Australian tennis great Lleyton Hewitt has heaped praise on retiring superstar Roger Federer, declaring he was “nearly unbeatable” at his peak.
In Germany as captain of Australia’s Davis Cup team, Hewitt, who won nine of the 27 matches he played against Federer, losing the 2004 US Open final to the Swiss ace, said Federer deserved every accolade he got.
A 20-time Grand Slam champion, Federer confirmer his retirement, at age 41, after battling a series of injury issues in the past 12 months.
“He was the greatest of that time and our era,” Hewitt said.
“But just his win-loss record in the mid-2000s, Roger was nearly unbeatable – it was pretty much only Rafa (Nadal) that could get him, especially on the clay.
“But most of all he’s been a great ambassador for our sport.
“He deserved to go out on his terms. For him to play one more Wimbledon would have been special, but when you get to his age, it’s not easy. He’s done everything in the sport he could ever dream of.”
Australian Davis Cup star Alex de Minaur, who said he got a “nice little lesson” in 2019 when he played Federer in the final of his hometown tournament in Basel and was thrashed 6-2 6-2.
But he said Federer was the player everyone in his generation looked up to.
“He’s an icon of our sport, one of the guys I looked up to and I’m pretty sure every person on the planet has looked up to,” he said.
“If you’re growing up and you don’t want to be like him, you don’t have a lot of idea about tennis.”