Lleyton Hewitt Australian Open 2012 Pre tournament Interview - January 15th
Q. How does it feel to be going into an Australian Open without the same sort of expectations there have been in previous years for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it doesn't really change a lot, though. You still go in, yeah, focus on your firstround match. Just like anything else, try and prepare as well as possible. I think I've done that.
The last few days have been good. Had some good, tough hitouts with quality players on Rod Laver Arena out there. I feel like I got a bit of confidence in the last couple of days.
Q. What do you know about your opponent?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not a lot. I never played him. Never hit with him. He obviously had his breakout year last year. Yeah, I think he's going to get better as a player obviously. I think he's about 21 years old. He's going to get better.
I found out a bit about him just speaking to a few people, looking into a few things. Yeah, that's the good thing about playing over five sets, it gives you a little bit of time to work your opponent out out there.
Q. Do you watch any sort of video on a guy like that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've seen a little bit, yeah. I've seen enough.
Q. How is your mindset? How are you feeling in yourself, confidence, body coming to this event?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I feel all right. Yeah, it would have been nice to get a few more matches. But I think the matches that I lost, the three matches the last couple weeks, have been against quality guys, around 20 in the world or just inside. They were all tough threeset matches. That was a good thing leading into the potential of playing four, or fiveset matches. That gave me a bit more confidence in the back of my mind to at least have played those tough guys in those situations.
It would be nice to win in straight sets, but that's not always going to be the case.
Q. What do you think you need to do to take the extra step to beating those guys?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, it's just hard. I haven't played a lot of matches. It was purely getting in those tough situations, I guess, of serving breakpoints down, playing the big points well, 30All points, stuff like that. I felt like, you know, against Troicki in Sydney, I ended up playing some really good tennis late in the first set, the start of the second set. Wasn't quite able to consolidate the break in the second set.
If I can go out and sort of extend on how I played the end of that first set and second set, hopefully that will hold me in good stead this week.
Q. How is the foot? Do you have to do anything to help and safeguard it?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I do a little bit of work every day on it, yeah.
Q. What about special shoes?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no.
Q. 10 years ago you came here as a defending Grand Slam champion. This year you come here as a wild card. A lot has happened in between that time. How different is that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Not that different. As I said before, the first question, when I come to Grand Slams or big tournaments anyway, you're sort of in your own bubble a little bit. You're not worried about the outside talk or what it's really about. You're doing everything in your power just to be as ready as possible.
You know, this week has been no different. Rochey and I and my team behind me, we've done everything we can to obviously get my body and ballstriking and everything in as good a nick as possible, and it would have been the same 10 years ago.
Q. Is this the hardest slam? Big break at the end of the year. Difficult to come here without a lot of matches.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I don't know. It's slightly different for me because I've obviously been in Australia throughout December training in these conditions. It is in some ways. French Open, playing on clay, is pretty tough to go out and win seven bestoffiveset matches in those conditions.
Q. As somebody who backed up a No. 1 season at one time in your career, talk about what Djokovic is going through here, what you think the challenges of that are and how he will fare?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, I think he'll fare pretty good. He's a standout, except the last few weeks of last year when he was a bit fatigued, a bit tired at the end of the year. Obviously Roger stepped up, was feeling a bit fresher.
When the big tournaments were there to be won last year, he was the standout player. He's definitely the guy to beat going into this year. I think this kind of surface suits his game pretty well, too, here in Melbourne.
You know, it's going to be hard for everyone coming up against Novak.
Q. How about the year ahead for you? Do you still have the same hunger for the game?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely at the moment. Yeah, we got a Davis Cup tie a couple weeks after this in Geelong. Most of my focus has been on trying to get the body right and get some matches before coming in here to Melbourne. I haven't really focused on where I'm going and playing too much after here right at the moment.
Q. With this being an Olympic year, especially it being at Wimbledon where you've had a lot of success in the past, is that a goal for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It would be nice to play there if I get the chance. If I'm feeling fully fit, obviously. Yeah, Wimbledon is a special place to play anytime. But obviously, you know, first Olympics to play on grass. It's probably my favorite surface, as well, to play on. There's not a whole lot of guys that play extremely well on grass either.
Yeah, it would be great anytime to play for Australia.
Q. You had a lot of success playing doubles early in your career. With you and Sam Stosur being elite doubles players, is that a partnership you would consider if that was a way for you to compete?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't even thought about it, mate. I'd be going for men's doubles before mixed.
Q. Why would you make that choice?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Guccione and I have played some pretty good doubles recently. We beat two guys named Federer and Wawrinka last time we played on the same surface we play Wimbledon on. I reckon that should give us a bit of confidence.
Q. Were you at the players meeting yesterday and can you tell us how the players are feeling about the scheduling and prize money issues?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was there for a bit. Yeah, I'm not going to go into it right now, though. Right at the moment I'm here to focus on the Australian Open. For me it's not a big deal right at the moment.
Q. A branding question. You're wearing a hat with your signature move on it. They were selling them in Perth. Is this a merchandising line you're trying to do?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I just thought it would look good for me (smiling).
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