it's actually taken me a while. My footwork is normally pretty good on rebound ace. I've been struggling sort of out there the last week or so. Today I felt very good, and I had to be very good against a player like Andrew because he has you running along the baseline a lot.

Q. Is rebound ace your favorite surface?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. In the past it always has been my favorite surface. Now I'd like to think -- I've played well on American hardcourts, US Open. I've played well on grass and, you know, the Davis Cup on clay as well. I'm starting to get an all-around, I think, game, and it's definitely helping on all surfaces. Rebound ace is what I was brought up on in Adelaide, Memorial Drive. Probably still every time I step on rebound ace, it feels like home.

Q. Two questions. Following off of what you just said, when you were in Adelaide and in Sydney last year, you were very much a mystery. No one really knew where you were heading or where you were going. Since then, you've become a Top 10 player. You have become very famous on the Tour. How has life changed for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't think it's changed so much. Obviously, probably the last two or three years in Australia, ever since I sort of made that breakthrough winning Adelaide in my first Tour event, that was a bigger surprise for me because sort of you go from being totally unknown to a lot of people knowing you, only because I won a tournament at the age of 16, beat Andre Agassi, so forth. So it was probably a bigger jump then or bigger surprise then than it has been the last year or so even though I've gone from 22 to 7 in the world. I think the biggest difference is a lot more people knowing you overseas now for sure. You go around America, you could be walking around the streets, they know the US Open's on so they're looking for a lot of people out there, and a lot more people recognize you around that time of year. You know, that's just part of being a professional tennis player. I think because I got it early in Australia, I think I've been able to deal with it overseas a lot better.

Q. That doesn't bug you at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. You know, obviously, I hung around the Davis Cup guys a lot sort of at the start when, you know, I was just an orange boy and that there, I saw how guys like Pat Rafter, the Woodies, Stolty handled it. I think with Newk and Roche, they've been a big help probably handling the fans and the media and stuff like that for me.

Q. Talking about those off-court things, the fans, the media, the money, are you enjoying that side of life as well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's fantastic. You know, to be earning a good living playing, you know, a game that I love. I just love being around tennis courts. I love getting out there and competing. And, you know, to be earning, as I said, a good living, travelling the world, seeing different sites, seeing different countries, different cultures, it's a dream. I've just been fortunate enough that I made that breakthrough at a young age and God gave me that opportunity, and I took it straight away.

Q. With the fame, you lose a little bit of your privacy. Does that worry you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's just something you got to put up with. You know, you win some, you lose some. It's just part of being a professional athlete and part of being at the top in a sport, I suppose.

Q. How would you analyze Andrew's game? When you know you've got to play him, how do you think about it? What sort of tactics do you go through knowing that he's going to come out there and try to blast you off the court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, for a guy like myself, I've got to be very steady from the baseline. I've got to, you know, be very strong from the baseline, got to be strong in the legs, move quickly around the court, and I've got to make him play a lot of balls. There's only very few shots that he'll play during a match where he's actually balanced. That's a very strange type of player to play, because he is one of a kind. And, you know, a lot of people have said that if he does make the Top 10 in the world, it would be fantastic for the game of tennis because, you know, he draws in a lot of people to watch him play just through the shot making that he has. You know, this is the first time I've played him in a professional ATP tournament. He's got a good game, a very different game. But, you know, he's not always there, sort of, 100 percent. You know, he does lose it occasionally, loses his concentration on big points sometimes, and that's one of sort of the areas of his game that he's got to work on.

Q. Without being cheeky, is there any other advice you could offer him? Because he is such a personality.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, I -- with the game that he's got, I think he just has to keep doing his own thing. I don't think there's a lot that other players can really tell him to do. We can't hit the shots that he hits. Some of the shots, you just got to look at and laugh when you're out there, because they're unbelievable. You know, as I said, he's a totally different kind of player. I don't think there will be too many players on the Tour copying his game.

Q. Having made such a quantum leap last year, what's your priorities for this year? Is it titles? Is it rankings? What is it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, the Davis Cup's the highlight of sort of the whole year for me. You know, Davis Cup's sort of, when you pencil in the schedule, that's there, you look at hopefully the four rounds. We got a tough one coming up against Ecuador in Perth. Then it's just Grand Slams. It's really is a time for me to start doing well in the Grand Slams, start making the semis and finals. Then, obviously, the Masters Series events as well. I was a little bit unlucky. I lost in five sets in the Stuttgart final late last year. I think that's a good base for me to build on this year though, in those kind of big events.

Q. How many players do you think can win the Australian Open? Is it a larger number than normal, or are we talking about an elite?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it's a very large number. I think there's a lot of junior, sort of the junior guys, age about 19, 20, 21, there's probably a handful at least who have a chance of knocking off some of the top players, I think. To actually be able to win a Grand Slam, I think, you know, may be a different story if you got to play guys like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi in the semifinal, finals, and they've got the experience of being there sort of on the weekend, last weekend of a Grand Slam, you know. There's definitely obviously Safin, Kuerten, Sampras, Agassi are probably the favorites I'd say. Then Kafelnikov always plays well in Australia as well. The guys to look out for are Roger Federer, Carlos Ferrero, you know, even a guy like Grosjean can do a lot of damage in the draw, I think, as well.

Q. Based on how you played today, Lleyton, you must be back on your serve for the last weekend for the Australian Open. Are you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I think I'm getting better and better. You know, I think a lot depends on a lot of luck in a Grand Slam, and, you know, the draw and stuff like that. And, hopefully, I can get through my first couple of matches, you know, comfortably in three or four sets and don't get pushed to that fifth set where you've got to waste a lot of energy getting through the first couple of rounds. I think if everything goes right and I start hitting the ball really well, and the path that I've been going on sort of the last couple of weeks, I think I'm going to be, you know, a good chance.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. That's something I'm going to block out. If you have a look at my results since I've had that, the US Open semifinal anyway, where I thought I had my chances against Pete in that one.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference

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January 11, 2001, QF

Lleyton Hewitt - Fabrice Santoro 6-4 6-1


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. How different was it playing at night, tonight? What were the conditions like?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, it's very windy out there. You know, it's always tough playing a night match, I think, just sitting around all day, especially coming in from, you know, it's a good 45 - 50-minute drive to get in here around peak hour traffic sort of coming out of the city today. It was pretty tough. I'm just happy to get through in straight sets.

