Yay, an interview, and he even talks about Frank Dancevic..although, sadly, it is only Savolt he has to worry about. Sort of a weird answer to the happy parents question...was only mum happy and dad sort of neutral?
Transcript - Lleyton Hewitt
2 January 2004
Lleyton, how does it feel to be officially spoken for. I suppose it must have been an exciting few weeks, the last few weeks.
Yeah, itís been good. Everything went well and Iím really enjoying it at the moment.
And I suppose it was just very important that she said yes, but you never doubted it.
Oh, I hope not. I hope there wasnít too much of a problem. You know, everything has been going well for the last four years and weíve both been able to help each other out a lot, both on and off the court.
How have you spent the last week?
Just training mate Ė the same as always.
So you donít get to have fun just because you do something like that.
No, not at all mate. The Australian Open is coming up.
Lleyton, how good is it to have Kim, another elite athlete, as your partner Ė especially during the lows?
Yeah, you know, itís good I guess. We both know what each other is going through. Obviously I got to the pinnacle of tennis, I guess, just before she did, and now sheís up there and we both understand the pressures. And we donít talk about tennis that much, but if it does come up and we do have issues then sure, we can sort it out or help each other I guess.
And your parents were thrilled aboutÖ
Yeah, Mum was happy Ė it was good.
Youíve both got fairly hectic schedules, any thoughts on when the wedding might be? Can we expect it in the next 12 months?
Oh, donít know mate. You wonít be the first to find out!
How do you go into Wednesday though Lleyton, when obviously thatís one that people want to talk about, considering youíre up against your fiancť, how do you approach that game?
Iím not up against her yet. Iíve got to beat Xavier.
In the mixed doubles though?
Well, weíll wait and see if itís live.
On the tennis front, what are your goals for this season?
You know, see what happens. I havenít passed the round of 16 at the Aussie Open before. Obviously the Hopman Cup and Sydney for me is working towards the Aussie Open and getting as much match preparation as possible. Apart from the last two Davis Cup ties which were obviously a couple of the biggest highs for me in my career, I havenít played that many matches. So for me itís just good to get out there on one of my favourite surfaces, the Rebound Ace, and try to get some good hard matches under my belt. You know, I give myself a real good fighting outside chance, I guess.
Is that one of the things you aim for, to reclaim the world number one? I know you cut down on the amount of tournaments you played.
Oh, not really. I think if I put myself in a position early in the year then I might have a crack at it. But, you know, it was awesome taking those last three months off before the Davis Cup final. I know a lot of people questioned it, and the people closest to me didnít question it at all and they knew what was best for me. And it won us the Davis Cup in a lot of ways, I guess, winning that first match against Ferrero. I feel like Iíve got a lot of energy in the tank at the moment and if the chance comes around to have another crack at number one, then Iíll be happy to take that chance.
Having won the Davis Cup, do you think you might scale up your tournament schedule this year?
Iíll wait and see how the summer goes and play it by ear.
Lleyton, you look like youíve bulked up a bit in the off-season, or in your three months off and I know Roger (Rasheed) was saying youíre the fittest youíve ever been, do you feel that way?
Oh, not really. Nah, Iím alright.
Youíre wearing the muscle T Lleyton, come on!
Oh, itís so hot here in Perth. Donít you have air conditioning over here if Iím gonna come over from the east? Nah, Iím a little bit stronger I think. Iíve been doing a lot of work off court. You know, even leading up to the Davis Cup final I was probably the fittest Iíd ever been going into that match against Ferrero, and in the end I think I wore him down. To wear a guy like that down, whoís probably in the top two or three in the world of the fittest guys out there, and to do that in those conditions on a very hot day in Melbourne Ė I was pretty pleased with that and hopefully Iíve gotten stronger since then.
Since the start of your career youíve just jumped up, up, up and up and last year you had a bit of a climb backwards, have you learnt anything from last year?
Because everyone, obviously, is trying to beat the number one all the time.
