SI: You won last year's Open two days before Sept. 11. Did that
have an impact on you?
Hewitt: I was on cloud nine after winning my first major. I'm on
an airplane from L.A. to Sydney, going home to celebrate, and the
pilot came on and told us. It wasn't until I got in front of a TV
that I realized how bad it was. Suddenly winning the U.S. Open
didn't mean anything.
SI: It's rare for a little guy [Hewitt's 5'10", 145 pounds] and a
counterpuncher to get to Number 1. You've gotten there at age 21.
What's your secret?
Hewitt: I'm not the biggest guy out there or the biggest server,
so I've got to win another way. My return of serve is one of my
strengths, and my quickness around the court. I put those things
together and make a decent package out of it.
SI: You don't fit the laid-back Aussie tennis stereotype. How
come you're not more like the affable Pat Rafter?
Hewitt: On court I'm very intense. I love to compete--the
one-on-one aspect gets me fired up. Off the court, though, I'm
pretty laid-back. I'm actually a lot shyer than people realize.
SI: You had a ponytail for years, but now it's been shorn. Any
psychological edge, like a swimmer shaving before a big meet?
Hewitt: Not at all. I just got sick of brushing my hair all the
SI: You've been dating WTA Top 10 player Kim Clijsters for two
years. If you spotted her a set and a 5-love lead, could she beat
Hewitt: She could probably hit four winners, I guess, and do it.
SI: You made more than $4 million in 2001. What are you spending
it on since you still live with your parents?
Hewitt: Not a lot. I've got a piece of land in Australia, in
Adelaide, and other than that I haven't spent a whole heap of
money. I'm not the kind of guy to buy six sports cars or an
SI: Do the Aussie fans who paint their faces green-and-gold and
shout "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy" at your matches scare
you just a little?
Hewitt: No, they're actually good blokes. I know most of them.
COLOR PHOTO: GREG WOOD/AFP