Hewitt bows out
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):
Baseball cap turned backward, pumping himself up with cries of "C'MON!" Lleyton Hewitt fought one last feisty encounter. Then he gathered his three young kids on centre court and said farewell.
After a career spent trying to win the Australian Open, the 34-year-old Hewitt had said that this year's tournament - his 20th attempt - would be his last.
"Lleyton's Last Stand", as some Australian media have billed it, came yesterday in the second round, where Hewitt lost to David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, in a gritty contest that the numbers alone don't do justice. It included some dramatic tennis, a few expletives - including a verbal volley Hewitt had with the chair umpire - and was capped off by an emotional send-off in the Rod Laver Arena.
When the No. 8-ranked Ferrer returned to the court for the winner's customary post-match interview, he redirected the spotlight to Hewitt.
Ferrer, who at 33 is just a year younger than Hewitt and has a similar relentless, chase-every-ball style, told the crowd that he once had Hewitt sign a T-shirt for him that now hangs with other tennis memorabilia in his home. "I never had idols, but Lleyton is an idol for me."