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Discussion Starter #41
Thanks for the article, Cilla!

A similar article in this regard, from Reuters:

McNamee fears rebellion from world number one Hewitt

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The ATP should take seriously a threat by Australia's Lleyton Hewitt to walk away from his number one ranking, Australian Open chief executive Paul McNamee warned.

Hewitt last week called the governing body of men's tennis a badly-run "circus" after he had been fined half his $206,000 runners-up prize money in Cincinnati for refusing to conduct an interview with host broadcasters ESPN before his first round match earlier this month.

The fine prompted Hewitt to say he could in future ignore ATP rules governing how many tournaments a player is obliged to compete in and that he would play where, and when, he wanted, regardless of what that would mean to his ranking.

"There are times when you feel like (walking away)...it is a great sport if the ATP would just get out of the way," the 21-year-old said.

McNamee, a former Wimbledon doubles champion, urged the ATP to consider Hewitt's comments carefully.

"Let's look at history here and sort out the problems in the sport which Lleyton has taken the lid off," McNamee told Australian Associated Press (AAP).

"They (the problems) have been there for a while and nobody has been prepared to talk about them. Go back 20 years... we lost a number one (Bjorn Borg)," he added.

TWO HOOTS

McNamee said Borg was lost to the game in 1982 aged just 27 after a dispute over the Swede's plans for a four-month break from the sport.

"He wasn't allowed direct entry into tournaments as the number one in the world," McNamee said.

"And he had to play qualifying at Las Vegas and Monte Carlo which he had won.

"Because grand slams were independent he got a wildcard into the French Open, which he won, and he lost in the final of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. And then he quit.

"That is what happened. So we should take this pretty seriously."

Hewitt told Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper last week that he was sick and tired of the governing body of men's tennis.

"I'll change my schedule next year if the ATP keep up with this garbage," the newspaper quoted Hewitt as saying.

"Next year I couldn't give two hoots about the No.1 ranking."

Tennis Australia (TA) president Geoff Pollard has written to the ATP to raise his concern about the level of the fine, AAP reported.

END

The same article is on Eurosport btw.
 

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So many guys will thank Lleyton in the future if he makes good on his threat, or if the ATP backs down now before calling him on it. I'm really glad Lleyton is around to stick out his neck on this issue...everyone else is too afraid to, and Lleyton has so much self-confidence and so much going for him in life that this isn't really a sacrifice.

Whatever they say about the media in New York, there are plenty of tennis fans out there who love Lleyton. I will miss his participation in the ATP event that plays near my home...I know it will not be on his list of preparation tournaments. I can see that tournament, which relies on his star presence and that of Agassi, will die out when these two fail to show up next year. No one else inside the top ten this year showed up either.
 

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whoeeeeeeeeeeehoooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee


goooooo lleyton !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
man hes doing good hehe

fuck the atp
 

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Lleyton visits with a couple of teens for the Make-a-Wish foundation.

RCA Championships notebook
August 18, 2002

www.indystar.com



Wishes come true

For attendance and TV purposes, tournament director Rob MacGill no doubt wishes top seed Lleyton Hewitt had made today's final.

Hewitt lost in the third round to Greg Rusedski, but Hewitt made some other wishes come true earlier in the week.

In conjunction with the RCA Championships and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, teen-agers Evan West and Katie Collier got to meet Hewitt.

West, a Center Grove High School senior, is in remission from central nervous system lymphoma. Collier, a New Palestine sophomore, suffers from Hodgkin's disease. She completed chemotherapy and radiation earlier this summer and is awaiting a report from her most recent tests.

The top-ranked Hewitt, a 21-year-old Australian, met with Collier and West for about a half-hour on Tuesday. He asked about their interests and their tennis games and answered questions.

West plays tennis for Center Grove. Collier hopes to play this spring but missed last season because of her illness.

"It was so awesome," Collier said. "He talked directly to us. He wasn't looking around or in a big hurry. It was like he wasn't even a superstar. He was a normal person."

West agreed with that assessment.

"He was very down-to-earth," West said. "It was a great experience. I was happy he was so willing to do it."

West and Collier had no idea when they were invited to the tournament that they would get to meet Hewitt.

