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Woodbridge gets on the wrong side of Hewitt

Todd Woodbridge, one of the greatest doubles players of all time, feels Lleyton Hewitt has let his game slip by his off-court distractions.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2007 17:33 IST

Lleyton Hewitt is not a man to take criticism lightly. When it comes from a former Davis Cup team mate, it is even harder for the fiery Australian to stomach.

Todd Woodbridge angered Hewitt earlier this week when he suggested that the Australian's mind was not on the job and that his oversized travelling entourage -- largely made up of family members -- was a distraction he could do without.

"Yeah, it's a big call by Todd," Hewitt snapped at a news conference on Thursday after labouring to a four-set win in the second round.

"That's about it. I'm not going into it. Todd's entitled to his opinions. We'll keep it at that."

Although Hewitt is not usually shy from expressing his feelings, on Thursday it was his lack of response that spoke volumes. His curt tone and flaring eyes gave more of an insight into the rage boiling inside him.

Woodbridge, one of the greatest doubles players of all time, felt Hewitt had let his game slip by his off-court distractions.

The Australian number one had a tumultuous build-up to the Open after his coach Roger Rasheed terminated their partnership just days before the event.

Australian media have often criticised the influence Hewitt's father Glynn has on the former Wimbledon and US Open champion.

Hewitt senior still travels around the globe with his son even though he is now married.

"(Hewitt's) got to realise that he's 26 and he's got to make some decisions by himself and not rely so heavily on the family," Woodbridge told SEN radio earlier this week.

"He's got his own wife and child and he's got to start doing some of these things by himself.

"You become an adult at some stage... he doesn't make a lot of his own decisions. They are made by other people for him and, so far, as it turns out now, they're not all that good.

"He often looks flat on court and you just can't have all this stuff going on in your life of sacking managers and coaches... and really have enough energy left to just focus on playing your best tennis."

Hewitt will certainly need to get his focus back quickly as he has so far looked anything like a man who is hoping to end Australia's wait for a first men's champion since 1976.

He struggled for five sets in his opening match before being caught up in a two-hour, 48-minute battle in the second round.

If he wants to win the title, he will probably run into fifth seed James Blake, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Any distractions, and those hopes of lifting the one trophy he cherishes most will have to wait for at least another 12 months.