L. HEWITT/J. Sousa
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about being back here and just what it means to be back at the Sony and be able to open up the way you did today?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it’s always good to be back at tournaments where you’ve played well in the past, big tournaments, as well, that I have enjoyed playing at.
Yeah, when you’re out injured and just had surgery and rehab, feels like a long way away to getting back out there and playing the big tournaments again.
Yeah, you probably enjoy it a little bit more when you’re able to come back and bounce back from, yeah, injuries, to be back competing at these tournaments. You know, it’s nice to be back out there on center court today, too.
Q. Can you comment on today’s match? A couple of opportunities to close it out, and then he came up with some good stuff at those moments.
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I never really had seen him play. I watched a little bit of footage of him at the Australian Open this year, but apart from that I didn’t really know how he played.
He played way better every time he was behind in the match. Whenever he’d get back on serve in the second set he actually played worse; when he was behind he sort of just went for it a lot more. That was tough because he sort of had nothing to lose, I guess.
You know, the conditions with the wind as well playing up the end that you walk in, it was definitely, you know, into the breeze a lot more, so trying to close out that game at 6 5 wasn’t easy.
And to my credit, though, I bounced back early in the tiebreak and got the advantage.
Q. Comment on the conditions. The conditions at Indian Wells compared to here are just so opposite. What do you prefer playing in?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Me, probably Indian Wells suits my game probably a little bit better, I’d say.
These are very heavy conditions here. Balls get a lot heavier quicker. Obviously the humidity as well makes it a heavier feeling out there; whereas the ball flies a lot more in Indian Wells.
Q. You touched on the topic of the injuries and everything you have had to endure. Have you thought about calling it quits, or is this still just a passion for you here?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Obviously when you have surgeries the last surgery I had, you know, if I didn’t have it done I would have had to retire anyway. People still thought I wouldn’t be able to come back and play tennis anyway when I had the surgery.
Yeah, definitely goes to through your mind before any operation. Nothing is 100%. You know, I just did all the rehab and everything that, you know, I possibly could. And, you know, for me, if you miss it when you are doing rehab and getting back, then you obviously know your motivation is still there.
That’s the toughest thing is coming back from the surgeries.
Q. You had a big win in Indian Wells knocking out a top 20 player in John Isner. What did it mean to get a huge win against a player on home soil and confidence coming here to Miami?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, it gives me confidence for the rest of the year, really. Isner on those courts and Indian Wells, he’s not easy for anyone, as you saw last year him making the finals.
The way his serve bounces, you know, I felt my game matched up with him pretty well last week. I played a smart match, and then, yeah, I didn’t play terrible against with Wawrinka. He was just too good on the night.
Q. On the line of the surgery and somebody suggesting you wouldn’t be able to come back and couldn’t, how much of your return was to prove others wrong but also to prove to yourself that you still had it very much in you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: It’s not so much to prove others wrong. You know, I tried to get the best advice possible.
The thing was the surgery that I had, there is really no other athletes that have had it done and then tried to come back and play. Normally it’s someone probably 60, 70 years old that’s had it done.
That was the tough thing, trying to find no one could give me 100% guarantee it was going to work and that I’d be able to come back playing. If you look at the dynamics of it, yeah, a lot of the surgeons are probably right. Technically I probably shouldn’t be able to keep running around the court.
Yeah, I have always been one to obviously try 100% and do things out there and do it the hard way, and, yeah, probably made me a little bit more determined.
Q. And what about Simon in the next round?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I have never beaten him. He’s a different player. He obviously plays with a bit of finesse out there; moves the ball around extremely well. Obviously his movement is a big part of his game, as well. He can pull the trigger when he wants to on his first serve, but also on the baseline.
So, yeah, I lost to him here a few years ago pretty comfortably, so I look forward to it.