Lleyton Hewitt's 15-year-old son Cruz has sparked a media and fan frenzy at the Australian Open in his first career appearance at the grand slam on Sunday. Cruz Hewitt was awarded a wildcard into the junior boys event - 27 years after his legendary father made his main draw debut at the Australian Open.
The 15-year-old took on Alexander Razeghi on Court 3 - the same court where Lleyton played his first match during his main draw debut in 1997. The younger Hewitt managed to break Razeghi in the first game of the match, but it was mostly one-way traffic from there as the American showed why he is highly rated.
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Cruz, who is currently the 14th-ranked player in the world among 2008-born boys, went on to lose 6-2 6-3 but gained some valuable experienced on such a big stage. Razeghi is the sixth seed for the tournament and ranked 10th in the world.
Lleyton and wife Bec were among hundreds in attendance at Court 3 on Sunday. The outside court was almost sporting a capacity crowd due to the level of interest in Cruz - a complete contrast to what you'd normally see for the junior event.
His grandparents (Lleyton's parents) were also there in scenes reminiscent of when Lleyton was in his prime and dominating the Australian Open. Aussie player Jordan Thompson was also spotted in Cruz's box alongside his coach and father, while proud mum Bec couldn't help but snap a photo of her son.
— Todd Scoullar (@ToddScoullar) January 21, 2024
15-year-old 🇦🇺 Cruz Hewitt, son of Lleyton, makes his #AusOpen junior debut in front of a packed Court 3 crowd.
➡️ Hewitt is up against 6th seed 🇺🇸 Alexander Razeghi in the opening round.#TheFirstServe pic.twitter.com/yM1IBS7gSz
— The First Serve (@TheFirstServeAU) January 21, 2024
Lleyton Hewitt full of pride amid son Cruz's milestone
Speaking on Sunday morning, Lleyton said he was bursting with pride after Cruz was handed one of 16 wildcards into the junior event in Melbourne. "I'm just unbelievably proud, to be honest," he said on Channel 9, revealing he'd been asked to help his son warm-up for the match.
"He wanted me to go out and warm him up," Lleyton added. "He's got a coach (Peter Lucazck) .... (but) they asked me last night if I would go out and warm him up this morning. It's just a really special moment, my first ever main draw match at the Australian Open was actually out on Show Court 3 as well.
"He's been around the traps, but he's worked extremely hard to get this opportunity. He is playing well, but he is still very young. This is all a learning experience and that's what the junior event is all about. He's been fortunate enough to get a wildcard and hopefully, he goes out there and has a lot of fun."
Cruz has risen through the ranks in junior tennis in recent years and was recently invited to take part in a practice session with Aussie No.1 Alex de Minaur at Melbourne Park. De Minaur has formed a strong bond with the Hewitt family in recent years, and was even welcomed into their family home in 2018 when he didn't have a place to stay in Sydney.
Lleyton reached the second round of the junior Australian Open event in 1996. He then received a wildcard into the men's qualifying event as a 15-year-old in 1997 and upset former World No.80 Mark Petchey to reach the main draw.
That win kick-started a 20-year run of appearances in the Australian Open main draw, highlighted by his run to the final in 2005. He never managed to win the title at his home grand slam, but did triumph at the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002, becoming the youngest World No.1 in tennis history.
Lleyton is now Australia's Davis Cup captain and mentors a number of the country's male players. If Cruz continues on the same path he might be coached by his father in the not-too distant future. Fans flocked to social media on Sunday to comment on how similar Cruz looks to a young Lleyton, with plenty pointing out how old it makes them feel.
Can’t wait for another Hewitt on the tour 💪🏻🇦🇺
— ATennis&PicklePro (@ATennisPro10) January 21, 2024
A sight to behold...
Cruz Hewitt, Tennis Hall of Famer Lleyton Hewitt's 15-year-old son, playing the Australian Open Boys' event!
Sporting his cap backwards, just like dad 🧢 pic.twitter.com/8rXFJCokEo
— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) January 21, 2024
Some @DavisCup @TennisAustralia and Summer Bay starpower in the stands for the @AustralianOpen junior debut of Cruz #Hewitt, the son of former world No.1 and 2005 finalist Lleyton Hewitt. pic.twitter.com/sp4kmKwV2U
— Courtney Walsh (@walshcee) January 21, 2024
Cruz Hewitt looks a bit like dad. Tough draw for the kid as he plays 6 seed pic.twitter.com/o2CQ7rERzM
— alan boston (@bostonred88) January 21, 2024
Cruz Hewitt just serve-volleyed to great effect and finished it off with a shovelled slice forehand down the line to win the point and so the changing of the guard is complete. 😂
— Stephanie Myles (@OpenCourt) January 21, 2024
Shooting Cruz Hewitt in the Juniors is making me feel very old. And there's a lot of Lleyton in there.. #cmon #backintime @cruzhewitt @AustralianOpen @ShutterstockNow @yonex_tennis #tennisphotography #sportsphotography pic.twitter.com/e1EG9EGuAT
— Ella Ling (@EllaLing23) January 21, 2024
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