Q. Do you still feel you're progressing a little with each match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think I've played probably the three strangest players on the Tour just about in my first three matches. None of them have really given me too much rhythm I think out there and it's taken me a while to sort of get my game going. I feel like I've gotten better and better with each match. I think tonight, Fabrice, you know, I lost to him in Cincinnati, early in the first round of Cincinnati at the end of last year. He's a tough player to play against. Not a lot of players on the Tour play like him. I felt like once I got that rhythm and got the break back in the first set, I felt like I could really step forward and, you know, (inaudible).

Q. At this point after, what is it, six matches in less than two weeks, do you feel that you've got a Grand Slam title in you at the moment?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's hard to say. I feel like I'm getting match fit. I'm starting to get match hard, which is nice. I think it's been very good preparation so far. If I was going to go out there and lose tomorrow or lose tonight, I think it was, you know, it's given me very good preparation going into the Australian Open. It's totally different preparation than last year, but that's due to the fact that I hadn't played so many matches at the end of last year.

Q. Your next match, semifinal, Lleyton. How do you see it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Sebastien's a great player, no doubt about that. He had a very good win there today against Federer, who's another up-and-comer. I'm going to have my work cut out. I beat him here in the first round last year. Hopefully, it goes the same way tomorrow. But, you know, I can't take him lightly at all.

Q. Dramatically contrasting sets, tonight. I mean, the first set a bit scrappy to start. Then once you got the break, you completely raced away with the second. Was it the momentum that got you going? Was it the crowd? What was it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, a lot had to do with the crowd. I think they, you know, they definitely fired me up out there. But Fabrice is a totally different kind of player, as I said. You know, he doesn't give you a lot to work with and you got to be very patient, you got to work for the points out there. I felt like I just started working at his game as the match went on. In the end, I played some of my best tennis.

Q. Into the semifinals, are you happy with the way your game is going?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. You know, I still got areas of my game that I got to work on. But, you know, so far so good I think. I'm getting better with every match I played since the first round when I played Wayne in Adelaide, then played that young German qualifier in the second round. So I think I'm getting a lot better the last week and a half.

Q. How did you spend the day?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Today, I came out here and practiced. Went back, put my feet up and watched cricket. I was lucky, I drew a night match when the cricket was on.

Q. Does playing at night affect your sinuses more?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. Doesn't make a big difference.

Q. Felt good today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I felt the same as usual.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference

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January 12, 2001, SF

Lleyton Hewitt - Sebastien Grosjean 6-3 4-6 6-4


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. Was that a good workout for you or more of a struggle? Which one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was good. It's always nice to have a tough match going into a Grand Slam, and Sebastien's a very tough player to play. He's going to be around for a lot more years at the top, top 20. Top 10 I think he can get into. He's got a very big forehand and he uses his serve well for a smaller guy. I'm happy just to get through it, and I get another match tomorrow. And, you know, better again I get to defend the title.

Q. How do you feel about playing Norman? How do you think that will go?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Magnus is a great player. I lost to him a couple of times last year in big events. Playing him in a final in Australia's going to be nice as well. I get to play him on rebound ace again, and it's a big game to be playing, again, going into the Australian Open next week.

Q. How do you feel about playing Jonas Bjorkman in the first round in Melbourne?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, he's a tough player. You know, I think anyone in a Grand Slam is going to be tough, but he plays well. He's obviously hitting the ball well. I think also as we saw in the match today he's in good form. I'm going to have my work cut out with him.

Q. Can I ask you how you feel about the possibility of Pat Rafter finishing at the end of this year, and what has he done for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I -- you know, I don't know what Pat's been thinking or, you know, what he's going about retiring or whatever. You know, he's been fantastic to me. He's been like an older brother on the Tour. You know, he really took me under his wing when I was sort of 15 and sort of just coming into the Davis Cup team and, you know, he helped me out unbelievable amounts at those Davis Cup ties even though he had huge matches coming up, you know, on the weekends there. For a guy to be doing that when, you know, he's got the country basically on his shoulders for that weekend, you know, he's really just a nice, down-to-Earth guy.

Q. Things are starting to come together for you just at the right time. You've reached the finals here again in Sydney. Your game's coming together. You're moving quite well. The Australian Open is next week. You have a good ranking, good seeding.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think I've -- it's hard to say. You really don't know until you actually get in there, till the Australian Open, you get that feeling around the courts. You know, I think everything's gone as well as I could have planned given that I really didn't give myself much chance of winning Adelaide this year because I had such late preparation for the tournament. You know, definitely for Sydney I did get through a couple of matches in Adelaide, got a little bit of confidence there. I got beaten by a better player in Tommy Haas that week. But to come through to the final gives me a lot more confidence extending to next week. I definitely feel like with each match I'm playing I'm moving a lot better, I'm hitting the ball a lot better, I'm serving a lot better, and my game's really coming together. So hopefully I can keep it going for another two and a half weeks, two and a bit weeks.

Q. Do you think it will give you any advantage tomorrow that you didn't have to play in the heat? Most of your match anyway was played in a lot cooler temperatures than Norman played in.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think -- yeah, probably that I finished a lot later as well. He's probably having dinner at the moment, putting his feet up, watching a bit of TV. I don't think it will play a big part. Maybe if it was a best-of-five match, if he went for four and a half hours or something, it may play a bigger part. He's fit enough, he's been on the Tour long enough, he's played enough long matches, he ought to be able to back it up fine tomorrow.

Q. You seemed to be a bit calmer - if that's the word - tonight playing Sebastien, a bit more in control. Was that out of respect for Sebastien, or did you just want to keep a lid on things?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I just felt like, you know, there's times, you know, when you want to get pumped up. Last night, he had a couple of, you know, very good shots, I think, on the run and passing shots and that, and the crowd was into it and they really enjoyed it I think. Today I didn't hit as many of those sort of flashy winners where you can afford to get pumped up after the point. But, you know, I respect all the guys that I play against. There's no difference in respecting Fabrice last night to Sebastien today. They're both great players. But, you know, it's really just a timing thing. I suppose playing under lights, the crowd was sort of pretty full last night as well, and they were getting into it.

