Lleyton Hewitt’s agony: finally out in the open
It was the nail-biter of all nail-biters but no one could have imagined Aussie lionheart Lleyton would surrender two match points before losing to arch rival David Nalbandian in the Australian Open’s first round.
After an epic fight lasting 4hrs 48mins at Melbourne Park last night, Hewitt finally succumbed to the powerful Argentine, who confessed he played “amazing” tennis during the five-set corker.
Hewitt’s failure to secure the win after two match points shows he is not 100 per cent confident in his form.
It was a sad night for the Aussie camp, effectively wiping out hopefuls in the men’s singles draw, although lucky wildcard entrant Bernard Tomic is the only survivor.
Hewitt is all emotion on the court, but he’s better at controlling his anger, energy and frustration after years of fighting on the tennis circuit.
The classic match was nothing but the battle of two strong wills who refused to give up, despite their physical exhaustion. Nalbandian’s groundstrokes were generally more potent than Hewitt’s, whose survival is largely a product of the adrenaline he creates after the big points and stirring moments.
After 15 Australian Open campaigns, Hewitt, 29, must be wondering if he will ever clinch the Melbourne Park title and also, how he’ll return to the top 10. Hewitt says he can improve but he needs more match conditioning before tackling the big tournaments and becoming a key finalist.
Hewitt’s loss has put a “dampener” on the Aussie Open, as hopes are now pinned on Sam Stosur, who is in on fire after wiping out Lauren Davis in the first round.
Tennis officials will be hoping Stosur will fuel Aussie support, as local players fail to impress in their home grand slam event.
With the class of the world’s best players gracing the court at Rod Laver Arena, somewhere there must be emerging Aussie star with the character and burning desire to match the sport’s superstars.
Australian tennis badly needs a sporting freak, like Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, to rejuvenate our country’s proud history in tennis. It’s the sport’s job to identify this talent (which exists) and give kids a chance to shine. It would be disappointing to see tennis becoming anything less than a mainstream, elite sport in our country.
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