Lleyton Hewitt made the most of his talents as a player to win two grand slam titles but in his role as a coach he may achieve even greater miracles – by getting Australia’s young stars to realise their potential.
Hewitt has held the role of Davis Cup captain for under a year – and has no official coaching role with any of Australia’s players – but the much-maligned Bernard Tomic has lauded the recently retired 35-year-old’s influence.
In essence, the last Australian male grand slam winner is playing a role in potentially shaping the next one.
Tomic, who reached the Queen’s Club semi-finals with an impressive three-set win over Gilles Muller on Friday, believes he’s starting to realise his potential after eight years on tour – thanks in no small part to Hewitt.
Hewitt is an ever-present figure courtside at major tournaments, cheering on the likes of Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, Sam Groth, John Millman and Jordan Thompson at the French Open last month.
And he was there, standing and applauding, as Tomic surged past Muller.
“He’s one of the biggest legends in the game and well respected,” Tomic said.
“Everyone respects him around the world for what he’s achieved and how he achieved it.
“To have him here supporting me, coaching me, it’s an amazing feeling.
“It’s getting the best out of me.
“… But there is a reason why Lleyton achieved what he achieved in his career.
“If I can get some sort of information and some sort of help from that sort of person, it’s going to make me a better player.”
Tomic, by his own admission, has so far failed to reach his potential – notching just one quarter-final appearance, at Wimbledon five years ago.
He says under Hewitt he’s approaching tennis with a new level of professionalism, one which he hopes will take him higher still in the rankings.
“It’s the little things that matter. And (previously) I probably didn’t address these little things that I needed to become a top player,” Tomic said.
“And I think that’s one of the reasons … I have been improving so much in the ranks is I’m doing the little things better and better.”
Tomic earned a career-high ranking of 17 in January before going on a horror stretch throughout the clay season in which he failed to win back-to-back matches from February until this week.
But by reaching the final four at Queen’s, he’s provisionally jumped to 19th in the world and a top-16 seeding at Wimbledon later this month is not out of reach.
“There is still a long way to go,” he said.
“And if you can look at the top three, four, five top guys in tennis they are not just the best tennis players but they are the most professional and they are the most hard-working guys in the world.”