In Australian tennis, Ken Rosewall has rightfully earned legend status. Jokingly nicknamed ‘Muscles’, an ironic jibe at his small frame, Rosewall was a central figure in the development of professional tennis. He also claimed 18 Grand Slams, eight singles and ten doubles titles.
Nowadays he sits from afar keenly watching the stars of today ply their trade, in the sport he loves.
Rosewall was there during the turbulent, yet exciting period in tennis which saw the transition from amateur competition to the birth of the Open era.
As he launches his biography Muscles, the former world No.1 looks back fondly on his playing days.
"I’ve had a number of wins and a number of losses, but I have had a lot of satisfaction with the life I’ve had in the game of tennis," he said.
During his career, Rosewall was shouldered by some of the Australia’s greatest ever players - John Newcombe, Roy Emerson, Tony Roche and Rod Laver - it was a golden era for Aussie tennis.
Today however, it’s a different story. Since Lleyton Hewitt began his slide from the top of the world to No.81, there hasn’t been an Aussie heir apparent to take his place in men’s tennis.
When promising junior Bernard Tomic turned pro at the age of 15 and began the climb up the world rankings the hopes of a nation were placed squarely on his shoulders. But off-court controversies and perceived attitude problems have been blamed for the now 20-year-old’s form slump.
Rosewall joined the chorus calling for the Gold Coast native to make some much-needed changes in order to turn things around and get back on the front foot.
"For a boy who did well as a younger player, to some degree he has to work harder on his overall game, his fitness and his movement around the court. He might need some more variation in his game," Rosewall said.
"That could take time, and could mean he might have a few losses but he would have to put up with that for his own benefit in the long term.
"But at 20 years of age he has time to do that."
Tomic’s efforts at the Davis Cup highlighted the reliance on Hewitt to fly the flag for Australia and lead the way, even at the ripe old age of 31.
Despite inconsistent form and injury setbacks, Rosewall doesn’t expect Hewitt will be going anywhere soon. That is, unless he has to.
"I don’t think he’ll retire unless he came up with a serious injury," he said.
"He has a lot of desire to still remain competitive and as long as he’s in good shape, he’s going to make an impact in any tournament he plays in; maybe not as a seeded player but definitely as a dangerous wildcard that players would prefer not to face."
The difficulties Hewitt faces in raising a family and playing professional tennis is something Rosewall similarly hasd to deal with during his career. He says those external factors will be a big influence for Hewitt deciding when it's time to call it quits.
"Being married and having a young family, he has another agenda which makes it a bit more difficult for him to be a fulltime tennis player," the four-time Australian Open champion said.
He may not be as good as he once was, but organisers of the Australian Open are expecting Hewitt to be a certain crowd-puller come January.
Rosewall will be in attendance once again, admiring the elegant ground strokes of his favourite current tennis player, the ‘Swiss Maestro’, Roger Federer.
"I’d enjoy more of the Australian players if they were in a winning position" Rosewell said cheekily.
"We want to see Australian tennis get a lot stronger quickly. I hope they do come up with some top players."
Rosewell does believe that tennis in Australia is on the mend. Measures are already in place to produce future champions through coaching programs and support, however he urges people to be patient before the next crop of youngsters reach their peak.
"We’d like to think the future will be bright, but we have to realise it is going to take some time."
'Muscles' by Richard Naughton, published by Slattery Media, is the story of a young boy with an extraordinary talent who grew up to become one of the game’s most dominant players.