Some various articles I've come across all wondering about Hewitt's mental state.
And here I was worried about Roddick's meltdown. Who's first to get on the shrink couch?
Mind games ... Hewitt's head needs fixing.
Lleyton losing his mind
By Toby Forage
January 31, 2005
LLEYTON Hewitt could learn a lot from Marat Safin, the Russian giant who battered him into submission in last night's Australian Open final.
Not so long ago, Safin was a brash hot-headed player, more capable of breaking his racquets than an opponent's serve. Now, he's a grand slam champion again, and a charming one at that.
Hewitt, on the other hand, is the man that failed to harness natural aggression and the support of a nation to deliver a first home grand slam title in Australia for 30 years.
The wound may be painful enough to sting the feisty youngster into an attitude adjustment, but don't hold your breath.
While he countered the pain of defeat with a sweet and successful proposal to actor and girlfriend Bec Cartwright, Hewitt probably won't change any time soon.
He has made a habit of telling the public via the media that he won't be changing a thing. If his opponent's can't handle the "C"mons" and the accompanying fist pumps, they can find someone else to play with, as far as he is concerned.
On close inspection, though, such stubbornness may be Hewitt's greatest weakness. Despite starting last night's final with purpose and complete control, Hewitt lost it, and on reflection, he lost it badly.
As the early breaks came his way, he was more keen to celebrate Safin's errors than his own winners. It was a curious silence.
As Safin took a grip on the match's throat, Hewitt could only croak words of encouragement to Safin. "Too good" earned many more mentions than "C'mon".
If there was one point that characterised Hewitt's problems, it came when he led 4-2 in the third set. The Australian finished one of the best rallies of the night with an impossibly accurate running forehand across the court. But rather than celebrating as he should have - veins bursting and fists pumping in delight - he chose to berate a baseline official, who had correctly called him for a foot-fault earlier in the game.
It was a gesture as ridiculous as his suggestion that the courts would do him no favours ahead of the championships. How, we can only wonder, does Hewitt rate the Rebound Ace at Melbourne Park now?
Some say Safin is no angel, but juxtapose his behaviour with that of Hewitt's and the halo above the Russian champion's head glows brighter and brighter.
Safin holds as much aggression inside his huge frame as Hewitt does, and while he remains a psychological conundrum, he is persuading his demons the fight for him, rather than against him.
Safin only really gets cranky with himself. He rarely loses it with the officials, he rarely riles his opponents. If he fills with rage, he takes it out on himself. It's his control and understanding of the rage that has changed markedly under the coaching of Peter Lundgren, Roger Federer's former mentor. He can now identify his problems as self-inflicted and he can correct his fortunes.
"He really has made me believe in myself," Safin said of Lundgren. "I never believed in myself before, until I started to work with him.
Such an examination Hewitt would do well to re-sit. He believes in himself when it suits him, but believes as much in the forces working against him.
Rather than fix his own game, the Australian looks to blame the environment - the courts, the officials, the luck of the draw. It's all a conspiracy.
But in truth, any male player in the top 20 can only blame his own mental inadequacies for losing these days. The difference in talent at the high end of the ATP Tour is minuscule. Matches are won and lost on mistakes at key moments. Luck enters the equation at times, but never enough to affect the result over the duration of a match.
Roger Federer, while obscenely talented in all aspects of tennis, only wins so many matches because his consistency is unrivalled. He can maintain focus for freakish amounts of time and never allow an opponent to glimpse an opening.
Safin matched him in that department at the semi-final stage, and sheer will and determination took him through.
While there is no question over Hewitt's ability to fight, he never demonstrated it against the very best in the world at this tournament. Had he lost to Rafael Nadal or David Nalbandian - both ranked below him - there would have been some serious questions posed over his ability. Andy Roddick never gave him a chance to fight, meekly waving the white flag in their semi-final on Friday.
There will be no grand slam this year unless Hewitt can learn to beat the likes of Federer or Safin when they are playing their best tennis. He has the ability, he has the heart, the desire, the fight to do so.
But as others leap ahead in the mind games, he is falling behind. It's the one aspect of his game that needs improvement.
Foot faults crucial for Hewitt
by Bruce Matthews
TWO foot-fault calls rattled Lleyton Hewitt at a critical stage of last night's Australian Open final.
One came with Hewitt pressing for a 5-2 lead in the third set and the other as he tried desperately to ward off Marat Safin in the eighth game.
The concentration-snapping calls -- from either end -- led to back-to-back service breaks during the Russian's rush of seven consecutive games that ripped away the singles crown.
While Hewitt fought to the end with typical grit, he never recovered from watching a potential 2-1 set lead slip.
Hewitt came out of the blocks full of running and, despite losing the opening point, quickly asserted his authority with a cunning mix of groundstrokes.
He served out the set to 15 with an unplayable 192 km/h serve and notched just one unforced error in the 24 minutes it took to seize the lead.
But the error count from the Australian began to mount in the second set as Safin picked up the pace.
