L. Hewitt Interview - 27 June
Friday, 27 June 2008
Lleyton Hewitt def. Simone Bolelli 6-1, 6-3, 7-6
THE MODERATOR: Lleyton Hewitt. We'll take the first question, please.
Q. Is it intimidating having to play Roger Federer, or do you treat him differently to any other player?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously, you treat him a little bit different. You know, you got to work out tactics. Last five years no one's been able to get it right here. Rafa's come close the last couple.
But, yeah, no one else has really got that close to him. So, yeah, you got to treat it a little bit differently.
Q. Do you go to bed thinking, I've got to play my best tennis? Is that what you have to aim for?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm going to have to play extremely well, yeah. Whether my absolute best, I don't know. A lot depends on how he plays, as well.
Q. What will you need to do well to beat him?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, not sure. Obviously, you know, serve and return on grass are, you know, two huge keys. Yeah, if I can serve well and take care of my service games, you know, I'll get some opportunities. I won't get a lot obviously, you know, because of the caliber of player that he is.
But, you know, I'll probably get some chances. Against a guy like Roger, you really have to take those half chances when you get them, because you're not going to get a lot of them.
Q. Coming into this tournament there's a lot of talk about Roger going more susceptible or vulnerable. Do you buy into that at all?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I think, you know, he feels very comfortable. He's played all his matches on Centre Court so far again this year. He feels right at home on that stage.
You know, we're probably going to be out there Monday. Yeah, he's won 60 something matches now on grass, on this surface. So, I think -- you know, whether if he plays Rafa on grass, you know, because of what Rafa did to him at the French Open.
But in terms of him playing anyone else, I think he's gonna, you know, still have that aura and that self-confidence, I guess, behind him.
Q. You've played through injuries here, of course. Did you see what Tiger Woods did recently at the U.S. Open, and what are your thoughts on what he did? Any parallels?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I love watching Tiger play. He's one of my favorite sportsmen. What he did was incredible. I don't really know if anyone else would have been able to do it. Yeah, not only to play four rounds and then go out and play a fifth day.
Yeah, that's the kind of stage that was set up perfectly for him. It really was. Yeah, no one else on this planet, I don't think, could have got through with the win, coming down the 18th in regulation like he did.
Q. Through the years, how has your approach to injuries changed in regards to letting on to opponents, not letting on, complaining about them or not complaining about them?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I don't complain about injuries too much. Yeah, I think that comes from a football background. You don't show when you're hurt. It's the same out on the court. Very rarely do I give away signs if I'm hurting at all.
Q. How come?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Signs of weakness.
Q. Does the extra day help?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Doesn't matter either way, I don't think, for either of us. Yeah, after three straight sets against Montanes I felt comfortable out there today on the court. Felt like it's the best I've moved since I've been on grass today.
So, yeah, an extra day, it doesn't really matter.
Q. How would you compare your feeling about divulging information about injuries and the way you handle it with other people you've observed on the tour?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I'm not too sure. You know, I don't think a lot of people talk about injuries too much. You know, they sort of try to keep it to themselves.
Yeah, obviously there's not a lot I can do about my situation at the moment, because it's well-documented. After every match you're asked questions about it and you got to answer questions. Yeah, I try play the cards pretty close to my chest, though.
Q. Tactic-wise, how much of a difference can it make to have Roger's former coach on your side now?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, Rochey's obviously going to know a lot. There's no doubt about that. But, yeah, you've still got to go out there and execute it as well, and, you know, not play into Roger's hands too much.
Yeah, it can only help. Yeah, for sure. But it's not the absolute, you know, key to success. You've still got to go out there and do it.
Q. Concerning today's match, what do you think about Bolelli? Did you see any difference from last year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he's definitely improved. Like I said the other day, I think the last six to eight months he's really improved. He's had a lot more consistent results, week in and week out, on the tour.
He played really well at the French Open. Probably didn't quite grab the opportunity that was handed to him, though. I think he ended up losing to Llodra in a very winnable match.
So, you know, for him to take that next step he really has to take those chances. Yeah, I felt comfortable in the tactics that Rochey and I came up with. I executed perfectly out there today. I didn't do too much wrong.
