Australian Lleyton Hewitt joined the “600 club” among active ATP World Tour players with his 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory Thursday over Robin Haase of The Netherlands.
Waiting for him when he reached the postmatch interview room was a vanilla-iced chocolate sheetcake with the bright-yellow words “Congratulations Lleyton on 600th win!”
“To tell you the truth, I totally forgot,” he said. “Obviously, afterward, a great milestone. Not many people get to achieve that. Not many people get the opportunity to get close.”
Hewitt, 33, has reached three semifinals at the Sony Open (2002-02) and meets top-ranked Rafael Nadal on Saturday night.
“I still play the game to have an opportunity to play the best guys in the world,” said Hewitt, ranked 44th. “I look forward to the challenge. This is obviously a really tough draw.”
Perhaps Hewitt will be aided by the month. Only five active players — Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nicolas Almagro, Nadal and Hewitt — have won multiple ATP titles in March. Hewitt has six.
He was asked if anyone had called or texted him about the “huge” 600-win accomplishment.
“Not yet,’’ he said. “My phone doesn’t work in the locker room.”
His name won’t show up on the Sony Open score sheets, but Kyle Fonda hit some of the most memorable shots against defending champion Andy Murray on Thursday morning.
Fonda, a 15-year-old from Gloversville, N.Y., has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and spent the day at the tournament through the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Fonda plays tennis for his high school team, and his wish was to attend the Sony Open and meet Murray, his favorite player.
He got to hit with the world No. 6 and attend Murray’s news conference. He also met Federer and Nadal, and attended Serena Williams’ afternoon match. He was outfitted with FILA shoes, shirt, shorts and socks. He will be back Friday night to see Murray begin defense of his Sony title against Matthew Ebden on Stadium Court.
“It was really awesome to meet Andy,” Fonda said. “He took it easy on me. I’ve only been playing tennis for two years, but it’s my favorite sport. When they first told me about this wish being granted, I didn’t believe it. I believed it when we got on the airplane.’’
Fonda was accompanied by his father, Tim, mother, Amy, and siblings Josh, 18, and Caitlyn, 11.
Asked what most surprised him about meeting the world’s top tennis players, Fonda smiled and said: “They’re just normal people.’’
Djokovic will not have coach Boris Becker with him in Key Biscayne because the former German great is undergoing double hip surgery.
“He’s unable to travel,” Djokovic. “He has surgery of his both hips [Thursday] and Friday, so that’s unfortunate. He cannot move, cannot walk, unfortunately. It’s been something that’s and issue he’s been carrying for many years.”
Becker, 46, is expected to recover in time for the Monte Carlo tournament in mid-April.
Asked how his tennis fashion has evolved, Djokovic smiled and said: “I had different dragons and wings on my shirts, but I’m at a different stage right now.”