Q. What's your level of excitement coming into a final here with the Australian Open next week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's always nice. I love this time of the year, and it's my favorite time of the year coming home and playing the tournaments in my home country. You know, touch wood, so far I've always done well in these tournaments. Melbourne Park means a lot to me. I've been there ever since I was probably nine or ten years old. I've gone and watched the Australian Open ever since it was in Melbourne Park, formerly Flinders Park. When I walk around there, it gives you a buzz. It really does lift you up, I think, being an Australian player walking underneath those sort of corridors down there.

Q. Will you play tomorrow's match any differently?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well. I'll just keep the same tactics. I'm not worrying about my opponent's game too much. I'm just going out there, playing my game plan, sticking to it and hopefully it pays off. If not, I've had a great week. If I end up losing, I lose to a very good player in Magnus.

Q. On that note, Magnus did say that no one can wear him down, that he's quite willing to play five sets in today's heat, so he seems to be gearing up for a fairly hard struggle tomorrow. You would think the same way?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. I think we both play -- well, obviously, we both play a more baseline, aggressive baseline game. It's going to be a bit of a slug fest out there tomorrow I think from the baseline. You know, it's just going to be, you know, only a few points in each set I think is going to sort of see the outcome. I'm going to have to sort of -- he's a very powerful player. I'm going to have to try to overcome his power if I'm going to win the match tomorrow.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference

adidas International

January 13, 2001, Final

Lleyton Hewitt - Magnus Norman 6-4 6-1


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. Well, that's the ideal preparation: Six matches going to the Australian Open.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I've been getting better with each match that I've played the last week and last two weeks really. And it's nice to cap it off with a tournament win as well this year. It's always nice to get one early in the year, and, you know, no better than doing it in Australia as well. So I felt like today I really started hitting the ball well, and I think I can take a lot of confidence about beating a, you know, guy ranked No. 4 in the world going into the Australian Open.

Q. Can you make a comparison between today's match and the match you played against him in Melbourne last year. And, if so, is that an indication of how far you've come in twelve months?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. One's a Grand Slam, one's a tournament final. You know, Magnus was hitting the ball very well this time last year. I think he's hitting it pretty well. I'd say he definitely didn't play quite as well as he did last year in the Australian Open, whether that's got a bit to do with he's a bit tired from yesterday or it's not a Grand Slam or whatever. I think I'm definitely hitting the ball better than I was in that match, in that particular match. Whether that's got to do with I haven't played as many matches as I had going into that match against him last year, so maybe I was a little worn out going into that one. But I felt like out there today I moved the ball around well, I didn't make too many errors from the baseline, and when I was able to keep good depth out there, I won most of the points.

Q. It was June, your last title. Does it feel like a long time since then to win another one given that you've been in the Top 10 all that time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not really. I think I've played so many big matches since that time that it -- I haven't really been thinking about winning too many tournaments. I've been going in and, you know, doing well in most of the big tournaments. And, you know, the big step for me sort of after that Queen's and after Wimbledon, that was to start doing well in the Masters Series events then the Grand Slams. I think I started completing that sort of goal by the end of the year, making the semis of the US Open, the final of Stuttgart where I was feeling ordinary that whole week and, you know, so close to actually winning that title. Then the Davis Cup finals. So I've had so many big matches lately, it doesn't really feel like I've missed out on too many titles.

Q. Lleyton, were you disappointed at all that you weren't really extended in the second set particularly? Would you have liked to have been threatened more than you were today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, the first set was very hard out there. I thought it was very good tennis out there, particularly the first set. You know, I raised my game, I think, at the start of the second. You know, I think it was pushing probably about 50-something minutes for the first set. It was hard hitting out there. There weren't too many cheap points. You know, I think Magnus was probably a little tired still from yesterday as well. That's why he sort of gave me a bit of a cheap game in the second game in the second set which sort of got my confidence up, and I was able to extend it from there. But it's always nice in a final to get through in straight sets.

Q. Are you confident you've got plenty in reserve for the next two weeks?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope so. Yeah, you never quite know, I suppose, until you get out there. And a lot's got to do with how you get through your first couple of matches, if you do, you know. So it's really hard to say in Grand Slams, I suppose, just best-of-five sets and how many tough matches or how much energy you've got to waste in your first few rounds. Come the end of the second week, you're still sort of feeling fresh, you know. At the moment I couldn't be happier, I think - the way that I'm hitting the ball, the way that I've got better with every match I've played. There's still a big question mark, but it's over everyone in the draw.

Q. You made reference in your speech to the pressure you felt in Barcelona, or certainly the way the crowd reacted to you in Barcelona. In terms of going into a big event in Australia, can you possibly say what is more pressure, is it playing in Australia in front of your home fans, or is it kind of being the naughty boy everyone wants to beat in Spain?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't really feel too much pressure playing in Australia. You know, I think the guys in the past have struggled playing in Australia just because the weight of expectations. I don't really feel that. I feel that this is where I was brought up, I've got -- the conditions suit me, the courts suit me, the climate. There's so many bonuses, I think, for me. Plus, I've got the crowd on my side. For me, you know, this is where it all started: Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne for me, my tennis career. So I don't feel any added pressure going out there. Sure, I want to do well, and if there's one Grand Slam I want to win it's the Australian Open. But I don't put any added pressure on myself going out there feeling like I've got to perform out there.

Q. This time last year we were sitting here talking to you after you had won two titles in Adelaide and Sydney. With one title under your belt, do you feel better placed going into Melbourne this year?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's a learning experience. Last year I went out there and I didn't feel like I was going to peak for Adelaide and Sydney and win both tournaments if you asked me before Adelaide. Things just happen. When I get out on the court, I give 100 percent in every match I play. I had better preparation going into Adelaide last year. And maybe because I played singles and doubles every week it took a little bit more out of me as well. This year, I stuck to singles. So far it's been paying off. I feel like I'm, you know, getting some of that sort of energy back in the legs I think out on the court. I was really struggling in the first few matches that I played in Adelaide, as I said. I've just been happier because I worked pretty hard after I lost in Adelaide there. If I did go out in the first round here, it was something I was going to have to say, you know, I haven't had the greatest preparation. I got through the first couple of rounds here, and now I think it's paying off.

Q. What do you think of the crystal vase? What will you do with it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's very nice, I like this tournament. You get a nice trophy. (Inaudible.) It sits up in my bedroom really, next to the Davis Cup trophy.

