Hewitt and Gonzalez losses raise questions about their futures.

Lleyton Hewitt crashed out of the US Open on the opening day as he suffered a five-set defeat against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu.

The Australian 32nd seed, who had never previously lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows, battled bravely as he fought back from two sets down to level the match but his opponent eventually prevailed 6-3 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-1. 

Afterwards Hewitt, the 2001 winner, dismissed talk of retirement and insists he can still compete at the highest level.

The 29-year-old said: “I still believe I can improve as a player.

“When I play my best tennis, like in Halle (in June, when he beat Federer to win the title), I still feel like I can match it with anyone.”

Fernando Gonzalez has admitted fears over his long-term future in the game after injury forced him out in the first round of the US Open.

The 30-year-old Chilean, playing only his second match since the French Open, retired when 7-6 1-6 0-1 down against Croatian qualifier Ivan Dodig.

The persistent knee injury that has been troubling for the past few months was once again the nemesis of Gonzalez who acknowledged afterwards that he was concerned for his career.

“I’m worried and I’ll have to see what will happen,” he declared.

“I’m not thinking about retirement quite yet but I’ve had a really bad six months and, if this was to go on for longer, maybe two years, then I would have to see.”


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