Melbourne - Australian tennis greats have
urged the country's temperamental young stars to take a leaf out of
"little guy" Lleyton Hewitt's book as the former world number one
readies for retirement.
After the combustible Nick Krygios and
Bernard Tomic's repeated brushes with authorities, retired Australian stars
including Pat Rafter said they would do well to copy the hard-working Hewitt.
Hewitt, 34, was also once one of tennis's
superbrats but he has earned respect through the sheer perseverance that has
kept the gritty baseliner at or near the top of the game for so long.
The two-time Grand Slam-winner, playing his
final tournament before retirement, is pitted against Spanish eighth seed David
Ferrer in the Australian Open later on Thursday in the second round.
"Too many times in this generation you
see so many not give it their all and you hope that people look at what Lleyton
has done, what he has achieved against all odds, against size or power,"
former world number one Rafter told the Herald Sun newspaper.
"The reality is players have to put in
the hard work to get the best out of themselves and Lleyton has given himself
every opportunity to be the best player he can be and that is very
commendable," Rafter added.
"One thing you always try and tell the
up-and-coming kids is to lay yourself open, and Lleyton is a classic example of
somebody who has given it everything to be the best possible player."
Outgoing Davis Cup captain Wally Masur said
Hewitt was the "benchmark" for hard work and determination, while Pat
Cash said he personified the "Australian spirit".
"Lleyton epitomises everything that I
suppose we as the older generation would love to see go forward," said the
former Wimbledon winner.
"And it's play for your country, heart
and soul, you give 110 percent, you fight to the end. He's a little guy in a
big man's sport these days and he has amazing spirit."