While the tennis world reeled over Steve Darcis taking out Rafael Nadal in the first round of Wimbledon, Lleyton Hewitt scored arguably the “other” upset of the day. Hewitt is 32, ranked 70 in the world, and he took out Stan Wawrinka, the 11th seed, 10th ranked player in the world, and one who’s been having a very fine year. And he did it in straight sets: 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Hewitt is a former Wimbledon champion (2002, as well as winner of the USO, 2001), and former world #1, but he has been hampered by injuries over more than a few years. Grass, however, can sometimes keep him in the game. He beat Roger Federer in the final at Halle as recently as 2010. For that reason, tennis fans looked at this to be a barn-burner of a first round match. The shock wasn’t completely that Hewitt pulled it off, but that it didn’t go to 4 or 5 sets.
The reason may be Hewitt’s most recent, and most radical surgery. He revealed last month that he’s had his left toe reconstructed and irreversibly surgically fused. He is now pain-free in his push-off foot, but he had the surgery knowing that it was possible that he’d never play tennis again. According to his team, this allows him to return full-time to the tour, which he still has ambitions about. And Lleyton Hewitt is an ambitious man. Moreover, he has reason to fancy his chances on grass. He’s unlikely to go very deep in this Wimbledon, but a few players in his direct path over the next couple of rounds would be right to be nervous.
In Tues. results, both #1′s got through in straights: Serena cruised, while Novak was tested by a game Florian Mayer. British hope Laura Robson upset #10 seed Maria Kirilenko, while another Brit, Heather Watson, lost to the US’s Madison Keys. And another US hopeful, Brittany Mattek-Sands, fell to the #7, Angelique Kerber.