Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beats former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets

 

Former champion Lleyton Hewitt was unable to roll back the years as he was beaten in straight sets by fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round at Wimbledon.

Hewitt, the 2002 winner, has struggled increasingly with injuries over the past few years but returned to the circuit at the French Open after more than three months off and newly positive following a radical toe operation.

However, the Australian, now ranked 202nd in the world and the recipient of a wild card here, is short of matches having not won since a third-round victory over rising star Milos Raonic at the Australian Open in January.

Tsonga, who beat Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals here last year, was a hugely tough first-round opponent for Hewitt and in the end the 31-year-old was overpowered, losing 6-3 6-4 6-4.

Hewitt had his chances, particularly in the second set, when he brought up three break points in the sixth game only for Tsonga to send down three massive serves.

A poor game from Hewitt at 4-4 then gave Tsonga the crucial advantage, although the Frenchman still needed to recover from 0-40 in the next game to take the set.

The decider was more straightforward, with Tsonga, a potential quarter-final opponent for Rafael Nadal, breaking serve for the only time in the seventh game and then clinching victory when Hewitt netted a backhand.

Hewitt was given a boost after the match with the news he has been handed a wild card for the Olympics, but he revealed this could be his last regular Wimbledon appearance.

"I don't know," he said when asked whether he would be back. "At the moment I've been focusing on getting back this year, doing everything right with my foot and rehab to get back to here.

"So I'm proud of myself of what I've been able to do, all the hard work it's taken to get here. I'd like to be back here, absolutely, but we'll have to wait and see."

The Australian was reasonably happy with his performance today but found Tsonga just too tough, especially on serve.

"I didn't do a lot wrong really," said Hewitt. "Considering where I've come from, it's probably as good as I could have done today really. I felt the sharpest I've felt, but he served too well."

Tsonga hurt his finger during his defeat by Ivan Dodig at Queen's Club two weeks ago so was relieved to come through against such an experienced opponent.

He said: "I was a bit scared before this match because I didn't know how my finger would feel. But it was okay. It didn't hurt me too much. I played good tennis.

"It's never easy to play against a guy like Hewitt because when you go on court you know this guy played unbelievable matches here and is maybe able to play the same tennis.

PA

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