(June 29, 2015) The 2002 Gentlemen’s singles champion at Wimbledon has played his last match on the green grass of the All- England Club. Lleyton Hewitt put up a fight against Jarkko Nieminen but fell just short on Monday 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9.
“I was always going to leave it out there, everything I had in the tank, said the 34-year old two-time major champion. “I certainly did that.”
“I didn’t, you know, leave any stone unturned preparing. But also on the match court today. You know, there was a couple of times the match could have gotten away from me at certain stages and I found a way of hanging in there.
“In the end obviously disappointing to lose. I would have loved to have played Novak in the next round. But, yeah, Jarkko is a tough competitor and it was never going to be easy.”
Why is Wimbledon so special to Hewitt? For me, it’s the home of tennis,” the former No 1 said. “I don’t get the same feeling walking into any other grounds in the world, no other tennis court, no other complex, than I do here. I do get goosebumps walking into this place.
“I’m so fortunate. One of the greatest things about winning this Championship is becoming a member of it. For me to be able to go in the member’s locker room four weeks before Wimbledon, yeah, in there with some of the older members, sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat, it’s a lot of fun.
“That’s something I can always come back and enjoy over the years.”
There is a new Aussie “Generation Next” among the men which include 20-year-old Nick Kyrgios, the 26th seed, Bernard Tomic, who is 22 and seeded 27th as well as 19-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis . who is playing doubles with Hewitt this fortnight. For the first time since 2000, there are 11 Australian men in the Wimbledon draw.
“I think he’s huge,” Kyrgios said. “His attitude and competitiveness I think is second to none. Maybe Rafa (Nadal) and him are the greatest competitors of all time. When you got him still playing Davis Cup, leading the charge, I think when he’s training and you watch that, it’s pretty special. I think it carries a little bit towards us guys.”
“I’ve spoken, especially the last couple years, probably more so to Bernie,” Hewiit said. “He’s had his ups and downs the last couple of years. I’ve built a pretty strong relationship with Bernie. I think I’m probably one of the closer guys that he trusts now.
“You know, obviously little things I try and point out. I’m not going to say everything here. But he knows some of the stuff that I think can help him.
“Nick, I’m getting to know Nick a little bit better, when I played especially Davis Cup ties with him. I was in the Asian League with him last year, spent a lot of time getting to know him there.
“Some of the young kids in this generation are a lot different. Even going to dinner with Davis Cup ties, you talk about totally different things, stuff I’ve never heard of. I sort of sit down with Rochey (Tony Roche), Wally (Masur), and Pat (Rafter), the older blokes.
“It’s more trying to build a trust where they feel comfortable coming and asking if they need certain pointers in certain ways.”
“Coming back knowing that it’s your last time competing, as I’ve said all year, I’m fortunate that I can have that opportunity to do that,” the 34-year-ol reflected. “I have tried to soak it up.”