Yeah, I still feel like some of the matches that I played were as good as Iíve ever played. Coming back against Federer in those last three sets, was probably the best tennis Iíve played in my life. Against Ferrero Ė exactly the same. Against Enqvist in Sweden in the Davis CupÖit seems to always happen in the Davis Cup, but I had some pretty good matches last year. Even at the US Open I felt like, before I actually hurt my hip in that match against Ferrero, I was playing as well as Iíve probably ever played. I think a lot of the other guys have probably improved a little bit as well. Thereís a lot of young guys out there who are playing extremely well and who believe now that theyíre capable of taking that extra step and getting to the top of the game and winning Grand Slams.
So the Australian Open obviously would be the most important thing that you have yet to achieve, because youíve achieved so much.
Yeah, pretty much. To win your own national tournament, I think. Iíve been going to Melbourne Park ever since it opened and I get goosebumps just walking in the place. Iíve never really played probably my best matches there. I know it was only Davis Cup Ė itís not the Australian Open, but Iíve now played two of my greatest matches ever in there. So those memories are going to flash back as soon as I get in there, and Iíll really go out there and try and attack it right from the start. Grand Slams are weird though Ė youíve just got to take it one match at a time.
Just one more question about Wednesdayís match, you and Kim never have played each other competitively, have you?
No, just practice.
So it will be a fun sort of day, I suppose.
Yeah, it will be fun if I win my singles. Obviously Kim is a red-hot favourite against Alicia, so Aliciaís going to go out there and try her butt off like she always does, but itís going to be a tough one for her. And Iím going to go out there and try and beat Xavier, and make it a live rubber for everyone.
Lleyton, youíve got Jimmy on board for training this yearÖ
Oh, no just helping me out more than anything.
Was that your coachís idea?
No, well Roger (Rasheed) is still my trainer more than anything.
So will that help you, having him here?
Oh, itís more travelling with a mate along the place and he was someone I grew up with and played the Satellites and Challenger circuit together with and someone I get along really well with. He knows a lot about tennis and heís very motivational as well. Hopefully he can add a little bit to my team.
How much do you know about your first opponent Ė itís either Canada or Hungary.
Not a lot about the Canadian kid, Frank Dancevic. Iíve seen him play a little bit in the Canadian Open Ė I think he got a wildcard and might have won a round or lost close and heís pretty talented from what Iíve heard. Heís only 19 or 20 years old I think. Savolt Iíve played once before on clay. He likes to attack a lot and he had his best year, I think, last year. But if I go out there and play as well as I canÖitís always going to be tough first match of the next year on a new surfaceÖbut if I can go out there, Iím sure I can hopefully wrap it up.
Do you feel youíve got a bit of unfinished business here after last year? You havenít quite gotten over the line here at the Hopman Cup.
Oh yeah, well last year I think Williams and Blake were definitely the best team in the competition, thereís no doubt about that Ė they deserved to win it. The year before I actually thought we were playing as well as anyone. I hadnít lost a match and Alicia was starting to play well Ė she actually beat Sanchez that last match. I would have liked to say that I probably would have beaten Tommy Robredo on that day and we probably would have won it after that. So it was a little bit disappointing that year, but apart from that we just go out there and have a bit of fun Ė and try to get over the line. Alicia, I think, surprised everyone last year, how well she played, so hopefully she can back it up this year.
Just one last one, I know youíve touched on it, but do you genuinely feel that this is the best way to prepare for the Australian Open, coming on this surface?
I think so. Nothing has really been quite right yet for me in my preparation. Last year I felt like I played really well in Melbourne. I lost to El Aynaoui in a very tough match and didnít really have a lot that I didnít do in that match Ė he was too good. I played the Hopman Cup and had a week off last year. This year Iím playing the Hopman Cup and Sydney, purely more because I probably took that end of season off last year so I get a few more matches going into the Australian Open. I feel like physically I can go through playing three tournaments in a row and hopefully Iíll be fit enough.
Lleyton, how did you propose?
Oh, it was just on the Sydney Harbour Ė like youíve probably read. Thatís all youíre finding out.