May 30, 2012 by dixwah
It’s a weird irony that I’ve only hopped on the Lleyton Hewitt bandwagon since his game has started to slide.
Initially it just wasn’t my thing: the brash, backward-hat wearing, temper-tantrum throwing, fist pump to Mummy and Daddy in the stands stuff. Compared to the super-nice ocker Pat Rafter, or big-hitting funcat Mark Philippoussis, Hewitt was the square peg.
I recognised him as a great player, with all of those qualities I normally find endearing. Hewitt was smaller than most of his opponents, the perennial underdog, a never-say-die competitor.
But add the spoilt brat and on court histrionics and I’d had enough.
Now I’ve turned. Hewitt’s still the small guy getting picked on, but without his customary speed and with his body failing him, he lacks the punches to win the fight.
Whether it’s experience or a conscious recognition he’s not the player he was, Hewitt’s personal growth makes him more watchable and likeable than he was at his best.
Despite the injuries, he wants to be out there. He still wants to compete. There’s a sense that these days Hewitt doesn’t get a thrill out of winning, it’s being in a contest that pushes his buttons. And without the tools he once had, it’s this thrill of competition that keeps him going.
Lleyton Hewitt’s first-round loss at Roland Garos wasn’t suprising. Blaz Kavcic is ranked well above the Australian, who was returning after a lay-off due to a toe injury. Calls for Hewitt’s retirement are ringing loud.
For mine Hewitt can battle on as long as he wants to. I think I now might just ‘get’ him.