Hewitt’s tribute to the star before the showdown with Djokovic

He admits his views on De Minaur are often like that of a proud father.

“The child is a sponge. I admire his willingness to learn and his commitment to Australia is why this country fell in love with him,” said Hewitt.

“Every time he steps into this space, I know he’s going to go that extra distance for me. It’s not the results that make me proud, it’s the knowledge that when he plays, he doesn’t just do it for himself.

“He does it for me, the coaches, his teammates, his country and everyone else behind the scenes. That’s the quality of the person he is.”

Hewitt paid tribute to De Minaur’s mentor and trainer Adolfo Gutierrez, who has been traveling the world with the Australian since he was nine.

Hewitt said he always saw a good player in the Sydney boy, who has lived much of his life in Spain.

“I remember coming to the backyards at Melbourne Park as a teenager to watch him play,” he said.

“Nobody knew who he was. He was in a wildcard playoff to get into the main draw. You might not know who he was before the tournament, but his performance in winning that five-set match against Austria’s Gerald Melzer in his first-ever match at the Australian Open put him on the map.

“It was a proud day and it hasn’t let anyone down ever since. I always believed he could be a good player but you never know how good a kid can be. Me and Tony Roche have always tried to make people believe that he can go out and beat the best. That he belongs out there in their company. I think that helped him tremendously.”

Odds are good against De Minaur for his upcoming fourth-round showdown against Djokovic. He has never reached the quarterfinals at his home Grand Slam. The pundits say Djokovic is ripe for selection given the hamstring injury that has hampered his performances at this tournament somewhat.

But Hewitt said De Minaur is taking a big risk going out there and playing the injury and not the man.

“Alex needs to forget that there is even a question mark over Novak’s fitness and play on his side of the court,” Hewitt said.

“You have to prepare physically and mentally for a long fight. When you’re playing at your best against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak and even Andy Murray, you’ll be beaten if you prepare for less before stepping onto the pitch.

Hewitt has had the privilege of playing most of his matches at the Australian Open at Rod Laver Arena. It’s a moment De Minaur should cherish.

“There are a lot of things I miss about playing,” he said. “One of the things I miss the most is going to Rod Laver Arena. You will never get tired of this walk.

“That’s why you work so hard your whole life to cherish moments like this as you walk down this corridor past some of the biggest names to ever play the sport. I’ll tell him to enjoy it, stay positive and prepare for a tough challenge.”

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/why-i-love-de-minaur-hewitt-s-tribute-to-star-ahead-of-djokovic-showdown-20230122-p5cele.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Hewitt’s tribute to the star before the showdown with Djokovic

Ryan Sederquist

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