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Men's field is deeper than most think

1/18/2006

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Lleyton Hewitt plays with a lot of internal anger, I think. Throughout his career, when Hewitt is up in a match, he seems to play tentatively. And the toughest thing to do in sports is put somebody away. When he gets out there and gets tight, that's when you see this up-and-down, roller-coaster ride he's on. There is a reason for that: Hewitt wants this Australian Open so very badly.

One thing this match showed was the depth of the men's game. Both the men's and women's games are so deep that you have to really come prepared to play, both mentally and physically.

Robin Vik isn't a fluke. What it comes down to is victories, and he has jumped up through the rankings as fast as anyone over the last year. He's winning matches at every level.

Vik has a lot of game -- not the noticeable game with the big serve, speed or forehand, but he's a playmaker and can do different things from different parts of the court. And he's not afraid of big guns like Hewitt on his own turf.

As for Hewitt, I'm never a big fan of going five sets any time. I like to take care of business and get on a confident roll.

However, I do think this gives Hewitt some bulletproof armor. When I played and came back from a tough match and won, I felt like I couldn't be beaten. The problem with Hewitt is he has six more matches until he reaches his goal, and every time he steps on the court it's a marathon, a grind.

Hewitt has been physically sick and has a newborn baby, not to mention the fact he's playing at home and having to concern himself with how many tickets he needs to get for his friends and family.

An entire nation is riding its hopes on Hewitt.

Former ATP Tour pro Luke Jensen is providing ESPN.com with analysis during the Australian Open. Jensen, a two-time All-American at USC, captured the 1993 French Open doubles crown with his brother Murphy.