Warrior Hewitt buoyed by rise of Aussie young guns

Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:58pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Australian standard bearer Lleyton Hewitt scrapped to his 145th victory in grand slam play at Wimbledon on Tuesday and, for a change, he will have plenty of company in the second round.

The 33-year-old former champion has all too often had to carry the fight alone for a nation once blessed with male grand slam champions but the signs are that a new generation are ready to finally come to the fore.

After victories for Bernard Tomic, Marinko Matosevic and qualifier Luke Saville on Monday, towering 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios marked his Wimbledon debut on Tuesday with a 7-6(2) 7-6(1) 6-7(6) 6-2 defeat of Frenchman Stephane Robert.

Though 22-year-old James Duckworth lost a five-setter to 13th seed Richard Gasquet and Matthew Ebden was out-hit by eighth seed Milos Raonic on Tuesday, there will be five Australian men in the second round - the most since 1999.

"Yeah, it's good. Obviously I'm really happy for some of the young boys," former world No.1 and 2002 Wimbledon champion Hewitt, told reporters.

"Sav (Saville) obviously winning his first tour match at a grand slam, Wimbledon, fantastic, especially after saving a match point in his last round of quallies, as well.

"Bernie did his job yesterday and Marinko, he won his first match at Wimbledon, which is huge for him. Moving forward, he's a late developer. He beat a quality player in (Fernando) Verdasco. There's been some good wins."

Tomic, who is still only 21, was once regarded as the natural successor to Hewitt, some off-court issues and injuries have stalled his progress.   Continued...

Lleyton Hewitt of Australia hits a return to Michal Przysiezny of Poland during their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 24, 2014.          REUTERS/Toby Melville