Hewitt ready for Wimbledon swansong



Originally published on 24/06/15

The 2002 champion is preparing to play at the Championships for the last time after the former world No.1 announced his intention to retire after the 2016 Australian Open. While his home Slam will be the scene of his final match as a professional, he says the opportunity to return to Wimbledon one last time will be more enjoyable.

“This time of year is one of my favourites,” said the world No.117, who last week said farewell to The Queen’s Club, where he is a four-time champion. “I love this month, this time of year. Obviously clay was never my favourite surface. As soon as I got to London and started preparing for Wimbledon and Queen’s, then I felt right at home straightaway.

“I guess you go under the radar a little bit more. When you’re at the top of the game playing in Australia, it’s a pretty hectic month, the whole lead-in to the Australian Open. I guess you can sometimes enjoy this time of year. And obviously Wimbledon, going back there as a member, it’s a pretty special place.”

Hewitt, who has been awarded a wildcard for his 17th appearance at the Championships, will be hoping for a favourable draw. A five-time quarter-finalist at the All England Club, he has not reached the last eight since 2009, when he lost in five sets to runner-up Andy Roddick. Two years ago he upset No.10 seed Stan Wawrinka in the first round before falling to Dustin Brown in the second. Last year he fell at the same stage when he came up against 2013 semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz.

“The last two weeks I played a couple of pretty good grass court players,” said Hewitt, who lost back-to-back matches to Nicolas Mahut in s-Hertogenbosch and Kevin Anderson at Queen’s.  “It would be nice to play someone that's not quite as good as those two on grass first up, at least. You're in the hands of the gods, though, when you're not seeded.  You can come up against anyone.”

Hewitt, who climbed back to No.38 in February 2014 having slipped as low as 233 in July 2012, is determined to enjoy his final trip to the All England Club as a player.

“I’ll just try and enjoy it as much as possible,” he said.  “Not many people in sport get to go out on their terms, and I have always said that if the body held up and the opportunities were there, I would love to go out on my terms.  So far it looks like I'll be able to do that.”

This year is Lleyton Hewitt’s final season on tour as the 34-year-old prepares to hang up his racket. In the new issue of tennishead, Courtney Walsh, Sports Writer of The Australian, puts Hewitt’s Wimbledon into an Australian context and Pat Rafter explains why his fellow Aussie will want to say goodbye in style.

To read "Bowing Out" by Courtney Walsh, get your hands on a copy of tennishead: Wimbledon 2015 issue, on sale in selected branches of Tesco, Sainsbury's and WHSmith on June 25. Click here to subscribe.


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