Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt said eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic 'played as well as he could play', as the Serb dismissed Hewitt in straight sets at the Australian Open on Monday night.
In a broadside at Tipsarevic, Hewitt claimed the world number nine 'doesn't play like that all the time' following his 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 6-3 loss at Rod Laver Arena.
"He (Tipsarevic) played as well as he could play, there's no doubt about it. Yeah, he's only won four titles," Hewitt said following the loss.
"There's not too many guys in the top 10 consistently that have only won four titles. So there's something missing there.
"But... I've seen him play big matches against Andy Roddick at Wimbledon. Obviously, he came really close a few years back to beating Roger here.
"I think he beat Andy as well in the US Open at a night match. He's a quality player, there's no doubt about it; otherwise he wouldn't be in the top 10. But for him to stay in the top 10, he has to play that level week in and week out."
Continuing the 'Tipsarevic was perfection' theme, Hewitt claimed he did not do a lot wrong to go down without winning a set.
"I could have easily been up two sets to love," Hewitt claimed.
"I fought really hard through the first set. I had 6-5, 0-30. In the second set I had 3-0, served for it at 5-4.
"Against quality players, you (have) got to take those chances obviously. But to his credit, he raised his level and played some great points. The start of the tie-break, I didn't do a whole heap wrong. He served big when he needed to to get out of trouble."
Hewitt was admittedly 'frustrated' by his own failure to capitalise on his chances, as he exited his home major for a 17th time without the silverware.
But he did leave with something on Monday night - glowing praise from the man he took a shot at minutes earlier, Tipsarevic.
"I was going to practise on Margaret Court (Arena) and Jo (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) was practising there. He started laughing at me. He said, 'Who is going to play on centre court', singing like a song. I said, 'No, please,'" said Tipsarevic, recounting when he found out his first-round draw.
"But I think Lleyton Hewitt is as tough as it gets for a first round Australian Open, first grand slam of the year. With all the respect to all the other guys who are potential threats, like (Nikolay) Davydenko or (Gael) Monfils or (Grigor) Dimitrov, I think this is as tough as it gets, knowing that he plays really good tennis here, knowing that he won Kooyong last week... even if that was an exhibition event.
"I cannot tell you how happy that I am, first of all, that I managed to win, and second of all, to win in straight sets."
Tipsarevic will take on Slovakian Lukas Lacko in the second round, with the Serb winning their only previous encounter in a fifth-set marathon in Davis Cup.
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