C’mon! Make a rac­quet

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - By DAR­REN WAL­TON

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.

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