5 Greatest moments from Lleyton Hewitt's career
It’s over. A storied career with highs and lows. Lleyton Hewitt lead Aussie tennis fans as well as enthusiasts from around the world on a roller coaster ride throughout his career. He had his moments, two grand slam titles and he had his lows, his hip surgery being a prime example.It is fitting that Hewitt got to bid adieu to the sport he loved in front of adoring fans inside the Rod Laver Arena. This is the end of an era, the pre-Federer and post-Sampras era of tennis is officially over.Ferrer was the favourite in the match, but you couldn't help but root for Hewitt. It was a match that was fun to watch. He may have been outmatched and lost in 3 straight sets, but Hewitt had the unconditional support of the spectators at the Rod Laver Arena and he put up a real good fight in front of the crowd that loved him.Rusty' may have lost, but his effort in front of a charged-up crowd was quite memorable. Without further ado, this slideshow will attempt to celebrate Lleyton Hewitt's 5 greatest moments-
#5 2014 Brisbane International Final
Hewitt had won seven of his opening nine matches against Federer as a professional until the Swiss was victorious in their fourth-round meeting at the 2004 Australian Open en route to taking out his second major. Federer then owned Hewitt with 16 wins from their next 17 encounters and the 2014 Brisbane International final pitted the two friendly rivals against each other for the 27th time in either ATP Tour events or Davis Cup.
Australian crowds loved Federer as one of their own, but in this encounter, Pat Rafter Arena was firmly behind their national hero, Hewitt. After being dominated by Federer for years, Hewitt finally overcame his rival once again, in front of his home fans with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory in what was a hugely entertaining match.
After making his comeback from hip surgery and a subsequent operation on his toe, Hewitt’s effort was truly inspirational as he won his first title in nearly four years and sent the Aussies home happy with an amazing display.
#4 Overpowering \'Guga\' on Clay
Hewitt is the holder of several Australian Davis Cup records which include most wins, most singles wins, most ties played and most years played. It thus comes as no surprise that he is a proud and passionate Aussie who leaves his all on the court every time he represents his country.
His 2003 Davis cup win over Roger Federer was impressive, but it didn’t come close to matching the effort Hewitt put on against 3-time French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten.
Gustavo Kuerten was world No.1, trying to keep Brazil alive in his hometown of Florianopolis. Brazillian crowds are not known for their hospitality towards visiting players, and for the then 20-year-old Hewitt, this loomed as one of his toughest assignments ever.
No matter for the rising Hewitt as he overpowered Guga (the original clay court specialist) on Clay (Hewitt’s least preferred surface)- in straight sets no less - forging Australia's path towards an eventual defeat to Spain in the final, but this match made it worth it and gave a glimpse into Hewitt’s future, one where he would fight tooth and nail for every single point and establish a revered legacy for time to come.
#3 2002 Tennis Masters Cup Final
An exhausted Hewitt pretty much limped into Shanghai's Tennis Masters Cup in November 2002 but he summoned enough strength to claim a second consecutive title at the season-ending tournament, while maintaining the world number one ranking for the entire season. An amazing achievement for the Aussie.
He finished the group stage with a 2-1 win-loss record, beating Albert Costa and Marat Safin, but losing to Carlos Moya, Hewitt did advance to the semis. In the semis, he beat Roger Federer (admittedly before his prime) in 3 tight sets and set up a clash against the Spanish ‘mosquito’, Juan Carlos Ferrero.
It seemed that Hewitt would win with considerable ease after he took the first two sets with identical 7-5 scorelines. But, in a remarkable turnaround, Ferrero took the next two sets by an identical 6-2 scoreline and then took a 3-1 lead in the third. And it was then that the Aussie’s never say die attitude kicked in.
Hewitt fought back, with all his might, utilising every ounce of energy left in his body and coming back from a break down to win the fifth set 6-4, and exclaiming his joy at finally being able to put his feet up on holiday after his comeback win.
#2 Defeating Pete Sampras in the US Open
Two days before the 9/11 attacks changed the city - and the western world - Hewitt broke through in New York to defeat the then all-time Grand Slam singles championship record-holder – Pete Sampras, at Flushing Meadows and won his first grand slam final.
It was a career-making performance, this win over Pete Sampras signalled to the whole world that Lleyton Hewitt had arrived.
Hewitt's pace and counterpunching style was too much for the veteran American as Hewitt overwhelmed Sampras in three, straight sets. The victory was a huge catalyst for Hewitt’s subsequent success as, by the end of the year, he had soared on to become the World No. 1.
#1 2002 Wimbledon Final
Australia has just one Wimbledon singles title in the past 28 years. It came in 2002, a year in which many seeds fell unexpectedly, Hewitt held firm, eventually meeting the largely unknown Argentine and first-time major finalist, David Nalbandian.
Hewitt’s victory marked a (then) rare occasion of a baseliner winning on the grass of Wimbledon, a tournament dominated by serve and volleyers. He became the first baseliner since Agassi in 1992 to win at SW19.
Australians were able to set aside the defeats of Pat Rafter in the previous two year's finals as Hewitt easily accounted for Nalbandian and wrote his name in the history books with a solid performance in which he was in control from the beginning to the end.