Q. On a different note, Lleyton, Pat Cash reportedly made some disparaging remarks about some women players on the WTA Tour. How do you feel about him calling Lindsay Davenport a little bit overweight, referring to other players as being overweight, since you're a guy who has a bit of an interest in the women's Tour?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I haven't heard what Pat said. I don't know much about it. It's got nothing to do with me really. Lindsay Davenport's won so many Grand Slams, I got no right to come in on her. She's a great player. To tell you the truth, I think she's in pretty good shape for a girl who's so big and so strong. I think Pat maybe opens his mouth a little bit too often.

Q. Just looking ahead to the draw in Melbourne, have you had a chance to look at who's around you? You've got some very unseeded but quite solid players in your half: Haas and Jonas and Rios.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm just concentrating on Jonas. That's the only guy I got to worry about. You know, if I get through that one, then I'll start worrying about the rest. You know, I feel like if I, you know, I can get through the first couple of rounds and get deep in the tournament, then I have a definite chance. But until then, I'm just concentrating on my first match and, you know, hopefully I can get through it and hopefully I won't have to waste too much energy in it as well.

Q. Can you relax at any stage during these next two weeks? If so, how do you do it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's very hard. Yeah, Melbourne's such a big sporting city, and, you know, everywhere you go obviously tennis is so big there at the moment that you're going to get recognized everywhere. So, you know, whether I go to the movies occasionally on my days off or whatever. But it's just really kicking back, and it's good that the cricket and stuff is on TV so we can watch that as well. You know, there's not a hell of a lot to do apart from concentrating on the matches ahead.

Q. Are you someone who's able to sort of come down from the highs of matches pretty well and then get back up again for the next one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's something that I've had to learn I think in the last two or three years. I think in the past when I've had some big wins it's very hard, especially when you're a 16 -, 17-year-old in your first few Grand Slams and you start beating guys - for example, probably the Pioline match at the Australian Open a few years ago. It was hard to come down from that cloud that I was on for that night. It was very hard to get to sleep. I probably didn't get to sleep until four or five in the morning, after you have massages and everything. I had to come out, play doubles the next day, back it up with singles the day after. It's something that I'm learning to do though.

Q. Have you been given any indication as to when you might start your first match? And, if not, would you prefer Monday or Tuesday?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I haven't heard anything. It doesn't really worry me. What comes out, comes out. You know, whichever side of the draw they play, you know, it's a toss of the coin.

Q. What sort of a setup do you have in Melbourne? Do you always stay at the same place, do you surround yourself with the same people to keep things on an even keel?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I just hang around with family and friends. I have, you know, my best mate from Adelaide comes over to watch as well. So it's just important to relax as much as possible really. You know, obviously, as I said, it's very hard in such a big city where sport is such a big part of everyone's life in Melbourne, and, you know, I just like hanging around relatives and friends and stuff like that. So that's all I'm going to be doing sort of during my breaks when I'm not practicing or playing.

Q. Do you hide yourself away when you're not on court?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I wouldn't say I hide myself away, but I definitely try to keep out of the spotlight as much as possible I think. Especially during those two weeks, you know, it's a very important time for me. And, you know, it is such a high priority, the Australian Open, on my calendar. So, you know, I've got to really be very mentally strong I think during those two weeks.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


January 16, 2001, 1st Round

Lleyton Hewitt - Jonas Bjorkman 7-5 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-2


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. How's the body feeling after that epic one?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, you know, it was a very tough match physically and mentally out there tonight. It's just sort of wait and see really how it pulls up tomorrow, and then hopefully on Thursday I'm going to be, you know, 90 to 100 percent again.

Q. The treatment you had, was that for the hamstring?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I twinged, sort of twinged it a little bit during practice a couple days ago, basically when I first arrived here in Melbourne. So that was a bit of a concern going into the match as well tonight. I've been getting treatment sort of basically ever since I've been here in Melbourne and it just wasn't getting any better out there on the court tonight, so I needed something out there. You know, it's something that I just had to put, you know, play through out there.

Q. With all that in mind, does it worry you how much you might have left for the other rounds, particularly with your hard second-round opponent to start off?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's just sort of wait-and-see really. You know, Tommy's going to be a very tough opponent. Come Thursday, I'm going to have to be, you know, playing my best tennis if I'm going to get over him. You know, there's certainly a little bit of concern I think. But, you know, I've been able to get through a five-set match out there tonight against Jonas Bjorkman.

Q. You're a definite starter against Tommy?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, yeah. At this stage, mate. I am going to get as much treatment. This is the Australian Open, this is a Grand Slam. Davis Cup and Grand Slams, that's what you live for as a tennis player. For me, playing in Australia, it's my favorite, you know, tournament of the year and, you know, I'm going to go out there and, you know, try and give it everything I've got.

Q. Must have been great having that sort of crowd behind you after what you went through in Barcelona. We were pretty much the exact opposite?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, the crowd was fantastic. You know, they lifted with me out there tonight, and, you know, I was two-sets-to-one down in that Costa match in the first rubber of the Davis Cup, and it sort of brought back a few memories when I was two-sets-to-one down in tonight's match as well. The energy that I could draw off the crowd tonight, you know, it was fantastic. It was unbelievable.

Q. Do you feel you can reverse it against Tommy? You mentioned as you came off the court you felt you'd be better prepared this time because you didn't have much practice going into Adelaide.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, Adelaide was really a warm-up week for me this year. I didn't give myself a chance of winning that title at all this year just because, you know, it was such a long and demanding year both physically and mentally last year. I didn't get to finish until a couple of weeks before Adelaide started. I didn't know until two days before the tournament whether I was going to play or not, so I really had very limited practice and preparation going into that tournament. I started to find some rhythm in Sydney, which is good, and just try to keep the ball rolling basically now.

Q. Congratulations for your big victory. You are a big fighter. When you were playing, what did you feel knowing that Rod Laver was in the public and watching you? Did you feel more energy?

LLEYTON HEWITT: With the crowd or...?

Q. Yes. Knowing that Rod Laver was in the public.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Rod Laver, oh.

Q. Did you feel something?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's fantastic. I got the opportunity to, you know, hit with Rod a couple of days ago in the charity day here on Vodafone Stadium over there. It was just, you know, a privilege being out there with, you know, possibly the greatest player of all time. You know, he's an Australian hero, he's an Australian champion, and unfortunately I never got to see him play. But by all remarks, he was an unbelievable player. It was fantastic to hit a few balls. For him to be out there, I'm playing in his arena, it's the Rod Laver Arena out there, for him to be sitting front row with all the Tennis Australia people, even Goolagong was there as well, it gives you a little bit of a lift I suppose.

