Australia's Lleyton Hewitt has played the last singles tennis match of his career: He lost to David Ferrer in the second round of the 2016 Australian Open in straight sets on Thursday, with the score reading 6-2, 6-4 and 6-4 in favour of the Spaniard.
The Australian had last year announced his decision to retire, stating that the 2016 Australian Open would be his last. Despite his loss in the Australian Open, the Aussie, who has bid adieu to his tennis career, will be remembered as one of the most competitive players in the circuit.
Hewitt, who possesses a great fighting spirit, showed similar character against Ferrer, testing the Spaniard a few times from the baseline. The Australian, who pumped his fists a few times in his match against Ferrer, and characteristically shouted "c'mon" in front of his fans, looked a bit tired as the game progressed.
The fans, who have always backed the Australian, also came up with some huge roars when he won some big points, which gave Hewitt some goosebumps as well.
"You know, it was an unbelievable atmosphere out there. A couple of the roars during the match tonight was as loud as I've ever played in front of. I was getting goosebumps at times," Australia Open official website quoted Hewitt as saying.
The Australian gave his best against Ferrer in the third set, in which he came back from 1-3 down to level it at 3-3. However, that was the best he could produce, as the Spaniard finished the game in the third set itself, clinching it 6-4. Ferrer did not give any easy points to Hewitt, who considers him to be a "top-eight player" in the world.
"He's a top-quality, top-eight player at the moment. He didn't really give me a lot of opportunities out there tonight. All my service games were really hard to hold the whole time. The small opportunities I got on his, he didn't give me any cheap points," said Hewitt. "But that's why he's had a long and successful career. He's been awfully close to winning a major."
With this loss, the curtains have come down on Hewitt's singles career, which included some major laurels. Hewitt, who lost in the finals of the 2005 Australian Open, won the elusive Grand Slam titles in 2002 (Wimbledon) and 2001 (US Open). The Australian, who wore his heart on his sleeve, also played an integral part in Australia lifting the Davis Cup in 1999 and 2003.
"I've loved every minute of playing for Australia, wearing the green and gold. Not just when we play the Davis Cup, I pride myself on being an Australian throughout the year and representing our great country and the love and support that I've had throughout my career, but the last few years has been unbelievable," said Hewitt.
Hewitt will feature in the doubles arena on Friday as he teams up with fellow Australian Sam Groth. The pair will face Henri Kontinen and John Peers in the second round of the doubles competition.