"They told us we probably would get to meet one of the players, but we didn't know who it was," said Jeff West, Evan's father. "It couldn't have been better."

Afterward, Hewitt posed for pictures with the teen-agers and their families and signed autographs.


Kudos to Lley for doing this!!! :bounce: :bounce: :bounce:
 

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Discussion Starter #45
Thanks! Good of him to spend some time for this!
 

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Serena and Hewitt given top seed spots for U.S. Open


NEW YORK (Reuters) - World number one's Serena Williams and Lleyton Hewitt were awarded the top seeds on Tuesday in the women's and men's draws for next week's U.S. Open.


The year's final grand slam event begins on Monday and runs until September 8.


Williams is the reigning French Open and Wimbledon champion and is attempting to become the first woman to capture three grand slam titles in the same year since Martina Hingis did so in 1997.


The 20-year-old American, who captured her first Grand Slam title here in 1999, halted Hingis' streak of five consecutive U.S. Opens at which she was the top seed.


Switzerland's Hingis is seeded ninth this year.


Hewitt will try to become the first man since his Australian compatriot Patrick Rafter in 1997 and 1998 to defend his U.S. Open crown.


The world number one captured his second career grand slam title in July at Wimbledon.


In the women's draw, two-time defending champion Venus Williams -- Serena's sister -- received the number two seed and is followed by fellow Americans Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.


This marks the first time since 1983 that Americans occupy the top four women's seeds.


Yugoslavia's Jelena Dokic is seeded fifth, followed by American Monica Seles and Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.


Amelie Mauresmo of France rounds out the top 10.


On the men's side, 2000 champion Marat Safin of Russia is the second seed.


Next is Germany's Tommy Haas, Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Britain's Tim Henman.


Andre Agassi, a two-time U.S. Open champion, is the sixth seed and Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero, Albert Costa and Carlos Moya occupy the next three spots.


Sebastien Grosjean of France rounds out the top 10 on the men's side.
 

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/us_open/2193119.stm

Hewitt leaves rivals standing



Hewitt's never-say-die attitude sets him apart

Before winning the 2001 US Open, Lleyton Hewitt was accused in some quarters of not being quite good enough to win the major titles.
It is certainly not an accusation that could be levelled at him now, with the 21-year-old following up his maiden Grand Slam with wins in the prestigious Tennis Masters Cup and at Wimbledon.

In truth, the current world number one has one of the most potent weapons in the men's game.

"There's always a chance you're going to lose, but it never enters my mind when I'm out there playing"

-Lleyton Hewitt


While his fellow young contenders have failed to marry talent with consistency, Hewitt has shown a loathing of defeat which has drawn comparisons with Jimmy Connors.

Even when playing below his best, Hewitt has an ability to harry, fight and retrieve which outshines every other player on the tour.

It is a quality the player himself cites as his greatest.

"A lot of guys would probably opt for the easier option rather than hang out there and keep fighting," he said recently.

"There's always a chance that you're going to lose, but it never enters my mind when I'm out there playing."

When Andre Agassi first took on Hewitt, then aged 16, he lost in straight sets, saying later: "I didn't give him enough respect - I think I was convinced he would go away."


Hewitt destroyed Sampras to win the 2001 US Open


That forlorn hope has accounted for many more after Agassi but if the combative attitude serves him well on the court, it has not won him favour off it.

Controversy has followed Hewitt throughout his career, not least at last year's Open when he was accused of making racist remarks during a second-round match against James Blake.

But if anything, the fiery Australian thrives on, and perhaps needs, the 'me-against-them' scenario.

No surprise, then, that his hero is the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, the ultimate underdog.

At the Cincinnati Masters, he became embroiled in an argument with the ATP for his refusal to carry out a five-minute interview with a television broadcaster, and threatened not to play his first-round match.

He made it to the court, though, and thrashed the unfortunate Robby Ginepri 6-0 6-0 before launching into a bitter tirade about what he perceived as unfair treatment.

His testy relations with the media have not helped his popularity in his home country, where comparisons with Patrick Rafter had already shown him in an unfavourable light.


