Resurgent Hewitt on Track for Top 5 Comeback
by Abe Kuijl | May 23rd, 2007, 1:53 pm
  • 14 Comments

With all that happened in the Hamburg final on Sunday, one man’s performance has been stuck under the radar a little.

Lleyton Hewitt put up a respectable and surprising run to the semi-finals of the German Masters Series event, straight-setting clay court specialists Juan Ignacio Chela, Agustin Calleri and Nicolas Almagro. The former No.1 also outlasted Nikolay Davydenko in the third round, before eventually falling in a three set thriller to Rafael Nadal.

Hewitt hadn’t reached a Masters Series semi-final since Cincinnati 2005. It has been even longer since he made the last four at a clay court event, which was also at Hamburg, three years ago.


I was surprised with how well Hewitt was playing, especially on clay, his weakest surface. He was solid from the back, but played aggressively with his forehand when he got the chance. What impressed me most though, was the way the current No.16 was serving throughout the tournament. If only his delivery didn’t let him down after winning the opening set against Nadal in the semi-final, the Spaniard’s winning streak could have easily ended a day sooner.

Hewitt showed that when he is on, he can still be a major force in the sport. However, the keyword for Lleyton is fitness. Over the past two to three years, Hewitt has hardly managed to stay fit for a longer period of time. I believe this is partly because of everything that happened in his personal life. Splitting from Kim Clijsters, marrying Bec Cartwright and becoming a father have surely taken away from his tennis. The several injuries he’s had could have come forward out of the fact that Hewitt wasn’t a hundred percent focused on his performance on court anymore. How many times didn’t we hear he had lost the fire in his eyes?

I can tell you one thing, the fire was burning brightly over in Germany the past week. Hewitt was very eager to perform and his antics appeared to be just that little bit stronger than they were in recent years. Now that he has settled down with his wife and daughter, it seems that the Aussie fighter  has his mind set to making a return to the upper echelon of the game. 

If Hewitt really has left his niggling injuries behind him – the latest being a back injury he endured at Indian Wells which kept him out until Rome – I believe he has the ability to get back to the Top 5. In 2006, with hardly any decent preparation for neither Roland Garros nor the US Open, Hewitt reached the fourth round in Paris and even made the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows. 

Sure, Federer and Nadal will be out of reach, but if he stays in shape, Hewitt is at least on the same level as Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez, currently ranked 4 and 5, and I like his chances against No.3 Andy Roddick, whom he leads 6-3 head-to-head. 

Other than his fourth round at Roland Garros, Hewitt has a lot of points to defend over the grass season with a win in Queens and a quarterfinal at Wimbledon, so it will be hard for him to move up the rankings over the next weeks. However, discounting his quarterfinal showing at the US Open, there’s a lot to gain for the rest of the season. Hewitt did not compete in three out of the four Masters Series events after Wimbledon last year, while he retired in the second round in Toronto.

Lleyton Hewitt won his first ATP title in 1998 when he was just 16 years old. It’s hard to see the ’01 US Open and ’02 Wimbledon champ win another Grand Slam, but the man is still only 26 years of age and should have at least 3 good years left on tour. I wonder how Tony Roche feels about him.

For more on Abe Kuijl, check out his blog at http://abetennis.blogspot.com .

 


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14 Comments for Resurgent Hewitt on Track for Top 5 Comeback

hewitt come onnnnn Says:

yeah man ….this is hewitt this is not any player , but i am really surprised about this is words “Sure, Federer and Nadal will be out of reach, but if he stays in shape, Hewitt is at least on the same level as Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez, currently ranked 4 and 5, and I like his chances against No.3 Andy Roddick,”

why man ???
may be about federer …it is quite right but abput Nadal and Roddick , i completely disagree with you, with Nadal , hewitt can beat him on any surface except the clay …also on clay he is a big danger for Nadal. and i am sure he is capable to dominate Nadal on any surface except clay. and about Roddick…..your words made me laughing … He is surely better than Roddick and can beat him every time and on any surface. and look at their H-to-H results. hewitt leading 6-3 even that roddick had won last 2 meetings , and that may be because hewitt was coming from injury while Roddick was playing at his best .no problem about that…i hope Hewitt and Roddick will meet at poerschach semi-final and u will see how will hewitt kick roddick ass.

finally i hope hewitt maintain this type of form as long as possible and u will see him playing in tennis masters cup within the end of the year..

i just hope that hewitt will win Australian open in the remaining years of his career.

come on Lleyton.


penise Says:

I agree for Hewitt it is all about remaining uninjured at this point. If he is healthy he would totally be in the mix with Roddick, the Joker and the rest of the non-Fed/Nadal crowd.


