Once a PredatorApril 25, 2014
Not long ago, a tennis player hangs up his racket once he reaches 30. He's no longer capable of beating the top players in the tour. Winning a Grand Slam title isn't a possibility. An injury or two, caused by being active for many years, will catch up with him.
This is not the scenario in the men's tour nowadays.
Lleyton Hewitt was once the best player in the tour, winning two Grand Slam titles along the way. But injury came in the way, which resulted to his sliding down the rankings. It had been years since he was a fixture in the Top 10, but it didn't mean that he no longer have that predator instinct. Last January, the native of Adelaide won the Brisbane International, his first singles title since 2010. He beat Roger Federer, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Like Hewitt, Federer is in his thirties. The two of them, along with Tommy Haas, David Ferrer, and Radek ŠtÄ›pánek, are among the group of thirtysomething players who are still active in the ATP Tour. There are no signs of retiring soon.
"I don't know when I'll be stopping, but I'll be playing out the whole year regardless," he said of his 2014 schedule.
Hewitt's win was a lesson to other Australian players who struggled to perform well in home tournaments. It also made him the top-ranked Australian player once more. He turned 33 last February 24, achieving another career milestone by winning his 600th ATP win in the Sony Open Tennis in Miami. He likes his chances at the All England Club this summer.
"I want to have another crack at Wimbledon for sure and I feel if I can get more matches under my belt going into Wimbledon that will hold me in a better stead," he added.
"The most pleasing thing is what I've had to come through and the tough times in terms of surgery."
"Before the last surgery I made no secret, there was no guarantees I would be able to play again at all."
A defensive counterpuncher, Hewitt's playing style would take him to the top of the tennis world in 2001. At the finals of the US Open, he upset Pete Sampras, four-time champion, in straight sets to win his first major crown. Later that year, he qualified for the Tennis Master Cup, a year-end tournament that featured the top eight players in the tour. He won all his matches in his group, and then went on to beat Sébastien Grosjean in the finals, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. He won a total of six tournaments, making him the world no. 1. The year 2002 was even more special, as he won his first Wimbledon title. It was the first time that a baseliner triumphed in grass, a surface that favour the serve-and-volley players, since Andre Agassi's victory in 1992. He successfully defended his Tennis Master Cup in Shanghai, defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero in five sets, 7–5, 7–5, 2–6, 2–6, 6–4. The year 2003 saw him helped the Australian team win the Davis Cup, beating Spain in home soil, 3-1. Those years seemed to be behind him, but once a predator.
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