Lleyton Hewitt remains non-committal over his future but many believe he’ll be saying goodbye to Wimbledon for good this week.
Talk of retirement is never far away from Lleyton Hewitt and fresh speculation is mounting the Australian veteran’s 16th Wimbledon campaign, starting on Tuesday, will be his last.
The 32-year-old has repeatedly batted away questions in recent years about when he plans to hang up the racquet.
But leading into a first-round encounter with Poland’s Michael Przysiezny, Hewitt offered potentially one of the biggest hints yet this week’s tournament could form part of his farewell tour as a playing professional.
Hewitt was spotted on the All England Club’s Centre Court – the site of his famous title triumph in 2002 – posing for family photos with his wife Bec and three children.
Simply some opportunistic happy snaps, perhaps, or possibly Hewitt making the most of what he knows could be his last foray onto the famed lawn as a player.
Hewitt said after his recent exit at Queen’s Club – a tournament he has won four times – he didn’t know if he’d be back next year.
It’s a line the South Australian has delivered at virtually every opportunity over the past two years and he’s probably telling the truth.
Hewitt’s wait-and-see approach looks dependant on Australia’s fate in the Davis Cup, a competition he loves as dearly as the slams.
Pat Rafter’s side will host Uzbekistan in a World Group playoff in September and a return to the competition’s top tier could convince Hewitt to go around for another year, particularly with the incentive of the grass court season being extended by a week in 2015.
Davis Cup failure, though, could result in next year’s Australian Open becoming Hewitt’s grand slam swan song.
As long as Hewitt is able to mix it with the world’s best, why wouldn’t he want to continue?
He reached the semi-finals at Queen’s last year before beating Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round at Wimbledon, then claimed his 29th ATP title in Brisbane in January.
“You are going to be retired for an awful long time and these are the moments that I still play for,” Hewitt said.
“It’s about going out here and competing against the best guys in the world and I feel at this tournament that I can cause some upsets.”
There are signs to suggest Hewitt’s body is reaching its limit, however, with consistency proving a major problem this year.
Since lifting the trophy in Brisbane he has not strung back-to-back wins together.
Should the world No.46 overcome 112th-ranked Przysiezny, another Pole would likely await in the second round in 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz.
The small matter of seven-time champion Roger Federer in the fourth round would then loom as the biggest obstacle to Hewitt making one last run deep into his favourite slam.
Teenager Nick Kyrgios, Matt Ebden and James Duckworth also begin their campaigns on Tuesday.