MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - His heavily tattoed arms include one in Japanese that says, “Beauty Will Save the World.”
“Honestly, I don’t know why but from the moment I got married I started producing great results,” Tipsarevic said during a humorous on-court interview after beating Lleyton Hewitt 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-3 in the first-round of the Australian Open on Monday.
Hewitt’s first-round exit brought an abrupt halt to his long-running effort to end a drought for Australian men at Melbourne Park dating back to 1976. He has played a record 17 consecutive Australian Opens and was cheered on by a packed center court crowd that chanted his name: “Let’s go Lleyton, let’s go!”
The 3-hour, 2-minute match was filled with exciting points and fast-paced scrambling on both sides of the net. It tipped in Tipsarevic’s favor during the second set when he was a double break down but powered back aided by big serves to win.
“He’s such a good ball striker. Even when I did attack he came up with some unbelievable passing shots,” said the former No. 1-ranked Hewitt, and winner of 2001 U.S. Open and 2002 Wimbledon. “His scrambling and passing shots from out of position were exceptional tonight.”
Known for his towering self-confidence, Hewitt’s post-match comments were more humble than a day earlier. When asked Sunday if he felt unlucky to have drawn the No. 8 seed in the first round, Hewitt replied with typical bravado: “I don’t care. I’ll knock him off, try to take his spot in the draw.”
For now, the Serbian’s spot in the draw is secure. He was elated by his win, saying he had expected a tough match from Hewitt but was stunned by his stamina.
“It’s really amazing. I mean, the guy had so many injuries, and he is turning 32 this year, and the balls that he’s making you play just to finish the point!” said Tipsarevic, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year. “I really needed to produce some extraordinary tennis.”
Tipsarevic turned pro in 2002 and was ranked 46 when he married Serbian TV host, Biljana Sesevic, in July 2010. Coincidentally or not, from then on he steadily climbed the rankings, breaking into the top 10 in Nov 2011 and has remained ever since.
Asked about the body art on his arms, he said he has six tattoos and doesn’t regret any but is taking a break.
“I am currently on an embargo from my wife not allowing me to do any more,” he said.
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