With his talent and determination, Lleyton Hewitt was born to rule the tennis world, at least for a couple of years before he start to lose ground in the early 00s. The Aussie made his professional debut on the big scene of the Australian Open in 1997, qualifying for the main draw at the age of 15 and losing to Sergi Bruguera in three sets.
A year later, Lleyton entered the home Adelaide event ranked 550th after receiving a wild card from the tournament director Colin Stubs and went all the way to claim the title in what was only his second ATP tournament in a career!
Thus, Hewitt became the lowest-ranked player with an ATP title and the third-youngest champion on the Tour behind Aaron Krisckstein and Michael Chang, at the age of 16 years and ten months. On January 11, Lleyton took down his future coach Jason Stoltenberg in two hours and nine minutes in the final to earn those huge honors, making one of the biggest surprises of the year and writing his name in the record books.
Hewitt was the regular visitor at the Memorial Drive Park, practicing and playing junior events there in the previous years and dreaming about a pro return one day. He did n't have to wait for too long, earning the invitation as one of the most promising youngsters in the country and using it with both hands to kick off his stellar tennis journey.
Hewitt's first ATP win came against Scott Draper, beating Mark Woodforde 4-6, 7-6 6-1 in round two after saving the match point and showing mental strength and desire to leave his heart on the court. Things started to look serious when he toppled Vince Spadea, reaching the last four where he had the opportunity to test skills against the only player outside the top-100, no other than a former world no.
1 and his idol Andre Agassi! Lleyton showed the spirit of a true champion once again, beating Agassi 7-6, 7-6 in the encounter with no breaks (Andre had five break chances, Lleyton two) to reach the ATP final despite being just a local high school kid.
Jason Stoltenberg was Hewitt's ultimate rival and the match went into a third set tie break, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats all the time. Virtually nothing could separate the players but Lleyton won his fourth tie break in Adelaide that week, beating Jason 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 after a volley error from the more experienced rival to win the first out of many ATP titles and start a huge celebration.
Lleyton turned pro on the very next day and was ready to chase the biggest tennis dreams, becoming one of the best players in the world in the next year and a half and dominating in the early 00s to lead the new generation together with Marat Safin, Roger Federer and Juan Carlos Ferrero.