What next for Lleyton Hewitt?
There was no official handover ceremony, or exchange of gifts, but Wimbledon 2011 now marks the changing of the guard for Australian tennis.
Love him or hate him, Lleyton Hewitt has been the soul representative for Australia on the ever competitive men’s tour.
Two sets to up against number five seed Robin Soderling, the Australian media were frothing at the mouth with the prospect of a Hewitt-Tomic match-up – the young versus old, all knew the tension between the two camps. With the right publicity this would make the Mundine-Green rivalry look like a street fight.
Someone forgot to tell robotic Swede Soderling about the potential match-up, fighting back in Hewitt-like fashion to ruin the great Aussie match. So what now for Hewitt and Tomic?
Tomic has lived in a bubble like existence, under the strict guidance of his family. Tomic was always going to be a tennis prodigy. Most things will remain the same for Bernard, he will get better, stronger and more experienced.
Tomic will hopefully break into the top 50 in the next 24 months, and will steadily progress. The biggest change for Bernard will be his month of January, now he has received the baton from Lleyton he will hold a nation’s hopes to break the 35-year Edmondson drought, the most talked about curse since the Collywobbles throughout the 70s and 80s.
While the future is clear and bright for Tomic, it’s a little more clouded for Hewitt. The mind is willing, but the body is starting to have a few doubts, injuries are starting to catch up with his taxing all round court game. A smart move into the commentary box last summer paid off for Lleyton, seemingly to win back the public support he has lost through various incidents through his career. Hewitt still has a burning desire to compete with the best in the world, which may be his downfall in the end.
My advice to Lleyton would be to partake in a John Farnham ‘farewell tour’ – with no comebacks. The 2012 season would be a celebration of what he has achieved, but would also challenge the former number one. I would hand-select 8-12 (body/ranking dependent) tournaments.
A final tilt on home soil after that elusive Australian Open would begin the year, then his focus would turn to a Wimbledon farewell. This could be seen as a strange call to retire midway through the season, but Wimbledon is the Mecca for all things tennis; and as a past champion there would be no greater place to end his stellar career.
During the next few months Hewitt would take a few months off, then continue his budding media career. Competitive urges would most likely get the better of Hewitt over time, so body willing he would be running around in the lucrative Masters circuit.
Lleyton Hewitt has polarised the tennis community in Australia, but no matter what he decides, he will be remembered as a Wimbledon champion and tennis great.