Hewitt uses lines from 'Rocky' films as inspiration


But there is nothing that Australia likes more than a winner.

And Hewitt's current status as the world's best player, along with his devotion to the Davis Cup, cause has gone some way to improving his image.

Not that any of that will bother the player, who craves winning as much as he repels the attention that goes with it.

He refuses to allow external influences to upset his much-vaunted focus, another intimidating part of his increasing armoury.

Add to that a serve which has developed in pace and variety even since last year's US Open win, and it is difficult to argue against another Hewitt victory.

Like Connors before him, Hewitt shows no sign of maturing and softening his attitude towards those who dare to criticise.

But to do so would blunt the very weapon which has him peering down at his rivals from a very lofty height.
 

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Hewitt and Safin handed brutal Open draws


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top seed and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt was handed a tough draw at next week's U.S. Open on Wednesday where he could meet red-hot Briton Greg Rusedski in the second round.


The Australian faces France's Nicolas Coutelot to open his defence but will then come up against former runner-up Rusedski if the unseeded Briton beats a qualifier.


The British number two will take heart from his superb form last week that helped him beat Hewitt on the way to winning the RCA Championships in Indianapolis.


Second seed and 2000 champion Marat Safin also faces a tough time.


The Russian meets German Nicolas Kiefer in his opener and could then play former world number one Gustavo Kuerten in round two.


Four-time champion Pete Sampras meets Spaniard Albert Portas while Andre Agassi, seeded sixth, plays fellow American Robby Ginepri.


In the women's draw, top seed Serena Williams faces wildcard Corina Moriariu who has just returned to the circuit after having treatment for leukaemia.


Defending champion Venus Williams - seeded second - faces a qualifier, while ninth seed Martina Hingis, on the comeback trail after injury, meets American Marissa Irvin.


Hingis is in the same quarter of the draw as Venus and Monica Seles.
 

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Hewitt offers hope for the shorter starter


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lleyton Hewitt and his brand of baseline combat is changing the face of modern tennis, according to U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe.


Almost single-handedly the young Australian, who next week defends his U.S. Open title, has blunted the power of the big servers and is giving hope to all youngsters who want to pick up the game.


"What happened to all the 6 ft 3 ins (1.905 m) guys with big serves who dominated tennis?" McEnroe, whose elder brother John won seven grand slam titles by serve-volleying.


"I still get this comment from people all the time, how come men's tennis is so boring, it's all about serving. I am like, have you looked __ do you understand who is in the top 10.


"It's like absurd. That there's this sort of this idea out there that it is a server's game. It's completely the opposite."


Former women's world number one Billie Jean King, now America's Fed Cup captain, said Hewitt was doing wonders for the sport.


"How can you not love Hewitt? He's incredible for all of us ones that aren't 6 ft 2 ins ... he's giving everybody hope again to play this sport.


"This guy loves it so much he just loves every ball, he's just like give me the ball," she said after Wednesday's draw for next week's U.S. Open.


"God, I love him. How can you not love this guy?"


Billie Jean!! :eek: :D
 

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Thanks Cilla for the articals!!
lol at billie Jean, kim it is time to get jealous
 

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Discussion Starter #51
Thanks for all the articles! :kiss:

LOL @ Julie; seems Lleyton has quite an admirer in the form of BJ King! :hearts:
 

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Discussion Starter #53
Coach Bollettieri Sizes Up U.S. Open

The Associated Press, Thu 22 Aug 2002

NEW YORK (AP) — Andre Agassi was his greatest student and Anna Kournikova his biggest disappointment.

Serena Williams worked on her timing under his tutelage the past week while rehabbing her sore left knee. Pete Sampras used to practice on his courts and got a long, stern letter from him recently on what it will take to win a Grand Slam title again.

The world's most famous tennis coach, 71-year-old Nick Bollettieri has befriended and, at times, feuded with many of the biggest names in the game. He's discovered and developed some and occasionally put them up in his house. He's seen them leave his academy in a huff and return with remorse. He's broken off with more than a few stars and made up with most, egos clashing and reconciling.

He runs his tennis academy in Florida like a boot camp for jocks, working 10 hours a day and overseeing a battery of coaches who drill and drive kids to their limit. He's a motivator and teacher, producing champions year after year.

