Coach Darren Cahill said it was clear to him from day one that Lleyton Hewitt was a special player and would go on to achieve great things. On Saturday, Hewitt was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, United States.
In 2001, a 20-year-old Hewitt lifted his first Grand Slam title after beating Pete Sampras in the US Open final. That same year, Hewitt became the youngest male player in history to reach the top spot. Hewitt and Cahill worked together from 1998 to 2001.
"This kid is good. He's going to be something special. Lleyton's DNA was different from most," Cahill said during Hewitt's Hall of Fame induction, according to Sportskeeda. "He took an individual sport and turned his matches into a team sport environment, drawing on his Australian Rules experience to bring the people around him together as teammates.
There was nothing lonely about his performances and he wasn't afraid of getting into trouble." When a 21-year-old Hewitt lifted his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon 2002, the expectation was that the Aussie might end up with as many as 10 Grand Slams.
Unfortunately, Hewitt then suffered from injury problems and the appearance of Federer and Rafael Nadal didn't help either. Cahill believes Hewitt would definitely have won more Grand Slams were it not for injuries and the emergence of two all-time greats, Federer and Nadal.
"He was unlucky with several injuries in his mid-20s that prevented him from adding to his resume, and facing two all-time greats like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in his prime was a challenge."
Rafa reveals what talent meant to him
Rafael Nadal believes that the definition of talent has been complicated for a long time.
"Talent is something that I think people confuse a little bit," said Rafael Nadal. "For me, it's not playing pretty or hitting the ball very hard. Some have the talent to hit hard, others to not miss any ball, some to make a great cut and others to move very well.
But in tennis, as in all sports, the ultimate goal is to win. Therefore, for me, the summary is clear: the one who wins is the one with the most talent. If I hadn't had people guiding me on the right path, maybe I wouldn't have had that spirit of perseverance and improvement.
Despite the adversities, I have always had a good attitude and a positive spirit, and that is something that we try to pass on to the young people. Because there will always be difficult moments, but the important thing is to accept them, work hard and look forward with optimism," the 36-year-old stated.