New York: Thirteen years after winning the U.S. Open, Lleyton Hewitt was back out on Arthur Ashe Stadium court sweating under a blazing sun on Wednesday, still battling, still fist-pumping and still not ready to call it a career.
The `Battling Aussie`, whose no-quit philosophy has defined his career, went down swinging 6-3 6-4 6-3 to sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych but offered little hint about either his long-term or short-term future plans after his second-round loss.
"Don`t know. Get that asked every week," Hewitt told reporters when asked if he would be back at Flushing Meadows next year.
"Don`t know. I haven`t even thought about it," the twice grand slam winner replied when asked if he was going to remain in New York.
What is certain, though, is that Hewitt will be back in Perth next month ready to lead Australia into a Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan.
Beyond that, there is the ATP Tour`s Asian swing but Hewitt would not be pinned down on what might follow, saying only he would "take it from there".
"That (Davis Cup) is the week after here, so ... that`s obviously the main goal, to try and stay in the World Group," said Hewitt, who has played more grand slam five-setters (42) than any player in the Open era.
"We`ve got a good opportunity to consolidate our spot in the World Group. Hopefully do that.
"It was always going to be hard any time you want to stop, but I`d prefer them (Australia) to be in good shape rather than playing in the minor leagues every year in Davis Cup. That`s a positive. Whenever I do stop, I think it`s in good hands."
ON HEWITT`S TERMS
Certainly Hewitt will not be pushed into retirement. When the 33-year-old finally calls it a career, it will be on his terms.
This season, the former world number one has undergone a bit of a career renaissance, picking up a pair of titles to bring his career tally to 30 and move back into the top 50 of the world rankings.
The only other thirty-something to win two titles this season is Roger Federer.
While Swiss Federer is all elegance and grace and economy of motion, Hewitt is relentless fury and grit, a combination that has taken a heavy toll on the Australian`s body.
But he would not change a thing.
"Just living the dream," said Hewitt. "You grow up, just wanted to be able to play the majors and play Davis Cup for Australia.
"I have been fortunate to do it for an awfully long time."
Only slightly more willing to reflect on his past than look forward as his post-match news conference drew to a close, Hewitt was asked again what he hoped will be his future at the U.S. Open.
"I don`t know. I really don`t know. Just wait and see."