Sport Tennis Federer pays tribute to old rival Hewitt

Federer pays tribute to old rival Hewitt

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Lleyton Hewitt’s farewell summer has got off to a special start with arguably the greatest tennis player of all time saying the Australian played a key role in making his career.

Roger Federer paid the ultimate compliment to Hewitt in Brisbane on Saturday, saying it was his early battles with the two-time grand slam winner which forced Federer to transform his approach to his game.

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Hewitt won seven of his first nine meetings with the 17-time grand slam winner including a victory from two sets down in the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final which allowed Australia to defeat Switzerland.

Federer says he began his senior career believing his talent would be enough to succeed but watching Hewitt had convinced him he needed more.

“He was an unbelievable teenager, so strong, so early,” Federer said.

“I learnt a lot from him. How feisty he was, how tough he was.

“It’s definitely one of the reasons I’m the player I am today because I took a completely different route. I took the talent route and thought it was going to take care of itself and eventually I learnt how to work hard as well, like him.”

Hewitt will retire when his Australian Open campaign comes to an end this month.

Federer said he isn’t seeking one final match against his old rival but he will be wishing Hewitt all the best at Melbourne Park.

“I’ve played Lleyton enough, I don’t need to play him again,” Federer said.

“I’d rather see him giving his absolute best from now till the end of his career. I’ve been a big fan of him throughout.”

– AAP

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