9/23/12 2:48 AM | Johan Lindahl
Aussie warrior Lleyton Hewitt may be finally nearing the end of his Davis Cup shelf life at age 31, with team officials now praying for a breakthrough from some young talent for the one-time world tennis power.
Hewitt tried and failed to help the Aussies into the 2013 World Group - they have been absent from the elite for around half a decade - but was beaten in both of his singles rubbers against Germany in Hamburg.
The battler has been playing in 2012 after having steel plates inserted into a toe after years of foot problems. With his No. 101 ranking, his days as a factor could be numbered.
Aussie men's tennis director Todd Woodbridge, a former doubles ace, said that he expects two-time Grand Slam winner Hewitt do to some soul-searching. "I'm pretty sure Lleyton will go away and really have a heart-to-heart with himself about how he performed," he told local media. "I believe that every athlete knows when it's time, and he will answer that.
"There are matches where the light goes on and you say 'you know what, I'm starting to not be as good as I once was,' or 'I'm still motivated to achieve more.' And that depends on how he reacts."
Former David Cup captain John Fitzgerald said that Hewitt appeared to be "a worn out warrior," with current Davis skipper Patrick Rafter confessing that playing the veteran in singles and doubles over three days was a strategy gone well wrong.
"I've got to keep blooding some of the younger ones that haven't played before. It's a bit like throwing the sheep to the wolves, but it has to be done, and we've got to get ready for that to happen. We might lose a match or two because of it, but in the long run it's going to be beneficial to getting results."
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