Hewitt knows it's time for the big c'mon
June 27, 2005
He's been quiet by his standards, but expect Hewitt to fire up, writes Richard Hinds in London
As he rides the highs and lows of a sometimes brilliant, sometimes controversial career, Lleyton Hewitt has always been something of a walking headline. However, during the first week of Wimbledon he was, by his own standards, the invisible man.
The defeats of seeds such as Tim Henman and Marat Safin, the emergence of Scottish teenager Andrew Murray, speculation about whether consecutive champion Roger Federer is more vulnerable this year than in the past and Rafael Nadal's wardrobe have all been the subject of far more scrutiny than anything the Australian has done to date.
All Hewitt has done is complete the routine task of winning his first three matches, let the emboldened members of the English press know the Ashes remain safe in Australian hands, then disappear back to the practice courts to hone his improving game or perhaps to his rented house to practise folding nappies.
Even in his impressive third-round victory over American Justin Gimelstob, it was his opponent's repeated, and often unnecessary, diving at the net that captivated the cameras more than anything Hewitt could come up with.
However, on centre court on Monday, after a two-day break, Hewitt's cover may be blown. Now he will be forced to answer the first major question of this unorthodox Wimbledon campaign. After three months' absence due to injury, is his game sharp enough to survive the serve-volley bombardment of Taylor Dent and take him within one step of a much-awaited semi-final showdown with his recent nemesis, Roger Federer?
In Dent, he faces an opponent capable of making things far more uncomfortable than they were against Gimelstob, Jan Hernych or Christophe Rochus. If he is on his game, and Dent's promising career has been noted for his inconsistency, Hewitt will not be able to dictate terms or get in a comfortable baseline rhythm.
He had a taste of the net-rushing tactics he will face against Dent in the match against Gimelstob, although the veteran American seemed to launch himself to the net behind shots that came from a slingshot while the more-powerful Dent possesses a first-serve canon. Yet, Hewitt took confidence from the fact his groundstrokes were so sharp he was often able to send Gimelstob waving his racquet at thin air as he sprawled on the ground like a crazed circus performer.
"Taylor's going to be the same sort of player," Hewitt said. "Justin served very well. That at least gave me a look at what I'm going to face on Monday. I've just got to get mentally right to return well and go out there and believe in my passing shots and play a solid match from the back of the court as well."
If he gets through the match, Hewitt will be aware that another difficult, big-serving opponent may be blocking his path to Federer. Favoured to be awaiting Hewitt in the quarter-finals is Mario Ancic, the Croatian known as "Super Mario" for his big game, but also "the new Goran" for his occasionally erratic play.
After reaching the semi-finals here last year, Ancic has snuck even lower under the Wimbledon radar than Hewitt this time, polishing off his first three matches well away from the show-court spotlight. Ancic also faces a tough fourth round against Feliciano Lopez, the impressive left-hander who knocked out Marat Safin in straight sets. but looms as a danger, perhaps even for the title itself, if his serve is firing and his head is screwed on.
Hewitt is uttering the one-match-at-a-time mantra, with good reason. "Every match that you get to, there's a reason why you're playing that opponent," Hewitt said. "They've obviously done something right to get that far. That's the way you've got to look at it."
While he might be about to face the heavy artillery, Hewitt has always been a tough man to beat in psychological warfare. Perhaps as a sign of his new off-court challenges, the newly engaged father-to-be has at least seemed a model of contentment here.
"It took me a while to get my head around it," he said of fiancee Bec Cartwright's pregnancy. "But it's something that is going to be a great part of our lives together."
Indeed, so mellow has Hewitt been that his first "C'mon!" in the match against Gimelstob did not come until late in the first set as he struggled to break the American's early resistance.
But Hewitt says domestic bliss has not dulled his famous intensity."Obviously things have changed a fair bit there [off the court)," he said. "But I'm still put- ting everything into my tennis, into what I do."
So Dent, Ancic and perhaps even Federer can consider themselves warned. Expect the flames of Hewitt's famous inner-fire to be fanned in the heat of the more intense battles that begin on Monday.
I'm liking his chances against Lopez....lefties havent exactly been a huge problem for Lleyton in the past. Lopez is playing some excellent tennis, but as long as Lleyton can improve his serve from what it was against Taylor, he should be able to get through this.
To all duckies:
I know its a bit too early but......I am so impatient for the tourney to begin!
The title sounds a bit strange but its because for the last 2 Wimbledons only Federer has being stopping him and this time He is gonna win it on his 3rd attempt!:yeah: :bounce:
Many of us beleive he...
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