ATP Tour

Hewitt rolls back the years

Lleyton Hewitt (AFP)
Lleyton Hewitt (AFP)

London - Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was glad to put a smile back on the face of Australian sport with an impressive 6-4, 6-3 win over Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round at Queen's Club on Wednesday.

Hewitt awoke to news that Australia cricketer David Warner had been dropped for his country's Champions Trophy match against New Zealand after reports he had made an "unprovoked physical attack" on England star Joe Root in a Birmingham bar on Sunday.

Warner's clash with Root came just hours after Australia were beaten by England in the Champions Trophy, a defeat that fuelled the growing belief that the Australians are in danger of being humiliated by their arch rivals in the forthcoming Ashes series.

There was also bad news for Australia at Queen's on Tuesday when young talent Bernard Tomic crashed out of the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event in the first round.

Against that backdrop of strife, Australia's sporting public needed a lift and Hewitt delivered as he rolled back the years to rout world number 28 Dimitrov and reach the last 16 in west London.

"I don't know about Warner, but obviously leading into the Ashes, so everyone's mind is hard," Hewitt said.

"They're obviously playing a one day tournament at the moment, which is pretty big, but in the back of England and Australia's mind is the Ashes and wanting to perform well in that.

"I wouldn't write our boys off. I know (Australia captain) Michael Clarke) pretty well, and he will be looking forward to it."

Hewitt is a four-time Queen's champion, but thoughts of a record fifth crown were some way from the former world number one's mind when he arrived at the start of the week.

The 32-year-old is well into the twilight of his career and his lowly 82nd position in the world rankings reflects that diminished status.

Hewitt's first round defeat at the French Open, when he squandered a two-set lead against Gilles Simon, was his fourth successive loss, raising once again the possibility that he would retire soon.

But the former Wimbledon champion has always thrived on London's grass courts and, after grinding out a hard-fought first round win over Michael Russell, he produced one of his best performances of 2013 to brush aside Dimitrov.

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