Hewitt lived dangerously, particularly with forehand errors, and two proved costly in the third game before the Russian nailed a forehand return to break the Australian's serve for the first time. It was the decisive breakthrough and Safin won the set 6-3 in the next game to square the match.
When Hewitt held serve for 3-0 in the third set, he jogged to the courtside chair while Safin flung his racquet in disgust.
The most decisive battle ensued when Hewitt served for that 5-2 lead in the set.
He took the first cruel foot-fault on break point after pounding down a 191 km/h ace before saving with a running forehand over the netpost.
But Safin buried a backhand return down the line to break back and held for 4-4.
Another foot-fault call on a first serve rattled Hewitt in the ninth game. He threw in a rare double fault on break point, leaving the increasingly encouraged Russian to close the critical third set.
The Australian, under siege, watched helplessly as Safin grabbed an early service break in the fourth set that busted open the contest.
Lleyton Hewitt - why we love him ... and why we don't
By Jessica Halloran
January 31, 2005
WHAT WE LOVE
Davis Cup heroics
Hewitt loves Davis Cup tennis. He rose from being orange boy to play in a Davis Cup final at 18. In 2003 he helped his team win the cup over Spain 3-1. This year will be his seventh of Davis Cup tennis. "I think everyone knows how passionate I am about Davis Cup, and even when I won Wimbledon and the US Open, the feeling that I had out there on centre court when I was serving for that match [against Spain], you just want to box that up and keep it forever," Hewitt said. "It's the most electric feeling you could ever have; the [greatest] adrenalin rush of all time."
US Open victory, 2001
The US Open final was Hewitt's first and Pete Sampras's eighth. But the 20-year-old Australian exhausted the 30-year-old with his quick game. "The kid is so quick it's unbelievable," Sampras said. "I wish I had some of those legs for this old guy. I lost to a great champion. You're going to see this Lleyton Hewitt guy for the next 10 years like you saw me." Hewitt was nervous before he went out on the court. "Walking out there to play Pete Sampras in your first ever grand slam final is something you'll never forget," Hewitt said.
World No.1, 2001
In 2001, the 20-year-old became the youngest year-end world No.1, and Australia's first since rankings were introduced in 1973. After Gustavo Kuerten's third consecutive loss in the Tennis Masters Cup round-robin, Hewitt had only to beat his friend and Davis Cup teammate, the injured Patrick Rafter, to complete the ascension - and that he did easily, 7-5, 6-2.
Wimbledon 2002 victory
Hewitt smashed David Nalbandian in the Wimbledon final 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. It was his second grand slam and he also became the first Australian to win Wimbledon since Pat Cash in 1987. "I had to look up at the scoreboard to see if it was real, if it was match point or not," Hewitt said. "You know, it's an unbelievable feeling. You know growing up as a kid back in Australia I always dreamt that some day I may be playing for this trophy and I saw Pat Cash do it 15 years ago, and to finally get a chance out here, it means so much to me and I can't believe how I played these two weeks."
WHAT WE LOATHE
Calls the Australian public "stupid", Adelaide hardcourts 2000
In January 2000, Hewitt, aged 18, labelled the Australian public "stupid" after the crowd barracked against him while he played fellow Australian Dejan Petrovic at the hardcourt championships in his home town of Adelaide. At the media conference afterwards, Hewitt fumed: "It's weird," he said. "But it's the stupidity of the Australian public."
"Spastics" call at the 2001 French Open
Chair umpire Andres Egli copped his first sledge from Hewitt in Paris when the then 20-year-old called Egli and the net judge "spastics". The following day, Hewitt had to apologise to the spastic community. "When I was out there in the heat of battle, I didn't realise I said it," Hewitt said. "If I did say it, it's not something I'm proud of, that's for sure. I apologise to whoever it may be."
The "similarity", US Open 2001
He denied it was racist and James Blake didn't condemn him, but many heard Hewitt's poisonous words during the 2001 US Open. The Australian complained - again - to umpire Andres Egli and asked for a black linesman to be moved after being called for two foot-faults. "Look at him," Hewitt said, gesturing at the linesman. "And look at him," pointing at Blake. "You tell me what the similarity is. You put him off the court, get him off the court."
My lips are sealed, Cincinnati Masters, 2002
Hewitt took defamation action after the ATP fined him for missing an interview with the ESPN network at the Cincinnati Masters in 2002. He was fined $US105,650 ($160,579), which was reduced on appeal to $35,000. Documents filed in the South Australian Supreme Court by the ATP describe Hewitt's claim that he was defamed by the ATP as "in many respects embarrassing" and asked for it to be struck out. Hewitt, who was required to do the interview as part of ATP obligations, said in a an interview that the ESPN request was "crap".
"C'mon", Australian Open, 2005
Hewitt's constant "c'mons" when his opponents make an error particularly riled his second-round opponent James Blake. Equally, his ignoring Blake when Blake graciously acknowledged a too-good shot may not have won fans.