The genteel surrounds of SW19 were rocking to chants of 'C'mon Aussie', and 'Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi' as Lleyton Hewitt attempted to breathe life into the Australia's ailing sense of sporting superiority.
The chants, however, were soon stilled as Hewitt, the champion here way back in 2002, succumbed in four sets to German qualifier Dustin Brown, the world 189. His defeat leaves two Australians left in the singles at Wimbledon, Bernard Tomic, the last surviving Aussie male of the five that began the main draw, and ladies No.14 seed Samantha Stosur.
Hewitt's lame exit followed the Wallabies' defeat to the British & Irish Lions in the first rugby union Test on Saturday, and the travails of the cricket team. He crashed 6-2 in the final set having raised Aussie hopes – and the volume of the 14 gold-shirted fanatics sat courtside in a colourful bloc - by taking the third set with an impressively executed tie-break.
Clive Woodward, the man who masterminded England's 2003 Rugby World Cup win in Australia, said that Australian sport was struggling because it no longer invested in, and backed, world-class coaches. Hewitt, however,would not be drawn on whether his exit was symptomatic of a wider malaise. “I'm out of Wimbledon, that's all I've got to say.”
He said. Pressed to focus specifically on tennis he added: “It is good to see some of the young guys qualifying, now they need to make the step to the top 20-25. Bernie (Tomic)'s obviously got the best chance.”
Brown is a better player than his ranking suggests. His idiosyncratic style is such he is unlikely to win big matches consistently but he was too strong and too slick for Hewitt. The Fanatics were left to into their cry into their expensively acquired beers.
Meanwhile, in Taunton, England discard Nick Compton scored 81 as Somerset moved past 200 for the loss of two wicket in the Aussie's opening tour match