NEW YORK (AP) — Lleyton Hewitt cheered from the stands Tuesday night as one young Australian took the court in the U.S. Open.
On Thursday, the two-time major champion will be across the net from another. The 34-year-old Hewitt has served as a mentor to his country’s up-and-coming players as his career nears its end, so he cringes to see them pop up in his draw.
“Just awkward,” Hewitt said about facing 22-year-old Bernard Tomic in the second round. “That’s the only thing to summarize that. I get along great with Bernie. Helped him out a lot. Hit with him this week.”
Hewitt, the 2001 U.S. Open champ, is playing the tournament for the last time. He plans to retire after the Australian Open, but first, he’ll lead his country into the Davis Cup semifinals against Britain starting Sept. 18.
Hewitt could reach the third round of a major for the first time since the 2013 U.S. Open, but it would mean beating the 24th-seeded Tomic in their first meeting.
“For me, in the position that I’m in now, trying to help these guys especially with Davis Cup and the rest of it, it’s tough,” said Hewitt, who is ranked 166th and got in with a wild card.
On Tuesday, Hewitt watched as 20-year-old Nick Kyrgios lost to third-seeded Andy Murray in the first round. The young Australians have had their share of off-the-court troubles. For a few hours Thursday, the focus will be on the court for a matchup between the country’s tennis hopes past and future — with Tomic seeking to reach the U.S. Open third round for the first time.
Some other things to watch on Day 4 of the U.S. Open:
AZARENKA ON ASHE: Victoria Azarenka can’t face Serena Williams until the final of this major, though maybe that’s not a good thing for Azarenka. Once ranked No. 1, the two-time Australian Open champ is down to 20th in a season when she has reached just one final and won no titles.
But against Williams in both the French Open and Wimbledon, she looked like the player who reached the U.S. Open title match in 2012 and ‘13. Both in that she played well and pushed Williams to three sets — and that she still went on to lose.
In the second round Thursday, Azarenka meets Yanina Wickmayer, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2009 who has been ranked as high as 12th but is currently 92nd.
FEDERER MILESTONE: Roger Federer faces 66th-ranked Steve Darcis of Belgium to open the night session at Ashe. A win would move Federer up another career list. It would be his 74th at the U.S. Open, putting him in sole possession of fourth place behind Jimmy Connors (98), Andre Agassi (79) and Vic Seixas (75). Federer is currently tied with Ivan Lendl with 73 against just 10 losses.
YOUNG AT 17: American Donald Young has a chance to reach his first Grand Slam third round since last year’s French Open when he faces Britain’s Aljaz Bedene. The 57th-ranked Bedene has never been past the second round at a major.
The 68th-ranked Young will be back at cozy Court 17, where the crowd spurred him on to victory in the first round. Down two sets and a break, Young rallied to stun 11th-seeded Gilles Simon in five Tuesday.