Toe operation sidelines Hewitt
Melbourne - Lleyton Hewitt went under the knife again to finally solve a lingering and painful big toe problem which has wrecked his game for more than a year, it was announced on Friday.
Melbourne's Herald Sun paper said that the former number one will be out until the start of the grass-court season in June, quoting Hewitt as saying he will know in six or seven weeks when he can return after having bone cut from the big toe.
"Something needed to be done," Hewitt said, adding he was told by doctors that the "joint in the big toe was completely stuffed."
Hewitt, who turned 31 on Friday, is already planning to ask for a wild card into the London Olympics this summer. He said that after his career he would be disappointed not to get a positive response to play for the medals at Wimbledon.
"The Olympics are now out of my hands. But given my record in Davis Cup and support of the ITF, I'd be disappointed if I didn't get a wildcard," Hewitt said.
Hewitt, a veteran of a pair of hip operations, underwent procedures on his toe for the first time in 2011 and somehow played through the Australian tennis summer last month as well as a Davis Cup tie.
But even the two-time Grand Slam champion battler knows when he has to give in.
"I've not had one pain-free day since surgery last year after San Jose (February)," he told the tabloid.
"It got to the stage where, even if I stopped playing tennis at the end of the Australian summer, I would have needed something done so I could play with the kids.
"Every match I played, bar one or two, I needed a pain-killing injection, a local anesthetic to get through. This has been there for four or five years and it's just got worse because of the pounding on hard court."
Hewitt insisted retirement is not in his immediate future after taking encouragement from his Australian Open fourth-round showing against Novak Djokovic and a Davis Cup this month.