Melbourne, Jan 21 (IANS) An emotional Lleyton Hewitt bid farewell to Melbourne Park for the final time, after his 20-year-long tennis career ended at the hands of eighth seed David Ferrer of Spain on Thursday night.
Hewitt, who announced that he would retire from the sport at the conclusion of this tournament, showed characteristic grit and heart in the two-hour battle, but was no match for Ferrer who won in straight sets 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, reports Xinhua.
Immediately following the loss, Hewitt said the time was right to draw the curtains on his career.
“I’m so fortunate to have had this opportunity for 20 years. I’ve had so much success on this court. I feel fortunate to finish here,” he told the crowd.
The Adelaide born, who won two Grand Slam titles — at the U.S Open in 2001 and at Wimbledon in 2002 — steered Australia to a Davis Cup victory twice, and reached the lofty heights of World No.1 for 80 weeks.
While he never managed to win his home Grand Slam in Australia, Hewitt made the final in 2005, going down to Marat Safin of Russia in four sets.
Following his final match on Melbourne’s centre court, an emotional Hewitt paid tribute to his family, support team and the raucous support which followed him wherever he played.
“The support I’ve had over the years means so much to me,” Hewitt said on court.
“This whole last year has been tough, and I felt like this was the perfect place to finish.
“Playing here tonight, in front of this crowd, I was getting goosebumps.”
Known as the “little Aussie battler”, Hewitt’s trademark was not a big serve, or exceptional groundstrokes; rather his willingness to give 100 percent effort for an entire match.
Hewitt retires to take over as Australia’s Davis Cup captain.