Q. Did you think you were gone at any stage?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I never thought I was gone. I was definitely struggling out there, especially when I was two-sets-to-one down. It was a pretty big turnaround after I was a set and break up in that game. I held, then got broken.

Q. How do you keep yourself going? How do you keep yourself in a match?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard. You got to draw on something in your will, in your body. You got to stay positive out there. That's the main thing. Once you start believing that you're beaten, then you are beaten. You know, in any of my matches, I never believe that I'm beaten until, you know, you shake your hands at the net. You know, it was just, tonight there was a lot of things that I could draw from. It was the crowd out there. It was, you know, just the feeling, you know, I had all my family and supporters in the crowd as well. You know, Wazza and some of the fanatics who followed us at Davis Cup there and the other section of the crowd. There's a lot of positive energy and vibes I could draw from out there. They helped me get over the line.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was very strange. I think Jonas gave all his tickets to the guys who paint their faces.

Q. Lleyton, considering the hamstring problem and the fact that you were down two-sets-to-one, how would you rate this week compared to some of your other better wins?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's, the way -- you can't really look at it. The way I hit the ball was fantastic out there tonight. Obviously I had to deal with a few problems out there. But for determination and guts, it's definitely up there with, you know, it's equal to the Davis Cup thing, Davis Cup match against Costa. You know, that match was for your country. It's probably a little bit bigger, but this is right behind it I think out there tonight.

Q. After this win, the crowd, do you rate yourself favorite against Tommy?

LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said, it's probably even I'd say. You know, last time Tommy beat me in Adelaide, time before that was in Miami earlier last year where I actually, you know, beat him pretty convincingly in that match. So, you know, I feel like it's probably a pretty even match. Tommy sort of struggled there for probably about a year. After he started doing well, he beat me here a few years ago actually in the second round and went on to make the semifinals.

Q. Is he a special player for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think he's a very good player. I think he's, you know, he's going to be in the Top 10 very shortly. You know, I think he's a hell of a player.

Q. Did you plan to come to Italy this year for the Italian Open?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Rome again? Yeah, well it's a Masters Series event, so, yeah. It's in my schedule at the moment. I played well there last year. I made the semifinals there, so I enjoyed playing.

Q. We look forward to you coming to Italy.

LLEYTON HEWITT: I hope the crowd's on my side.

Q. How about the Swedish crowd?

LLEYTON HEWITT: They're very loud. I've been coming to the Australian Open for years and, you know, I used to idolize Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander. You know, something that other players have to deal with when you're playing a Swede. I think it's good for the Australian Open. They're always there with their faces painted and their bodies painted and yelling out each side to each other. I think it's good for tennis. Obviously tonight it was sort of -- I had the rest of the crowd on my side, so I was very happy. They're very vocal for a small group of Swedes I suppose.

Q. You were throwing some glances at them a couple of times?


Q. You were watching them a couple times. Were you ever disturbed?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I never really focused on them at all during the match. You know, maybe I looked at it -- I was looking over toward my coaching group which was sitting close to them. I never really -- I block them out as much as possible.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


January 18, 2001, 2nd Round

Lleyton Hewitt - Tommy Haas 7-5 7-6(5) 6-4


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lleyton, please.

Q. Vicenzo Martucci. When do you think about the first set, when you was down 5-love, then went up. What do you think what happened with his mind, his style?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, for sure I think we're both saying probably thinking about the second set. I'm sure in his mind he thought with the opportunity of serving twice for the set that, you know, the set was his especially the way that he was playing. You know, he probably relaxed a little bit as well and I felt like after I broke him that first time, if I could, you know, I held off a couple of break points at 5-2, if I got out of that game I could have a crack at him. After you drop your serve once serving for the set you're nervous the second time. I think that's what happened. Then I started getting on a bit of a roll. He played another very order game at 5-all, his serve, give me that opportunity to serve for the set.

Q. John Parsons, The Daily Telegraph. Also do you think the fact that he got off, he did get off to a wonderful start, was playing great tennis, but did you have to build yourself mentally after that long match the other night? You needed time?

LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. I didn't come out with all guns firing I think. You have to take your hat off to him. He came out, hardly missed a first serve his first two or three service games. He was blasting me off the court at the start. Wasn't a lot I could do. I couldn't get any rhythm on my ground strokes out there. I didn't come out serve as well as I should have also. I gave him a lot of opportunities to get on top of my second serve early. Once I started getting confidence and moving the ball around more, I felt my forehand came in very handy today.

Q. How is your hamstring? Any problems physically today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, it was pretty good actually. Better than I thought it was going to be.

Q. You said you weren't quite 100 percent still but you sort of feel like you're getting closer?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think with, you know, every day that goes by I'm going to be a lot better for it. You know, I was very happy, you know, just to get through the last couple of matches with it.

Q. Does it feel like one of the hardest straight sets victories you've ever had?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, for sure. I just about felt like I was going to lose it. I was playing catchup tennis the whole day. To my credit, I just hanging in there, kept fighting, got the breaks when I needed to and played the big points well. Again, the third set I think he was starting to hurt a little bit out there. It was quite a long match for three sets. I think it was well over three hours. So I -- physically, it was probably a little bit more draining than a normal three-set match.

Q. Why is it that these circumstances bring out the best in you so often do you think?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. You know, I just -- I just get a buzz from walking around this place. You know, I've been coming to this tournament ever since the first time I played here at Melbourne Park I was playing here, I was just a young kid out in the crowd getting everyone's autographs. As soon as I, you know, got the opportunity to play Juniors here and, you know, it was just a dream come true to be playing here. And, you know, I remember watching Rochey and Lendl sort of warm-up at 9 o'clock out there on the courts, I used to be watching them. Now to be in that position out there playing, and, you know, me growing up on rebound ace as well, I feel so much at home out there at the moment.

