Murray advances to 3rd round; Hewitt goes into retirement
Medical staff attend to an injured patron on a stairwell on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. The second round match between Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Latvia's Anastasia Sevastova was delayed approximately 30 minutes during the medical emergency. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray learned a lot about tennis by watching Lleyton Hewitt, a player he admired so much it inspired a pet's name.
Murray has broken a lot of droughts in tennis for British men, ending more than seven winless decades at the majors with his titles at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon and ending the long wait for another Davis Cup crown just last year.
After his 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 second-round win over Sam Groth on Thursday extended his unbeaten streak against Australian players to 17, he took time to pay tribute to Hewitt – the last Aussie to win a men's Grand Slam title – who was set play the following match on Rod Laver Arena.
Article continues below ...
''He was someone I loved watching growing up. His attitude toward competition – I loved,'' Murray said. ''He fought, well, fights extremely hard to this day. He still has the same passion to win.
''He was an idol for me – I actually named one of my dogs after him because he was someone that I loved growing up.''
Hewitt's 20th bid to win the Australian Open ended in the second round in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 loss to eighth-seeded David Ferrer. Typically, it was a feisty affair. He still had a verbal volley for chair umpire Pascal Maria after the seventh game of the last set, carrying his frustration into the changeover after being angered by a decision.
''Left nothing in the locker room. That's something I can be proud of,'' Hewitt, who turns 35 next month, told the crowd after his last singles match on the tour. ''My whole career, I've given 100 percent.''
Hewitt, who played his first Australian Open in 1997, won his first title at the age of 16 and was ranked No. 1 at age 20, was joined on court by his three children after he match.
He thanked his family and his coach, Tony Roche – ''Rochie, love ya' mate'' – and his fans.
''I felt like this was the perfect place to finish,'' he said. ''I was getting goosebumps out here.''
Hewitt won the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon the following year. His best run at his own national championship was when he reached the final in 2005, losing to Marat Safin. No Australian man has won the title since 1976.
Murray has reached four finals in Australia, but never won the title. That's something the 28-year-old Scot wants to do before he becomes a dad.
With his pregnant wife back in Britain, due to have their first baby next month, he doesn't want to labor too many points. A dismantled Groth's biggest weapon – he has the fastest serve in tennis – before closing with an ace – his 10th – in 1 hour, 31 minutes.
''It's been a very good start,'' said Murray, who plays No. 32 Joao Sousa next. ''But I can get better, for sure.''
Stan Wawrinka, who won the 2014 Australian Open title and won the French Open last year, reached the third round for the eighth consecutive year at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over 37-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek.
Fernando Verdasco lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to Dudi Sela, a surprising defeat coming two days after he beat 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal in five sets. No. 25 Jack Sock lost 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-3 to Lukas Rosol and No. 30 Jeremy Chardy lost to Andrey Kuznetsov.
Two big servers advanced, with No. 10 John Isner fired 20 aces and 53 winners in a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) win over Marcel Granollers and Milos Raonic hitting 24 aces as he fended off Tommy Robredo 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 7-5 in a match containing one service break.
After a lengthy delay in the first match of the day when a spectator fell on some stairs and was injured, Ana Ivanovic beat Anastasija Sevastova 's 6-3, 6-3.
Third-seeded Garbine Muguruza , the 2015 Wimbledon finalist, advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kirsten Flipkens, No. 7 Angelique Kerber and No. 15 Madison Keys also advanced.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka continued her strong recent run with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Danka Kovinic, while Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka beat No. 18 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4.
No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 19 Jelena Jankovic and No. 30 Sabine Lisicki were other seeded players to go out.