LONDON-Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt battled into the second round of the Olympics with a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon on Monday.
Hewitt’s world ranking has sunk to 158 after several years of injury problems and the 2002 Wimbledon champion needed a wild card to make it into the Games.
But the 31-year-old, who was angered by tournament organisers’ decision to snub his request for a doubles wildcard with partner Chris Guccione, is determined to make the most of what is likely to be his final chance to improve on a miserable Olympic record.
The former world No 1 crashed out in the first round in Sydney in 2000 and lost to eventual gold medal winner Rafael Nadal in the second round in Beijing in 2008.
With those frustrating memories driving him on, Hewitt looks in fiesty mood and he saw off Stavkovsky to set up a tricky last 32 clash against Croatian 13th seed Marin Cilic.
After spending all of a rain-ravaged Sunday waiting in vain to get on court, Hewitt was keen to make up for lost time and he took the attack to Stakhovsky, ranked 84th, in the first set.
He broke in the third game and drew roars of delight from the largely Australian crowd on Court 18 when another break took the set.
Stakhovsky levelled the match in the second set, but Hewitt came up with the goods at the crucial moment, unloading a series of winners to break for a 4-2 lead before serving out the win.