Admire him or not, Bollettieri knows tennis and what it takes to win. With the U.S. Open starting Monday, no one is better at sizing up the field than this peripatetic man with the dark, leathery tan and wraparound shades.

As usual, he has multiple rooting interests on both sides of the main draw and the juniors.

There are Serena and Venus Williams, who have often come to his academy with their father to practice, and No. 11 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who was with Bollettieri for three years until last year. He has a sentimental favorite in former protege Monica Seles, and a junior hopeful in Maria Sharapova, a 15-year-old Russian.

In the men's draw, Bollettieri has long worked with Tommy Haas of Germany, seeded No. 3, and he has a potential star in Wimbledon juniors champ Todd Reid of Australia. And though it's been nine years since he worked with Agassi, who came to the academy at 14, Bollettieri retains a warm affection for him and a respect for the man he's become.

Bollettieri has something to say about everyone and everything in the game. Herewith are his thoughts on the state of some of the top players:

—Defending champion and No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt: ``Every stallion's got to be rested. The last couple of weeks he's had to be massaged on the court. If you have to bet, you bet on Hewitt. He's the best in the world today, but he's been working his butt off.''

—Andre Agassi: ``If Andre plays Hewitt (they could meet in the semifinals), Hewitt comes out ahead. Andre's stronger, Hewitt's faster. Andre creates shots, Hewitt puts those shots away. Andre moves the ball around better than Hewitt, Hewitt hits more outright winners. In the serve category, Hewitt is ahead. Everything stacks up for Hewitt, and the telling toll is that Andre is 11 years older. But the New York crowd likes Andre. That could make a big difference.''


—Pete Sampras: ``I told Pete that he should go back to being an aggressive player. Come in, baby, come in. Don't worry about your tongue wagging. Let your shoulders droop and play your game, which is coming forward. The biggest differences in Pete Sampras today are that he's a split second slower and he's making a lot of mistakes off the running forehand. He's got to pick up his confidence, let the other players know he's still king. Right now, he's playing scared.''

—Serena and Venus Williams: ``To beat both of them and not have one in the final is difficult to believe. Serena's left knee is not up to par, but she'll be ready. They're both way above everybody else right now.''

—Jennifer Capriati: ``She's struggling a bit and I don't think she can win the U.S. Open. I think her serve will break down.''

—Martina Hingis: ``For her to win it, she would have to attack about 50 percent more and play very close to the baseline. I don't think Venus and Serena will ever allow her to be No. 1 or 2 again.''

—Monica Seles: ``I'd love to see her do it, but it would be difficult for her to get through two weeks of pounding and go all the way.''

—Daniela Hantuchova: ``Watch out for her. She's not too far off of winning a big one. She moves beautifully.''

—Anna Kournikova: ``Her mom had too much to do with her career and never let a coach really develop the game that Anna should have gone to. Her strokes are too long and too flat from the baseline and she never developed the serve. Did her modeling get in the way? I don't think so. The problems with her techniques started a long time ago. She came to me at 9 1/2 and she was here about five or six years. We put a lot of effort into her. It disappoints me tremendously because I think Anna Kournikova is a tremendous girl.''

END of article

He's right imo re Lleyton, although I don't see any advantage for Agassi having the home crowd behind him...

Pfff he even doesn't mention Kim...
 

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Discussion Starter #54
Here's some interesting news:

RUSEDSKI DRAW COULD CHANGE
By Andy Schooler

Greg Rusedski's position in the US Open draw could change following Thomas Johansson's withdrawal.

The British number two had been drawn in the same section as defending champion Lleyton Hewitt with a second-round meeting likely.

But 12th seed Johansson has withdrawn due to a shoulder injury and that means the draw could now be rearranged with Rusedski a possible mover.

Johansson pulling out means a 33rd seed will be created and with Rusedski ranked 33 in the world, that is likely to be him.

The 33rd seed could then take Johansson's place in the draw.

The Swede had been due to face Fernando Vicente in his opening match.

If Rusedski does move to Johansson's position, he could not meet Hewitt until the quarter-finals.