Q. Ubaldo Scanagatta, La Nazione, Italy. Do you think that Haas has some problems when he has to finalize a match? I mean, he hit some lapse of concentration apparently.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I haven't noticed it in the past. If you're just going to take it from today's match, sure, maybe he had a couple of concentration lapse when he got the break in each set. But, you know, in the past I haven't noticed that he's had a big problem in that area. I wouldn't say -- I think it's just one match that happened to him today. Obviously he's going to be very disappointed when he looks back on the match and sees that he had an opportunity in each set to really win each set out there today. But I don't think he's got a problem, you know, through his career with that.

Q. How do you feel about playing Carlos Moya next?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, obviously the draw doesn't get any easier, that's for sure. I'm going to have my work cut out again. I'm going to go out there, play the way that I've been playing. I can draw a lot of confidence that, you know, I've beaten two class players in the first two rounds. You know, I know he's beaten two very good players as well. Hopefully it's going to be a very good match but I'm expecting a very tough, long, sort of slugging out there. It's going to be a baseline match pretty much.

Q. How much has seven hours of tennis taken out of you in three days?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I actually feel, you know, pretty good. I feel a lot better than I did in Spain on the clay. It's probably because clay is a much more, you know, sort of physical, physical surface rather than rebound ace. To play out there, it was pretty hot out there on center court today on the rebound ace. I'm feeling pretty good at the moment. I was surprised how well I felt apart from the hamstring after my match against Bjorkman.

Q. How much did the crowd help you out there, being in Australia? How much of a spur was that when you were love-5 down in that first set?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I knew that if I could get things going, the crowd was going to hop on as soon as I got it going. That's the big, you know, that's a huge advantage for the Australian players. We saw Andrew Ilie yesterday, Pat Rafter every time he comes out to play, Wayne Arthurs. It's a huge lift for the Australians, as soon as we get that edge or we get that opportunity to break serve and get up a break, the crowd's really on us. It's very good to, you know, it's very easy for us out there as well to work with the crowd and get positive vibes from the crowd as well. That's something that, you know, I've learned to do I think pretty well over the last couple of years.

Q. Do you feel you can get through two weeks of the tennis you've been playing so far, play the mix doubles as well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say at the moment. Obviously the singles is the priority. You know, I've just been taking it one match at a time. Obviously the first two matches have been very hard-fought matches. Hopefully they get a little bit easier somewhere along the line. I've got to be prepared to play seven matches in singles, you know, five sets if you're going to win the tournament. So, you know, that's something that I knew coming into the tournament and that's something that I sort of planned my -- to be peaking sort of for this time of the year.

Q. Does it annoy you that your interaction with the crowd in your case actually draws a lot of adverse comment both from fans and from the media?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, I haven't heard too many bad reports from the fans. That's for sure. You know, the last three weeks has been, you know, a dream walking out on the court, as I said, you know, after just about all my matches, there's only, you know, just over a month ago we were in Barcelona I was getting booed by 14,000 people. As I said, I can't say how, you know, words can't describe how much of an advantage it is to have 15,000 people, you know, screaming for you, behind you. And I've been fortunate enough the last three weeks that everyone's been behind me. It was fantastic in Adelaide. Sydney was great as well, very big stadium there. The last two matches here, I think we've seen how the crowd's responded to me out there and, you know, they're one of the main reasons why I got through that match against Bjorkman, that's for sure.

Q. Doesn't worry you when you're criticized in the media?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I think the fans know what's going on and, you know, I know what's going on and that's all that matters.

Q. This same fact that the crowd is behind you doesn't create a lot of pressure, and you know they are expecting you to win a Grand Slam?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know if they're expecting me to win. I've never made iit to a final of a Grand Slam. You know, but I think, you know, I don't feel any added pressure when I go out there because the crowd's behind me. You know obviously they want to see the Australians do well and it's something that Pat's probably had to deal with the last few years as well. He hasn't always performed well in Australia. Obviously the last few years with Davis Cup ties and that he's doing better and better. I was lucky enough, this is -- it feels like, you know, just coming home really and playing because this is where it all started for me, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Started my career and it really does feel like sort of I'm out playing in my backyard out there. So I don't put any added pressure on myself, you know, what the spectators think I should be, winning or losing.

Q. Talking about Barcelona. What did the King of Spain said to you when you finished the match against Ferrero?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He just said, "Great match and good fighting," you know, it was fantastic to watch.

Q. He was quite nice?

LLEYTON HEWITT: He was very nice.

Q. In your personal rankings, this match you are playing, they are very, very tough. How do you think is this matchup today? Which level? Second, third?


Q. The tougher matches you've played?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Tough matches, Tommy's a very tough player to play against. I can't see any reason why he's not going to be in the Top 10 for the next, you know, five to ten years. I think he's a fantastic player. He's got every shot in the game. When he's on, he's very hard to beat as I found out in Adelaide. So I rate him as an opponent very tough. So, you know, definitely up there with one of my toughest matches.

Q. Yes, but was tougher with Bjorkman or today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say because they play totally different. Bjorkman tried to rush me a lot more than Tommy did out there today. Tommy's a more free flying baseliner, he serves a lot bigger. Both matches were equally as tough. I could have lost three sets to love out there against Tommy, whereas Jonas I was pretty much in the match even though I was down two sets to one.

Q. Could I just ask you if you happen to be drawing up a betting market on -- if you were to be a betting man, I don't know, how many players would be in front of you? Would it be four? Two? Six? What?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Definitely be all the Grand Slam winners. You know, I think when it comes down to experience, those guys who have won the Grand Slams before, whether it's Rafter, Agassi, Sampras, Kafelnikov, Safin, Kuerten, I don't know if I've missed anyone, I think they should all be above me just because I haven't been in a Grand Slam final before. You know obviously there's going to be a time when hopefully I get that opportunity to walk out there on the, you know, on the Sunday, the last Sunday of a Grand Slam. But at the moment, I think they've got to be, you know, the favorites ahead of me.

Q. How do you feel about tennis people that have regards about you punching the air? Does that criticism from tennis people have more impact? Does it affect you at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I haven't heard too many tennis people, you know, -- I think it's more, you know, I don't think really anyone sort of in the tennis people have bagged me before.

Q. Someone said you went like this. (Inaudible) He said he was a bit upset by it. Does that have any impact?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I think the only time I got pumped when he did a double-fault was 4-2 in the fifth. I think everyone understands when you've been out there four hours, get a break in the fifth set, you're allowed to look over to your sidelines and give a fist pump.

