Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
After his loss to David Ferrer at this year’s Australian Open, the former number one retired.
Jakartass is a tennis fan, more so than of any other sport. It’s the gladiatorial nature which appeals. There’s the sheer athleticism combined with strategic game plans to counteract each other’s strengths and to attack the opponent’s weaknesses.
Hewitt has a doggedness, a never say die attitude. That he faced in Spaniard David Ferrer, himself in the twilight of his career, a similar player seemed appropriate. Throughout his 20+ years at or near the top Hewitt has garnered respect from his fellow professionals, those already established, and among those yet to get there. Fellow Brit, Andy Murray, the current world number two, said earlier in the day that he’d named one of his dogs Rusty, his mentor’s nickname.
Above all, Hewitt epitomised the straight forward grit of his fellow Australians. There can have been very few of them who were not watching his last televised singles match on Thursday, and those in the packed Rod Laver Arena gave him a deserved long lasting standing ovation.
I’m not Australian, and sat throughout, but, hey, I salute you Lleyton.