Battling Hewitt bows out with head held high
LONDON (Reuters) - Former champion Lleyton Hewitt drew on every ounce of his Wimbledon experience in a typically gutsy performance as he went down fighting in the delayed second-round tussle with big-serving Pole Jerzy Janowicz, 10 years his junior.
The 33-year-old Australian battled back from two sets down before succumbing 7-5 6-4 6-7(7) 4-6 6-3 against the 15th seed who made it as far as the semi-finals last year but has since suffered a miserable 12 months.
Though Friday's defeat gave Hewitt the dubious consolation of breaking Andre Agassi's record for contesting the most five-set grand slam matches, he considered this a missed opportunity against a man who can blow hot or cold.
"Yeah, that's the tough part of playing a guy like that ... Even though I felt like I was starting to turn the match around throughout the fourth set, you're only a few points away from him opening it again," Hewitt said.
"That's what happened. He saved a couple of big breakpoints first game of the fifth, then he sort of took it upon himself to take the match out of my hands."
The world No.48, who has suffered more than his fair share of injuries during his career, gave a long parting wave to the fans who had roared him on at a packed No.2 Court but would not be drawn on whether that was his Wimbledon sign-off.
"You never know. I'm one injury away from hanging up the bats at any time," he said.
"I know that when I play my best tennis, I can still go out there and push guys, especially on this kind of surface."
Janowicz, meanwhile, can look forward to a third-round date with 23rd-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo with increasing confidence.
The Pole came in to the championships having lost 10 of his previous dozen matches. However, untroubled by the back and foot injuries that have dogged him since last year, his heavy slice and a sprinkling of deft touch shots complemented the booming serve that brought him 21 aces against Hewitt.
"I think that's a really good win for me," he said. "I think Lleyton Hewitt is a really dangerous player. Doesn't matter how old is he and doesn't matter his ranking, he's an extremely good player, especially on grass."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)