“I came out and gave everything I had like always,” said an emotional Lleyton Hewitt as he bade goodbye to a stacked packed Rod Laver Arena, to Melbourne, to Australia, and to the world full of tennis fans.
The match would have been an ordinary one with a normal score line of 6-2 6-4 6-4. Saying this to be normal because this was what we were expecting a world number 8 to score against a wild card. But, not if this wild card is one of the legends of tennis, one of the best players the world has even seen, one of the idols for the young, and the one who is retiring right after this match after ending a grand career.
Lleyton Hewitt gave his best. As always, he fought till the very last point. As always, he entertained his audience. And as always, he roared, “C’mon!”
Both the players displayed some world class tennis. Ferrer has dminated the court, true, but Hewitt fought back equally. He hit 27 winners against Ferrer’s 34. The eight game of the second set had nine deuces, and seven break points for Hewitt. Unfortunately he couldn’t convert any. But that single game went on for ten minutes.
Ferrer did everything to stay in the limelight. He played aggressively, he refused to give even a slightest scope to Hewitt, he hit heavier. Yet, at the end of the game, it was all about the Aussie’s great champ. And why shouldn’t it be? Thursday night was his last career match. It was his last Grand Slam, and that too, his 20 consecutive Australian Open! His wide backhand ended the match.
Everyone got emotional. Even David Ferrer. After the match, he indicated to swap his shirt with Hewitt’s. In the on-court interview, he mentioned that he has a museum kind of a thing at home and has kept a signed shirt of Hewitt. Moments later, on the big screen, legends and top players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Nick Krygios delivered special messages for him. Hewitt was later joined by his three beautiful children on court.
“Out on the court, obviously you got so many things going through your head,” Hewitt said.
“You’re trying to soak it up as much as possible out there one last time. It was an unbelievable atmosphere out there. A couple of the roars during the match tonight was as loud as I’ve ever played in front of. I was getting goosebumps at times.”
“Obviously just watching the video and hearing those great players talk about you in that light, you know, was pretty emotional … It’s sort of a strange feeling because you’re obviously disappointed not to keep going, but obviously proud of everything we’ve done as well.”
In the end, he added, “I might have a quiet beer. That’s it.”