With Hewitt retiring, Australia looks to new generation

Sports Sunday 17/January/2016 15:23 PM
By: Times News Service
With Hewitt retiring, Australia looks to new generation

Melbourne: With the retiring Lleyton Hewitt set for a bitter-sweet farewell from the Australian Open, the burden of home expectations will land heavily on the shoulders of talented but tempestuous duo Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.
Australia's yearning for a home men's champion runs deep after 40 years of frustration but the pair will be under the microscope for their behaviour as much as their tennis.
Both have spoken of their love for home crowds but that love has, at times, not entirely been reciprocated.
Australia's number one Tomic, seeded 17th at Melbourne Park, was jeered by the centre court crowd when he retired hurt early in his opening match of the 2014 tournament against Rafa Nadal.
The mercurial Kyrgios lit up last year's tournament with a dizzying run to the quarter-finals but was lashed in mainstream and social media for yelling expletives and smashing racquets.
He remains under huge scrutiny and a suspended ban from the ATP after a lewd remark aimed at Stan Wawrinka during a match last year.
The 20-year-old has steered clear of controversy leading up to this year's tournament but Tomic has been under fire for retiring midway through his quarter-final match at the Sydney International, citing sickness.
Having once earned the nickname 'Tomic the Tank Engine' after being accused of giving up in a U.S. Open match, the 23-year-old was sensitive to the criticism, given a swathe of withdrawals that hit the tournament.
"Other players did pull out that week, were also ill," Tomic told reporters at Melbourne Park on Sunday. "Unfortunately with me, given my bad reputation in the past, things have happened. I think (the attention) always gets a little too big.
"I think ... just being sick, maybe a little bit disappointing the way that you guys sort of ... went about it."
With Kyrgios seeded 29th, Australia have two seeds in the men's draw for the first time in over a decade.
Former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur is the lone local seed in the women's draw at a tournament where she has often battled crippling nerves.
With two-times grand slam champion Hewitt bowing out, Kyrgios was feeling renewed pressure to perform on the biggest stage but also spoke of a greater level of comfort with it.
"I feel as if I'm more relaxed this year," he said.
"Coming around, I've got a lot more confidence in my game. I feel a lot more comfortable playing in front of the crowd this year. I'm definitely playing a lot better.
"The crowd definitely expects any Aussie to play their best Tennis here. That's fair enough.
"I think every Aussie should step up here and try their absolute hardest to bring the best out of themselves."