Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hewitt's singles career ends with loss to Ferrer

Lleyton Hewitt, returning serve in the 2013 SAP Open in San Jose,
lost to eighth-seeded David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 today in the second
round of the Australian Open. Hewitt won the San Jose title in 2002
and reached the final there in 2006. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Fittingly, Lleyton Hewitt's singles career ended against David Ferrer.
   In the featured night match at Rod Laver Arena, the eighth-seeded Ferrer of Spain dispatched Australia's Hewitt 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 today in the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Hewitt, who won the title of the now-defunct San Jose (Calif.) tournament on the ATP World Tour in 2002 and reached the 2006 final there, announced last year that he would retire after this Australian Open. He and countryman Sam Groth are scheduled to play eighth-seeded Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia today in the second round of men's doubles in Melbourne.
   Groth holds the unofficial record for the world's fastest serve of 163.7 mph (263.4 kph) in the 2012 Busan, South Korea, Challenger.
   Hewitt is not entered in mixed doubles in the Australian Open.
   Hewitt and Ferrer are similar in age, size and playing style. Hewitt, who will turn 35 next month, is 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters). Ferrer, who will be 34 in April, is 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters). Both compensate for their small size with tenacity.
   Hewitt, however, is more accomplished.
   He has won three Grand Slam titles (two in singles and one in men's doubles), while Ferrer's best result in a major is runner-up in singles in the 2013 French Open.
   Hewitt remains the youngest man to reach No. 1, at 20 years, 8 months in 2001. That's one month younger than Marat Safin of Russia in 2000. Ferrer climbed to a career-high No. 3 in 2013.
Ferrer, practicing at Indian Wells last March, said Hewitt
"is a mirror for me." Photo by Paul Bauman
   Ferrer has the edge in Davis Cup championships, three to two.  
   After today's match, video tributes to Hewitt from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were shown in the arena.
   "Out on the court, obviously you've got so many things going through your head," Hewitt said on ausopen.com. "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 were as loud as I've ever played in front of. I was getting goose bumps at times.
   "Obviously just watching the video and hearing those great players talk about you in that light 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."
   Ferrer discussed Hewitt before the match.
   "He's a mirror for me," Hewitt said on ausopen.com. "I remember when I was younger, my game was similar. It's not like he was my idol, because I don't have an idol, but it's similar to idol."
   Hewitt was one of the five active singles champions in the San Jose tournament, which ended in 2013 after 125 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, to play on Day 4 of the Australian Open.
   Winning were No. 2 seed Andy Murray (2006 and 2007) of Great Britain and No. 13 Milos Raonic (2011-13) of Canada. Losing, in addition to Hewitt, were 32-year-old Fernando Verdasco (2010) of Spain and 37-year-old Radek Stepanek (2009) of the Czech Republic.
   Verdasco fell to 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Dudi Sela of Israel 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4) after upsetting Rafael Nadal, the 2009 champion and a two-time runner-up in the Australian Open, in 4 hours, 41 minutes in the first round.
Australian John Millman, playing in the U.S. Open last
September, reached the third round of a Grand Slam
tournament for the first time. Millman won the 2015
Aptos and 2010 Sacramento Challengers. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Australia's John Millman, who won the 2015 Aptos and 2010 Sacramento Challengers, advanced to the third round of a Slam for the first time. Millman, 26, outlasted Gilles Muller, a 32-year-old left-hander from Luxembourg, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
   The 38th-ranked Muller, a quarterfinalist in the 2008 U.S. Open as a qualifier, served at 4-3, 40-0 in the second set but was broken.
   "It's probably a breakthrough win," Millman, ranked 95th, said in an understatement on ausopen.com. "I managed to turn the tables around today when I was being outplayed at the start of the match. I was down a set and a break (and) had to dig deep today and change things up and find a way."
   Millman is scheduled to face countryman Bernard Tomic, seeded 16th, for the second time on Friday (PST). Tomic won 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6) in the second round of the 2011 Caloundra (Australia) Challenger.
   On the women's side, No. 7 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany outclassed Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 6-2, 6-4.
Seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber, shown after winning
the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last summer,
will play American Madison Brengle, the runner-up in
the 2013 Sacramento Challenger, in the third round of
the Australian Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Kerber, a 28-year-old left-hander who won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last summer, is set to play 25-year-old American Madison Brengle, who defeated Johanna Larsson of Sweden 6-5, 4-6, 6-1, on Friday.
  Brengle lost to Mayo Hibi of Japan in the final of the 2013 Sacramento Challenger while playing with a debilitating stomach illness. Hibi was 17 at the time.
  Naomi Osaka, an 18-year-old qualifier from Japan, eliminated 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina, a 21-year-old Ukrainian who lost to Kerber in the semifinals at Stanford last year, 6-4, 6-4 today.
   As a 16-year-old qualifier in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic, Osaka saved a match point to shock Samantha Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, in the first round.
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Osaka, a hard hitter with a Haitian father and Japanese mother, will meet 14th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013 and the Bank of the West Classic in 2010.
   The player with the world's fastest women's serve also lost. No. 30 seed Sabine Lisicki, a German who uncorked a 131.0-mph (210.8-kph) delivery at Stanford in 2014, fell to Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

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