by Kevin Craig
Lleyton Hewitt played the final match of his career on Thursday at the Australian Open as he bowed out to David Ferrer in straight sets. The 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 score line shows how easy of a victory it was on the court for Ferrer, yet Hewitt, as well as the entire crowd in Rod Laver Arena, never gave up hope until the last point was played that he would be able to pull out the victory.
The match started promisingly for the Australian as he was able to get to 2-all with Ferrer, but the 2013 French Open finalist had other plans in mind, as he went on to win four games in a row to close out the set.
After the routine first set for the Spaniard, there was more of a fight in the second set. In a repeat of the first set, Ferrer was able to break at 2-all, but when Ferrer served at 4-3, Hewitt had seven break points in a game that lasted over 10 minutes. He was unable to convert any of them, though, as Ferrer was able to continue being simply the better player.
In the third set, Ferrer went up an early break before seeing another resurgence from Hewitt, in which he broke to level the set back up at 3-all, giving the crowd one final thing to become ecstatic about. Hewitt was able to silence the crowd quickly though, as he regained the break advantage in the next game and would go on to close out the match in straight sets.
The fact that Hewitt was able to compete in this match is impressive in itself, with Hewitt being ranked exactly 300 spots lower than Ferrer. Yet everyone knew that Hewitt would not be willing to give up on his career so easily, and showed that on court as he put in one final great effort.
After the match ended and Ferrer and Hewitt approached each other at the net, Ferrer actually asked Hewitt if they could swap shirts, similar to what soccer players do after certain matches. Ferrer would go on to claim that the only piece of tennis memorabilia that he has on display in his house is a signed shirt from Hewitt, a true testament to how well respected Hewitt is by his peers.
Hewitt’s fighting spirit and tenacity has been an inspiration to many tennis players who are currently on the tour, including Ferrer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and surely many others. Murray and Nadal were able to have their voices heard post-match as they had tribute videos displayed in Rod Laver Arena praising the two-time grand slam champion.
Hewitt’s career in tennis is far from over, as he will continue to be an inspiration to tennis players all over the world. He will also be taking over the duty of being the Australian Davis Cup captain, and will surely be seen coaching players at some point in the future.