Thursday 27 April 2017

Hewitt departs in trademark style with 'idiot' rant at umpire

Arguably Australia's most distinguished active sportsman, Hewitt has never backed away from a scrap (Getty)
Arguably Australia's most distinguished active sportsman, Hewitt has never backed away from a scrap (Getty)

Simon Briggs

After 18 years of chainsaw celebrations and "C'mons", Lleyton Hewitt bowed out of professional singles tennis in typically feisty style, telling the chair umpire, Pascal Maria: "You're a freaking idiot. That's why everyone in the locker-room thinks you're full of yourself."

Arguably Australia's most distinguished active sportsman, Hewitt has never backed away from a scrap.

Even as a 15-year-old hitting partner for the national Davis Cup team, he was taking on Pat Rafter - then the No 2 in the world - and outplaying him for long stretches.

It was not quite enough against David Ferrer, a player who has taken the Hewitt blueprint - bold returns, gritty counterpunching and scurrying feet - and updated it for the Facebook era.

Groused

Hewitt huffed and puffed and groused in his usual bloody-minded way, but was fractionally second best in every area as Ferrer ground out a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

The funny thing was that Hewitt had enough moxie left over to berate Maria and the linesman who called him for two foot faults in the match.

Having dubbed the line judge a "moron", he demanded that a replacement be brought in, and then responded to Maria's refusal by barking insults at him.

There was a slight irony in the way Hewitt's verbal aggression was followed by a prolonged love-in at the end of the match, during which Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios all paid tribute to him.

Murray ruthlessly demolished big-serving Sam Groth - the world's fastest recorded server - 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 as the top seeds sailed through. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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