Hewitt bows out for good, Murray marches on

Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:58am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Lleyton Hewitt bade an emotional farewell under the Australian Open floodlights on Thursday as David Ferrer snuffed out any chance of fairytale final flourish from the local hero.

After world number two Andy Murray had trampled on home sensibilities by mauling Australian Sam Groth to reach the third round, the Rod Laver Arena crowd settled in to watch former world number one Hewitt try to extend his illustrious singles career for at least another two days.

Eighth-seeded Spaniard Ferrer played the villain to perfection, however, ending the two-times grand slam champion's record 20th campaign at Melbourne Park with an emphatic 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory.

Not that renowned street-fighter Hewitt went with a whimper. He fought to the last even when defeat was inevitable.

"Every time I play out here at Rod Laver Arena, it's like a second home," the 34-year-old Adelaide native told the fans after a typically pugnacious display in which he cursed a line judge and mouthed off at the chair umpire.

"Playing for Australia has always been my biggest honour ... I feel fortunate to finish here."

The scandal over alleged match-fixing in tennis that has clouded the tournament's opening days lingered on though with even Hewitt being quizzed about online speculation that some of his past matches had been implicated.

"Good luck taking me on with it," he said angrily at the post-match media conference, his three children sitting beside him. "It's disappointing. Throwing my name out there with it makes the whole thing a farce."   Continued...

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt stretches for a shot during his second round match against Spain's David Ferrer at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason O'Brien