END

I so hope this would be the case!
 

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Discussion Starter #55
Wertheim's US Open predictions re Lleyton:

1. Lleyton Hewitt: Ordinarily, one would think his bush-league feud with the ATP would detract from his focus, but this is a player who uses discord as fuel. Even so, he has a brutal draw that likely has him facing James Blake in Round 3, Richard Krajicek in Round 4 and Andre Agassi in the semis.

PREDICTIONS

Semifinals: Hewitt vs. Agassi; Haas vs. Fernando Gonzalez
Final: Hewitt vs. Haas
Champion: Haas
 

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Lleyton's_Chick said:
"How can you not love Hewitt? He's incredible for all of us ones that aren't 6 ft 2 ins ... he's giving everybody hope again to play this sport.


"This guy loves it so much he just loves every ball, he's just like give me the ball," she said after Wednesday's draw for next week's U.S. Open.


"God, I love him. How can you not love this guy?"


Billie Jean!! :eek: :D

LMAO BJK!!! :eek: :eek: :D
 

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August 21, 2002

Aussie Rules

By Curry Kirkpatrick

ESPN The Magazine


The new face of men's tennis was going to be Russian, a huge grinning wolfhound swatting the game into untold nether reaches of muscle and power. Or Spanish. Or Argentine. Or Brazilian, its happy-go-lucky personality sauntering to a samba backbeat. Or maybe -- post-Sampras, post-Agassi -- the new face of men's tennis was going to be another American, a tall, strong hero from the heartland who would not only Save the Men's Game but might even stand a chance of whipping those You-Know-Who sisters after they got bored pounding the poor women and took on the other half of humanity. But because of strain or pressure or hormonal disorder or the stock market, all those new faces seem to have faded into the rearview mirror on tennis' road to perdition. Instead, rising from the ashes of a sport that has longed for the days of Borg and Connors and even the best-selling author, TV commentator and America's Psycho Guest McEnroe, comes a kind of conglomeration of all of them.


There's no love lost between Hewitt and well, everyone.
His name is Lleyton Hewitt. A former surf baby from Australia, he's a straggly-haired, cap-backward, boulder-on-his-shoulder malcontent who has won both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon without most people outside tennis knowing much about him. Or caring. And that's just the way he wants it.

"I choose what's right for me," Hewitt said at Wimbledon after he'd almost lost to Dutchman Sjeng Schalken, then pulverized poor homebody Tim Henman and finally eliminated everybody else, ending with Argentine David Nalbandian, for the championship. "I'm not going to go out and do every interview. That's not right for my tennis, not in my best interest. Off the court I'm shy, more private than a lot of people."

Well and good. Given their druthers, wouldn't most of our sporting legends (save Charles Barkley and Tatum's ex-hubby) rather just hit their home runs, swish their baskets, score their TDs and spend their millions while skipping all those media and commercial and fan obligations? Sure they would, and Hewitt -- bless his enormous, fighting heart that seems four sizes bigger than his bony, 5-foot-11 (sure!), 150-pound (when soaked!) body -- does something about it. Namely, nothing.

Perceptive, even pleasant in the mass interviews required of him at the Grand Slams, Hewitt has almost surreptitiously (but absolutely) dominated his sport over the past year while denying face time to, among others, the trio of Australian beat writers whose job it is to report on him daily, a couple of Australian TV channels and, remarkably, The Times of London -- the latter slap setting off a somewhat hilarious huffy fit, to wit:

Hewitt's agent, Tom Ross: "You've dug yourself a very large hole with Lleyton."

The Times' Neil Harman: "If he doesn't want to speak to the most important newspaper in the world, you can both f-- off."

Pretty much the same treatment has been afforded The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated and -- speaking of the most important publication in the world -- this magazine. Okay, we're the media. But ESPN? Before the Tennis Masters Series in Cincinnati, which the network televised? Now that's getting downright ornery.

It's all happened so quickly: taking over the game with the panache of Borg, the heart of Connors and the 'tude of Mac ... changing coaches in midstream ... romancing the universally popular Belgian Top-10er, Kim Clijsters ... endearing himself to all the classic Aussie gentlemen stars of the past even while wallowing in politically incorrect, even racist, controversies in the present.

