Hewitt happy to please hero Norman
Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt admitted the chance to impress his childhood hero Greg Norman had inspired his 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky in the Olympics first round Monday.
Hewitt grew up idolising golf legend Norman and has been delighted to have the Australian in his camp over the last few days at the All England Club.
Norman, a two-time British Open champion, stuck around after Hewitt’s first round match was rained off Sunday and he was rewarded with a typically gutsy victory from the former Wimbledon winner when the players finally got on court 24 hours later.
Hewitt, who plays Croatian 13th seed Marin Cilic in the second round, said: “Greg hung around all day yesterday (Sunday) for me to get on so it was good of him to come out today.
“He’s a close friend, I idolised him as I grew up as well so it’s good to have that friendship.
“It felt like I came out and played really well in the first set. I didn’t do too much wrong when I lost the second set and I was able to dig out a break in the third.”
Hewitt’s world ranking has sunk to 158 after several years of injury problems and he needed a wild card to make it into the Games.
But the 31-year-old, who was angered by the organisers’ decision to snub his request for a doubles wildcard with partner Chris Guccione, is determined to make the most of what is likely to be his final chance to improve on a miserable Olympic record.
The former world number one crashed out in the first round in Sydney in 2000 and lost to eventual gold medal winner Rafael Nadal in the second round in Beijing in 2008.
“It means a lot. You get the opportunity every year to play Davis Cup for Australia in a team environment and I take great pleasure in my Davis Cup record and what I have done for Australian tennis. It’s fantastic to wear the green and gold here,” Hewitt said.
“I love playing at Wimbledon. It’s the greatest place to play tennis and it’s fantastic to be back here.”
Hewitt broke in the third game of the match and drew roars of delight from the largely Australian crowd on Court 18 when another break took the set.
Stakhovsky levelled the match in the second set, but Hewitt came up with the goods at the crucial moment, unloading a series of winners to break for a 4-2 lead before serving out the win.© AFP 2013