An interview with:
Q. How are you feeling ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year? Happy
with your preparation?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, you know, I've got the matches under my belt that
I think I needed. Yeah, going into the Hopman Cup, I hadn't played a
competitive match in two and a half, three months. It was good to get
those three tough matches, then another couple of tough matches in
Sydney. Some indoors in Hopman Cup, then a couple of outdoor matches.
So yeah, all things are pretty good at the moment.
Q. Some of the other top players seem to prefer the exhibition events
before the Aussie Open. You seem to prefer having competitive matches.
Do you think that makes a difference?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, for me it's a little bit of both. Obviously, the
Hopman Cup is an exhibition at the start of the year. I play a tour
tournament the week after. I've always played well in Sydney. I always
enjoy playing at Homebush. The conditions there, obviously I've been
based in Sydney for a few years as well, it's like home for me going out
there and playing at Homebush. I just feel comfortable with the
environment there. It's always nice to go back to somewhere you've
played well in the past.
Q. What do you know of your first opponent?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot at the moment, so...
Q. How do you go about getting the homework done?
LLEYTON HEWITT: My group, you know, Heals will have a look at probably
some tape, find out as much as we can. I've spoken to a couple of people
that have played him already the last year or so.
Qualifiers are always tough. Over five sets, though, I'm going to get a
feel for him. Throughout the first set anyway. So it's a little bit just
getting a feel for him once I'm out there.
But going out on the court, I'll be concentrating on my game. If I take
care and execute the things I want to do, then I got a good feeling I
can get through it.
Q. People talk about the danger of playing those qualifiers; three
matches under their belt. Is that an issue, do you think?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Oh, they're always tough because they've come through
quallies and they've done it the hard way and they have won matches. You
know, a lot of times it's quite close matches in quallies as well. A few
three‑set matches, they've been in that situation, they're used to the
conditions, they've got very little to lose when they get in the main
draw. For them it's a main bonus just to get into the tournament. So you
can't take any of them lightly.
Q. Your thoughts on the draw? Looking ahead, it probably hasn't been as
kind to you as it could be. Pretty tough quarter of the draw. Your
thoughts on what lies ahead?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've got to get through my first round and see what
happens after that. But, yeah, Grand Slams, there's no easy draws, mate.
Everyone is here to win. You have to win seven matches to win these
tournaments over five sets. Anything can happen.
Q. You love this tournament. You've been coming here since you were a
kid. At this end of your career when you come here, does it ever occur
to you this might be the last one you play or do you sort of presume
you'll be back next year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's not something I'm thinking about. I haven't
thought about it in the past. This year's no different (smiling). I'm
not thinking about that right at the moment.
Yeah, it's still a great excitement every time I come here. I love
walking down the corridors, walking onto center court. Yeah, I've played
so many big matches, but not only in this particular tournament, in
Davis Cups as well, Davis Cup final out there on center court. Yeah,
I've got a lot of great memories from this place, playing at Melbourne
Park. They all come back when you walk through the corridors out on
Q. How do you feel physically? You've had a couple of niggles over the
summer. Are you feeling a hundred percent?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just had a bit of a back spasm in
Perth obviously. Yeah, I was in a match that didn't really matter at
all. I wasn't going to make things worse in that match.
Yeah, Sydney I felt pretty good. I hit the ball extremely well yesterday
in practice. Couldn't have been happier the way I hit it. As I said,
I've done all hard work. Now it's a matter of going on the match court,
hopefully executing and doing the things that me and my team will talk
about before the match.
If I play my game and play as well as I know I can and the way I'm
hitting the ball, yeah, I've got a chance.
Q. We always ask this time of year the conditions, the speed of the
court, the balls and everything. How do they compare to last year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's probably hard to tell a little bit. The balls
could be a little bit not fluffing up quite as much as last year. It's
hard to tell, though. Center court gets resurfaced a lot later than a
lot of the other courts, as well. Yesterday was really my only first hit
out on center court, on any court at Melbourne Park.
Yeah, it's hard to tell. I'd say it's probably a medium‑paced court.
Q. Are you looking forward to the Hit for Haiti this afternoon?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's something I got asked about late yesterday
afternoon. Yeah, it's always nice to try and raise some money. Obviously
it's going to a great cause, as well. There's a lot of good players put
their hands up to help out, especially only a few hours before a slam
starts as well. So it's a big effort.
Q. How are you a different player now than to the way you played in
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not sure. Not a whole heap, I wouldn't say. Yeah, you're
always trying to improve and work on little areas of your game. But, you
know, obviously I had a few setbacks with injuries and having surgery
and stuff like that. So, you know, your training sometimes alters a
little bit compared to some of the stuff you may have done before.
But it's a management thing as well. As you get older, you start getting
a few niggles, you have to work around that. In terms of playing, I
still know my A Game. Yeah, if we're trying to add a few little things
on the side of that, that's more to help out and maybe not be as
But as a whole, I've still got areas of my game I feel like I can take
to another level.
Q. Shorten points or anything...
LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I'm still as patient I think as anyone out there. I
like to think I play the percentages as well as anyone, as well.
Q. A lot of people have been talking about Rafa this year after the last
six months. Do you think a lot of that aura he had over players is
dented? Does he seem more beatable than he has in the past?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. The guys he's only lost to have been
quality players. Obviously, Davydenko got his number a couple of times
towards the end of the year. Davydenko was playing incredible tennis. He
got Roger's number, a lot of the top guys.
Rafa lost to Del Potro. Del Potro went on to win the US Open in that
same tournament. He's not losing to bad players. Yeah, he's always going
to be around the mark. He's a quality player. He's one of the best
players going around. Yeah, it's going to take a good player to beat
Q. Have you given Peter any tips on how to tackle him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I've spoken to Pete a little bit about it.
Just more about, yeah, this is what you play for. A guy from Victoria
that, you know, grew up playing juniors here in Melbourne, would have
aspired to one day play on center court at the Australian Open, get a
night match on the first night against one of the greatest players to
play the game, this is what you play for.
So he'll enjoy it. He'll put up a great effort. Yeah, hopefully he can
surprise a few people.
Q. Do you think Davydenko might be the biggest threat?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think his best result is a semi. He hasn't made
a final yet. I think there's a question mark over him in terms of that,
to put seven five‑set matches back to back against quality players.
But he's obviously hitting the ball extremely well, there's no doubt
about that. Whether he can do that back to back, match after match,
that's another question.
Q. There's always a lot of expectation put on you this time of year. Do
you think this year some of that has shifted to Sam Stosur?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't focus on it at all. Yeah, obviously since Pat
retired and Flip had a few injuries and hasn't been playing the slams,
obviously the focus, because I've sort of been the only guy until this
year in the top hundred in the world, as well, and getting in straight
off ranking. Yeah, there's obviously going to be more expectation.
But for me it's still the same. I still prepare exactly the same as I
would for any other tournament. I try and do all the right things. You
know, I don't feel any more expectation.
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