Lawn Tennis, Australian Open, Lawn Tennis Magazine
Former Number Ones Lleyton Hewitt, Venus Williams Bow Out

By Ken Miller, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2009 5:40pm PST USA
Former World Number Ones Lleyton Hewitt, Venus Williams Bow Out, Australian Open, Lawn Tennis Magazine MELBOURNE--(lawntennismag.com) The Australian Open suffered a major hit already in its first week as the local favorite Lleyton Hewitt as well as the Wimbledon champion Venus Williams both were defeated.

Tuesday in round one, Hewitt of Australia lost to the 13th seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in his earliest Melbourne exit since 2002. After the Summer Olympics last year, Hewitt underwent hip surgery in August and had made his return to competitive tennis only earlier this month.

Lleyton Hewitt and Venus Williams | Images: Getty
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, Lawn Tennis Magazine
(Im) right there, Hewitt said. If I was going to retire, then I wouldnt have had the surgery done."

The 27 year old has fallen to 70 in the ATP Tour rankings but remained optimistic about his chances versus the top players of the game.

(Im) right there, Hewitt said. If I was going to retire, then I wouldnt have had the surgery done. It wasnt something that was going to affect me in everyday life for the rest of my life. It was something that, if I want to still play tennis, then it had to be done.

Hewitt lost to David Nalbandian of Argentina last week in the Sydney quarterfinals 7-6(7-3), 7-5 in his only other tournament played so far this year.

The two losses havent been the worst losses on paper, Hewitt said. I probably could have easily won both those matches, as well. I think its a good springboard for the rest of the year.

Hewitt reached the world's top ranking after winning the US Open in 2001. In 2005 Hewitt recorded his best Melbourne result finishing as finalist.

Venus Williams of the USA as well saw her finalist result in 2003 as her best Melbourne result. But her performance Thursday was far from that level. Key Williams doublefaults and unforced errors combined with some inspired play from her opponent led to a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 Williams second round loss to Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.

And despite holding a matchpoint and racing to leads throughout the match, Williams was uncharistically unable to close out the match. After taking the first set, Williams doublefaulted on critical occasions in two consecutive service games to fall behind 3-5.

Then in the final set after leading 4-1 and 5-2, Williams found herself playing defensive tennis and turning in yet more errors as Navarro's topspin play would prove too consistent.

She was super consistent and aggressive and just went for her shots, said Williams. I wasnt in control of the points. I definitely noticed that she kept getting the first shot. I was definitely playing defense. Im definitely used to dictating the points. It was kind of a pattern that wasnt the best for me.

The 28 year old, 6th seeded Williams topped the WTA Tour world rankings in 2002 and had been expected to meet her sister Serena Williams in the semifinals next week.

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