Hewitt doesn't seem willing to lose
MELBOURNE, Australia -- In the semifinals, Andy Roddick got off to a textbook start against Lleyton Hewitt. Roddick was playing smart, changing pace in rallies and serving great.
Somewhere, probably early in the third set when Roddick was up a break 3-1, 30-all, he let a couple of things bother him.
This was a huge match. Going in, we knew at some point his mental toughness would be tested by Hewitt or the crowd. Roddick didn't handle it well. He double-faulted twice in a row. He let Hewitt back in and let the crowd get in. He had chances to win the set in the tiebreak, but they slipped away.
Roddick forgot what was working for him. He started to rush and go for shots that weren't there. There was no reason for him to do that. If he'd stuck with his guns off the ground and continued with his variety, he would have been fine. I was disappointed with the way he competed in the fourth set. He mentally lost it and let Hewitt run away with it.
The question, of course, is can Hewitt do the same thing in Sunday's final (ESPN2, 3:30 a.m.) against Marat Safin, who upset top seed Roger Federer in five sets in the semifinals.
If you go by pure shot-making ability, Safin should win the match. Safin played some unreal tennis to beat Federer. But you almost get the feeling it is destiny for Hewitt to win this thing. He's put so much pressure on himself to get this far in his home country's Slam. It seems he has such determination and belief within him that he cannot lose.
Safin has a bigger game, bigger serve and a bigger return. He volleys better, too. The intangible factor seems to be Hewitt's guts and unwillingness to give it up.
The only way Safin can win this match is if he just blows Hewitt off the court by hitting 30 aces and taking a huge lead, which I don't see happening in this situation. If it's in any way close, Hewitt will find a way to win it in five sets to become the first Aussie man to win the title since 1976 as the Australian Open celebrates its 100-year anniversary.
Patrick McEnroe, a tennis analyst for ESPN, is a former professional player and the Davis Cup captain.