Hewitt targets Davis Cup, not retirement

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iol spt aug28 Hewitt Reuters Lleyton Hewitt's 14th US Open ended in his first straight sets defeat at the tournament for eight years, but the 2001 champion won't talk about retirement. Photo by: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

New York – Lleyton Hewitt's 14th US Open ended in his first straight sets defeat at the tournament for eight years, but the 2001 champion won't talk about retirement, no matter how many times he is asked.

The 33-year-old former world number one, who first played in New York in 1999, lost 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to big-hitting Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych on Wednesday and faced the usual barrage of enquiries as to what his future holds.

“Do you think we'll see you here next year?”

“Don't know, I get asked that every week.”

“What do you hope will be your future at the US Open looking forward?”

“Don't know. I really don't know. Just wait and see.”

“Are you going to stick around?”

“Don't know. I haven't even thought about it.”

The grizzled veteran, who has undergone five painful surgeries in five years in an effort to prolong his career including a knitting of the bone in his troublesome left foot, has not gone beyond the fourth round of a major since Wimbledon in 2009.

This year had been equally disappointing on the biggest stages with a second round loss at Wimbledon preceded by first round exits at the Australian and French Opens.

But despite constant speculation over his future plans, the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion is currently more concerned about Australia maintaining their place in the Davis Cup World Group.

Next week, Australia will host Uzbekistan on the grass courts of Perth's Cottesloe Tennis Club and once again Hewitt will be reporting for national service just as he has done every year since 1999.

In that time, he has played in two Davis Cup champion sides – in 1999 and 2003 – featured in 37 ties, and carved out a 40-14

singles winning record.

His hope now is that he can leave the likes of 19-year Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic, 21, to spark a new generation of stability if not title success.

“The last couple of years are starting to look better. Bernie has played well in Davis Cup; he's handled the situation well. I think Nick can handle the big stage, that's really important. Not only next year but the next hopefully eight, 10 years,” said Hewitt.

“Yeah, it was always going to be hard any time you want to stop, but I'd prefer them to be in good shape rather than playing in the minor leagues every year in Davis Cup. That's a positive. Whenever I do stop, I think it's in good hands.” – Sapa-AFP

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