Lleyton Hewitt has today said he expects to retire from professional tennis after the conclusion of his 2016 Australian Open campaign, reports the Daily Mail.
AN AUSTRALIAN ICON
Hewitt indicated he will be taking on a less intense schedule in 2015 to focus on Davis Cup duty and Wimbledon before bidding farewell at his home grand slam in January next year.
The 33-year-old entered the professional scene in 1998 before going on to become the youngest male ever to be ranked No. 1 in the world in singles at the tender age of 20.
Hewitt won the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon title but has failed to lift a grand slam on home soil, his best result coming in 2005 when he lost to Russian Marat Safin in a tense four-set final.
ONE LAST HURRAH
The combative South Australian, who will likely skip the French Open later this year, suggested playing out one last tournament at Melbourne Park in a record 20th consecutive Australian Open would be the perfect way to bring down the curtain on his decorated career.
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“I’ve thought long and hard. I plan to play the Aussie Open next year and most likely finish then,” he said.
“Personally I’ll be looking towards the grass court season and most likely finishing here in Melbourne, which for me would obviously be special to play 20 Australian Opens.”
Hewitt has been at the forefront of Australian tennis for nearly two decades, but as prepares to pull on the Grenn and Gold yet again, the veteran feels he has chosen the right time to make way for the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“Obviously for me the Davis Cup is something we’ve worked extremely hard to put ourselves in a position in the World Group where we have a genuine shot. I believe with the guys now we have a lot more options, a lot more depth,” he said.
DAVIS CUP RESHUFFLE
In a press conference of great significance for Australian tennis, Hewitt announced his retirement plans alongside Wally Masur and Pat Rafter, who revealed he will be standing down as Davis Cup captain with immediate effect.
Having recently been appointed the Australian Director of Tennis, Rafter said his decision was based on an inability to continue juggling the two roles.
Masur, who has previously coached the Australian Davis Cup side, will assume the role an interim basis before Hewitt eventually takes over permanently once he feels the time is right to cease playing.
The 51-year-old said he was thrilled to step into the job at an exciting time for tennis in Australia even if his tenure will only be temporary.
“Obviously I spoke to Lleyton a few days ago about it, and we’ve come to the arrangement that he’s still a player, he still has a career to flesh out and see where that ends.
“Until that happens, I’ll be captain.”
Masur faces a stern test in his first match upon return to the helm as the Aussies meet the Czech Republic in a tricky first round tie in Ostrava next March.