Nicole has always been invisible to the Australian Press. This article was in The Age today, and I think Nicole puts the situation as it is. Nothing against Alicia, I like her a lot and support her, but it seems as if all the efforts do go towards one player, instead of nuturing them all.
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Hewitt could yet be the danger man
By Caroline Overington
August 30, 2003
Lleyton Hewitt showed some of the grit he will need if he wants to win another US Open, but also some of the weaknesses he will need to overcome.
Hewitt dropped the first set against his second-round opponent, Hyung-Taik Lee of South Korea, on Thursday and then let three match points go before sealing the match with an ace, winning 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.
Nicole Pratt also made it past the second round of these championships, something she has done only once before, with a 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-1 defeat of 31-year-old Italian Silvia Farina Elia.
Later, Hewitt said he was "not quite peaking" at the moment but his confidence is growing and, if he gets into the second week, he thinks he could be dangerous.
"I know what it takes to win a grand slam," Hewitt said. "If I can get myself into the second week, the memories (of winning one) will start flooding back.
"With my game, with my personality, if I can get through the first couple of rounds, sometimes they are the toughest. If I get towards the quarters or the semis, that is when I'm at my most dangerous."
Hewitt acknowledged that his match against Lee was tough tennis. "I didn't serve great today," he said, something of an understatement with only 49 per cent of first serves going in. That would be fine, if he also had a lot of aces, but there were only nine.
"I felt like my ball toss was all over the shop. It's an area I want to work on. But there are some matches in the past where I served great. I do have times when I feel like my motion is good. But right at the moment, I don't feel comfortable with it."
He said he had tried a longer racquet, of the type that Michael Chang developed, but the extra 2.5 centimetres made him feel clumsy. "I've picked it up, it just doesn't feel right to me," Hewitt said. "I think for what I'd get in my serve, I'd lose somewhere else. And it would take a while (to get used to) the change. It feels a bit weird, like it gets in the way. It feels like a lot more than an inch."
Hewitt's opponent, the 27-year-old Lee, reached the fourth round at the US Open three years ago. He said Hewitt seemed nervous, "maybe because he's lost some games recently".
Lee said through an interpreter that he had studied Hewitt's game on TV and was surprised by how much more powerful the young Australian was on the court. "It was more difficult than I expected," he said.
Hewitt also said the Davis Cup was probably "sitting No. 1" in terms of his immediate goals. "Haven't won it for a few years," he said. "If we win the Davis Cup, I'll be happy. If I can do well here, that's a bonus as well."
Pratt, who will now meet Ai Sugiyama of Japan, believes she might have reached more major third rounds with a little more help.
"But I didn't have direction," Pratt said. "There are very few people who believed in my ability, to be quite honest. Everything came from within myself. I always loved playing tennis, but I didn't have people backing me, saying, 'We believe you can be a top-50 player, or a top-20 player'."
She said Tennis Australia used to encourage women to "play the same way". "There was always one exceptional player, someone that Tennis Australia thought was a top player, and the players behind sort of got left behind a little bit."
Pratt said things started to improve only when she left Australia "and started anew". But she is careful not to let herself feel bitter about missed opportunities. "I just dropped it and said, 'Right, this is the new me, this is a new career, at whatever age. I don't care how old I am'."
Now 30, Pratt said she had basically reinvented her game over the past 12 months, admitting that she never learnt to hit a topspin backhand, and had a serve that top players could easily combat.
"I had to totally revamp that," she said. "These are big changes. But the building blocks are starting to come together."
Pratt admitted to being frustrated at not having tackled problems in her game when she still had youth on her side.
But she wants to finish her career knowing she can beat top-20, or top-10 players: "That's what it's all about right now."
And she has decided that she wants to coach when her career ends. "You look at younger players and you get frustrated," she said. "You want to grab them and say, 'Come on, you really need to develop your game before you get out there and grind, grind, grind'."
Australian Mark Philippoussis plays his second-round match today against Anthony Dupuis of France. And Alicia Molik plays Paola Suarez of Argentina.