Sport Tennis Australian fortunes riding high at Wimbledon

Australian fortunes riding high at Wimbledon

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Australia is in the midst of its best Wimbledon in 15 years, with seven players progressing into the second round.

With the first round now done and dusted, Australia has seven players still standing.

It may not sound like much, and it’s not really, but since 10 players graced the second round here in 1999, this is as good as it has got.

But this jump in numbers is not all about the new generation coming through with a few old favourites enjoying something of a renaissance.

The 28-year-old Marinko Matosevic is very much a late starter, with now two main draw wins under his belt. Jarmila Gajdosova at 27 is on the comeback trail from illness and Casey Dellacqua is back inside the top 40 at the age of 29, which is a feel-good story in itself.

And of course, there is Lleyton Hewitt, the one constant of Australian tennis, who won the Wimbledon title in 2002, and at 33 he has been there and done that, all the way back into the 90s.

Hewitt defeated Michal Przysiezny 6-2 6-7 (14-16) 6-1 6-4 on Tuesday, while young-gun Nick Kyrgios prevailed over Frenchman Stephane Robert in his first ever main-draw match, 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (6-8) 6-2.

James Duckworth and Matt Ebden did not fare as well, losing to Richard Gasquet and Milos Raonic respectively.

Hewitt is excited by the number of Aussies still in the Wimbledon draw as he is often pretty lonely by this stage of a grand slam.

And he is especially pleased by the break-through of some of the younger Australian talent.

There is real excitement for Australia in the form of Kyrgios (19), Luke Saville (20) and of course Bernard Tomic (21).

The trio should form the core of the next generation of top Australian players, along with Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is not here, and Ashleigh Barty who lost in qualifying but will play doubles. Kyrgios more than anyone this year is turning heads.

“Yeah, it’s good. There’s been some good wins,” Hewitt said

“I’m obviously really happy with some of the young boys. Sav at his first tour match at a grand slam, at Wimbledon, which is fantastic, especially after saving a match point in his last round of qualifiers as well.

“Bernie did his job yesterday.”

Hewitt also gave a nod to one of the older brigade.

“Marinko, he won his first match at Wimbledon, which is huge for him. He’s a late developer, he beat a quality player in Verdasco,” Hewitt said.

Where Tomic was the slightly unknown but hugely exciting prospect three years ago here, Kyrgios is now being talked about as a future star of the game. Andy Murray thinks so. And Hewitt agrees.

“I’ve never actually seen Nick play on grass, but he’s got a game that I’m sure over time could definitely get better suited to grass,” Hewitt said.

“He returns serve pretty well for a big guy, he obviously hits a big ball himself. It’s good for him that he got through today.”

Numbers aside, the future stars are beginning to deliver on promise.

But in the meantime, seven players in the second round at Wimbledon will just have to do.