Connect to share and comment

Tennis: Renaissance men Hewitt, Kyrgios lead Australian surge

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Lleyton Hewitt hailed a renaissance in Australian tennis as the former world number one led the charge into the second round at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

For the first time since 1999 at least seven Australian men and women have advanced past the opening round at the All England Club, with Hewitt the most prominent after the 2002 champion won a Grand Slam match for the first time in 2014, beating Poland's Michal Przysiezny 6-2, 6-7 (14/16), 6-1, 6-4.

Hewitt crashed out at the first hurdle in the Australian and French Opens, but the 33-year-old ended that disappointing run by grinding out a win in three hours and two minutes on Court Three to book a second round clash against 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz, the big-serving Pole who reached the semi-finals in 2013.

He was joined in the second round by compatriot Nick Kyrgios, the 19-year-old who marked his Wimbledon debut with a 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (6/8), 6-2 victory against world number 78 Stephane Robert of France.

Kyrgios, ranked 144th and given a wild card entry, next faces French 13th seed Richard Gasquet, who was pushed hard by Australian qualifier James Duckworth before eventually winning in five sets.

Those victories for Hewitt and Kyrgios added to earlier wins by Luke Saville, Marinko Matosevic, Bernard Tomic in the men's draw and Jarmila Gajdosova and Casey Dellacqua in the women's draw.

"Yeah it's good. There's been some good wins," said Hewitt.

"I'm obviously really happy with some of the young boys. 'Sav' on his first tour match at a Grand Slam, which is fantastic, especially after saving a match point in his last round of qualifiers as well.

"Bernie did his job yesterday. Marinko, he won his first match at Wimbledon, which is huge for him. Moving forward, he's a late developer. He beat a quality player in (Fernando) Verdasco."

Hewitt also praised Kyrgios, who was only seven when Hewitt thrashed David Nalbandian to become the most recent Australian man to win Wimbledon.

The teenager, who won the junior Australian Open title last year, was recently tipped by defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray as one of the stars of the future.

He is starting to live up to that billing and secured the third Grand Slam match victory of his young career with a battling effort against the higher-ranked Robert.

"I've actually never seen Nick play on grass but he's got a game that I'm sure over time could definitely get better suited to grass," Hewitt said.

"He returns serve pretty well for a big guy. He obviously hits a big ball himself. It's good for him that he got through today."

Hewitt, who is competing at Wimbledon for the 16th time, knows he may not have many more chances to roll back the years at his favourite tournament.

And the world number 48, making his 61st appearance at the majors, said: "This is what I still play for. You do all the hard work to come back and play in places like this.

"You don't get sick of coming out here and playing at Wimbledon.

"Fitness-wise I felt fine. Not a worry. I think it was just over three hours. But felt I could have kept going."

But with retirement talk a constant issue for Hewitt these days, it was no surprise he gave a curt response when asked if he was approaching this year's Wimbledon as though it would be his last.

"I reckon I've said that for the last five or six years. We'll just go out there and play," he added.

smg/dj

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140624/tennis-renaissance-men-hewitt-kyrgios-lead-australian-surge