Lleyton Hewitt’s farewell summer kicked off with his trademark fight and determination but ended in a three-set defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely at the Hopman Cup.
Following the win by the Australian Green team of Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova over Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Sabine Lisicki 3-0 in the opening session at Perth Arena, Hewitt turned out for his first match ahead of his impending retirement at the end of the Australian Open later this month.
He claimed the second set in a tie-break but Vesely won the opener 6-3 before taking the decider 6-4 in almost two and-a-half hours.
Hewitt got off to the worst-possible start against the world No.41, who raced to a 4-0 lead while scarcely conceding a point, before closing out the set in 34 minutes.
It would only be fitting for Hewitt’s farewell tour to begin with a fightback and it was a rejuvenated second set by the 34-year-old.
Neither player broke serve but Hewitt flew to a 5-0 tie-break lead before winning it 7-1 to enter the third set with all the momentum.
But it didn’t continue. The pair traded breaks but Vesely earned another to lead 4-2 and close out the match.
Hewitt was disappointed to lose the first match of his farewell tour this summer, but happy to get the hit out under his belt.
“Jiri is a quality player and deserved to win, but it was just good to come out here for the first game of the year and get a tough match,” Hewitt said.
“Hopefully I can come out for the rest of the week now and get better from here to get ready for the rest of the summer.”
The recently married Jarmila Wolfe (nee Gajdosova) will now play the Czech Republic’s replacement for Lucie Safarova, Karolina Pliskova.