Join Date: Nov 2009
Re: Lleyton's Press Conference
March 30, 2000
GREG SHARKO: Lleyton advances to his first career Tennis Masters Series semifinal. At 19 years, he's the youngest semifinalist on the male side in the 16-year history of the tournament. First question.
Q. Was the hand sign something you planned to do?
LLEYTON HEWITT: What do you mean, "planned to do"? If I won?
Q. Obviously it means you cracked the Top 10.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, it was definitely a goal of mine. To do it on this trip, this three-tournament trip, it's fantastic. Obviously starting the year at 22, had to defend a lot of points over the Australian summer from just bonus points, Adelaide and Sydney the year before. You know, it's at unbelievable feeling to have done it so early in the year, as well.
Q. So what next?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Don't know. Haven't had time to think about it yet.
Q. You continually were able to pin him back, make him playoff balance. Is that what you wanted to do or just the way the match developed?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was probably a tactic that I went out there with. Obviously, Jan-Michael is a big hitter of the ball. He's got a great serve as well. I knew I had to be seeing the ball very well out there tonight and try and pick up his serve as much as possible and take the opportunities every time I got it. You know, I felt like one area that I had an advantage was definitely movement. I had to use that to my advantage as much as possible and make him play as many shots off balance as possible. You know, I feel like I did that pretty well tonight. You know, really I only played one bad game on my service game. The first three points of that game, he actually did get a net cord in every point. You know, a little bit unlucky, but I didn't make any first serves either.
Q. You were quick enough to play that second lob on that remarkable point.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was a big point in the tiebreaker, turned out to be. You know, it was a good point. I felt it was going to be whoever got that sort of mini break first was in a big advantage. Obviously with Jan-Michael's serve, if he got ahead, it was going to be very hard to break back. I think that was sort of a big turning point in that second set tiebreak.
Q. Pete is going to come out tomorrow and shorten the points, keep you from getting any rhythm on your groundstrokes. What are your plans for Pete?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm just going to go out there and give it a hundred percent, like I have in every other match. I'm going to go out there and play my game. Obviously I'm going to have to play my very best tennis if I'm going to come off the court a winner tomorrow. But I know that. We had a close game at Queen's last year. It's just great to sort of be on the other end of the court against such a great player.
Q. Do you like having a target up there at the net?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't really don't mind. I definitely don't dislike it at all.
Q. When you get on sort of a sequence of victories like this, how much does your confidence swell whenever you go out there to play? Do you begin to almost feel as though you're unbeatable?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know about unbeatable. But I definitely feel like I've got a presence out there on the court every time I step out. I felt it back in Sydney, even after I won that Adelaide tournament. I went out there and I played every match on center court during the whole Australian summer. I just felt I had this presence out on the court. That was a big turning point for me. Even if the first round against Grosjean in Sydney, I had lost to him in the Davis Cup dead rubber there, but I still just had this self-belief and confidence just coming off the win in Adelaide. It really did wonders for me. It feels like that every time I step on the tennis court now.
Q. Does it hold when you go up against somebody like Pete or Andre, say?
LLEYTON HEWITT: All I can do, you know, I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow, but I'm pretty confident about how my game's going to play tomorrow. I feel that, you know, I'm not going to have a letdown in my game. Obviously if Pete is a better player on the day, that's too good. I can't do much about that. I'm going to go out there and be hitting the ball as well as I've been hitting it. I know that for sure.
Q. Is it a perfect opportunity playing Pete, given the run that you're having, to actually just measure yourself against the very best?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always great to play the best players. You know, especially in big tournaments, as well, because you know they're going a hundred percent. We're both going to be going at it tomorrow. You know, these are a good chance for me to match my game up against such a good player. He's possibly the greatest player ever to live. For me to step out on the court with him, 19 years of age, with this record at the moment, it's a good opportunity for me.
Q. You don't seem at all surprised about your run this spring. Seems like you were waiting for it to happen; you were ready for it.
LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, it probably really hasn't sunk in as yet. Obviously, I've had a great Australian summer - the last three summers really - at such a young age. You know, I think everybody sort of expects that now every time I go to Australia. That wasn't such a surprise, even though I did have a lot of wins under my belt. But obviously this stretch has been fantastic for me. To do it away from home, I enjoy these three tournaments, they're great tournaments to be around. They're well-run tournaments. I enjoy getting out there and playing. These three tournaments, I've looked forward to coming over and doing well. Obviously, I don't think it's sunk in that I'm in the semis of this one yet. Obviously, you know, I am in the Top 10, it's a good achievement.
