Lleyton Hewitt has been rewarded for his resurgent season with Australian tennis’s highest honour, the prestigious Newcombe Medal.
The veteran former world No.1 and dual grand slam champion was formally recognised as Australia’s most outstanding player in 2013 at a gala awards ceremony in Melbourne on Monday night.
Ranked outside the world’s top 100 in February, Hewitt has climbed his way back up to 60th in the rankings after claiming a series of big-name scalps and leading Australia back into the Davis Cup World Group for the first time since 2007.
Proving he still remains a force on the international circuit, 32-year-old Hewitt launched his season with success at the Kooyong Classic in January before finishing runner-up at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island in July.
He wound back the clock to storm into the fourth round of the US Open in August, beating world No.5 Juan Martin del Potro for the second time in a month en route, and went within a game of making the quarter-finals in New York for the first time in six years.
Hewitt also upset world No.8 Stanislas Wawrinka in the opening round at Wimbledon.
Fittingly, the South Australian was presented the medal by Australian tennis legend and Hewitt’s first Davis Cup captain and mentor John Newcombe, in whose honour the award is named.
“I’m thrilled and so proud to present this award to Lleyton and it’s appropriate he receives it at the end of what has been a brilliant comeback year,” Newcombe said.
“He’s had an amazing year and his terrific results have again shown the grit and determination he’s renowned for.
“I’ve worked with Lleyton since he was 15 when Rochey (Tony Roche) and I enlisted him as an orange boy for Davis Cup.
“We knew then he was destined for a pretty special career, but probably didn’t expect the skinny kid with his cap on backwards to set a record for weeks spent at world No.1.
“This has been a remarkable year for Lleyton – his first for some time without the impediment of injury, and he’s made the most of it, posting some tremendous results, unexpected to almost everyone but him.”
Hewitt joins three-time winner and 2013 finalist Sam Stosur – who won two titles for the first time in her career this year – on the Newcombe Medal honour roll.
The other finalists were three-times grand slam doubles finalists Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty, Australian Open junior boys’ champion Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic, who landed his maiden ATP title this year in Sydney.