Lleyton Hewitt Announces Retirement Plans

It’s almost time to say goodbye to an Australian great.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

Australian tennis great Lleyton Hewitt has announced his decision to retire from the sport following next year’s Australian Open.

Hewitt addressed media at a press conference from the tournament on Thursday, declaring his intention of making a 20th and final appearance at the Open in 2016 before taking over the role of Davis Cup captain.

“I’ve thought long and hard. I plan to play the Aussie Open next year and most likely finish then,” he said.

“Personally I’ll be looking towards the grass court season and most likely finishing here in Melbourne, which for me would obviously be special to play 20 Australian Opens.”

The two-time Grand Slam winner last week missed a prime opportunity to make the Australian Open third round, but dropped a two-set lead to fellow 33-year-old Benjamin Becker after a string of first round exits in recent years.

Hewitt was joined at the press conference by Pat Rafter, standing down as Davis Cup captain, and interim appointment Wally Masur, a former world No.15 and long-time tennis coach.

“Obviously, for me, the Davis Cup is something we’ve worked extremely hard to put ourselves in a position in the World Group where we have a genuine shot,” Hewitt added.

“I believe with the guys now we have a lot more options, a lot more depth. I feel like I can still put my hand up as a player and help the boys get over the line.

“Whether that’s singles, doubles, whatever is needed. Right at the moment that’s the main focus for us.”

Rafter ends a four-year stint leading Australia’s Davis Cup side.  

“I am officially stepping down from the Davis Cup captaincy,” he said.

“Wally will take over as the interim captain. Lleyton will then fill the spot when the time is right and ready. That will start pretty well, right now.

“Wally will take on the first role in the Czech Republic and run the Davis Cup how he feels it should be run.

“Obviously, Lleyton, being such a dominant part of the Davis Cup team for so long will provide strong assistance. That is where we are at the moment.”

Photo: Patrick Scala/Getty Images.