British hero Andy Murray has led the tributes for Lleyton Hewitt after ending the baseline warrior’s legendary Davis Cup career in Glasgow.
Murray’s three victories in Great Britain’s 3-2 triumph at the Emirates Arena denied Hewitt the chance to bow out in ultimate fashion with a fifth final appearance in the famous team event the South Australian so covets.
In the end, Murray, with brother Jamie, had the honour of being Hewitt’s last Davis Cup combatant in Britain’s 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 doubles win over the former world No.1 and Sam Groth.
“It’s a shame that he’s retiring but I’ve spoken to him a lot over the past couple of years, and practised with him a lot, and he’s definitely got everything out of his body,” Murray said after clinching the semi-final.
“(He’s had) a number of surgeries and various issues and still always given his best when he’s played the Davis Cup.
“He’s got an incredible attitude, he fights so hard in every match and yesterday was a very good example of that, how well he played considering how little tennis he has played in the last 18 months.
“He was still returning incredibly well.
“He has a great record too.”
Australian captain Wally Masur hailed Hewitt an inspiration.
“What do you say about Lleyton? It’s always been there to see. He’s put everything out on the court and it was no different yesterday,” Masur said.
“The very first point I saw him play was as a junior at the US Open. He hasn’t changed a bit since then. He’s full of enthusiasm. He’s like electricity.
“He’s a good team man. He likes the team environment. Does a lot behind the scenes and he’s been a good mentor to the younger Australian players.”
Masur also praised Hewitt’s immense fighting qualities.
“When he was young, he was so such a ferocious competitor that he used to kind of polarise opinions,” he said.
“But I used to say: `Whatever you think about Lleyton Hewitt, if you pay the price of admission, he give you full value.’ And everyone walks away sold that he’s the real deal.”
Hewitt, who will formally retire after the Australian Open in January, farewells Davis Cup as Australia’s longest-serving and most prolific singles winner in the prestigious competition.
The 34-year-old has racked up 42 singles victories in a record 40 ties for Australia since debuting in 1999.
His 58 victories in total, including 16 in doubles, is also a record.
“He’s had a great career and left a great legacy and his records will stand,” Masur said.
Murray said Hewitt would make a natural captain whenever he assumes the role from Masur.
“I would imagine that it’s something he will be really looking forward to doing,” the Scot said.
“He would be a great influence and I think all the young guys in the team look up to him because of his attitude towards the game.”