who is this Selena Roberts and what does she really know about tennis anyway?
Lleyton slammed in NY press
From Paul Malone in New York
September 9, 2005
LLEYTON Hewitt has received scalding criticism of his attitude from one of the most influential newspapers in America as he steadied himself for his final push at the US Open.
A New York Times columnist ridiculed Hewitt as "irascible and a control freak" and criticised his entourage.
In a report a day after Hewitt had reached the US Open quarter-finals for a sixth consecutive year, Times columnist and former tennis reporter Selena Roberts compared the Australian unfavourably with the attitude and approach to sporting stardom from world No.1 Roger Federer, who has won his past 15 sets against Hewitt.
"Hewitt is unvarnished, irascible and impolitic," Roberts wrote.
"He is as self-absorbed as always. In a year when he referred to an umpire with a gay slur, in a season when he nearly fought with a Davis Cup opponent, Hewitt also revealed the depths of his inner control freak.
"According to Australian reports, Hewitt sold the media rights to his spring engagement, summer wedding and wife's pregnancy. So far, no autographed pictures have surfaced on eBay."
Hewitt will undoubtedly not take the criticism to heart and could find further motivation from it as he looks to put his imprint on the US Open after making the quarter-finals for a sixth consecutive year - a feat beyond Australian greats Rod Laver and John Newcombe and American champions John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.
Roberts said Hewitt had not changed since he was a top-ranking player embroiled in legal disputes with the ATP in 2002 and 2003 and the differences in his approach to being No.1, when compared to Federer's were due to their differing personalities, but also the Australian's support crew.
"Hewitt is surrounded by a bevy of yes-men and sycophantic handlers, while Federer has chosen a liberating, agent-less existence, grounded by a girlfriend/manager who will tell the emperor off," Roberts claimed.
It is not the first time that Hewitt has been castigated by US media organisations.
In July, American journalist Joel Drucker wrote an open letter to Hewitt in the American magazine Tennis which was critical of what he said was a lack of responsibility to tennis, particular in terms of his media availability.
"Are you a first-rate mate or a top-tier twerp?," Drucker wrote.
"Lleyton, what is it about you and your antics that even ticks off a man as gracious as James Blake?"
Some New York newspapers also castigated a 20-year-old Hewitt for making what they construed as accusations of racially-motivated bias against an African-American linesman in a match he played against Blake.
Roberts even found fault this week with Hewitt's tongue-in-cheek comments about the unusual pink shirt worn by his fourth-round victim Dominik Hrbaty.
"Hewitt had to save his typically tasteless remarks for later, when he poked at the holes designed and cut into the shoulder blades of Hrbaty's fashionista shirt," she said.
Hewitt had said at a press conference: "I wouldn't wear it, but it made it a lot easier for me to beat him. I just couldn't lose to a bloke wearing a shirt like that."
After reaching the quarter-finals for a sixth time at the age of 24, Hewitt, who plays Finn Jarkko Niemenin today for a semi-final berth, said he had no thoughts on retirement.
"It's a huge positive to have a great record here. It's not an easy grand slam to do well at, but I love playing in New York ... love the conditions," Hewitt said.
"I'd like to play as long as possible, as long as my body can put up with it. Who knows really? It's just a matter of taking as much care as possible with your body."