Beaten Hewitt slams Olympic chiefs and Poms
Lleyton Hewitt surveyed the wreckage of his Wimbledon first round exit on Tuesday, but still came out fighting with a tongue-lashing for Olympic Games chiefs and his favourite target, the English.
Hewitt’s 10th anniversary party of his 2002 Wimbledon title was gatecrashed by French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win, handing the Australian his earliest exit at the All England Club since 2003.
His loss also meant that there will be no Australian man in the second round at Wimbledon for the first time since 1938.
The injury-plagued Hewitt, 31, playing in his 14th Wimbledon but needing a wildcard to do so after his ranking plummeted to 202, saw his disappointment eased by discovering he had been handed a wildcard into the singles at the Olympics.
But he was furious that he and Chris Guccione had not been handed the same courtesy for the doubles.
“Playing in the singles here at the Olympics is a great bonus,” said Hewitt.
“At least I get the chance to play here again. But I’m disappointed not to make the doubles. I guess playing as much Davis Cup doesn’t count for anything.”
Hewitt, whose career has gone into a tailspin and who underwent radical surgery to cut bone out of his big toe in February, refused to entertain any notion that the problems of Australian tennis mirrored a decline in the country’s sporting prowess in general.
“I reckon we’ll go alright at the Olympics,” he said, before dampening any ideas England’s cricketers might have of continuing their Ashes dominance next year or of even winning the one-day series which is about to start.
“We’ve never been too afraid of the Poms,” smiled Hewitt.
The former world number one said it was too early to suggest that he may not be back at Wimbledon in 2013.
“I don’t know about next year,” he said. “I have just been focusing on rehabbing the foot injury. I’m really proud of the work I have done. I’d like to be here again but we will have to wait and see.
“I got a tough draw. I think I could have beaten a lot of the guys in the tournament. But I can only do what I can. Now I will focus on the Olympics and take it all step by step.”
On Tuesday, Tsonga showed no signs of the finger injury he suffered at Queen’s and goes on to play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain for a place in the last 32.
The Frenchman reached the semi-finals last year, defeating Roger Federer in the quarter-finals having been two sets to love down.