A couple of years ago, Hewitt was thought to be too short and scrawny, too lacking in the solid weapons needed to survive among the game's Big Bashers. He was even nixed as a mixed doubles partner by none other than Anna Kournikova for being "not accomplished enough." Last year he was just another one of those "New Balls Please" poster boys for an ATP Tour praying for somebody to replace the two-headed Sampragassian cash cow. One of his few press defenders, Richard Evans of The Sunday Times in London, described him as "a grunting, fist-pumping young pup with an attitude ... [who] thought winning necessitated behaving like a starving rottweiler."

Last September, when Hewitt shocked Sampras in straight sets to win the Open, the prevailing notion was that the old champion was running on empty after grueling battles against Agassi and defending titleholder Marat Safin. Even after he became, at 20, the youngest No.1 in ATP history by beating mentor-idol-countryman Pat Rafter at the Tennis Masters Cup in Sydney last November, it seemed obvious Hewitt was simply the beneficiary of everybody else reaching senility, suffering injury or not caring. After all, here was this skinny, blond, ever-yapping ("Come on!") kid who called himself Rock after the Rocky movies, who stayed on the baseline and hardly ever volleyed and who, in his first Slam after gaining the top rank, lost in the first round of the Australian Open to Alberto Martin of Spain because of ... chicken pox!! This guy couldn't be the best player on the planet, could he?

Well, yeah. And by a lot.

After all, Hewitt first drilled Agassi way back when he was a 16-year-old high school junior, stunningly winning his hometown Adelaide tournament. (He never went back to class.) He first thrashed Sampras two years ago when he won the Wimbledon warmup event at Queen's for the first of his three-peat titles there. "This guy is the future of tennis," Sampras said then, obviously unaware of how soon that future would arrive.

Even though he didn't grow up on grass -- unlike the other legends of Oz, Laver and Emerson and Newcombe -- Hewitt now seems more at home on it than on any other surface. "Several months ago, I just had a warm feeling about Wimbledon, coming back to it," Hewitt said in London. "I knew the victories at Queen's, even my prior losses on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, would help me this time."

In his first Centre Court visit, in 1999, when Hewitt was beaten by Boris Becker, the typically emotional roustabout was uncharacteristically in awe of the setting and in restraint of himself. "It was the 'class factor,'" he said then. "I've always tried to get in my opponent's face. Bring the aggression and passion from football to my game. But at Wimbledon, the Centre Court doesn't let you be you. It was like a church, a morgue. The place is intimidating. But then so was Boris."

Hewitt, who was a promising Aussie Rules footballer, still worships his hometown Adelaide Crows. "Competitiveness, fire, never giving up has always been in my blood. Aussie Rules is a pretty punchy sport, and I learned to survive. I'm one of the most mentally tough guys around. Other people hate to play me because they know I'm never-say-die."

Wimbledon 1999 was probably the last time a player or court intimidated Hewitt. With drive, talent and focus, as well as an uncanny ability to learn from experience, the South Australian has rarely seemed out of his element since swaddling clothes.

Whomp Todd Martin in his Davis Cup debut at Boston in 1999? Hey, he'd been an "orange boy" (fetching fruit for the mates) on the Aussie Davis Cup team when his hero, Rafter, was pulling off his own Cup heroics. Blitz Henman on the Englishman's own turf? Hey, Hewitt went all the way to Brazil in April 2001 and pounded Guga Kuerten in a Davis Cup match at Florianapolis. Embarrass the all-time majors record-holder, Sampras, in Hewitt's first Grand Slam final, the 2001 U.S. Open? Hey, he'd scared the bejesus out of the Pistol a year earlier in the Open semis, forcing two tiebreakers.

Facing down Wimbledon's veteran baiters from the fourth estate was a piece of cake for a guy who, in the past, has squirreled out of controversies at the French, where he once called an umpire "a spastic," and at Flushing Meadow, where he had to apologize to James Blake. "Are you more likely to be beaten up in the locker room than anyone else?" somebody asked Hewitt during the recent All England Club fortnight. "Doesn't really worry me," said Mr. Aussie Wonderful. "Bit of a silly question, isn't it?"

