Imagine how many Grand Slams Lleyton Hewitt may have won if it weren’t for Federer.
Hewitt is, and was, a much better player than people nowadays give him credit for.
What more, for a player with such an amazing record spanning over 13 years, he cops his fair share of unnecessary criticism.
Apparently he doesn’t possess a big-enough weapon.
He’s too arrogant.
And, he’s too old.
I whole-heartedly disagree with any such comments and will debate this with any Hewitt cynic.
Tonight (AEST) Hewitt plays Federer at the US Open for a spot in the last 16.
Realistically, I don’t expect Hewitt to win. Not many people do.
But, before the tenacious Australian is completely written off, glance an eye over his impressive career record. I think this is too often overlooked in light of recent results and the dominance of Federer.
(1) Injuries may have cursed the Australian in the last 18 months, but remember that Hewitt has been on the tour for the last 13 years.
(2) He won his first ATP title in Adelaide as a 15-year-old in 1998. Anyone who beats a player such as Agassi at 15 (as Hewitt did), is going to go places.
(3) He has since amassed 514 career wins. Federer, Roddick and Carlos Moya are the only other active players to also do so.
(4) These wins have yielded 27 career titles, two Grand Slams, and 75 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world. He was also the youngest ever year-end No. 1 in 2001.
(5) Hewitt has always maintained that, despite is now (relative) low ranking, he considers himself to be one of the top five players in the world when fit—he has consistently reached the last 32 or better in most Grand Slams over the last three to four years when his ranking has been lower. Who would argue with his self belief?
(6) Instead of resting during important parts of the season, Hewitt commits without fail to Davis Cup and representing his country all year round. His success when playing for Australia is second to no other player. The same level of commitment can’t be said of the likes of Federer, Agassi and Sampras.
Yes, Hewitt is aggressive. And maybe sometimes brash.
Yes, Hewitt also speaks his mind.
But you can’t question his endeavour or commitment. His record indicates that he has definitely maximised his talent to full its potential.
And I haven’t even discussed other “Hewitt trademarks” such as his gritty determination, come-from-behind victories, or awesome court speed.
He has been one of the greatest players of the modern era and it is “unlucky” that he is playing in a period when the greatest of all time is also in his prime.
Personally, it would give me great satisfaction should Hewitt get up tonight. He deserves another strong showing in what has been a magnificent career.
So, c’mon for another Australian Grand Slam!!