Hewitt falls at Davis Cup training!
Hewitt falls at Davis Cup training!
Lleyton Hewitt may be in doubt for Australia's Davis Cup playoff against Serbia this weekend after suffering a leg injury during team practice in Belgrade.
Hewitt, who only on Tuesday joined Australian captain John Fitzgerald in publicly complaining that the state of the court surface was diabolical, took a tumble chasing down a forehand and was unable to continue.
He gingerly limped off the temporary clay court at Beogradska Arena to receive treatment from Australian physiotherapist-chiropractor Andreas Bisaz.
If Hewitt was to miss the match it would be a massive setback to Australia's prospects of avoiding relegation from the World Group.
He was pencilled in to play both singles and doubles and, realistically, probably needed to win all three of his rubbers to save Australia from defeat.
Before his fall, Hewitt and Fitzgerald had been very vocal in their criticism of the playing surface, complaining to match referee Mike Morrisey.
"It's pretty dodgy at the moment. Yeah, it's pretty soft underfoot a lot of it. It will want to improve by Friday," Hewitt said after Australian team practice.
"If you've got to play on it, you've got to play on it. But, right at the moment, it's not up to scratch for Davis Cup competition.
"This is the premier team competition in our sport worldwide and (we are) obviously playing in front of 20,000 people in a big stadium.
"The decision will be up to the referee, but it will want to improve a lot before Friday."
Morrisey inspected the surface on Monday after arriving from England, where he fielded an informal complaint from Fitzgerald, and said he was satisfied the court would improve sufficiently for the three-day tie to go ahead as scheduled on Friday.
Fitzgerald and Hewitt initially expressed their dismay at the poor condition of the surface on Sunday after a series of mini craters developed during their first team practice at the indoor arena.
Clearly, they don't believe it has gotten any better since.
But the vastly-experienced Morrisey, a grand slam supervisor and respected as the No.1 tournament referee in world tennis, said he expected the court to hold up given a few more days to settle.
"It's typical of a temporary claycourt wherever you are in the world in that it needs time to settle down, it needs to have players practising on it, it needs to be rolled," Morrisey said.
"What we've done with the practice schedule is allowed time for that to happen during the day, not just in the mornings and the evenings.
"I think everybody here realises that there's work to do.
"But seeing the improvement from one day to the next is normally a sign that the guys are on the case.
"It's pretty standard, to be honest, for a temporary claycourt. Any temporary court, whether it's clay or grass - or not a synthetic surface - needs a little bit more attention.
"So we do face these issues from time to time."
Under Davis Cup guidelines, there is a range of penalties available to the competition committee should the host team fail to prepare an adequate court.
"In the really most extreme cases, there's the possibility of calling off the tie," Morrisey said.
"But, to be honest, calling off the tie is not really on the agenda because it's not in the best interests of the competition. I'm not sure if a tie has ever been called off.
"It would be if it was really dangerous to play. But I think it's going to shape up here fine."
There is much at stake in Belgrade.
If Australia lose, they will be relegated from the World Group for only the second time in 30 years and Serbia would be promoted to the competition's top tier for the first time as an independent nation.