Hewitt reflects on 9/11 near-miss after 2001 US Open

3 weeks ago 10
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Aussie tennis fable Lleyton Hewitt has reflected connected the 20th day of his momentous 2001 US Open triumph and the scary script that unfolded simply days aboriginal with the 9/11 violent attacks.

Hewitt claimed his archetypal expansive slam rubric successful New York successful 2001, and did truthful successful awesome fashion, defeating the indomitable Pete Sampras successful consecutive sets successful the final. Hewitt had beaten erstwhile satellite fig 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and past rising prima Andy Roddick en route, earlier thumping Sampras successful beforehand of his location crowd.

It was a triumph which started the astir palmy play of the Australian's career, yet ending the twelvemonth arsenic the world's top-ranked antheral player.

But it was Hewitt's "surreal" near-miss successful the days pursuing his triumph astatine Flushing Meadows that connected the 20th day is hard to ignore.

Hewitt departed New York specified hours earlier 1 of the biggest moments successful past rocked the satellite - the 9/11 violent onslaught connected the duplicate towers of the World Trade Centre.

2001 US Open Champion Lleyton Hewitt with trophy, dada Glenn and ma Cheriilyn connected the staircase astatine Grand Central Terminal (Getty)

With a Davis Cup semi-final against Sweden owed to beryllium played aboriginal that week, Hewitt completed his media committments the greeting aft his US Open triumph and past flew retired of New York successful the evening. While helium was successful the aerial travelling home, 2 hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Centre towers.

"It was unthinkable however it played out," Hewitt told Todd Woodbridge successful a video for Tennis Australia.

"Looking backmost connected it we were connected the formation from LA to Sydney and astatine 1 signifier mid-flight determination were 2 oregon 3 aerial hostesses sitting successful the galley and they were really crying. I didn't deliberation thing of it astatine the clip but erstwhile we landed the aviator tried to explicate arsenic champion helium could what had happened portion we were mid-air connected that flight. It was a surreal moment.

"We were conscionable successful New York and to deliberation that the full metropolis had changed portion we were connected that formation erstwhile we landed successful Australia connected the different broadside of the world.

"A batch of Australian Federal Police asked questions and made america capable retired a batch of forms earlier we got disconnected the level purely due to the fact that we had travel from New York, whether we saw thing astatine the airports and however things could person played retired perchance that we witnessed.

Lleyton Hewitt shares a laughter with the press, with the US Open Trophy (Getty)

"It was conscionable disbelief for maine to deliberation I was retired 2 nights earlier partying connected unreality 9 aft winning my biggest title. And to besides cognize determination were radical successful New York who supported maine that could person been stuck up successful this arsenic good successful Manhattan... my thoughts went retired to those people."

Hewitt recalls being instantly acrophobic for each those helium knew successful New York, including immoderate visitors from Australia, similar players from the Western Bulldogs who had travelled determination to ticker Hewitt successful the US Open final.

"Luke Darcy, [Tony] Liberatore, and Nathan Brown and those boys, they really watched maine play successful the US Open last against Pete, which I didn't know, but aft the lucifer they came down and kicked a footy connected centre court," Hewitt explained.

"So they came retired and celebrated with maine that evening aft I won, due to the fact that I didn't person a batch of different Aussies implicit determination astatine the time, and I knew they were doing the tourer things implicit the adjacent fewer days.

"It was a weird concern for maine to beryllium successful - to deliberation 1 infinitesimal you couldn't beryllium happier and past to conscionable cognize that the full satellite had changed."

2001 US Open Champion Lleyton Hewitt with Men's Singles Trophy successful the mediate of S. Park Avenue successful New York CIty (Getty)

Hewitt's scheduled post-US Open triumph property league upon landing successful Sydney was understandably cancelled, and instantly a overmuch bigger quality communicative dominated headlines.

Even though his triumph was rapidly overshadowed by the immense daze and calamity of 9/11, the US Open last lucifer was among the highlights of Hewitt's career.

"For maine it was a peculiar time," helium said.

"To get the accidental to play Pete who astatine the clip was arguably the top tennis subordinate we'd seen. He'd won 13 majors I deliberation astatine that signifier successful his vocation and was 1 of the each clip greats."

Hewitt's gameplan for the last was simple, and it worked perfectly - marque Sampras uncomfortable and beryllium the naysayers incorrect that doubted the Aussie's quality to nullify the American's large work game.

"Going to the last determination was a batch of speech astir however the hellhole I was going to beryllium capable to interruption Sampras' service due to the fact that helium was connected immoderate ridiculous winning streak with work games passim that US Open tournament," Hewitt said.

"It wasn't thing I focused connected but I cognize I ever backed myself arsenic a return-of-server. I ne'er had the biggest serve, I truly focused connected trying to instrumentality distant their spot and marque him play a batch of balls.

"I got the accidental to instrumentality archetypal crippled and I really broke him archetypal crippled and I retrieve a small airy bulb going disconnected successful my caput to the media, well, it didn't instrumentality maine agelong to interruption his work game. I got breached the precise adjacent crippled and for the remainder of the archetypal acceptable it went connected service and ended up successful a tiebreak.

"Once I felt I was capable to get done that archetypal acceptable that's wherever the floodgates truly opened and I could spot him starting to uncertainty himself arsenic well.

Ivan Lendl poses with Pete Sampras and Lleyton Hewitt anterior to the 2001 Men's Final. (Getty)

"For my match-up against Peter, it was not a substance of hitting cleanable winners, but making him play a batch of pugnacious debased volleys to acceptable up that adjacent shot for me. I felt similar arsenic the lucifer went connected I was seeing the shot bigger and bigger and ended up moving distant with it successful the 2nd and 3rd set."

Hewitt said though helium had defeated Sampras - and the large US assemblage cheering against him - helium inactive felt the emotion erstwhile helium played successful the States due to the fact that of his trademark style.

"I felt similar each the talking and screaming, adjacent mid-points sometimes, it really made maine ore more," helium said.

"That enactment maine successful a portion erstwhile I was competing and playing.

"But I deliberation the New York assemblage ever appreciated maine for the effort I brought to the court. If I wasn't playing an American I felt similar the US assemblage was connected my broadside due to the fact that they emotion that grit and ne'er accidental dice attitude."

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