Hewitt Reaches 600 Match Wins Milestone
by James Buddell|
Hewitt passed the match wins milestone on Thursday after he fought past Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Sony Open Tennis first round.
Hewitt has spent more than half his life playing tennis professionally.
In the first few years, after he had won his maiden ATP World Tour title at Adelaide (d. Stoltenberg) on 11 January 1998, aged 16 years, 11 months and ranked No. 550 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he responded to fan mail and signed photographs at his own expense.
His cries of “C’mon” – now a staple moniker of players on tour – and Vicht celebrations rattled some players but it fired up Hewitt, who, just like previous teenage phenomena John McEnroe, Mats Wilander and Boris Becker, produced tennis that provoked reaction from fans and media alike.
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At his peak, when 5’11”, 170lb Hewitt was the world’s premier player for 80 weeks, his speed around the court, return of serve and consistency from the baseline were all exceptional. Upon losing to Hewitt in the 2001 US Open, Pete Sampras said, "The kid is so quick it's unbelievable. He returned and passed about as well as anyone I've ever played. He's got the best return and the best wheels in the game."
By the age of 20 years and eight months, Hewitt had achieved all his childhood ambitions: to win a Grand Slam (2001 US Open), the Davis Cup (1999) and get to the World No. 1 (19 November 2001).
Hewitt won the first all-baseliner Wimbledon final in 2002, when he beat David Nalbandian. He also clinched the 2001 and 2002 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and back-to-back ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells (2002-03).
|No. 1||1998 Adelaide||d. Scott Draper (1R)|
|No. 100||2000 Indianapolis||d. Albert Costa (3R)|
|No. 200||2002 San Jose||d. Andre Agassi (F)|
|No. 300||2004 Australian Open||d. Karol Kucera (2R)|
|No. 400||2006 Sydney||d. Vincent Spadea (1R)|
|No. 500||2009 Munich||d. Philipp Petzschner (1R)|
One of his finest Grand Slam runs came at the 2005 Australian Open, when – at a time that his injuries were beginning to become troublesome – his performances in Melbourne marked him down as an ‘old school’ player echoing the exploits of past Australian greats. Hewitt rallied with a hip injury to come within one victory of lifting his home Grand Slam title, having defeated Nadal, Nalbandian and Andy Roddick in three consecutive five-set matches.
Tony Roche's description of Hewitt as “the toughest competitor I've ever seen” is a fine tribute. No player can match Hewitt’s 32 five-set victories and his passion for Davis Cup is unchallenged. He holds several Australian records for most wins (54), most singles wins (40) and most ties played (37).
The big toe on his left foot might now be locked in with two screws and a metal plate, but at 33 years of age he continues to revel in the spirit of the underdog in his 18th season following the sun.
During his unforgettable run in his second tour-level event at Adelaide, Australia had eight players in the Top 100 — led by No. 2 Patrick Rafter — and Hewitt was the nation’s No. 30. Today, it has just four and Hewitt is Australia’s highest ranked player at No. 41. Matthew Ebden (No. 62), Marinko Matosevic (No. 69) and Bernard Tomic (No. 72) continue to learn from Hewitt’s example.
In January he lifted his 29th title at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. It was Hewitt’s first ATP World Tour title for three-and-a-half years, when he won the 2010 Gerry Weber Open crown. His opponent, just as it was on 6 January 2014, was Roger Federer, the standard-bearer for a generation.
A natural talent for ball striking took him to the pinnacle of the sport, yet Hewitt’s legacy is his zeal for competition; his desire and guts on the court, and his courage to go for a stroke under extreme pressure. Hewitt has always proudly worn his heart on his sleeve.