Lleyton Hewitt serves it up to the “Poms” after Wimbledon exit
The sad passing of Australian tennis is the talk of Wimbledon but Lleyton Hewitt and Todd Woodbridge insist reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated, with Hewitt even suggesting Australia have “never been too afraid of the Poms”.
THE sad passing of Australian tennis is the talk of Wimbledon but Lleyton Hewitt and Todd Woodbridge insist reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
Losses for Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Matt Ebden on Tuesday left Australia without a men’s singles representative in the second round at the All England Club for the first time in 74 years.
The sobering statistic reverberated around London’s famous grass courts like one of the 61 thunderous winners French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga struck in his 6-3 6-4 6-4 dispatch of Hewitt.
But despite conceding he was unsure if he’d return for a 15th title push in 2013, Hewitt said Australia’s worst men’s campaign since World War II needed some perspective.
“Obviously the boys didn’t have the best day today,” said the 31-year-old former world No.1.
“There’s a lot of different reasons it could have been – draws, match-ups, whatever.
“But at least three of us, the three guys that played today, I know we could have beaten a lot of guys that are still going in the tournament. That’s just how it falls.”
Australia is now without a player in the second round of the men’s singles for the first time since 1938.
And the British press are revelling in the fact, with Hewitt even asked if Australian sport in general was on the decline a month out from the London Olympics.
“I think we’ll go all right in the Olympics. We’ve never been too afraid of the Poms, I’ll say,” Hewitt fired back.
An equally defiant Woodbridge said the outlook for Australian men’s tennis was not as bleak as it appears.
“I wouldn’t call it disastrous,” he said.
“Last year we had one of the best Wimbledons we’ve had for many years and it’s disappointing to what we’ve come to this year.
“But we’ll have tournaments like this and we’ll have good ones and my role is to continue to have that depth rolling through so we don’t have this happening.
“Let’s be honest, going back five years, or even three years, we didn’t have that many rolling into the main draws.
“But we know underneath us that we’ve got more kids with more ability that are solid players coming through.
“But it takes time.”
Hewitt needed a wildcard entry after slipping to No.202 in the world and his draw could only have been worse with a first-round match against Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Andy Murray.
Tomic, though, was well-fancied to beat Belgian wildcard David Goffin and offered no excuses for his head-spinning 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 loss to the world No.70.
Woodbridge, the head of the men’s game at Tennis Australia, put Ebden’s 6-1 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 loss to Frenchman Benoit Paire down to a nervous performance on his Wimbledon debut.
Woodbridge said Tomic’s departure was of most concern and described his inability to back up last year’s run to the quarter-finals as a “bit of a wake-up call” – an assessment the teenager readily agreed with.
Casey Dellacqua, who lost 6-2 6-4 to French ninth seed Marion Bartoli, and 16-year-old wildcard Ashleigh Barty, who lost 6-2 6-4 to Italian 21st seed Roberta Vinci, were also eliminated on day two. – AAP