Q. I think it was Tommy towards the end of the second set when he lunged for a volley and you won the point. He was down on the ground several seconds. How does it feel to see your opponent literally face down on the ground not moving? Must have been an invigorating sight?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Geez, that's hard to say. It's not like he was about to die out there, I can tell you that. I didn't actually -- I thought he was getting up pretty quickly. As soon as I turned my back, he was already up and he was ready to play on. Obviously if he goes for a dive volley he's going to end up on the ground. Otherwise, keep on your feet.

Q. When you were a kid, were there talks about your fist pumping? You're in the spotlight. Obviously that's what people are focusing on. Did anybody ever --?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I didn't, you know, I only do it at the times that I feel it's necessary. Whether that is getting a break in the fifth set or getting a break in the first set, when I feel like I needed to get myself pumped up on the court and give me a -- sort of a lift out there, that's what I do it for. And, you know, no one's really had a go at me coming up the junior ranks at all.

Q. (Inaudible).

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, never happened. Never happened on the satellites or anything, challengers or anything.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


January 20, 2001, 3rd Round

Lleyton Hewitt - Carlos Moya 6-4 1-6 7-5 2-6 5-7


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. What do you think made the difference in the end? Is there one point or one difference between you two?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it's hard to reflect on the match straight after it. You know, it was as close as anything, you know, whether it was getting the break point early in the fifth set was probably my big opportunity I think. You know, but then again, you know, if I could have held serve early in the second set after I won the first and really sort of got in a bit of a roll, a bit of rhythm, he was spraying balls early in the match. I gave him that confidence boost early in the second set, and he took full advantage of that.

Q. I mean it's just a hell of a difficult match to lose and to have to come in so soon after is probably difficult to sink in as well. Not an easy one for you, is it?


Q. And all the circumstances?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. At the end of the day, I gave everything I had. And, you know, in all three of my matches, I had to work my butt off the whole time. I didn't get too many, you know, cheap points against the three guys that I played. They're all very class, highly rated players. Obviously the draw didn't go my way, I suppose, and I didn't give myself a chance to work my way into the tournament. But there's nothing I can do about that. You know --.

Q. Do you think you suffered a little bit almost for the way you play? You get dragged into long matches. It's almost the way you are.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. You know, little bit. But I think still, you know, if I played three guys ranked 70, 80, 90 in the world, a qualifier, wildcard, then it could have been a totally different story I think. I drew a guy who's been No. 4 in the world, I drew a guy who's been No. 1 in the world and, I drew Tommy Haas, who I would have rated him probably before the tournament as the best unseeded player. I didn't get too kind in my section, but there's nothing I can do about that at all. You win some; you lose some.

Q. (Inaudible)?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Actually, I felt pretty good. Obviously, you know, I don't know how long it went, probably close to four hours in the end. But once it starts getting to that stage, it doesn't matter how, you know -- I'm sure Carlos is feeling it as well. Once you get into that long situation, deep in the fifth set, then you start feeling it for sure. You know, I felt pretty good for the first few sets out there. I was quite surprised, considering that, you know, I haven't done any fitness work or anything for the last four or five months. So, you know, I've got a good base to work on. That's what I'm trying to say.

Q. How do you see now the chances of Moya to go further in the championship?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, I think it's open. A lot depends on how he pulls up, though, in two days' time. I give him a very good chance of doing well. Whether he can win it or not, that's another story because, you know, last year he really struggled, last year and a half I suppose. But he is a class player and, you know, as soon as he gets his confidence back and he starts working that forehand, he has a very good serve on him for a baseliner as well. So he's going to be very hard to beat.

Q. How great was the expectation you felt coming into this as Australia's sort of favorite chance here I guess? How much of it did you put on yourself?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't put any on myself. I came in hoping that I was going to be hitting the ball well before I sort of came into the whole summer circuit, then, you know, I was very happy the way I played in Sydney and got myself in good condition after losing in Adelaide in the quarters there. But, you know, it was very hard to expect huge things, because, you know, before the Davis Cup I, in my mind, was worried I was going to play the Davis Cup final or play the Australian Open circuit. You know, my breathing was that bad at the time. Darren had sat me down and said, "You're probably going to have to miss one of these, which one are you going to miss." I took my chances in the Davis Cup, and as it turns out, I've taken my chances for the Australian Open circuit as well. I really didn't give myself the greatest chances, I think, of doing well in both situations due to, you know, things that I can't, you know, are out of my control anyway.

Q. You were prepared to miss this event to play Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: That's what I did at the start, yeah. Davis Cup's my priority.

Q. Would it be fair to say that you would be pleased not to see any more Spanish players for a while?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I got nothing against Carlos at all. You know, he's --.

Q. Just sort of the circumstances of Ferrero in Barcelona and now this tonight, you could probably do the --?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, I can definitely -- I don't want to keep coming off against them. But, you know, that wasn't in my mind going into the match at all. You know, Carlos had nothing to do with Barcelona at all.

Q. What now before Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Try to get my body right. You know, I'm struggling with my hamstring at the moment. That's the priority - to try to get that right in time because, you know, I've been taking a lot of tablets and stuff to try and get it right for these two weeks. Now I've really got to get off that and try and get it 100 percent for the Davis Cup tie, then the American hardcourt season.

Q. Are you feeling twice your age at this stage?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's unbelievable. I feel worse than Darren. He complains about his knees; I got worse things going on than him at the moment.

Q. Are you now looking to take a break for mental health reasons?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, the schedule doesn't really allow me to take a break. You know, I've got a Davis Cup tie on grass which is going to take a bit of getting used to after playing on rebound ace, switching to grass. You know, this stage, I don't really have an opportunity to sort of lay out four or five weeks. That was the problem with the breathing thing. You know, they recommended having surgery and that. I couldn't really lay out a time that I'd be out for four or five weeks which I could, you know, take that time off and get it done properly and then come back on the circuit.

Q. If you don't take a break, aren't you worried that you'll be forced to take a break?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not at the moment. My breathing's actually feeling a little bit better with the tablets I've been taking and the nasal spray. The hamstring, which happened practicing here a few days before the tournament started, that is a once off thing. If I can get that right before the Davis Cup tie, you know, I think I'm gonna be fine.

Q. There's no kind of situation where having to play as it were an indoor match affects you in any way, is there? Because clearly the air doesn't move around as much.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, no, I feel pretty good out there. And in Barcelona I felt, you know, I'm definitely not normal, not 100 percent of what I've been in the past. But for the way that I've been going, I felt pretty good out there.

