Hewitt set to end tennis career in his 20th Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — In one of his final media conferences as a player, Lleyton Hewitt told everyone on Saturday what they already knew – that’s he’s never lacked for motivation during a career which spanned three decades.

And also no surprise that the motivation part is what he’ll miss most when he concludes his injury-hit career at the Australian Open, his 20th appearance in his national championship and one which he’s never managed to win.

“That’s what’s pushed me the last few years: I don’t struggle for self-motivation, to get up early and do the hard work that no one sees,” Hewitt told a news conference also attended by his wife, Bec, and their three children.

“There’s no crowds or cameras around there. It’s just you in the gym or on the practice court. That’s one of the things I will miss, not having to go out there and push yourself day in and day out.”

Hewitt always pushed himself on court, and early in his career it sometimes got him into trouble with officials and opposing players. But the 34-year-old Hewitt has mellowed in his later years – he’s become a mentor to some of the younger Australian players, does a credible job as a television commentator and recently became Australia’s Davis Cup captain.

He’ll lead Australia into a World Group match against the United States in Melbourne in March, the first time the two-time Grand Slam winner (2001 U.S. Open, 2002 Wimbledon), hasn’t taken a racket on to the court in the team competition. When he did, he did his country proud – Hewitt had a 54-18 record in the Davis Cup, including 40-14 in singles, and holds Australian records for most singles wins, overall wins, matches played and years played in the Davis Cup.

He won his first tournament title in his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia, in 1998 at age 16 and went on to capture 29 more titles, including the two majors. Hip and foot injuries hobbled him over the past several years and he hasn’t been past the fourth round at a major since the 2013 U.S. Open.

At the Australian Open, where he’ll play his first-round match against fellow wild-card entry and countryman James Duckworth on Tuesday, he hasn’t made it past the second round since 2012. He lost the 2005 final to Marat Safin, the only time he’s made it past the fourth round.

Hewitt said he’s gained his most inspiration from 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, saying “I think it’s very hard to ever have a better ambassador than Roger for our sport.”

Federer, who lost to Hewitt seven of their first nine meetings but now holds an 18-9 career edge, returned the favor.

“I learned a lot from him,” Federer said during the Brisbane International last week. “How feisty he was, how tough he was. It’s definitely one of the reasons I’m the player I am today.”

Federer said then that he hoped to avoid Hewitt at the Australian Open, and he likely got his wish. As they’re on opposite sides of the draw, they could only meet in the final, an unlikely scenario for Hewitt, who became the youngest No. 1 at the age of 20 but is now ranked 306th.

“I’ve played Lleyton enough, I don’t need to play him again,” Federer said. “I’d rather see him giving his absolute best from now till the end of his career. I’ve been a big fan of him throughout.”

Elena Rybakina hits 10 aces in Miami for 12th straight win

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 12 matches by delivering 10 aces – her fourth consecutive outing with at least that many – in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 25th-seeded Martina Trevisan on Tuesday in the Miami Open quarterfinals.

Rybakina has 46 aces through four matches at the hard-court tournament in Florida and a WTA-leading 201 this season.

The 23-year-old, who represents Kazakhstan, improved to 20-4 in 2023, including a run to the Australian Open final in January and a title at Indian Wells, California, last week.

She is trying to become only the fifth player to win the women’s trophies at Indian Wells and Miami in the same season. Top-ranked Iga Swiatek did it a year ago; she withdrew from Miami this time because of a rib injury.

“Of course it would be amazing to achieve something like that,” the 10th-seeded Rybakina said about the prospect of completing what’s known as the Sunshine Double, “but it’s still far away.”

So far in Rybakina’s career, 13 of her 18 semifinal appearances have come on hard courts. She will face No. 3 Jessica Pegula or No. 27 Anastasia Potapova for a berth in the final.

Trevisan reached the French Open semifinals in 2022.

In fourth-round men’s action Tuesday, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by No. 14 Karen Khachanov, while defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner all beat seeded opponents in straight sets.

Alcaraz, who returned to No. 1 in the ATP rankings last week, got past Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting against Fritz, the top-ranked American man and seeded ninth in Miami.

Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune. That put Fritz into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances in Miami – and his first matchup against Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain who won the U.S. Open in September for his first Grand Slam title.

“I’m really excited for it,” Fritz said. “I think that a lot of people are really excited for that, too.”

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori, a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 winner against No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp.

Fritz, Sinner reach Miami Open quarterfinals with 2-set wins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner beat seeded opponents in straight sets at the Miami Open to move into the quarterfinals.

No. 9 Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune.

That put Fritz, the highest-ranked American man, into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances at the hard-court tournament.

He will face either No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul next. Alcaraz is the defending champion in Miami.

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp or unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori.