Australian tennis champion Lleyton Hewitt admits the transition from leading player to Davis Cup mentor has been challenging as he prepares for his latest comeback.
Hewitt will don the whites and play at Wimbledon again this week after accepting a wildcard to team up with youngster Jordan Thompson in the doubles as he juggles multiple roles at the All England Club this year.
It’s the second time he will have briefly interrupted his retirement since pulling the pin on an illustrious playing career following the Australian Open in January – he also teamed up with Sam Groth in Davis Cup against the USA in March.
And it is the role as Davis Cup captain – and the responsibilities which come with it, such as mentoring the next generation of Australian men’s stars – that Hewitt is finding the most hard work in retirement.
Hewitt is an ever-present figure courtside at grand slam matches of his Davis Cup charges – and spends much of the rest of his time on the practice courts hitting with the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Thompson, Groth and John Millman.
“It is different obviously, going from just managing yourself and one person to managing a whole group and a team,” Hewitt said.
“Australian tennis is what I’m very passionate about and trying to get those guys to fulfil their potential.
“We’ve got some really talented guys up there, obviously led by (top-20 stars) Nick and Bernie.
“Thanasi Kokkinakis is another one, who is not playing this year, but another extremely talented guy … Jordan Thompson (too).
“We’re getting more guys in the main draw but we still want to get better.”
Hewitt and Thompson will take the court on Thursday – weather permitting – against Spanish pair Nicolas Almagro and David Marrero, and the two-time grand-slam winning Australian is excited by the prospect of teaming up with the rising 22-year-old.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. Thommo’s a great young kid,” Hewitt said.
“It’s his first Wimbledon. I’m hitting the ball pretty well. So I look forward to that challenge.”