Q. Think Pat can win this event?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. You know, I think the way that Pat's been playing, I've only seen his few matches, two out of the three matches that he's played, but he seems to be hitting the ball well. I hit with him this morning actually. He's confident I think. He hasn't had a lot of pressure I think going into him as well. He's been able to sort of build his game up. You know, it's a big test for him tomorrow, I think, to play his first real name player in the tournament so far, round of 16. I think Henman's playing very well as well. So, you know, I take Pat to win, you know, because I know that he wants it, you know, as much as I do and every other Australian, Andrew Ilie or whoever.

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Re: Lleyton's Press Conference


March 13, 2001, 1st Round

Lleyton Hewitt - Albert Costa 6-2 5-7 6-1


MODERATOR: Questions for Lleyton.

Q. That second set was a bit up and down, wasn't it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. I felt like I got off to a really good start at the start of the match, got on top of him early, was a set and a break up. Then I played a bit of a dodgey service game on my serve there, gave him a bit of a sniff. Just did a cheap second serve, double-fault, right at the bottom of the net, missed a couple short forehands. To his credit, he kept fighting well, definitely raised his game and played a lot better than he did in the first set. I was happy to get back on him at the start of the third set and put the pressure back on him.

Q. When you went into that match, any thoughts going back to Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, definitely a few thoughts. Yeah, definitely motivated me a little bit more out there.

Q. How were conditions today? Was it hot? Did it bother you at all?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was pretty hot, but not too bad. Definitely played in a lot hotter conditions than that. But, you know, I felt pretty good out there. You know, it started getting a bit gusty with the breeze out there towards the end of the second and the third set. But it didn't really affect anyone, I don't think.

Q. You played some pretty long points, particularly in the first set. Almost looked like clay court tennis. Any way can you shorten them up or do you want to go out there and rally with him till you beat him down?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I thought I attacked on the right points, you know, pretty much at least three-quarters of the match. The courts are a lot slower out the back than I think Centre Court is. I only hit on Centre Court this morning. I warmed up on it. You know, I felt it was coming on a lot quicker than the outside courts. I think the balls are so heavy, it's unbelievable.

Q. It's early in the season. Where do you see your game right now? Where do you stand?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, so far this year I think I've played some of my best tennis that I've ever played. I've played some ordinary tennis, as well, I think. You know, definitely in Davis Cup, on grass, I played fantastic against Ecuador. That's as good a tennis as I've ever played, I think. Sydney, the second half of that, I played very well. Australian Open, I felt like I hit the ball pretty well, even though, you know, I played some great players there. The last couple of weeks, I've been very up and down, I think. You know, the Rios match a few nights ago in Scottsdale was one of the best matches I've ever played. But then, you know, the next day I came out and I was a little bit tired, you know, I didn't play up to scratch against Clavet.

Q. Any reason as to why it's been a bit up and down the last couple of weeks?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not really. I think a little bit's had to do with, you know, the illness late last year, I wasn't able to put in a lot of, you know, hard hours off court, which I normally do in that sort of December, just before January period, to sort of set you up for at least the start or the first half of the year. I wasn't able to do that, due to so many tournaments I had to play at the end of last year with finals in Lisbon, the Davis Cup final the week after that. It just felt like, you know -- felt like Australia to Adelaide before I knew it. I hardly hit a ball before going into Adelaide. I didn't do any running or any preparation. That's not what I'm used to going into there. At some stage when I get a couple weeks off, really sort of put some miles back in the legs.

Q. Do you feel your game has matured? Are you looking to add new dimension to it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think it has a little bit. I still got areas of my game that I've got to work on if I want to consolidate my spot in the Top 10, try to get up in the Top 5. You know, obviously more cheap points off my first serves, you know, is a big key. In the big matches that I have won, late last year, early this year, you know, I've served very well, doubled the aces that I normally serve, I've got a lot more cheap points off my first serve. The other area is probably, you know, to come into the net a little bit more and put a bit more pressure on my opponents, just a little bit more doubt in their mind, I think, as well.

Q. So is it a case of doing it better or doing it differently?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's a case of doing it more in the practice court and trying to bring it into matches. You know, I'm trying to do it in practice as much as possible. But, you know, to actually have that confidence and that self-belief to do it in the matches is another thing, to gradually build it. I just turned 20, I don't have "By 21 I've got to be doing it." It's a gradual thing. I'm winning matches at the top level by playing my own games. I've still got these areas, these weaknesses in my game, that can I improve on and I'm going to be a better player because of it.

Q. Last year you were one of only two players to be in the Top 10 of the Champions Race every week. This year you've dropped out a couple of times. Does that matter to you? Does it bother you? Is the actual ranking what's more important?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I think the actual ranking for me, you know, I really couldn't care two hoots if I was in it every week of last year or not. Really, there's no prizes for that. I'm looking at the entry system ranking. That's what I base my calendar year around. That's what, you know -- I'm sitting around six, seven, at the moment. That's a career high for me at the moment. I want to try to get in the Top 5 as soon as I can. There is a big gap between 6 and 5. If I win Adelaide, I'm No. 1 in the world. Rios was No. 1 after he won Doha. Agassi, Sampras, Kafelnikov haven't picked up a racquet yet.

Q. You would say then that the entry system is a true evaluation of a player's worth?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I think so. You know, to see guys, you know, whoever, some of the guys who may be ranked 70 or 80 in the world, they're in the Top 10 for the first two weeks, you know, you have Agassi and Sampras who haven't played. You know, I just -- Thomas Enqvist is a perfect example. He didn't play the whole January circuit. We don't have him on the whole thing.

Q. Do you think the tour should go on using one system?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, I think they're now trying to do it to help out the public. You know, if people who are inside tennis are struggling with handling two, what are the public going to see? They see on ESPN only Agassi and Sampras results, yet it comes up he's ranked 50 after week one or something in the Champions Race. That doesn't make a lot of sense.

Q. Just going back to today's match, if you put the second set to one side, you're pretty happy with the way it went?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I just had a little bit of a lapse in concentration there for that one service game, then he took a couple of injury times there at crucial times late in the second set. That's when I had to come out. I dropped serve again after being 30-Love up there. If I put that aside, I think I played a pretty good match. I was pretty mentally tough out there and I felt like I moved the ball well.

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