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Sunday, 9 September, 2001, 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK
Hewitt destined for greatness
Lleyton Hewitt won his first Grand Slam final with amazing ease on Sunday. BBC Sport Online's Nicolas Andrews looks at a young man who seems destined for greater things.
Australia has a new darling of tennis and his name is Lleyton Hewitt.
Hewitt beat the great Pete Sampras in three straight sets, in one of the most one-sided US Open finals seen in recent years.
The Australian, at the age of 20 and 10 years Sampras' junior, was in control from early in the first set and displayed a maturity on the court beyond his tender age.
Hewitt possesses a confidence, an intensity and an iron will that already sets him apart from his peers.
All his opponents felt this in what was a memorable campaign for Hewitt.
Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov was contemptuously swept aside by Hewitt in the semi-final.
Kafelnikov, who won only four games as Hewitt won the most one-sided US Open semi-final in 60 years, said: "I'm not the only one having trouble when I play him.
"Anything I tried, I was unable to come up with the goods.
"Every time I asked him a question, he had an answer. He was just too good."
This is a player who believes he has all the answers.
"I'm not a guy who needs to read motivation books," Hewitt said recently.
"I do now believe I can match it with any guy, any day, on any surface. So I have even more confidence."
His five-set epic against big-hitting American Taylor Dent at Wimbledon was typical of his never-say-die attitude and his ability to wear opponents down with his greater resolve.
For a set and a half, the Australian was blown off Centre Court by Dent's Wimbledon record-breaking 140mph serve.
But, after a rain break, Hewitt simply dug a bit deeper, having told himself that he would just have to find the passing shots.
He proceeded to do so with an almost frightening certainty down both lines.
Twice in that match Hewitt looked beaten - at the end of the first set and the end of the fourth.
But once Hewitt had got his head around the problem, both players really knew there was only going to be one winner.
At Flushing Meadows this past fortnight, Hewitt has won similar marathons against James Blake and Andy Roddick, a player with whom he looks set to enjoy a career-long rivalry.
Two of his three games at this year's Australian Open also went the maximum distance, as did his fourth-round Wimbledon defeat by Nicolas Escude.
Hewitt plays every match as though there is a war to be won, and his stomach for a fight shows no sign of abating.
Such passion and enthusiasm has won him many admirers on the circuit - he is compared with Connors and admired by McEnroe.
"I see a little of myself in Hewitt, only more so," McEnroe said recently.
But it is a confidence that has crossed the line into brashness and controversy more than once.
Hewitt made some unguarded and immature remarks about his home-town crowd in Adelaide earlier this year and he refuses to speak to the Australian press pack.
Last week he foolishly drew similarities between Blake, his black opponent, and a black line judge who foot-faulted him, leading some to brand him a racist - an allegation he denies.
Hewitt has not always been cool in the heat of his battles, and he still has some fences to mend with the folks back home.
But it is significant that it was Roddick who self-destructed in the fifth set this week as Hewitt ground him down for a place in the semi-finals.
And yet again in the final Sampras' game broke down as he was unable to cope with the consistency of the Hewitt serve and the fantastic cross-court returns.
The American had previously lost his past two US Open finals and three times out of four to the Australian.
The 2001 final may have been a historic moment when the legend Sampras handed over the baton to the leader of the new generation.
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