It was the shot that got the tennis world talking. Down set point in the second set of his third-round match on Friday against compatriot Pierre-Hugues Herbert, French ninth seed Jo Wilfried-Tsonga came to the net before being forced to scamper to track down an attempted lob.
Not only did Tsonga get to the ball, he managed to hit a crisp, one-handed backhand winner, preventing Herbert from squaring the match at one set all.
Having saved the set, Tsonga went on to win it, claiming a two-sets-to-love lead. It’s been a big few days for the 2008 finalist, who drew plaudits after assisting an ailing ball girl during his second-round match on Wednesday night.
Hewitt bubbles over
Journalists generally head to press conferences searching for no more than some good quotes to fill their stories.
And Lleyton Hewitt’s media appearance following his final Rod Laver Arena bow on Thursday night was indeed most noteworthy for the dual major champion’s rubbishing of match-fixing claims levelled against him. But while things then bubbled over, it had nothing to do with any of those allegations.
Midway through a lengthy press conference, Tennis Australia staff began walking down the aisles holding champagne flutes. It quickly became apparent that Hewitt – who was seated alongside his children Mia, 10, Cruz, 7, and Ava, 5 – was to receive a toast.
In walked TA chief executive Craig Tiley, who saluted “Rusty”. Tiley described the recently appointed Davis Cup captain as “Australia’s finest ever competitor”. He continued paying tribute to the South Australian. “On behalf of everyone in the world of tennis, our sport, thank you for who you are, thank you for what you’ve done, and also what you’re still going to do. Well done,” Tiley said.
The press conference moderator then called for three cheers, although judging by the amount of champagne left on the table afterwards, TA over-catered.
Hewitt had a sip too, although he didn’t anticipate an all-nighter given he had doubles commitments with Sam Groth on Friday.
“I saw Grothy in the locker room and he was already asking about practice tomorrow and warming up tomorrow,” Hewitt said. “I might have a quiet beer. That’s it.” Tournament Director @CraigTiley proposes a toast to @lleytonhewitt during his final press conference. #ausopenpic.twitter南ZhFk1Gl9o— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 21, 2
Their presence at the press conference wasn’t the first time the Hewitt kids were in the public eye on Thursday night.
Hewitt was caught by surprise when a noise erupted during his on-court interview with Channel Seven commentator Bruce McAvaney. He turned to find his offspring walking onto Rod Laver Arena to greet their father. Cameras soon panned to Lleyton’s wife Bec, who was visibly teary.
Hewitt described his wife of 10 years as his “rock”, before McAvaney took matters into his own hands, declaring it would be “more home than away for Lleyton now with Bec”, alluding to Bec’s acting role as Hayley Smith on long-running Seven soap opera Home and Away.
McAvaney’s effort prompted corporate bookmaker Sportsbet to open a market on the next program the veteran broadcaster would attempt to jam into an interview. X Factor is the favourite at $4, with Packed to the Rafters at $9. We suspect that might have been a fair bit shorter had Pat Rafter not retired 14 years ago.