Sport

Australian Open: Lleyton Hewitt blasts umpire as foot fault calls stall fightback

Lleyton Hewitt has turned back the clock in his final outing at the Australian Open, taking aim at the chair umpire in an emotional night for the retiring legend.

Australian Open day four highlights

Lleyton Hewitt retires from ATP tour after being beaten by David Ferrer in straight sets as qualifier Zhang Shuai progresses into round three.

Having been called for two foot faults in the straight sets loss to David Ferrer on Thursday night, emotion got the better of the 34-year-old, who took his frustrations out on umpire Pascal Maria.

It was the type of behaviour that was once synonymous with the two-time grand slam champion in his younger days, but has maintained a squeaky clean image as he matured.

Couldn't mount a comeback ... Lleyton Hewitt was frustrated by foot fault calls during his loss to David Ferrer on Rod ...
Couldn't mount a comeback ... Lleyton Hewitt was frustrated by foot fault calls during his loss to David Ferrer on Rod Laver Arena and let the chair umpire know about it.  Photo: AP

However, Hewitt got caught up in the occasion in the third set of his straight sets defeat, giving the umpire a piece of his mind.

"You're a freaking idiot," he was picked up on the microphones saying.

"That's why everyone in the locker room thinks you're so full of yourself."

Hewitt concedes the decision had no outcome on the result, but admitted the timing of the second foot fault, when he was clawing his way back into the set, angered him.

David Ferrer of Spain celebrates after defeating Lleyton Hewitt.
David Ferrer of Spain celebrates after defeating Lleyton Hewitt. Photo: AP

"The second one was obviously at a frustrating time," Hewitt said.

"Just sort of being able to get myself back in that third set, it wasn't the best time. But, you know, it wouldn't have made a lot of difference to the match at all.

David Ferrer, left, is congratulated by Lleyton Hewitt after the match.
David Ferrer, left, is congratulated by Lleyton Hewitt after the match. Photo: AP

"The chair umpire can't do a lot about it. It's more just getting called by one end and not the other."

It was an emotional night for Hewitt, who was honoured by Tennis Australia and the public for his commitment to the sport.

The second one was obviously at a frustrating time

Lleyton Hewitt

His children were by his side after the match, soaking up the final moments of an incredible career.

"This month has been awesome. I've loved every minute of it," Hewitt said.

"I've tried to soak it up and enjoy it as much as possible, but still try and go out there and perform and play well and stay focused. But, you know, I've loved every minute of playing for Australia, wearing the green and gold.

"Not just when we play Davis Cup, I pride myself being on an Australian throughout the year and representing our great country and the love and support that I've had throughout my career, but the last few years, has been unbelievable."