There is little debate about whether or not Australia's Lleyton Hewitt is in decline; the 30-year-old who was once known for his speed has been suffering through battered knees and a slower step for a few years now. He lost to Robin Soderling in the second round at Wimbledon yesterday, 6-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4, but he looked like a younger self:
Defeat raised the very real possibility that Wimbledon may have seen the last of Hewitt, the 2002 champion, but if this was to be his swansong, there was no more fitting way to depart: his trademark pumped-up, all-action aggression evident throughout the kind of pulsating match on which he forged his reputation.
Hewitt says he doesn't feel he has to retire just yet. With points like this, he shouldn't feel any pressure: He blocks back a Soderling serve and then, barely getting to the spot in time, dives and somersaults into a one-handed backhand that is both paced and placed perfectly down the sideline, and he looks astonished at his own feat. He's realizing, with us, that while he isn't still capable of beating Robin Soderling, he has earned — as Brian Phillips so wonderfully identified in his piece on Grantland earlier this week — the "still" label. He is still going to run down impossible shots and send one of his own back over the net. He is still pretty damn quick.
Hewitt Rolls Back the Years But Cannot Stop Söderling [WSJ]
No plans for retirement: Hewitt eager to soldier on [Sydney Morning Herald]