Hewitt's been taking vicious hits since 1999, when a newspaper columnist called him a "national disgrace." (Angered that an Adelaide crowd cheered against him because he had questioned a line call when he was up 5-0 on some pitiful wild card, Hewitt had uttered the immortal: "It's weird, but it's the stupidity of the Australian public.") Two years ago, an Australian magazine labeled him the country's "least admired sportsperson."

Before his recent press boycott, Hewitt told The Magazine: "I've grown up in tennis. This is what I've dreamed of doing forever. The role models may seem strange, but I always enjoyed watching the Swedes play -- Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg. I remember Connors' comeback in the 1991 Open, when he was so old, watching early in the morning from Australia. I could relate to that. And McEnroe? He took on the crowd, yelled at officials, bitched at everybody. That was his way, and I'm probably a lot like that. I've learned not to be inhibited."

The fist-pumping, chest-pounding and screaming at spectators, officials and players have kept Hewitt in hot water for much of his brief career. In his French Open debut in 1999, he called Argentine Martin Rodriguez an "ass--." Before a Davis Cup match the same year, when Yevgeny Kafelnikov vowed to teach Hewitt a lesson, the teenager kept screaming at the Russian, "I'm not going down!" Then, after winning easily, he held up some cash to mock paying for the "lesson" and said he'd enjoyed "sticking it to somebody who mouths off."

Even the low-key Alex Corretja of Spain calls Hewitt "an unfriendly guy who thinks he's a know-it-all when he's on court." Says Agassi's former coach, Brad Gilbert: "I'd be amazed if somebody doesn't whack him in the locker room."

But it's becoming increasingly difficult to whack Hewitt elsewhere, primarily because of his solidity off the ground and a deadly return game built on the fastest feet in the business. "I used to think Borg was the quickest guy I'd ever seen in tennis," says McEnroe. "Now I'm not so sure."

There were 33 players in the Wimbledon field with faster serves than Hewitt's best (124 mph). But opponents won only 35 percent of their second-serve points against his defense. Last year Hewitt led the tour in points won against second serve with an astounding 55 percent. Over all his matches in the past two years, Hewitt's 35 percent winning return games has also led the circuit. "His hand-eye coordination is just amazing," says left-handed Aussie rocket launcher Wayne Arthurs. "Put him on any surface -- grass, hardcourt, clay, cow paddock, I don't care -- he'll still hit the ball in the middle."

Henman, ever the thoughtful analyst and arguably the preeminent volleyer in the game, describes how it felt to play one of his best matches at Wimbledon, yet be smashed like an overripe strawberry, 7-5, 6-1, 7-5, by the relentless Hewitt: "I tried different tactics, different variations. But his legs are a massive asset. Unless you ace him, serving and volleying is probably a negative because you're playing into his biggest strength. You almost want to border on being negative in the rallies. You want to wait for a short one and then you don't really want to hit an approach shot because if you give him a chance to hit a pass, he'll hit it. You've just got to stay at the baseline and give him no pace. You either hit a winner or make a mistake. Approaching, winning points from the net, that doesn't work against him."

Consider the impression Hewitt made on the retired master, Becker: "What amazes me is the level of professionalism at only 21. He knows when to slow a match down, when to get excited and what levels of excitement bring out the best in him. Much of what I did was instinctive. But this guy has to spend a lot more time thinking on the court. In his attitude -- a street fighter without a timid bone in his body -- he's Connors. But the way he moves, the way he paces the points, he's Borg. He's the classic counterpuncher who also can win free points from his serve. In my mind he can do what Borg did and win Wimbledon five times. He can win five U.S. Opens, too. The guy is a lethal customer." Scion to a rich athletic heritage, Hewitt credits his competitive zeal to a gene pool stirred by his father, Glynn, a former football player with Richmond in the old Victorian League (now the Australian Football League), and his mother, Cherilyn, a phys ed instructor and netball player. (Netball is a combination of basketball and team handball that's hugely popular in Australia.)

