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Lleyton Hewitt, The Artois Championships, June 12, 2008
   

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THE ARTOIS CHAMPIONSHIPS


 

June 12, 2008


 

Lleyton Hewitt


LONDON, ENGLAND

L. HEWITT/P. Mathieu
6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Pleased with that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It was good. He always comes out firing every time I've played him in the past. When I've seen him play at his best, he's a great ball-striker off both sides. You know, when he's serving well, it's tough because he puts a lot of pressure always on your service games. He's a very good return-of-serve player and moves well.
It was kind of like weathering the storm out there a little bit. But I knew I was going to get my opportunities. That's why he's not top five, top ten in the world. Nine times out of ten, he can't keep that standard up for a whole match.

Q. Three matches in, how do you feel you're progressing?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not too bad. I got through all in straight sets so far. Malisse and Mathieu are both dangerous opponents. They're both extremely flashy and good ball strikers. Yeah, to beat those guys. Today I felt like from 4-1 down, I was able to turn it around. You know, I served extremely well. I put pressure on nearly every one of his service games from then on in. It was a pretty good result.

Q. How big a part does confidence play in your sport? Lots of other sports, they talk about when you're confident, the better they do.
LLEYTON HEWITT: I think confidence has a lot to do with winning. You watch a guy like Federer, Nadal, these guys, even Djokovic now, when you are confident, win a lot of big matches, you get in those situations, you're sort of on autopilot out there. Especially Federer backs himself every time when he gets in a tight situation. That just comes from self-belief and confidence. He's been able to do it against the best guys for a number of years now. It's second nature to him.

Q. Obviously you had your time as world No. 1. Towards the end of that there must be a period where somebody chips an odd result against you here or there. That's happened to Federer this year. Will that make an impact on him, do you think?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Hard to say. Obviously a guy like Djokovic is young. Nadal is young, but he's been around for a lot of years now. Djokovic coming up, he's played pretty good tennis against Roger when they've played on all surfaces.
You know, you watch these young guys, even Andy Murray has played well against him, a young guy. But, yeah, Roger still does it in the big tournaments when it really counts. That's why he's still No. 1.

Q. I hate to throw it back when you're trying to build your confidence up at the moment. Can you talk about what it feels like when that bit of invincibility you built up is suddenly being chipped away?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard to say. The game always keeps improving. For me, even when I was No. 1, I felt like there were still areas of my game I could work on and improve. Something I've been trying to do over the last couple years, but had hiccups with a couple of niggling injuries that I haven't been able to put those match, get it back to back really. Roger took the game to a new level. I was No. 1. Roddick was No. 1 for a couple of months. Roger has really taken the game to a new level since then. Rafa is extremely unlucky not to have gotten to No. 1.

Q. On the basis that nothing is forever, Rafa is the next in line to make the big challenge?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Personally I'd hope so because he's a great guy. What he's done, how he plays on all surfaces, he deserves to be world No. 1. There's no doubt that his name should be up there with the greats of the game.

Q. Roddick today said you would still be a big threat at Wimbledon. Do you feel that yourself?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel like I'm definitely capable of playing against those big guys. I know what it takes to win seven matches there, as well. I feel over five sets that's where the best of me comes, in the Grand Slams. That's what I play for. My best tennis always comes out in those situations over five sets.
Yeah, I'll go in there quietly confident, but hopefully I can get a few more matches here.

Q. Does defeat hurt you as much now as when you were almost invincible?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think so. It's probably more so a couple of my losses this year have been sort of through playing injured, not being a hundred percent out there. That's probably more disheartening in a lot of ways because I felt like I've been hitting the ball extremely well, but haven't been a hundred percent out there to be able to compete. For me competing is one of my biggest assets.
Yeah, that's the tough thing.

Q. When you used to go out there as world No. 1, can I assume you thought you would win the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I go out in every match and think I can win the match (smiling).

Q. You still maintain that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Absolutely. I think I've done it enough times against the best players in the world. Last year I was one point away from beating Nadal on clay and one point away from beating Djokovic at Wimbledon and a couple points away of beating Federer at Cincinnati on hard courts. When I put it all together, I'm not too far away. Got to get my body right first. That would make life a lot easier.

Q. The Andy seems to get the odd injury cropping up now and then.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he was unlucky. That wrist injury, what he did last year, it was very unlucky. It was like Becker at Wimbledon a few years back. He just hit the wrong shot at the wrong time and did his wrist. That's a pretty unlucky injury for him.

Q. With today's match, 1-4 down, what do you think actually clicked in? What turned it around?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I started serving a little bit better, for sure. Even in the first game of the match, I had breakpoint, then I had 30-All and deuce in his second service game of the match. I knew I was going to get opportunities on his service games. It was a matter of just hanging in there and trying to get my serve on track, get that first break back, then try and build from there.

Q. 2002, winning here, going to Wimbledon and winning there, seem like yesterday or a long time ago?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A bit of both. Some days it's different. When I come back here, it doesn't feel like that long ago, no. But probably when you're away, you're grinding out on the tour, it feels like a while away.

Q. When you pull up in the car at Wimbledon, what do you feel when you get out? Another year has gone by or it's still very special?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Both of those. Amazing how quickly the years go by nowadays. For me, it's one of my favorite tournaments, as I said, if not my favorite, Wimbledon. I love it. It's built more and more over the years. Since I obviously started doing well there and won matches, you really feel the tradition walking in there. To me it's one of the greatest places to play tennis.
Yeah, it's one of the reasons you keep playing the game, too.

Q. Is the locker room attendant the same bloke from years ago?
LLEYTON HEWITT: There's a new one that's taken over in the members locker room. There's a couple Aussies in there, as well, which is nice.

Q. A place you go to and think, I'm home?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, pretty much. I feel pretty comfortable when I get there.

Q. You look at the next round. Obviously you don't know who you have. Do you look at the two players individually? You'd have another crack at Djokovic on grass.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's probably improved from last year at Wimbledon. He's a great all-court player nowadays. He comes in well, has a big first serve. I lost to him at the Aussie Open as well. I know how he plays. It's a matter of me going out and executing against him. Tipsarevic is very hot and cold. He's flashy. I think he beat Murray here a couple years ago on grass. Grass definitely isn't his worst surface. He moves extremely well and can generate a lot of pace from both sides.

Q. Think back to the Davis Cup match against him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: A little bit. That was the last time I played him. That was on one of the slowest clay courts I ever played on. It will be a totally different matchup to that.

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