Hewitt Wins as Injured Roddick Withdraws From Australian Open
By James Fish On January 19, 2012 @ 8:23 am In National,Tennis | No Comments
Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt took the court at the Australian Open Thursday evening (Wednesday morning in the U.S.) knowing they might be facing one another for the last time.
The two stars, former world number-ones now in the late stages of their careers, met in Rod Laver Arena to represent their nations and to finish off a decade-long rivalry.
Both have battled injury and age; neither is quite ready to retire. While the 29-year-old American Roddick has been trying to fight his way back into the top ten, Australia’s Hewitt, 30, has seen his ranking plummet, and many speculate he will be leaving the sport at the end of this season.
Roddick won their last six matches; Hewitt, on home turf, had one more chance to show his fans that he had the talent and the toughness to beat the big-serving American.
Hewitt took the win, but not in the way he wanted.
Both players started the match playing like it might be the last chance to beat the other. Roddick took the first set 6–3, but in the fourth game of the second he fell awkwardly, re-aggravating an old injury to his hamstring. The American player left the court for treatment but returned to finish out the set, though obviously in discomfort.
“I could see Andy stretch something; I couldn’t see if it was his ankle or what,” Hewitt said on ESPN after the match. “I saw on the replay it was higher up his leg.”
Roddick had obvious problems moving to his left, and was slow going forward, but he didn’t complain—he tried to adjust, cheating to his backhand when receiving serve, and using his own powerful serve to keep him in the match.
Hewitt tried to exploit the American’s weakness: “You obviously try to run him around—I don’t want to sound mean but you try to run him around a bit more,” Hewitt said. “We’re out there competing and it’s hard work.”
Hewitt won the second set 6–3, but his opponent fought back. The Australian has a chance to serve out the set at 5–4, but Roddick took the first three points. Hewitt wasn’t about to let up; with the crowd solidly behind him, he came back from triple break point to close out the set 6–4.
That was all the American could tolerate. Facing a five-set match and a slim chance of winning, Andy Roddick decided that the chance of doing serious damage was too great, and withdrew from the match and the tournament.
Roddick told Australianopen.com that having to stop was frustrating and discouraging; “The competitor in you feels terrible and wants to break stuff.
“I was hitting the ball as well as I could from a compromised position and still felt like I was just hanging on. I don’t know that it would have been smart to do that for two more sets. And if somehow you pull a rabbit out of the hat, I don’t think you play in two days. If I’m looking at timelines, I think there’s three weeks or so before I have to play again.”
While the Australian would have preferred to win by skill rather than injury, he was glad the match didn’t go five sets; he is scheduled to play doubles the next day, and then will be back on the court facing Canadian Milos Raonic.
As for his chances later in the tournament, Hewitt said, “I’m just happy to be out here.
“In the last three years I have had five pretty serious surgeries. I’ve been off the court for a long time. Last year I only played two Grand Slams and two Davis Cup ties. I came to here with nothing to lose.”Lleyton Hewitt will continue to enjoy what might be his final season in professional tennis, and Andy Roddick will try to heal up in time for the next tournament. Both gave it their best, and while Andy Roddick might be too much of a competitor to say it, in some ways it is good that Lleyton Hewitt gets at least one more chance to perform in front of the Australian fans.
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