Tennis greats pay tribute to retiring Hewitt


Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray led the tributes for Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who retired from professional tennis on Thursday.

After two grand slam titles, 75 weeks atop the ATP rankings and 20 Australian Open campaigns, former world number one Hewitt said farewell to the sport following a straight-sets loss to David Ferrer.

Hewitt showed characteristic grit and determination, but succumbed to a 6-2 6-4 6-4 second-round defeat on Rod Laver Arena.

Some of the game's most iconic players then recognised the 34-year-old's contribution to tennis.

"Lleyton, thank you for everything you have done for tennis. Thank you for the great rival we have had, the good and the bad. Most of it was good," 17-time grand slam winner Federer told Channel Seven.

"I enjoyed my time on court with you. I enjoyed listening to you as a commentator as well.

"I only wish you the best for you and your family now. You have a wonderful family and kids. The best is ahead of you."

Spaniard and 14-time major champion Nadal, who crashed out of the Australian Open in the first round, added: "I always had something special with you. You are a big inspiration for my tennis and mentality.

"Your love and passion for this sport is a big inspiration for the next generations too. Thank you for everything you did for the sport. And especially thank you for your passion on court."

World number two and four-time Australian Open runner-up Murray followed by saying: "You are an idol of mine when I was growing up. You have always been unbelievably nice and helpful to me when I've been on the Tour. I really appreciate that.

"Enjoy your retirement. It's well deserved. You have put in so much to your career."