"He's almost shy at home, but the court has always brought out the extrovert in him," says Glynn. "As Lleyton went through the club ranks and various divisions, he'd always have to play older men. If he'd get dodgy line calls, thought he was hooked, it wouldn't matter how old the other guy was, he'd let him know it. He's never taken a backward step on a tennis court."

John Newcombe, who's grown to admire Hewitt since bringing him onto the Davis Cup team as one of those orange boys, says he's the man to bring tennis out of its doldrums: "We once worried that his fire in the belly would turn into negativity. But he's beyond that bad stuff, and he's learning more every day. To suggest he's Connors or McEnroe is wrong. Those people were bullies on court. Lleyton's not. He's a lovely young bloke."

A bloke who may be on the verge of dominating the block on all surfaces. Hewitt's lack of a putaway killer shot has hindered progress on the slow, heavy dirt, where he's still learning to power through the ball in the manner of Kuerten, Corretja and Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain. But as he defends his title at the Open, he'll undoubtedly rely on the good memories from last year's event, as well as his victory over the star field at Indian Wells, Calif., in March, when he defeated former No.1 Carlos Moya, Thomas Enquist, Sampras and Henman (losing but nine total games in the latter two matches).

"Reaching No.1, winning Wimbledon, knowing your name will go up on the boards with all the greats, it's what every Australian kid who picks up a racket dreams of," says Hewitt. "For me to be there at the age of 21 is incredible."

Not to mention that the next time he asks Anna K to play doubles, she just might take his call.


This article appears in the September 2 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
 

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Thanks for the articles!

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Host of big names eye New York silverware

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The men's tennis circus decamps at Flushing Meadows for the final grand slam of the year next week, and a host of big names will slug it out for the most open major in years.

Defending champion Lleyton Hewitt heads the field but with eight different winners in the last nine grand slam events, there is no clear favourite in New York.

Hewitt's form since winning Wimbledon last month has been patchy with a first round defeat in Toronto, a finals appearance in Cincinnati and a third round loss in Indianapolis.

The Australian is eager to open his defence, however.

"I think it's obviously going to be a bit of a buzz for me, going back to a place that has changed my life in a lot of ways," he said. "I really look forward to getting back there. The U.S. Open holds a very special place for me, being the first place I really performed well in a grand slam."

The player who ousted Hewitt from Indianapolis and went on to win the title, Greg Rusedski, certainly will not be underestimating the dynamic baseliner.

"I think it's so hard to do what he's accomplished," said the Briton, a U.S. Open runner-up in 1997.

"He's the youngest player to be number one, he's won two major championships already, he's got a game where he has to work from the first ball to the last. He beats you with one extra step and one extra shot.

NAGGING INJURY

"It's his consistency week in and week out that sets him apart, and his competitiveness.

"He is the favourite to repeat in New York along with Andre Agassi, but it's another story having to come and defend a slam, to win it back-to-back.

"Right now you'd have to say it's Hewitt, Agassi, Carlos Moya depending on how quick the courts are at the U.S. Open.

"There are very few serve and volley players who are doing well. Maybe I can be one of the dark horses."

Moya beat Hewitt in the final of Cincinnati earlier this month and, having put a nagging back injury behind him, is intent on making up for lost time.

"I'm healthy...I'm fit...I know when this happens I can be a dangerous player," he said when asked of his chances in New York.

"But I don't know if it is good to set a goal. Because what I learned this year is that you just have to enjoy on court and when you have the bad moments, you have to think that the good ones are going to come soon.

"I'll just do my best and I'll fight and give 100 percent."

Another player eyeing the silverware is Britain's Tim Henman, still seeking a grand slam breakthrough.

Seeded fifth this year, he said: "I've got to believe in my game and go out there and see what happens.

"Certainly this year, with the way I've played, it's my best chance. But it's no good talking about it now. I've got to get out there and do it on the court."

Pete Sampras's preparation for the Open, a title he has won four times and where he has been runner-up for the last two years, has hardly been encouraging, but he still believes he has what it takes to add to his record 13 grand slam titles.

"You have to remember who I am and where I'm playing next week," he said.

"The U.S. Open is where you shine, and that is where I hope to shine.

"My goal is to win another major and, hopefully, destiny will be on my side."
 
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