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Lleyton Hewitt Undergoes Second Round Of Surgery

PTI 30 Jan 2010, 14:38:18 IST
PTI

Former No. 1-ranked Lleyton Hewitt hobbled into a news conference on crutches Saturday to announce he had undergone hip surgery and he doubted he'd play again before the French Open.

Hewitt's hopes of ending a local drought at the Australian Open were ended by top-ranked Roger Federer, who beat the Australian in straight sets in the fourth round.

Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam winner, said he injured his hip at the Hopman Cup in early January and felt "a reasonable amount of pain" while playing in Melbourne.

"After I finished the Australian Open, two days ago I had to go in and have hip surgery on my right hip," said Hewitt, who turns 29 next month. "At least I gave 100 percent and tried to block it out as much as possible."

No Australian man has won the Australian Open since Mark Edmondson in 1976.

"I'll be back, ready for the French Open," said Hewitt, who is focussing primarily on the Grand Slam events.

Hewitt said he took comfort from the comebacks of Belgian women Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, who took time off from tennis and returned to immediate success.

Clijsters, who was once engaged to be married to Hewitt, came back after two years away to win the U. S. Open last September.

Henin took 20 months off and in her first Grand Slam back was through to the final at the Australian Open, which was scheduled for later Saturday against top-ranked Serena Williams.

"I thought maybe, if I retire now and come back ... you know, Kim and Justine do that, then come back and win slams," he said, smiling. "Could have been an omen for me."

Meanwhile, Tennis greats gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Margaret Smith Court's sweep of all four majors in 1970.

Court shared memories of her calendar-year Grand Slam along with those who lost to her in a tribute before the women's final got under way at the Australian Open.

Court won the Australian Open 11 times, a fraction of her 24 major single's titles.

The 1970 Grand Slam included wins over Helga Niessen Masthoff at the French Open, Billie Jean King at Wimbledon and Rosie Casales at the U.S. Open. She beat Kerry Melville at the Australian Open.

"She was a queen for so many years," said Billie Jean King, who had a career total of 12 majors titles. "Let's face it, she won more Grand Slams than any other player _ male or female."

"I needed all I could get against her, it was very difficult," King said.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who lost to Court in the following Australian Open in 1971, said Court helped motivate her toward her own seven Grand Slam titles.

"I'm just so glad that Margaret was around. She was a person who pushed me all the way," Goolagong said.

Court spoke about the Wimbledon final against King, a 14-12, 11-9 victory that was until then the longest-ever women's final at the All England Club. She played with an ankle injury _ and a lot of painkillers.

"They told me the injection would last two-and-a-half hours and it was getting pretty close to that, so I thought if it goes to three sets I was going to lose," she said.

"You could hear a pin drop because there was such great tension in there."

Casales recalled her as a formidable presence on the court, and her ability to reach everything.

"It was about the arms that always seemed to stretch up, out, sideways," Casales said. "Arms and legs, I always remember that's what she was." AP