Hewitt looks to Wimbledon
Originally published on: 13/06/12 00:00
Lleyton Hewitt may have fallen at the first hurdle at the AEGON Championships after a heavy 6-3 6-2 defeat to Ivo Karlovic, but the Australian still had something to celebrate yesterday after being handed a wildcard for Wimbledon.
The 2002 champion underwent major foot surgery last month in a bid to prolong his career but has slipped to No.205 in the world after playing just six tour matches this season. Even so, the 31-year-old Nassau resident believes that anything is possible on the hallowed turf of the All England Club on the 10th anniversary of his triumph.
“After the surgery, my main aim was to try and get back as quickly as possible, but Wimbledon was the focus,” admitted the Australian. “It would have been nice to get a couple more matches under my belt but if there’s one place you feel like things can open up for you, it’s probably there for me.”
Yesterday’s defeat was Hewitt’s fourth in his five career meetings with 33-year-old Karlovic. The 6’10” Croat famously dumped him out of Wimbledon in the first round in 2003 – the year after his triumph at the All England Club – and the colossal server continues to get under the Australian’s skin on the lawns.
“It was frustrating to say the least,” said the four-time Queen’s champion. “There were plenty of better draws for me to get some matches under my belt. It’s not really a tennis match in some ways when you’re playing against a guy like that. It’s just one of those matches, one of those days.
“Grass court tennis is like that,” he added. “Sometimes it’s a more mental game than physical, because there are only one or two points in a while five-set match that can turn in tie-breaks or tight situations.”
This year will be Hewitt’s 14th main draw appearance at Wimbledon. He made his debut at the All England Club in 1999, losing to Boris Becker in three sets in the third round. He has reached at least the fourth round on seven of his last eight visits, the exception being his five-set defeat to Robin Soderling in the second round last year.