Q. Both you and Roger are so experienced on grass. How do you think that's going to influence your match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot. We both know our strengths and weaknesses, I think, of each other. We've played enough times. We've played a couple of times here at Wimbledon, as well, in quarters and semis of this tournament.
So, yeah, not a lot. We both feel comfortable playing, you know, on the big stage here at Wimbledon.
Q. In terms of a mindset against him, do you go into the match thinking that this is the type of challenge you play for, or do you try and treat it like you would any other match mentally?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Uhm, no, this is what you play for. There's no doubt about it. Especially in my situation, you know, these are the matches I enjoy. Yeah, it's good to get out there and play on Centre Court, play against the best player in the world.
Q. Do you think that helps you to find something more to bring to the match?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I hope so. We won't know until Monday. But, yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Specifically, other than Roger just improving immensely since when you were getting over on him consistently, what parts of his game do you think really, really improved?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, the last five years or so he's been consistently at such a high level. His whole game's improved. But, you know, obviously his movement probably doesn't get a lot of credit really. He's a great mover on the court. He cuts down angles extremely well out there.
Yeah, we all know about his shot-making. But, you know, he changes pace extremely well, especially off his backhand, just to mix it up, which is probably better than anyone else on the tour.
And he serves to -- he serves well on big points, but he serves well to his game, you know, to set up the point in his favor, which he probably does better than anyone else.
Q. Do you feel like you have to play a little bit outside of yourself in the match, or is that sort of a risk, because you don't want to get out of your own comfort zone, too?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, to a degree maybe, yeah, play a little bit differently, or change it up against Roger. If you're just playing in his comfort zone then he's going to enjoy that. Yeah, he does enjoy dictating play, you know, playing off when the ball is in his court and he can dictate, have you going side to side and changing pace and changing direction and all that different stuff. That's when he's at his best.
Q. He remembers your first match at 15-year-olds. Do you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, we played in Switzerland actually. Yeah, that was a long time ago, on clay.
Q. Do you remember who won?
LLEYTON HEWITT: He won, yeah, in three sets, I think.
Q. You've played him since Tony Roche has been your coach?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I played him. Rochey wasn't there. We just started working together end of last year.
Q. Of all the streaks that you're aware of in sport, and tennis specifically, how do you rate 62 straight wins on grass, five straight Wimbledon crowns?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, it's up there. It's hard to compare I guess with Rafa's run on clay there for a while. He got to 80 odd wins on clay, and now he's won nearly every Masters Series and four French Opens.
Yeah, they're both unbelievable feats. There's so many good players out there, not to have one bad day in those five years of big matches on grass going out there, especially when, yeah, everyone is trying to knock you off, as well.
So, you know, not to have a slip up over five sets is a lot harder, I guess. In those smaller matches where you have a couple of tiebreak sets, in Halle and that where Roger has played in the past, it's pretty impressive.
Q. When you watch Federer and Nadal, what strikes you the most in the way of differences and similarities?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, in similarity, probably the only similar thing between those two is they know how to win. Apart from that, their personalties, their games, everything is completely different. Yeah, that's good for tennis.
Q. A while back you had some really nice wins over Roger. At that time, if someone said that this guy was going to step it up and take it to you 11 straight times, what would you have said to them?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, he obviously had the potential to be a great player. Yeah, I don't think anyone could predict how good he was going to be, how many Grand Slams he'd win. Yeah, the last time I beat him was in Davis Cup, and that was after he'd won Wimbledon that year.
Last time I beat him I knew how good a player he was already then. He'd already won a Grand Slam, and won it quite convincingly.
Yeah, it was hard to sort of put a mark on how many he was going to win back then.
Q. In terms of greatest player of all time, how would you compare him and Pete?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It's hard. You know, in different eras obviously between he and Pete -- you know, if he wins the French it's so many variables in it, I guess. Right at the moment, they're very similar with the Grand Slams that they've won, as well.
Q. You've been one of the best return of servers of your era. Facing Roger, he's not serving bombs like Sampras, but holds easily. What makes his serve so tough?
LLEYTON HEWITT: As I said before, he hits the spots extremely well. It's more setting up for the next shot, as well, where he doesn't sort of let you dictate play on his service games. You know, so that's something you've got to try to get on top of somehow.