C’mon! Make a racquet
WE ALL know the next wave is coming and that Lleyton Hewitt is going, but ‘‘When?’’ is the big question in Australian tennis.
Hewitt has carried the torch proudly and admirably for a decade and a half now and is again set to reclaim the Australian No.1 ranking next month from Bernard Tomic.
Davis Cup and grand slams drive Hewitt and the former Wimbledon and US Open champion is refusing to put a timeline on his retirement.
‘‘ I want to have another crack at Wimbledon for sure and I feel if I can get more matches under my belt going into Wimbledon that will hold me in a better stead,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t know when I’ll be stopping, but I’ll be playing out the whole year.’’
Turning 33 in February, though, and surely on his last legs after a series of careersaving surgeries, the former world No.1 must make way for generation next sooner rather than later.
With reigning Australian Open boys’ champion Nick Kyrgios and US Open junior finalist Thanasi Kokkinakis leading the way, the outlook is bright.
But at 18 and 17 respectively, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are some years off filling Hewitt’s shoes — and successstarved Australian tennis fans are demanding a saviour much sooner than that.
They are looking for one in Bernard Tomic, the two-time junior grand slam champion and youngest Wimbledon quarter-finalist in almost 30 years, to step up now. The 21- year- old hopes to, but accepts he has some catching up to do after a rollercoaster ride in 2013.
After opening the season in a blaze of glory with victory over Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup amid 10 straight wins and capturing his maiden ATP title in Sydney, Tomic ended the year outside the world’s top 50 following a dozen first-round defeats.
In between, his father and coach was banned from the tour for assaulting Tomic’s training partner.
With John Tomic still calling the shots in the background, Tomic will again launch his new season at the Hopman Cup in Perth, with Croatian Velimir Zovko to serve as co-coach.
Samantha Stosur is already in the top 20, but Australia’s top-ranked women’s player is nevertheless also looking to ascend after giving up her three-year residence in the top 10 following a disappointing 2013 grand slam run.
Stosur’s best result at the majors was a third-round appearance at Roland Garros.
But the 2011 US Open champion did win two titles in a season for the first time in her career and fans can expect a refreshed Stosur to bounce back under her new mentor, Andy Murray’s former coach Miles Maclagan.
Stosur is the lone Australian woman in the Top 100 entering the new year but, like Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, big things are expected of former junior Wimbledon champion and three-times grand slam doubles finalist Ashleigh Barty, who turns 18 in April.