Q. When you got over here from Australia, won at Scottsdale, when you got to Indian Wells, did you sense that people were coming out to see you as more or less a curiosity at first, "Who is this guy?" If that is the case, have you moved away from the curiosity stage to the established stage where people now know Lleyton Hewitt is a Top 10 player?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. I think there are still a lot of people out there who don't know who was I was, away from Australia. Hopefully I am getting a bigger name around the world. I think a lot of people in Scottsdale sort of knew who I was from last year, making the final there. You know, the Scottsdale crowd was fantastic for me. The whole week I played there, they were really behind me, got behind me, helped me get through. I feel like I had good support in Indian Wells, as well. I'm not sure if they came out because they were sort of looking at, "Who is this young kid winning all these matches," or they actually did know some of my background. It's hard to say.
Q. Where are you playing in the buildup to the French and also for Wimbledon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment, I'm playing Rome, Hamburg, World Team Cup, French, Queen's, Rosmalen, Wimbledon.
Q. Can you just remind us how that match against Pete developed at Queen's?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I got an early break in the first set, won the first set. Tight second set. Lost my serve towards the end of the second set. I can't remember the actual stages. It was like a 4-3, 5-4 game. On serve till then. Right at the end of the second set, rain came. You know, it's England.
Q. Australia sometimes.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Come on, mate. We've got a roof. I probably had about a two-hour delay, came back out and played, broke first game of the third set. I led until 3-2, then Pete broke back. Had breakpoint at 5-All in the third. Had a mini break in the tiebreaker. Ended up losing.
Q. Your recollection is a bit hazy then.
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. I don't remember every point, but most of them.
Q. Weren't you two points away from winning that before the tiebreak in the third set?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I was still going to serve for it. I had breakpoint, he served a second serve which could have been called in, could have been called out. It got called in. It was one of those that the top players come up with on big points. I could have been a call away, but I still would have had to go down there and serve for it.
Q. How did you get thrown together with Darren?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Ever since I was pretty young, my dad knows his dad through football background. Obviously when his knees packed up, he was back in Adelaide owning clubs and bars and stuff like that. I think mom rang Darren up and asked if I could have a hit because there weren't that many hitting partners in Adelaide.
Q. How old were you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I can't remember. Probably ten. A bit older than that, 12, something like that. I just started hitting with him once or twice a week and gradually got more and more. The actual first week he traveled with me was to the Perth Challenger before I went to the Australian men's hard court, the year I lost to Enqvist in the final. It was the end of '97 -- '98, start of '99. Then I went right through since then.
Q. How do you think the reaction to your performance will be greeted back home? Have you had any idea how it's been so far?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, in one way I'm sure they're very happy. I don't know, probably they're a little disappointed that I won't get back there to practice on grass as much as possible. Obviously, I think the Australian fans and public are behind me, you know, a hundred percent. I think they're probably looking forward to me getting back there and playing the Davis Cup tie next Friday.
Q. It's going to be like from the frying pan into the fire. With Philippoussis having pulled out, the onus will be on you.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Has he pulled out?
Q. That's the theory
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think he's having an MRI.
Q. Let's say he doesn't play. Suddenly the onus will be on you once again to kind of lead the charge, as it were.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I still think we've got a great side, though. I don't feel any added pressure. I've got a hundred percent support, confidence in the rest of the guys that they can go out there and win their matches as well. I don't feel like somebody's going to lose, so I've got to go out there and win my singles. That's one thing that has been a big thing for Australian tennis. We've always had these good No. 2's sort of backing us up in the Davis Cup matches, particularly the last couple years.
Q. How old were you when you broke a hundred pounds?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I have no idea, mate.
Q. Were you kind of small?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Pretty below average my whole life for my age.
Q. Then you shot up height-wise?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. Getting there.
Q. At the start of the year, I think you were setting some sort of ranking goals for the end of the year. Do you think you'd be Top 10 before the 1st of July?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Will I?
Q. Did you think that was possible?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, not before Adelaide I wouldn't have said because I was defending so many points. You know, I've got Delray Beach coming up pretty soon, as well. If I looked at my schedule, I would have said the big opportunity for me was Toronto, Cincinnati, Indianapolis. I'd say they're the big three weeks because I missed those last year. Even though I went to the US Open and made the third round, I wasn't a hundred percent there playing. I really only did it to test the ankle out and to make sure that I was able to play the Davis Cup the following week. You know, I feel like if I looked at my schedule, I would have picked out that sort of month as my big month to sort of chase a lot of points.
Q. What's the new target?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Haven't even thought about it yet. Obviously, probably next thing is to look at the Grand Slams, I think, really, and the rest of the Masters Series. This is only one Masters Series. There's still a lot to go.
Q. Is there anything you did specifically to put yourself in position to make this run or is it actually just part of a development on your part?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. When I went into the Australian summer, my whole goal was to be hitting the ball the best come the Monday morning of the Australian Open. Obviously I just love playing in Adelaide. Sort of it all started there really. I had a bit of a shaky start. Beat Mark Woodforde in the first round of Adelaide. After that, it just kept going.
Rusty - always # 1 in my heart