Hewitt still shines on big stage.

Sporting highlight of the weekend for me was watching Leyton Hewitt move into the fourth round of the Australian Open, after a thrilling clash with Milos Raonic.

Despite being renowned for his battling qualities, after losing the first set against the talented youngster, Hewitt looked at times like a man who just wasn’t going to have quite enough to turn it around, but levelled the tie after the second.

It was in the decisive third set when much of the drama took place, Hewitt putting his all into earning a break of serve midway through the set but immediately surrendering his advantage in losing his next service game to love.

Into the tie break which resulted from a failure by either player to break serve, Hewitt went on to take a 6-3 lead and give himself a trio of set points with the first two of those opportunities on his own serve.

The excitement grew amongst the home fans, though Raonic wasn’t finished. He saved the first two set points and then, on his own serve, looked poised to level the tie break when he set himself up for a forehand smash at the net… before inexblicably netting and gifting Hewitt the third set and an overall lead in the match for the first time.

Even at a more senior age than many of his opponents, it remains a joy to watch Hewitt in such form, and still demonstrating a combination of talent and sheer determination – the very qualities that once took him to number one and helped him become a Grand Slam winner.

The mood of the 21-year-old Canadian dropped noticeably in a fourth set which Hewitt quickly took control of. From then on, the outcome was inevitable.

Raonic was named ATP Newcomer of the Year after making outstanding progress throughout 2011. In doing so he followed in the footsteps of the likes of John McEnroe, Andy Roddick and Rafa Nadal.

He is a player with the ability and potential to make further strides this season, too, but needs to keep his head held high even when he’s not on top. Such an attitude is always necessary in order to compete at the very top.

And for an example of the determination required of a champion, Raonic need look no further than Hewitt.

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