Tennis fan Says:

Hewitt did have a good tournament. He played very well and surprised nearly everyone by reaching the semis. He is a great player that, at his best, is still top ten material. I agree he will never take the place of Federer or Nadal at this stage in his career but he is certainly able for the likes of Roddick and Murray.


rogermustwin Says:

hewitt come onnnnn, what the author meant to say was, Hewitt may not reach no. 1 or no. 2 in world rankings, but can easily surpass Nikolay or Gonzales ranking. I don’t think he meant that Hewitt can beat them but not Federer or Rafa..


realist Says:

actually the thing holding hewitt back isn’t injuries, it’s conservative play, hitting half court balls. it works against low rank players who make too many mistakes. but class players attack hewitt’s balls. watch a recent federer encounter to see how laughable hewitt’s groundstrokes can be.

these days you can’t win grandslams just by getting the ball back.

the only thing keeping him a seed is his grass playing. growing up on grass in australia, he actually knows how to play on it unlike 90% of the players.

beating a tired davydenko in one tournament doesn’t make him a threat suddenly. who else did he beat? calleri, chela? so what.


zola Says:

Abe,
Hewitt was very impressive in HAmburg. But to be able to get to top 5 ( and stay there) he needs to be consistent and not just against Fed and Nadal, but against other players too. And he is how old? 26? I don’t know how much longer he can stay in the game. look at Moya and Blake.


Joe Says:

Yes, Hewitt did play good tennis in Hamburg but lets not get carried away. I think it will be quiet the struggle to get back into the top 10 let alone top 5. With so many consitent players now its goin to be very difficult. Remember Hewitt needs to defend points at queens this year also so he cant afford another slip in his performance. Good luck to him though! Hes a good player to watch.


JDC Says:

I agree with Joe: Hewitt will be lucky to break the Top 10. He is not on par with Gonzo and Davydenko, let alone Murray, Djokovic, etc.

I disagree with hewitt come onnnnn: Hewitt does not “dominate Nadal on any surface except clay”. Last year at Queen’s, they split the first two sets before Nadal retired. Hardly dominating, and on Nadal’s least favorite surface and one of Hewitt’s favorite surfaces.


Samprazzz Says:

Djokovic would beat Hewitt, so would Davydenko. I would also take Gonzalez over Hewitt. Murray would beat Hewitt if he’s feeling good on any particular day. Hewitt belongs at about #7 in the World, if he can sustain his effort.


hewitt come onnnnn Says:

Samprazzz, JDC and Joe ….oh come on guys u r completely wrong….when Hewitt is on so just forget. i hope he will sustain this level of play , and u will see wut he is capable of …beleive me guys he can beat everybody ..even Roger and u will see soon. come on Lleyton


Giner Says:

“may be about federer …it is quite right but abput Nadal and Roddick , i completely disagree with you, with Nadal , hewitt can beat him on any surface except the clay …also on clay he is a big danger for Nadal. and i am sure he is capable to dominate Nadal on any surface except clay. and about Roddick…..your words made me laughing … He is surely better than Roddick and can beat him every time and on any surface. and look at their H-to-H results. hewitt leading 6-3 even that roddick had won last 2 meetings , and that may be because hewitt was coming from injury while Roddick was playing at his best .no problem about that…i hope Hewitt and Roddick will meet at poerschach semi-final and u will see how will hewitt kick roddick ass.”

Out of reach doesn’t mean he can’t beat them in a match. It means he can’t overtake them in ranking. Just because he can beat Nadal, doesn’t mean he can win enough titles to overtake Nadal’s #2 ranking. He lacks the consistency to do that.


shite Says:

I wonder how Tony Roche feels, period. He said when he agreed to be Roger’s coach that he and Roger had reached an understanding–basically Roger should not blame him if Roger loses or slips in the rankings. However, things often turn out different. Maybe he tried too hard to change Roger’s way of playing in order for him to win the French.


claycourtrafa Says:

hey hewitt lost to monfils in the portsnaetch semis, thats consistency for u haha


David J. Says:

I hope Hewitt and return to his former glory and at least hit top 5, but looking at the competition these days, Nadal, Federer, Roddick, etc… it just doesn’t seem likely.

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