Lleyton Hewitt: Please Come Back

Steven WoodgateCorrespondent INovember 19, 2008

I remember when I was a tad younger and a little more naive. I watched, what I thought at the time, a tennis legend being born.  

The year was 2002 and I was 15 years old. I have not taken much interest in tennis before, so I began to play it at secondary school and became reasonably average. Our tennis club then went on an annual schedule trip to Wimbledon where I grazed my eyes upon Lleyton Hewitt and became an instant fan.

His aggression, his competitiveness, and his willingness to battle for everything was truly remarkable and won me over. And I haven't even mentioned his highly skilled footwork.

Hewitt is classed as a defensive baseline counterpuncher, meaning he holds back and very rarely ventures forward. I saw all that, being a fan of the big hitters; it was great seeing a man take on experienced men and succeed. He represented youth and was an Andy Murray of his time.

His ability to return serves is first class and he would always get involved in instant rallies, too much delight of the crowd. He provided much enjoyment, his passion always ran riot and played havoc with umpires. It was known he was disliked in the pro circuit.  

He won Wimbledon in 2002 as I eagerly watched it on the tele with my mum when he defeated David Nalbandian in the final. It was a tennis moment that has always stuck with me; Hewitt won easily, a flawless 6-1 6-3 6-2 victory.

Hewitt became the first man since Andre Agassi to win the grass court championship by playing as a baseliner. Traditional serve and volley players normally triumph, but that was the days before tennis became a duopoly with main competitors Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer conquering the last six finals.

He started to turn heads the year before in 2001 when Hewitt beat Pete Sampras in straight sets in the U.S. Open. He was the new kid on the block.

That is why I took to him and began to follow his career.

Unfortunately, he never reached those heights again. Only an appearance in the Australian Open in 2005 has been an accomplishment of note.

He has now dropped to a disappointing 70th in the world rankings. Remember this was the man who became the youngster ever man to become the male No. 1 ranked in the world. His career has spiraled. The emergence of arguably the best two players to have ever graced the game may have had something to do with that.

His 70th position is not warranted though as his fall down the ranks have been solely down to the amount of injuries he has been suffering. A hip injury he acquired in March 2008 has been put down to his underlying injury problems.

Despite his ongoing hip trouble, he was able to make moderate success this season. However, after a disappointing Olympics campaign where he furthered damaged his hip he understandably chose to opt out the rest of the season.

Hewitt is a player down on his luck, I am hoping for an epic return of a man who feed my passion and enthusiasm for tennis. Still only 27 years old, he may make that comeback yet.