Australian veteran Leyton Hewitt’s long and illustrious career came to a close after suffering defeat at the hands of Spaniard David Ferrer in the second round of the Melbourne Park Australian Open.
One could even speculate that fate paid Leyton a tribute by allowing the Oz his final loss against a player that inherently demonstrates many of the qualities the popular Australian himself exhibited in his storied career.
This Thursday the crowds at the Rod Laver Arena bore witness to David Ferrer’s dispatching of Hewitt from the Melbourne tournament in what was the final match of his career in a clinical victory that played out in a 6-2 6-4 6-4 second-round match. This epic match drew the final curtain on a career that encompassed a world number one ranking as well as two Grand Slam titles that form part of an astonishing 20 consecutive appearances at the Australian open.
Touching moments followed Hewitt’s backhand that landed wide of its intended target, the sideline, with finality. At Ferrer’s request they first swapped shirts at the net, followed by an emotion-filled speech from Hewitt wherein he thanked the fans for their continued support, before his three children joined him courtside.
Tennis contemporaries and court legends Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer delivered sincere messages via video feed into the arena. Murray revealed Hewitt to be one of his idols while was growing up and Nadal called him an inspiration.
After the match Hewitt said that while out on court he obviously had so many things going through his head as he was trying to soak up as much as humanly possible for the last time out there. He said it was an unbelievable atmosphere on court, especially when a couple of roars erupted during his match, enough to rival anything he’s ever played in front of, he even had goosebumps a couple of times.
He said it was strange feeling to watch and hear all the playing-greats talk on video about himself in such an emotional light.