Retiring Australian great Lleyton Hewitt’s hopes of a farewell Hopman Cup triumph are all but over but he was happy to get a tough three sets under his belt on Sunday night in Australia Gold’s 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic.
Hewitt started slowly in his first singles match since losing in five sets to Bernard Tomic in last year’s US Open second round with Czech world No. 41 Jiri Vesely winning the first four games on his way to the opening set.
But the former world No.1 fought hard for almost two-and-a-half hours before Vesely won 6-3 6-7 (1) 6-4.
While Hewitt and Jarmila Wolfe lost all three matches in the tie, Hewitt enjoyed the experience in preparation for Melbourne but is trying not to focus on the fact it’s his farewell tour.
“The Arena is fantastic. It’s very similar to Rod Laver Arena with the set up and the distance from the crowd. It’s great preparation for the Australian Open,” Hewitt said.
“When you’re out there you sort of block out that you know it’s near the end and just try to compete, and try to get the most out of yourself every time.
“You obviously know it in the back of your mind, but it’s not something I am focusing on too much.”
While disappointed in his team’s loss, Hewitt was impressed with what he saw earlier in the day from fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios beat German youngster Alexander Zverev in straight sets as his Australian Gold team with Daria Gavrilova beat Zverev and Sabine Lisicki 3-0.
“I’m trying to help coach Nick and I’d like him to keep winning. I thought he played pretty well and he had a really good rhythm on his serve,” Hewitt said.
“I thought Zverev was faultless in the first set, but Nick’s versatility came to the front in the end in the second and third sets.”
Meanwhile, world No.11 Karolina Pliskova was clinical beating Wolfe 7-5 6-3 on the back of winning the last five games in the evening session for the Czech Republic.
She and Vesely blitzed Wolfe and Hewitt 3-0 and can take a step toward Saturday’s final with a win over Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov and Elina Svitolina on Tuesday.
“I’m really happy with this win,” Pliskova said. “Jiri’s played an amazing match too so we are really happy with this to start.”